Jean and Peter’s ‘Polite Guide’ to the EU referendum debate: Part 2


Jean and Peter Watts, a retired professional couple who live in Berwick-upon-Tweed, are as tired as the rest of the UK with what Channel 4 news presenter and commentator Jon Snow rightly described as a “positively poisonous” EU Referendum debate.

Peter Watts
Peter Watts…a polite guide

LIbDems who have lived in France, Jean and Peter support the Remain campaign but feel strongly that arguments from both sides should be heard dispassionately
Yesterday, through Voice of the North, they presented the Leave side’s case; today they are presenting another side to the debate . . .

Reasons to Remain

1. Stronger. It is true that being part of a unit of 500 million people puts us in a stronger position than negotiating from a base of 60 million. However, while claiming that Britain benefits to the tune of £91 billion from the EU is probably true to then say that means “more money in the NHS” panders to popular prejudice as much as the Leavers do. Talk of “sitting at the top table” does likewise. We believe we should Remain and be the stronger for it, but ‘Stronger for what?’ needs more thought.
2. Getting more out than we put in. From what we can see, this claim seems to withstand scrutiny [given that it covers more than material benefit]. However, not all the figures provided by either side add up We might expect distortion and manipulation from politicians but we ought to set and demand a higher standard of honesty. (See our final part tomorrow)
3. Better Off. Probably. Remain have already given sourced figures, backing them with support from top-flight outside sources. Leave ought to do likewise before 23 June, producing better outside support than Putin, Trump and France’s right-wing Marine le Pen. It seems generally agreed that a Leave win wouldn’t be ‘The End for Britain’ but it would mean multiple negotiations and a long period of economic uncertainty: bad for the general public, let alone business.
4. Safer. The European Arrest Warrant has worked well. When it comes to terrorism, however, different spooks have given conflicting and usually mistrusted advice. Talk of Hitler from one side or of the spectre of war from the other is cynical fear-mongering. What we feel can be conjectured is that a Brexit which later led to the break-up of the rest of the EU (which Nigel Farage’s UKIP wants), then Europe’s 60-year peace might indeed descend into extremism and violence.
5. Some issues are too big for single nation states. Aspects of research and of technological development; transnational big business (just compare the success of the EU compared with UK when tackling Google et al); above all, climate change, on which the EU has led the world (with, until recently, much UK help). If we Leave, the UK could continue its efforts on these big issues but, inevitably, less effectively.
6. Holding national governments to account. Several countries have been checked by the EU, including the UK. Clearly, not all Remainers are equally keen on this!
7. Protection of Rights. The EU’s early and long-standing furthering of, for instance, the rights of workers, women and consumers has (until recently) had much UK support which might well continue, depending on the governments we elect. However, having the EU keep a check on UK back-sliding would still prove useful.
8. Open and Forward-Looking. Remain claims the high ground here, accusing Leave of being more closed, selfish and backward looking. But just maybe the EU has lost some of its earlier virtue.
If we DO Remain, it must be in a manner more committed to developing the EU, more committed to a better society for all.


Tomorrow: Where we go from here


  1. Stay in. In this troubled world everyone needs someone to watch their backs. EU is closer than USA.
    Who may not want to get involved again, even late. Money, worth nothing without safety.
    Imagine Boris, Gove or IDS as PM. I can’t. Just think of the war within. Terrifying thought.


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