I haven't blogged in a while and this seemed an appropriate topic with which to get back into it.
The result was a close call which says to me that the views of the Remain voters and their reasons for voting Remain are important and need to be listened to, at the same time as respecting that the majority vote, however small, is for Leave and therefore the Leave process should be started now. A democracy should listen to all sides and not simply go with the largest single group, ignoring the wishes of everyone else.
From what I've read, it seems to me that the key issues for Remain voters include protecting worker's rights, protecting the environment, and collaborating with other countries on national and international security.
The latter I would hope and expect will continue with Interpol, NATO, G8, and the UN (NATO appears to be largely European countries with the addition of Canada and the USA). Interpol "aim to facilitate international police cooperation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries" and they describe their vision and mission as "preventing and fighting crime through enhanced cooperation and innovation on police and security matters." NATO says that its "essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means" and that it is "committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes." Then there's the G8, which includes the EU as well as France, Germany, Italy and the UK having their own representatives, and which also includes Japan, Canada, the USA and Russia (suspended since the annexation of Crimea). The UN says that it can "take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more."
We won't lose any of these by leaving the EU, and it seems to me that these are all good organisations and collaborations to tackle the issues of national and international security.
Regulation and protection for workers and the environment
By leaving the EU, we also leave any negotiations for TTIP. TTIP reportedly is about "regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations" and is "an assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations." TTIP therefore challenges both key Remain issues (appropriate regulation of big business) and Leave issues (sovereignty). If Obama was correct to say that the UK will be at the back of the queue for trade deals with the US, this can only be a good thing if the trade deal would look like TTIP.
Both Remain and Leave voters should be pleased by a withdrawal from TTIP.
Environmental protection and worker's rights may still be a concern for Remain voters. On the other hand, many of the policy changes of the past six years (social security, NHS, education etc.) were not constrained by being a member of the EU. Leaving may not give that much more freedom to a UK government.
There is also an opportunity here to engage with the political process - Trade Unions continue to lobby on behalf of workers; the Green Party continues to push for environmental protection. By bringing these issues fully under the control of the national government, we can more effectively vote and campaign for protection of workers' rights and the environment. If we don't like what the government is saying, we can elect a new one. In the meantime - the Conservatives have a small minority, may now be in crisis, and don't need many of their backbenchers abstaining or rebelling to prevent de-regulation bills going through parliament.
On the Leave side, key issues have been control over immigration and sovereignty. By leaving the EU, we don't have to accept low-skilled workers from EU countries. These low-skilled workers, it has been argued, depress wages and working conditions by taking jobs that UK citizens may be reluctant to take. If this is correct, then Remain voters concerned about workers' rights should be pleased with a Leave vote that allows the UK to restrict the entry of low-skilled workers, as this may force companies to increase the pay, security and working conditions of low-skilled jobs.
I have only recently read the first of Stieg Larsson's Millennium books. I feel there is a pertinent response to market volatility in this situation, as Larsson wrote through the mouth of his character Mikael Blomkvist (just replace Swedish with UK):
"You have to distinguish between two things - the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skovde. That's the Swedish economy, and it's just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago...
"The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn't have a thing to do with the Swedish economy...
"[The drop in the Stock Exchange] only means that a bunch of heavy speculators are now moving their shareholdings from Swedish companies to German ones. So it's the financial gnomes that some tough reporter should identify and expose as traitors. They're the ones who are systematically and perhaps deliberately damaging the Swedish economy in order to satisfy the profit interests of their clients."
It is at this point the responsibility of politicians, big business and the financial industry to behave well. It is not necessary, as far as I can see, for the market to respond wildly - at this moment in time, nothing has changed compared to yesterday. We have two years to negotiate a successful departure from the EU. That also means two years to respond to what voters were saying when they made their decisions - in particular issues of workers' rights, control over immigration and environmental protection.
Leaving, as with Remaining, could be a success for the UK - it all depends on how the government implements the changes asked for by its citizens.
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