Europhobia

When talking about British politicians who want the UK to leave Europe, it’s time to stop extending them the courtesy of describing them as “Eurosceptic”. That term suggests they’ve invested a lot of thought and effort into reaching a position that has reservations about — is sceptical about — Europe.

But it’s clearer with literally every passing day that the Brexit experiment is a total disaster — economically, culturally, educationally, technologically, politically. Those who still want to press on with it are way past the point of scepticism and into all-our paranoia, conspiracy theory and irrational fear — in other words, phobia.

They are Europhobes.

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16 responses to “Europhobia

  1. I dunno what to think really. Speaking for myself, culturally I’m an out-and-out Europhile; politically, I’m less enthusiastic. Without wishing to find myself on the back foot, I’m not a fan of the EU for much the same reason I’m not a fan of politics in general; which means I’m also not a fan of our own bunch of political pygmies either, which is often advanced as the choice people are making. It’s an odd one as I’m generally of the opinion that it’s better to repair something that’s broken than to bin it, but I wonder if the EU is by design beyond reform.

    But that doesn’t make me anti-Europe or sceptical about it. I think we should have closer ties and be more like our neighbours and less like the US, which unfortunately seems to be the proposed alternative.

    I guess the subject also raises my hackles because I have seen so, *so* many comments slagging off Northerners and generally describing us as ignorant scum and I kinda had enough of that sort of thing during the time I lived in Hertfordshire: it was something to behold when a previously respectable middle-class person would be reduced to rage and spitting bile once they heard my accent. They’re probably the same people who describe themselves as broad-minded, inclusive and tolerant too. But what fun it was being the butt of exactly the same derogatory and spiteful jokes several times a day every day for every year I lived there. So yeah, I have to be careful not to fall into the same trap of presumptions about cosmopolitan London-based bistro surfers who are more interested in their exotic trustafarian barista than the fate of their less fortunate countryfolk.

    But that’s perhaps tangential to the point.

    I’ve seen an awful lot of hollering from both sides and none of it really resonates very much with me at all. Most people I’ve spoken to seem to be pretty much on the fence and are likewise variously unmoved and alienated by the whole thing. But I guess that’s 21st century politics for you. Engagement isn’t something that happens much any more (speaking as someone who’s spent the past three months trying to get an acknowledgement out of her MP by quite a number of means and to date has utterly failed: at this point I don’t really care if it’s a personal or systematic failing).

  2. I agree with some of your statement. Those who don’t want us to let go the EU, should go to live there. You can’t hold a baby hands all the time you have let them go so they could learn to walk.

    They need to do a google search for (The rape of Europe) watch it and read it and learn, there is a lot more to it…

  3. You can say that, but fundamentally, the reasons for voting Leave — to whit, that the EU is engaged on a long-term project to build a United States of Europe — is just as true now as it was when the vote was taken. Every other week Juncker or Macron opens their mouth and confirms that they want closer integration, reform of the EU to make it more centralised, etc etc — all the reasons that people voted Leave in the first place.

    Nothing material has changed between the vote and now, so it makes sense that if you wanted to leave then, and you believe that the UK is perfectly capable of standing on its own in the world and doesn’t need the support system of the EU like smaller, weaker countries do, you would still want to leave now.

  4. ”…all the reasons that people voted Leave in the first place.”

    One of the strangest features of the Leave vote is the way every voter became so pathologically convinced every other voter had exactly the same stuff in their head as themselves, on the basis of a cross. I’m trying to remember “the United States of Europe” as a phrase used either by the Leave campaign or voters, and pretty much drawing a blank. While there’s abundant evidence the vote was propelled by anti-immigration sentiment. (One example here.) Sometimes people used figleaf terms such as “too much bureacuracy” or “too many laws”, but those would quickly fall apart on examination, for example here.

  5. One of the strangest features of the Leave vote is the way every voter became so pathologically convinced every other voter had exactly the same stuff in their head as themselves, on the basis of a cross

    That’s kind of inevitable in a binary choice, though. You see the same thing among vocal Remain voters, who are convinced that everybody else who voted remain is a dedicated internationalist cosmopolitan liberal who identifies as a ‘citizen of the world’ just like they are, ignoring those who don’t like the EU, wanted in their hearts to leave it, but in the end decided the economic risks were too big and reluctantly voted Remain.

  6. So you’re saying there’s no real basis for your claim, but a lot of other people have done similar things so you might as well?

  7. I’m saying I don’t think there’s any point in re-doing something that was done to death. But if you must know, the number one reason given by people voting ‘Leave’ was ‘sovereignty’ (‘immigration’ was number 2), the slogan for the ‘Leave’ campaign was ‘take back control’, ie, reverse the direction of integration, and I remember a lot of discussion over whether, for example, the EU wanted an EU army (which Juncker has since confirmed that it does).

    If you want specific instances of ‘united states of Europe’ being used during the couple of months before the referendum you could try, inter alia:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3556298/Plans-drawn-blown-United-States-Europe-Britain-little-say-warns-Tory-minister.html

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/no-one-wants-a-unites-states-of-europe/18325

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/663946/EU-plans-United-States-Europe

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/02/the-eu-exists-only-to-become-a-superstate-britain-has-no-place-i/

    https://www.socialist.net/trotsky-on-the-united-states-of-europe.htm

    http://one-europe.net/united-states-of-europe-an-unrealistic-scenario

    https://www.quora.com/If-the-United-States-of-Europe-was-created-what-country-would-be-the-capital-or-political-leader

    http://www.cityam.com/243851/eu-referendum-nigel-farage-says-word-reform-brussels-means

    [That one has Nigel Farage using the phrase ‘Unite States of Europe’ so I think that counts as ‘the Leave campaign’ using it?]

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/26/boris-johnson-british-people-unreal-stories-eu-juncker

    [That one has Boris Johnson using it]

    http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86053

    Now, you can claim that all these places were wrong to say that a United States of Europe was on the cards, but I don’t think you can plausibly claim that the idea wasn’t a big part of the discussion.

  8. ”I’m saying I don’t think there’s any point in re-doing something that was done to death”

    So at 9.39am on Oct 27th there was a point to asking why people voted Leave, but by 7.59pm on Non Nov 3rd it had been done to death? Must have been a busy week.

    We could get onto the Leave campaign and the ludicrous lies they told if you like. But my query was about the Leave vote, as in what made people vote Leave. And I linked to the Independent article because it drilled down past the ostensible:

    ”We didn’t ask people directly why they voted the way they voted, because people aren’t the best guides to how they voted,” he said. 
    “We did a deeper and more accurate assessment by calculating close correlations. We found the Leave vote relates to concerns about immigration and education. Many politicians have come out and said it was all about sovereignty and other things, but our findings indicate this isn’t the case.”

    Quite clearly, neither ‘sovereignty’ nor ‘control’ equate to “fear of a super-state being created”, so you are arguing against yourself by mentioning them. I’m not even sure what ‘sovereignty’ is ostensibly supposed to mean in this context. People feared Juncker was going to depose the Queen and take her place? But it’s clear enough what people took from them. They’re so blatant they barely even qualify as dog whistles, but they are clearly buzz phrases for anti-immigration sentiment.

    Ironically some on the left… particularly the hard left… did the Lexit thing. The editorial in Socialist Worker was ’Brexit vote was a revolt against the rich’. They are as wrong as you and for the same reason, trying to imagine a vote went your own way rather than actually looking at it.

    I am, as is hopefully clear, not exactly claiming this to be a good thing. In fact, it’s a very, very bad thing. It suggests Britain is falling for the same hard-right xenophobia as have many other European countries (before we even get started on Trump’s America). But the first step to dealing with a problem is acknowledging it. Denial has never solved anything.

  9. So at 9.39am on Oct 27th there was a point to asking why people voted Leave, but by 7.59pm on Non Nov 3rd it had been done to death?

    No, what’s been done to death is the question of whether the UK was right to vote to leave the EU, which seems to be what you’re trying to turn this into a debate on. You think that the vote was a mistake, I think it wasn’t, neither of us is going to change their mind, so there’s no point in going over it all again.

    The only reason I commented on this article was specifically to point out that nothing material had changed between June 216 and now to make anyone who voted Leave then think that that was a bad idea now, or conversely to convince anyone who voted Remain then that they had made a mistake and should now think leaving was a better option.

    So there’s no reason to think ‘[t]hose who still want to press on with it’ are any more extreme than those who voted Leave last year, because there’s no reason for anyone who voted Leave last year to have changed their mind — especially as many of the instant dire consequences predicted by the Remain campaign, such as an instant recession, failed to materialise (of course, the longer-term bad effects predicted by the Remain campaign, like the large-scale exodus of financial services companies from the City of London, etc, may still come to pass, and if they do then there might be a reason for Leavers to change their minds, but they haven’t yet, they are all still predictions, so there is no reason for Leavers to change their minds based on things that have actually happened as opposed to things that might happen).

  10. What’s been done to death is the question of whether the UK was right to vote to leave the EU, which seems to be what you’re trying to turn this into a debate on. You think that the vote was a mistake, I think it wasn’t, neither of us is going to change their mind, so there’s no point in going over it all again.

    You are probably right that neither you nor Gavin is likely to change your minds. But the signs is that lots of other people are changing their minds, as they belatedly acquaint themselves with the evidence of the damage already being done by even the intention to leave. I think — and it seems Gavin agrees — that it’s still worth reaching out to those who can be won over, in the hope of averting this highly evitable disaster.

  11. “what’s been done to death is the question of whether the UK was right to vote to leave the EU, which seems to be what you’re trying to turn this into a debate on.”

    So not only was everyone who voted Leave thinking exactly what you wanted them to think, but what I’ve said on this blog is exactly what you want me to say, and never mind what I actually said? You are consistent at least, SK.

    (PS Just for the record I found many of the Remain arguments spurious, the official ones obviously but often the ones used by friends and acquaintances. I wasn’t about to wave a flag for the EU which so relentlessly screwed over Greece. It seemed to me the only reason we got a referendum was because of differences within the Tory party, and the whole ensuing debate became skewed because of that. Seeing it as a false choice, I abstained. But I do think leaving will damage the British economy which rather than admit they ere wrong they’ll then take out on poor people, and they’ll certainly use it a chance to erode worker’s rights. I also suspect the xenophobic genie the Leave campaign let out the bottle won’t go back as easily.)

  12. But the signs is that lots of other people are changing their minds,

    What signs? The opinions polls look pretty much the same as they did in April-May-June last year, ie, a small lead for Remain. We know from experience that that translates into a narrow victory for Leave.

    as they belatedly acquaint themselves with the evidence of the damage already being done by even the intention to leave

    What damage? The promised recession, that never happened? The pulling-out of all foreign investment, which never happened?

    Some economic indicators (like employment) have gone up; some (like the pound/Euro exchange rate) have gone down; there are still more people coming here from the EU to work than are leaving; all in all, the referendum result seems neither to have boosted the economy significantly nor damaged it significantly, at least as yet.

    The long-term effects are, of course, as yet unknown.

  13. Hm.

    Two thirds of EU firms are saying they expect to move part of supply chain out of UK

    ‘saying they expect’ : prediction, may not happen

    The governor of the Bank of England’s estimate that foreign investment in Britain is now 20% less than it would have been had we not started down this path

    ‘less than it would have been’ : how does he know what investment would have been? Why should we believe him anyway — he was one of the ones predicting the instant recession that never happened.

    The number of EU nurses coming to the has dropped by 89% in the last year

    Paywalled, so I can’t read it, but it sounds like this is something that has actually happened, at last. However as I understood it the number of EU nurses was already falling pre-referendum due to the newly-brought-in requirement for them to pass English tests to work in the NHS, is this true?

    CBI head Carolyn Fairbairn says ministers must make progress on Brexit transition deal in the next four weeks to avoid serious damage to economy

    Again, a prediction, not something that’s actually happened.

    20% more office rentals in Frankfurt as banks plan moves from the UK to Germany

    ‘plan’ : prediction, none of these banks have actually moved.

    The Law Society of England and Wales warns that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could create a wave of litigation causing gridlock to UK courts

    ‘warns’, ‘could create’ : prediction, not something that has actually happened.

    So by my count that’s one actual sign (which may be caused by English tests rather than the referendum) and a bunch of predictions of things which may not happen.

    Oh, and one guy who has been wrong about everything so far making a guess about a counterfactual.

    What actual real signs — things that have happened as opposed to predictions of things that might happen — have there been? I’m talking about things like the drop in the value of the pound, which really did happen (but then, so did the rise in employment, so that’s why I say some indicators are up and some are down).

  14. Ah yes, of course: all evidence can be discarded by Brexiters.

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