The EU referendum wasn’t just some football match

Damn it.  I’ve tried very hard to stay off politics but I have recently been goaded and indeed misunderstood enough to come back to the subject - hopefully just this once.

From a few conversations and quite a number of Tweets, it is clear to me that some who voted to leave the EU are not very good at dealing with complexity.  Indeed some like to treat the result of the referendum like a football match by saying, “we won, you lost” and occasionally Tweeting pictures of crying babies.  Life is so much cosier when highly complex issues such as the UK’s membership of the EU is reduced to absolute simplicity.  A crying baby is much easier to comprehend than an entire economic-political system.

So let me take this opportunity to explain why I am a crying baby.  The reason is actually so simple that even the most basic-minded purveyor of pictures of tantrumed children might be able to understand.

If you voted to leave, then ask yourself what you actually voted for?  Did you vote to leave the entire EU institution, or do you think we should still retain access to the single market? If it was to send the entire EU packing then without the single market, in all probability the country would be plunged into a recession perhaps even worse than the one of 2008. This will inevitably mean lost jobs and lower standards of living. If you still want access to the single market in order to avoid economic self-destruction then that option comes with an EU open boarders policy. So which is it? Open boarders and some economic stability, or complete control on migration and an economic recession?  I do not believe that you can have both.

I suspect the ultimate outcome of the referendum will be a little like the aftermath of the Iraq war. When it’s realised that the whole thing was based on a falsehood, then attempts will be made to re-write history. The problem of failed Brexit promises will be solved in that age-old political fashion of redefining the meaning of success. For example, assuming the Article-50 button gets pressed (and some doubt that it will) then we’ll be told that the Brexit campaign wasn’t really about immigration or money for the NHS but for something entirely different. Perhaps, taking back sovereignty, within some abstract meaning of the term.  Perhaps you voted to leave for more sophisticated reasons but nevertheless, the two central pillars of the Brexit campaign were money for the NHS and an Australian-style immigration policy. Those aspects are undeniable and so it's on those that it has to be judged. (And, to be frank, if you were a sophisticated Brexit voter then you wouldn't be Tweeting pictures of screaming children).

In short therefore, I can see no way that the promises of Brexit (a booming economy and total control of boarders) can be delivered. It’s a little like voting for the abolition of taxes and the doubling of public spending at the same time. No doubt a very popular policy, except of course a complete fantasy.

Now here’s the big difference between me and those that think Brexit can be reduced to the score of a game of football. The latter seem to have absolute certainty that “they won” and the future will be so much brighter outside the EU. On the other hand, I accept that I could be wrong. In fact I hope that I am wrong.  I hope that the promises made for Brexit can be delivered because that will put my faith back into the political system.  It will certainly show that the politicians are much more intelligent than I gave them credit for. If however, my fears materialise and it transpires the Brexit campaign was run on impossible promises, then I would call for a Chilcot-type inquiry to hold those who lied to the nation responsible.

Only time will tell to see who ends up crying the most.