Brexit - Why to vote Leave

This neo-liberal Germanic Union is no use for anything or anyone, including the Germans.

If I had a vote in the Referendum on whether or not the UK should remain in the EU or leave, I would certainly vote Leave. This neo-liberal Germanic Union of ours, with its unnecessary and perverse austerity, its false pretence to promote investment and growth, its failure to protect both external borders and desperate refugees, its Potemkin façade, insistence in destructive so-called “structural” reforms, is no use for anything or anyone, including the Germans.

There is no prospect of conceivable change for the better except under the duress of actual or threatened disintegration. One of my favourite comedians, John Cleese, has also declared himself for Brexit, for the same reasons: “If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I’d vote to stay in. But there isn’t. Sad.” And he added: “I feel terrible about being lined up with thugs like Murdoch and Dacre and Brooks, but I do think Stiglitz and Owen have got it right...” (@JohnCleese, June 12, 2016). After all, Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers has always known how to deal with the Germans. A strong case for Brexit is also made here.

Having said this, that option is undoubtedly costly, uncertain in its implications both positive and negative, habit breaking and very uncomfortable. I simply do not believe the polls predicting a substantial lead for Brexit (52% over 33% in the Daily Express latest poll), in spite of the significant contribution given to the LEAVE faction by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown with their kiss of death endorsement of the REMAIN option. I believe that on 23 June the third of the voters still undecided will decide otherwise and tip the scales to REMAIN.

And if voters did choose to LEAVE overwhelmingly, it is no good pretending that the UK is a small Swiss canton voting in a mandatory referendum, for there is no such a thing in British constitutional documents or constitutional practice. David Cameron, having set up the Referendum to protect himself from Ukip’s threat, will be under great pressure to comply with the result and apply to leave under art. 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, but would not be in a hurry to make such a move.
After all, he already said he will not serve another term, but he is still on course to serve until 2020, can rely on a solid cross-party pro-EU majority in Parliament, and might be able to obtain additional concessions from the EU on the strength of the vote, on top of the token ones he recently negotiated, sufficient to re-open the whole question.

But if Britain did leave, I would watch with Schadenfreude the impact of the vote on the further disintegration of the Union and the collapse of the German ruling parties. There is a group of distinguished academics, calling themselves EREP Economists for Rational Economic Policies, who have issued a “Remain for Change” Report, “Building European solidarity for a democratic economic alternative”, a generous but misguided approach. On 23 June, Vote, as the Irish saying goes, vote well, vote often.

Family loyalties, however, seem to be divided. My wife – a UK citizen who acquired double Italian citizenship through marriage  – tells me that if she had  a vote in the UK (which was removed under the Blair administration at the beginning of this century)  she would vote REMAIN: “I would vote REMAIN because I live in Italy, a country that benefits enormously from EU membership as one of the original Treaty of Rome signers for,  and by whom, the Project was designed, (one of the defeated Axis powers seeking to remedy losing) and which benefits  currently and most specifically from the UK's membership.

Italy is a transit country for incoming migrants that it fishes out of the Mediterranean, and the closing of the borders of one of the main countries of migrant settlement (as opposed to migrant transit) in the EU would have adverse effects on the transfer of migrants northwards and generate serious conflicts with any attempting to stop here rather than transit to Germany, Sweden, France and the UK.

Italy exports also over a million Italian nationals to the UK for settlement and draws strongly upon welfare payments available there to all EU citizens.  Losing a settlement of choice venue for a million Italian workers would be intensely disruptive in Italy itself.

High-quality employment in UK services, academia,  culture, and local and international administration for Italians (and other EU citizens) as well as educational opportunity at low cost from primary to post-graduate levels  in the UK are also at stake with BREXIT.  UK means-tested and universally applied welfare benefits to Italian workers at all levels both in the UK and (as is the case with many children returned to Italy) at home are very valuable and not to be lost.
Italy may be a net contributor to the EU budget, but its contribution must be set against the direct beneficial transfers and subsidies drawn directly from the UK even though the UK is not a member of the Eurozone and pretends to its electorate that there is an 'opt-out' from such transfers.

Of course, if I were settled in England I would have a different view of the whole matter - a looking glass view it might be called.  But as an Italian citizen and resident the last thing I want to see is a goose leaving with its golden eggs”.

In conclusion, it is not at all a matter of divided loyalties, nor of indecision, but a conflict of interests between two different, alternative capacities. If you live in the UK, vote to LEAVE.

D. Mario Nuti

Professor Emeritus, Sapienza University of Rome. Member of the Editorial Board of INSIGHT -
Blog “Transition”: