This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 23/09/2019 [Online], Available: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/ewan-gurr-despite-yellowhammer-i-still-think-we-must-leave-eu/ [Accessed: 2019, Sep 24]
“The argument that the EU is some kind of economic safety net is a red herring”
I finished reading ‘Operation Yellowhammer’ last week; the UK Government’s worst case scenario planning in the event of a no deal Brexit. It will come as no surprise to those who read my column that I am a believer in the notion of true independence – freedom from the governance of Brussels and Westminster. I, therefore, find myself at odds with unionist Brexiteers, who wish to leave the EU only to return Scottish powers to Westminster, rather than Holyrood. Then, I also find myself at odds with nationalist Remainers, who desire legislative power to be returned to Holyrood only to give it back to Brussels. Both positions are bedevilled by democratic inconsistency.
Those who are surprised, however, by the stoicism of my belief in Brexit tend to be friends and colleagues working alongside me and with people experiencing poverty. Their disappointment is fuelled by the belief that I am effectively voting for greater levels of poverty which is inflamed by Yellowhammer’s concern that disruption to food supplies and potential energy price increases will mean “low income groups will be disproportionately affected.” My concern is this perspective conveniently erases from history a decade of austerity that the European Union did nothing to insulate us from, nor has it provided us with the economic resilience to end.
Much effort was exhausted amplifying the sobering prospectus in Yellowhammer but the under-representation of the terminal economic state of the European Union in the mainstream media has been staggering. There was next to no coverage of the news last week that the Eurozone is attempting to stem the tide of deceleration by introducing a period of quantitative easing and adding €20 billion of debt to its economy per month from the 1st November. We hear little of the recession in Italy, deceleration in Germany and stagnation in France. Once we leave, these will be the three biggest EU contributors and they are all facing economic meltdown.
The argument that the EU is some kind of economic safety net is a red herring but history has fed that notion. The mid 1970’s was a low point for Britain with the three-day week, regular power cuts and double-digit inflation. Over the preceding decade, European economies had consistently outpaced the UK and joining the European Economic Community made sense. However, Britain joined just as the 1973 oil crisis occurred which brought to an end the economic boom in Europe. During our tenure as an EU member we have experienced four recessions, which is more than at any other point, within such a short period of time, in our entire history.
The only thing that will deliver a truly equitable economy is a desire to loosen the purse-strings for the majority that once secured only the lot of the sustained. With true independence, that destiny once again becomes attainable.