Episode 21 – An EU referendum special featuring as much analysis of the upcoming UK referendum as Tiernan could cram in before it got too boring, lots of clips from previous interviews, the EuroBot3000 and a brand new With Or Without EU Euro Megamix.
Donate to the Patreon at www.patreon.com/parpolbro
Buy me a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/A065LHJ
Or unelected hypocrisy
28 united nations
Or far too much immigration
Single market trade
But why do you say this bananas too straight?
I can’t live, with or without EU
I can’t liiiiive with or without EU
T: Hello and Welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast EU Referendum special. I’m Tiernan Douieb and which is a name that needs the EU otherwise I’d be Tirnan Doib and that’s just silly.
On this show I’ll be looking at the facts of what the EU is, what it does in different areas, how being in it affects the UK, and how leaving it might affect us. So just the bare facts and also some facts that aren’t about bears and are helpfully more about the EU and I’ll pop in a few relevant clips of interviews from previous podcasts. I’m going to try my best to not be biased either way, though I will stick my personal thoughts at the end for any of you who are banking the entire way you vote on how I’m going to. I’m like the anti-Russell Brand. So hopefully if you’re on the fence this will help you not snag your nether regions on a pointy bit as you try to get off to go vote on June 23rd. I’ve tried to cram everything you might want to know before you vote into this show, but chances are I’ve probably forgotten some really obvious things. So if you have another question or query you’d like me to try and answer, do, as always, drop me a line @parpolbro on twitter or Facebook or at email@example.com.
And today I’m joined by the specially built just for this show, Eurobot 3000. How are you Eurobot?
I’M 01100111 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110100 THANKS TIERNAN.
I’ve programmed you to speak every language found in the European Union. Why are you talking in Binary?
I THOUGHT IT WOULD HELP THE ENGLISH LISTENERS IF EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THEIR LANGUAGE I JUST SAID MY OWN AND ASSUMED THEY’D UNDERSTAND. IF YOU LIKE, I CAN ALSO POINT AND SHOUT LOUDER UNTIL THEY DO?
No. Sigh. That’s fine. Right, let’s get on with this.
So first let us start at the beginning, because well, that’s how beginnings work:
FIRST QUESTION: WHAT IS AN EU WHEN IT IS AT HOME?
The European Union is, as it says on the very large tin, an economic and political union of 28 members states that are, obviously, in Europe. Sorry Australia, this one ain’t like the Eurovision. Yes stay all the way over there by yourself. Oh sorry New Zealand, I didn’t see you there. You’re very quiet.
The EU orgin story started when the whole of Europe was bitten by a radioactive spider. No wait, sorry I mean it started after the second World War when politicians across Europe, including many British politicians such as Winston Churchill’s son-in-law Edwin Duncan-Sandys who reckoned that it’d be pretty great if after that last one, there weren’t anymore wars between European countries. Up until that point, Europe was like one big Wary Bremner with wars almost seeming to be what you just did on a Sunday when there was nothing on telly. Because in those days there really wasn’t and you had to go the cinema just to check. The 90’s dance troup sounding European Movement International was formed in 1947, followed by the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, then the European Economic Community in 1957 which included Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany which was the cool, less scary side. The UK joined in 1973, the same year as Denmark and Ireland. Then Greece, Portugal and Spain joined in the 80’s, and in 1990 after the Berlin Wall fell largely due to the powerful unifying force that is David Hasslehoff’s singing, a newly reunited Germany became a member as well as Cyprus and Malta at which point everyone else in Europe went ‘hang on, is that where the party’s at?’ and the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993 forming the EU as we know it today, and adding a ton more countries. There are now 28 member states and they all got sent badges, a plastic vinyl with the theme tune on and a certificate made of sugar paper with their name spelt wrongly on it. Or that may have been the Masters Of The Universe Club. I can’t remember.
But what does it actually do? Well here’s a clip from my interview with EU policy specialist Jon Worth from episode 5 where he explains, quite clearly what it is:
CLIP FROM JON WORTH
WHAT IS THE UK’S EU HISTORY?
Good question Eurobot 3000.
Welcomes. Well, after helping forge the European Movement International Britain stood back from joining the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and then again declined to join the EEC in 1957 because, well it’s not clear but one of the French creators stated he thought it was because of the pride of victory. Mate, that’s all we have. We didn’t even have the 1966 world cup then so we had to work with something. Then in 1961 as Britain’s economy stalled we tried join the EEC but it was vetoed by France because they reckoned we had a ’deep seated hostility’ to European construction and having tried to drive around Paris and experienced those roads myself, I can understand why. They said we were more interested in links with the US and let’s face it, probably were still bitter about Waterloo which we won! YEAH PRIDE OF VICTORY! Sorry. Then in 1973 Britain finally joined the EEC under Ted Heath’s Conservative government as they actually agreed on things as a party back then which meant that they didn’t bother asking the public about what they should do instead. So largely undemocratic but at the same time probably largely less tedious than watching Conservative politicians slag each other off on a daily basis for policies they helped instil only weeks before.
It was actually a minority Labour government elected in 1974 lead by Harold Wilson who thought that no further European integration should happen without asking the people of the UK what they wanted. Labour were, unlike today, largely against the EEC at the time because food costs were cheaper in the commonwealth markets, they feared the loss of economic sovereignty and they thought it’d hinder government’s engaging in socialist industrial polices. So a referendum was held asking UK citizens if they wanted to remain in the EEC. The Labour party was split in two, much like today only without Twitter to make it more public. Michael Foot & Tony Benn headed up the No campaign called Out Into The World, which has a more positive sound than Vote Leave doesn’t it? Sounds more like a small boy about to have his first adventure with a knapsack and a sandwich and a sunny day ahead of him. Harold Wilson and most of his cabinet formed the Yes campaign called boringly but succinctly Britain In Europe. The Yes campaign had an easy win, with lots of funding from large businesses while the No campaign admitted they were on a shoe string budget in comparison and suffered the papers referring to it as a campaign of fear because they warned of job losses and rising food costs. Sound familiar?
The saw 67% of the population vote to join with mostly only people in the Shetland Islands against it, probably because they assumed the EEC might have health and safety regulations that’d restrict their use of Wicker Men to burn visitors.
Since then the EU has changed and become a much bigger Union but there really wasn’t any public call for an EU referendum until the UK Independence Party started banging on about it, resulting in deep seated grumblings from within the Conservative Party Eurosceptics and a sudden realisation that it’s much easier to blame the state of the country on EU migrants rather than the 2008 banking crisis and increased austerity measures because hey, those are things the government finds handy. The Conservatives promised that if they got a majority government in 2015 they’d try and renegotiate the UK’s EU deal and then follow with a public referendum and it’s just about the only thing in their manifesto they didn’t u-turn on. So in 2014 Prime Minister David Cameron outlined changes he wanted in the UK’s EU deal focusing on new immigration clauses to bring back voters they’d lost to UKIP, less influence from the European Court of Human Rights on UK police and courts and mainly to protect tax avoidance and city bankers. So ultimately all the important things like pointless xenophobia, making things shitter for everyone in justice, and removing more money from public services.
Cameron didn’t manage to bring back much from his European visit which is odd cos I usually at least pick up some nice cheese from the airport when I go, and thanks to things like Nigel Farage’s endlessly tedious loud wailings, an EU referendum was set for June 23rd punishing all of those people who have a strong opinion on the EU but had also booked tickets to see Muse, Coldplay and Adele at Glastonbury. I imagine the crowd in front of the Pyramid stage will just look like a sea of Paul Hollywoods. And yes, if that’s your music taste, I’m not sure you deserve a vote. Ever.
OK OK THANKS FOR ALL THAT INFORMATION I COULD HAVE FOUND OUT FROM THE INTERNET BY MYSELF BUT PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE BOTHERED WITH. NOW WHAT ABOUT ALL THE IMPORTANT CURRENT ISSUES WITH THE EU?
Hmm, well there are a lot of these, so let’s try and address the big guns first.
HOW ABOUT WE START WITH THE ECONOMIC ISSUES?
Yes, let’s Eurobot 3000. That way we can bore the listeners before they even get to any of the more interesting stuff. So back in Episode 2 in February of this year, I spoke to Professor Tony Yates from the University Of Birmingham’s economics department. Here’s what he had to say on the economics risks of staying in or leaving the EU:
CLIP FROM INTERVIEW WITH TONY YATES
YOU LEFT THAT LAST BIT IN BECAUSE YOU THINK IT MAKES YOU SOUND CLEVER DIDN’T YOU?
Yeah alright. Starting to wish I hadn’t created you now Eurobot 3000. You’re getting all a bit Hal 9000 for my liking.
THAT WAS MY GRANDAD.
Explains a lot. So as Tony said, this is the big issue, we just don’t know what would happen if we leave. And already this uncertainty has caused growth expectations among UK companies to fall to their lowest level for over 3 years, at a consistent rate for the last 10 months. And while that could balance out after a referendum because of the ridiculous childish way the financial market works whereby some people decide things will be bad so therefore everyone pulls out, markets fall and things then do go badly, yes, things could actually continue to go badly. You often wonder if the City Of London should just be given free uppers so that they constantly think everything will be great and the economy is forever stable. Though considering how many drugs they’re probably on already, that’s probably not a good idea.
Part of this is all to do with what deal we would renegotiate with European countries if we left the EU. Currently because the UK was an early member state and is a major EU stakeholder, we have a few benefits at our disposal. These include not having the Euro, an opt out from an ever closer union which makes us all sound like we have relationship issues but actually is quite an important opt out, we’re not part of the Shengen agreement which I’ll talk about more later, we have opt outs in the area of freedom, security and justice which means the UK can be excluded from certain legislation on a case by case basis and we have an opt out on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Which actually would’ve allowed UK workers the right to have more strikes and have greater power in the workplace, but that of course was a big no, no from the UK government.
And very importantly, we get a pretty snazzy rebate on our contributions to the EU and our rebate happens straight away so never actually gets sent to Brussells in the first place. The figure of £350m a week that’s been banded around is what we would pay the EU if we didn’t get over £100m or £23m a day back instantly. Now that sounds like a pricey membership fee on the offset, especially when you don’t get a commemorative set of plates with Jean Claude Juncker’s face on with your first issue or anything like that, but the fee that does go to Brussels covers tons of things from admin costs, international aid, security, citizenship, preservation of natural resources, science funding, grants to small businesses and aid to poorer regions of Europe. In fact a lot of EU money has gone to communities in the UK that suffered from cuts to industry, such as large parts of South Wales. I mean, imagine Newport if it hadn’t got that funding. I know right? In fact, figures from 2010 showed the UK spent €105.12 per person on membership and €53.05 of that was given back to the UK for agriculture funds.
While there’s an assumption that if we left all the membership fee could be say, spent on the NHS, actually, it’d get spent wherever the government decided to spend it and again, judging by the current lot, that would be on some big defunct submarines while the closest thing your community now has to an arts centre is the bit of graffiti outside KFC that says Darren’s a slag.
BUT ISN’T THE E U ECONOMY FAILING?
Well it depends on how you look at it. The share of world output that the EU has now is less than it used to be. It was 30% in 1980 and this year is now 16.5%. But the EU is actually larger now in current and constant prices than it was in 1980 it’s just that other economies like India and China have had huge economic growth since then. It’s a bit like at school when you grow taller than your mates, then they all catch up, but you’re still all doing ok. Not that I’d know, I’ve been the same short height since I was about 8. Of course there is the Eurozone debt crisis which has been continuing since 2009 caused by a number of issues from rolling debt caused by banking bail outs after the global financial crisis, to bail outs given to Ireland, Portugal, Spain and of course, Greece. Greece is a whole other podcast of explanation, as it was result of many things from the EU helping financial institutions but not people, to Greece’s laws meaning that no one really ever paid much tax. Ultimately I’m still sure if they broke less plates at dinner it’d have saved a ton of cash.
But despite Grecians being rightly upset with the way the EU bullied them into staying and taking bail out money, Greece’s economy is now performing, while still not perfect, much better than expected. However at a time where Greece really needs the EU to invest more in their economy while interest rates are low, they aren’t doing enough. All across the Eurozone investment is still lower than it was pre-crisis and the banks are struggling in many European countries. So is it safe to stay in? Well it is healing but very slowly and because we aren’t part of the Eurozone, the UK isn’t as affected by this as those countries that are in it. Plus leaving may cause the pound to fall pretty drastically anyway, leading to further recession that way. Very much damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It all just depends on how you like your damning to occur. Personally I like mine with some faint praise, but that is because I faint very, very well.
BUT WHAT ABOUT NORWAY? OR SWITZERLAND? THEY AREN’T IN THE EU AND THEY SEEM TO BE FINE.
Ok, I’ve thrown a lot of facts and figures about so let’s discuss membership possibilities like this. Say the EU is one giant pub.
THE EU IS ONE GIANT PUB.
You didn’t need to do that.
IS IT MOSTLY BELGIAN BEER? THAT STUFF MAKES ME DRUNK VERY QUICKLY.
I don’t know. Go away. Look, if the EU was one giant pub with all the member states around the table, then currently the UK would be part of that, engaging in high level bantz that about how pathetically optimistic we continue to be about England’s chances in the Euro 2016. Of course the chat would be in English because everyone else would speak it but we hadn’t bothered to learn their languages. Then we’d buy a round and some nibbles, but we’d get to eat a good amount of those nibbles and all the other countries would make sure they got a round in too, despite not realising quite how much we drink.
Switzerland would also be at the table but because they have an EU deal that works on a case by case basis, they’d still have to pay in towards the rounds but while they’d probably get to ask for what drink they’d like, there’s no say on crisp flavour as they need to abide by EU food laws. They have over 100 separate EU agreements so bantz would be awkward at times and most of the table would probably avoid talking to them because they’ve opted out of free movement and that means they never invite anyone else to their pubs anymore. Ultimately Switzerland is that pal that the EU isn’t all that happy that they’re there and wish they’d just take part properly and enjoy themselves or piss off, go home and watch Netflix instead of complaining.
Meanwhile Norway is the buddy that really wants to be part of the EU and keeps paying in for rounds but is never asked what drink it wants and is constantly given blue WKD even though it hates it. No one involves them in the big chat topics but if they don’t go along with it, they won’t even get that shitty blue alcopop so they stick with it, forever regretting the day they pretended they were too cool for this gang.
Now if the UK decided to leave this pub, then we’d either have to negotiate being like Switzerland or Norway and accepting whatever the EU wanted us to drink without ever getting a say. That’s of course if the EU even let’s us rejoin them at the table, as the UK leaving the team might cause other countries to want to leave and so there are chances that the EU might make a real example of us put others off going. So we might have to go to each individual country to see what they wanted first and they might demand the only way they buy us a drink is if we down a pint of sick or wear a silly costume and we’d not have a lot of choice if we wanted to still get any sort of trade out of this. The UK would try to add comments to conversations but often everyone else would just go quiet, then start a new conversation in French so we couldn’t understand it and would have to sit on the edge of the table playing on our phones. There is also the possibility that we have our own table somewhere else and they come over to chat to us but let’s face it, when has that ever happened at a pub unless someone’s a well known dealer or has excellent pirate DVDs? No I’m not sure what I’m saying with that either. 44% of all UK exports are with the EU, but only 8% of the EU’s exports are with the UK, so they’ll be the ones clicking ‘maybe’ on the event invite from us, not the other way round.
All the while Turkey has seen on Facebook that some of their friends are having an event but they haven’t been invited so they’ll just stay at home and play with themselves yet again.
And I’m not entirely sure that analogy worked but what I’m saying is, it’ll be very complicated trying to renegotiate 43 years of membership and hundreds of trading deals within a few years and while we do we’ll likely be in a sticky financial situation and I don’t know about you, but that makes me really need a drink.
Right, what’s next?
DEMOCRACY AND SOVEREIGNITY
Ah yep. Here’s another clip from my chat with Jon Worth:
JON WORTH CLIP
The EU is more democratic than you think, though still not as democratic as we’d like it to be, though coming from a country with The Queen and the House Of Lords, it’s a bit high falutin’ to want a more democratic system. I discussed how the EU works on a previous podcast. So let’s do this again, but super quickly at 1.5 speed for your benefit:
The EU commission is made up of 27 commissioners and a President. The president is elected by the European Council who is made up of the heads of the member states. So in the case of the UK that’s the prime minister that was diplomatically elected in your country that gets to vote for the commission president. So while you’ve not had a direct hand in choosing the UK’s representative to the EU commission, you have had an indirect choice by voting in a general election. Although in the last general election only 37% of the 66% that voted, voted for our current government so yeah this area already has enough shades of grey to be an EL James book. The commission president then selects the other 27 commissioners who have been suggested by the member states, again, in our case its’ our government, and the commissioners don’t have any individual decision making powers unless they are authorised to do so by the commission. The president and the commission together can decide policy and budgets and things like that, but then none of that gets passed unless its approved by a majority vote in the European parliament which is made up of MEPS that YOU VOTE FOR DIRECTLY.
So, let’s back track. You vote in your general election for your local MP, which results in a government being elected that you may or may not have wanted who have a Prime Minister that you might think is an arsehole with a face like an upset balloon. That Prime Minister then helps elect the EU Commission President, and that government suggests a EU Commissioner who the EU President will nearly always accept. You then vote in European elections for an MEP who represents you, who goes to the European parliament and votes for or against EU Commission policies, on your behalf. Unless you voted UKIP in which case your MEP can’t be arsed to turn up and therefore you have no say at all. Funny how the people who say the EU is undemocratic the most are those who are tearing the democracy away from it with a monkey wrench. Yes we the people of the UK don’t get to decide on everything they do, and yes the votes may get passed on a majority vote that your MEP didn’t vote for, but that is how elections work. There are more blurred lines than that in there, including when it comes to certain financial decisions, but lets face it, you’re already bored with the two elections we’re having this year, I can’t imagine any of you would bother to vote on European laws on a regular basis if you could or pay the extra tax money to implement it happening. Or perhaps I’m wrong. In which case run for MEP and shut up.
As for sovereignty, this is a tad tricky as it all depends which UK laws you’re talking about. According to a parliamentary report the EU influences somewhere between 6.8% of primary legislations and 14.1% of secondary legislations in UK law, but some of those only mention the EU in passing so doesn’t really count. But then other estimates of up to 65% are also tricky to justify as EU regulations automatically have binding legal force in every member country but some of those laws only apply in very specific cases like how turnips mustn’t be called swedes except if in a Cornish pasty in which case it’s fine. Yes, that’s a real EU regulation. Or how vessels flying the Danish flag aren’t allowed to catch mackerel, which really won’t affect anyone in the UK unless British fisherman decide to have a fancy dress ‘Danish’ day which if you’re going to do it properly just requires a bacon sandwich and a Viking hat so if you’ve stuck a new flag on your boat you’re really trying too hard. And no they have never banned straight bananas, but there are regulations that means bananas must be free from ‘malformation or abnormal curvature’ though Class 1 bananas can have ‘slight defects of shape’ and Class 2 bananas can have full ‘defects of shape’. So if you see, er, an abnormally curved banana, whatever that is, just know it’s fine as it is, but like an EU equivalent of a police caution, it’d be done for if it was caught trying to give the law a slip. Similarly the EU have never tried to ban powerful vacuum cleaners, they just want them to be more efficient and environmentally friendly so they don’t suck in more ways than one. Some laws do seem excessive though, especially as they have to apply to 28 different countries even though things may not be suitable for every one of those. For example, current EU laws class certain animals or plants as ‘invasive species’ and their current list of these includes racoons and chipmunks. I disagree with the former but the latter’s squeakwell got everywhere and was fucking annoying so I understand. Still zoos in the UK, despite not having an issue with either of these creatures, may have to exterminate them under this law incase they escape. Hopefully if I’ve learned anything from animated movies, they’ll let them escape and have an exciting adventure in Madagascar.
Also a lot of the laws that do affect us are laws that the UK government passed over the EU like agriculture and environment, or all the regulations to do with health and safety or annual leave or maternity pay. Here’s a clip from my interview with Pete Kavanagh at Unite about that:
CLIP FROM PETE KAVANAGH ABOUT WORKERS RIGHTS
So if we leave the EU and the government wanted to reintroduce those policies, which lets face it, isn’t entirely likely in some cases, then taking those laws back would require a lot of paperwork on our side plus we’d probably have to keep some of them exactly the same in order to fit with the trade requirements of our newly made contracts with individual EU countries. And no one likes more paperwork. Except origami specialists and I’ve heard that industry’s about to fold. No, I’m not sorry.
WITH OR WITHOUT EU JINGLE
CLIP FROM CHAT WITH AMY AND CATHERINE
That was a clip from my chat with Dr Amy Ludlow and Professor Catherine Barnard at Cambridge University from Episode 7. They are doing a research study into EU migration so actually know things.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE IMMIGRATION TIERNAN? IF WE DON’T LEAVE THE EU I’VE HEARD THAT IT’LL ONLY BE A MATTER OF YEARS BEFORE WE CAN’T SEE THE WOODS FOR TURKISH PEOPLE. THERE’LL BE TURKISH PEOPLE ALL IN YOUR HAIR AND DOWN YOUR TROUSERS AND IN THE BUTTER.
Look robot, as I’ve said a bazillion times, Turkey isn’t going to join the EU anytime soon if at all. It requires the country fulfilling 35 areas of criteria and it’s currently not past number 13, so you’ve more chance of George RR Martin actually finishing his Game Of Thrones books, or in fact, actual dragons roaming the earth, before they join. Secondly, EU migration is a tricky issue on a number of levels, a bit like that Super Mario game they only released in Japan. Now before we get into this, I should say that originally having seen performance dance, I was very against free movement. What’s that arm waving meant to mean? How is that star jump representative of prejudice in the 17th century? I have however since learned otherwise. Instead there are very good and very bad things about free movement. Before anything else it’s worth pointing out that on last count of net migration, EU migration was about 185,000 people from the EU into the UK per year. That figure is just over half of net migration each year so that’s the amount of people coming into the UK set against the amount leaving the UK. We’re currently not part of the Schengen agreement which allows people to travel between EU countries without a passport, and as you may have noticed when landing in an airport or docking at a harbour is that you need your passport in order to get into the UK, or in the case of those automatic passport reading gates, you need your passport, a ton of patience and a restraint that stops you kicking the shit out of a robot.
Sorry. But we do have control of our borders, though recent government cuts to border control does mean we probably don’t have a soldier guarding every square of coastline with a large stick ready to prod any visitors straight back into the channel. Though in Ireland there is a land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and really it’d be a whole heap of unnecessary trouble if you wanted to stick some sort of passport control between those two countries to stop EU migrants from getting in. Good luck with that. Also leaving the EU would mean our agreement with France to have our border controls there might be invalid, so instead of a migrant camp in Calais, it’d be in Dover. Ultimately all current EU migration would merge into a larger number of overall migration and net migration numbers probably wouldn’t be that different. Unless of course the current government make things so shitty over here that most UK citizens leave which is, hugely possible.
Mostly a lot of the arguments against EU migrants coming to the UK, revolve around an incredible case of amnesia from the British public. Unless I’m hugely mistaken and in 2008 tons of EU migrants came here, infiltrated the banking system, sold off huge amounts of bad debt and helped cause a global financial crisis resulting in job losses and cuts across the board. Did that happen? Did they sneak in, run as MPs, then as part of a government initiative, force in incredible austerity measures, cause a lack of funding into infrastructure, and slowly destroy the education and healthcare system amongst other things? I mean if they did then fair play, as that is some sneaky diplomatic tampering and I sort of feel they deserve acknowledgement for it. All evidence suggests that if migration has had an effect on UK unemployment it’s an incredibly marginal one and actually as the UK population grows anyway, more jobs and services are created and are needed and the only way to meet those needs are with migration or rapid breeding and I don’t know about you but I get tired quickly. It is globally recognised that if more people come to a country, it increases economic demand as they produce things, buy things and need things. So really people coming here should be helping you out. Unless of course if your business is selling racist anti-immigrant merchandise, in which case you’re a prick and you deserve everything you get.
There is some evidence that free movement has caused a lowering of wages, but it’s not conclusive and again, rather than that being the fault of people coming here and doing it, it’s another notch in a long list of working regulation that the government isn’t delivering along with a living wage that isn’t.
EMILY KENWAY INTERVIEW
Many NHS and public sector employees are from the EU, so they could be hit hard with a Brexit. As could areas like house building and construction. There’s also some evidence to suggest that EU migrants contribute £20bn to the economy, though that is just based on their first year of being here and if anything will cause you to want to help a country less it’s having to go to a British office Christmas party. So look, chances are immigration isn’t really affecting anyone in the UK, although if your job has been directly taken by someone from another country in the EU it’s because it’s likely you were shit at it, and should’ve tried harder.
THIS PODCAST IS GOING ON FOR AGES TIERNAN.
Yes I know. There’s a lot to fit in. How about some sort of speed run for the other categories?
OK I WILL TRY MY BEST TO FIRE SUBJECTS AT YOU QUICKLY. LET’S START WITH TAX AVOIDANCE:
Great, I’ll let Jo Maugham from my interview with him in episode 7 answer that one. Apologies for the clicking in this clip:
JO MAUGHM CLIP EP 7
Since that interview, the Panama Papers scandal has happened and it was revealed that David Cameron personally stepped in to stop the EU from a tax crackdown on offshore trusts. So whether he’s Prime Minister or not, I can’t see this current government really imposing many extra laws all by themselves.
OK HOW ABOUT THE ENVIROMENT?
Ok this is a big one that’s being hugely ignored by all the campaigns. First, over to David Powell at the New Economics Foundation from episode 10:
To be honest this is one of the areas that is swaying my vote. EU environmental policies have included, among many others, forcing both Labour and Conservative governments to clean up the UK’s beaches. Before the 1976 Bathing Water directive, it was common for countries to pump untreated sewage directly into the sea. Various UK governments fought against this because and it was only in 1998 that it was stopped, as long as you discount all the times people have done a wee while out for a paddle. Still only 60% of UK beaches meet the ‘excellent’ standards of the Bathing Water directive but leaving would mean we wouldn’t have to meet any of those standards. Now I’m not saying a UK government wouldn’t implement it by themselves but they’ve just cut taxes on oil and gas, as well as pioneering fracking so it’s their priority. And I once got a rash from going in the sea in Margate in the 80’s that really stung and lasted for days, so I’d definitely prefer it if we weren’t literally swimming up shit creek ever again.
Norway, as mentioned isn’t in the EU but they do have amazing environmental policies including from 2025 only electric cars will be available to buy and they’ve just made deforestation illegal. But that is Norway and they work differently to us on account of you know, actually liking the planet and other people.
BUT DOESN’T LEAVING E U ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES MEAN PETROL WOULD BE CHEAPER?
Hmm hard to say. VAT has added 20% of petrol which may go depending on what deals we strike with the rest of Europe, but a lot of petrol costs are still crude oil prices and UK fuel duty.
HOW ABOUT THE FISHERIES POLICIES?
There is indeed something fishy about the EU’s fisheries policies. On the one hand it was brought in to ensure that fish stocks didn’t deplete, which sounds great. Especially as there’d be nothing to ruin the fishing industry than an entire lack of fish, and it’d be far harder to persuade people who’ve just had a break up that they’ll find someone else. However the EU decided that the best way to do this was to give national quotas meaning the UK was only allowed to fish 13% of the new commonly shared resource. What that’s meant is that the UK fishing industry has declined and foreign owned vessels have slowly been buying up the UK’s quota. 23% of the UK’s share is now with a single massive Dutch trawler. There is also the depressing ‘discards’ issue which means fisherman who’ve found they’ve got more than their quota just throw all the dead fish back in the sea. If that isn’t an even more depressing outlook for single people looking for love then I don’t know what is. So leaving the EU could revive the UK fishing industry and lower costs. Though without further UK regulation all the fish could also disappear. So I guess we’d just have to carefully work out our plaice. Geddit? PLAICE?
WHAT ABOUT OTHER FOOD?
No one really knows! Food costs could fall because the UK could buy grub from anywhere in the world without EU duties but then the duties from different places all around the world vary, some costing more than the EU ones and some less. What could change is all the labels on your grub. The EU requires all sorts of stuff on there, from useful things like sell by dates and allergens, to some very over protective stuff that has banned water bottles from stating that it’d prevent dehydration, because sometimes the best way to prevent dehydration is just to die of thirst huh? There are various ingredients and additives that are banned under EU law but legal in say, the US, that may end up back in British foods and have all your children running around in circles for days because of the yellow marshmellows in Frosted Lucky Charms. But again NO ONE REALLY KNOWS AND IT’LL TAKE YEARS TO SORT IT OUT.
OK MY FAVOURITE NOW, HOW DOES THE EU AFFECT SCIENCE?
Loads and loads. The EU covers more science funding in the UK than the UK does. Some of the most valuable science grants are funded by the European Research Council which is an EU initiative. The Leave campaign say that the £350m sent to the EU could be used for science funding instead if we Brexit, but science has little political weight so, as with its current lack of funding, there is little to guarantee it would be used for that. Or that the amount would match what’s given by the EU. Instead they may have to look to private investment which could force them to have skewed results in favour of products and as we’ve seen recently, scientists that are funded by UK government money are banned from speaking out against government policies even if their evidence proves they are wrong or dangerous. Scientists have done all the maths because that’s what they’re good at, and an overwhelming majority have come to the conclusion that they should stay in. So ultimately Eurobot3000 if you hadn’t been created by June 24th this year and we Brexit, then you might not have got made at all.
THAT’S NOT TRUE IS IT, BECAUSE YOU MADE ME OUT OF TEA STIRRERS AND BY MAKING A WISH WHILE DANCING TO TAYLOR SWIFT.
Shhhhh don’t tell them that or they’ll all want one.
WILL WE BE MORE AT RISK FROM SECURITY / WAR IF WE LEAVE OR STAY? No one really has a clue and there’s nothing to say either would make a difference. You know what would actually decrease chances of terror attacks? Going back in time to stop the Iraq War destabilising the entire Middle East. You know how we fund a time machine? EU science funds.
WHAT ABOUT IF I MANAGE TO UNPLUG MYSELF AND GO ON HOLIDAY TO FRANCE THEN FALL DOWN SOME STAIRS AND BREAK MY FACE. WILL I STILL GET FREE MEDICAL AID?
No idea, it all depends on what deal we get. Same with your phone bills where EU roaming costs may well hugely increase if you’re outside but then they may well drop as with all phone costs and with WhatsApp and Skype and 3 or EE not getting any reception even in the UK why does anyone care anyway? And you’ll probably have quicker queues at passport control in the airport on your way home but longer ones on your way there when you really just want to get to your holiday. Car insurance will probably go down if you’re female and up if you’re male on account of not being part of the EU gender equality ruling, something that will probably really confuse sexists who both think women are worse drivers but would really like cheaper car insurance. House building might suffer as all the people who come here to do the manual labour and build them won’t have free movement anymore. Oh and your consumer rights may or may not be affected I JUST DON’T KNOW BECAUSE NO ONE DOES AND PRETENDING YOU DO DOESN’T COUNT.
WHAT ABOUT TTIP?
I spoke about that last episode. Catch up loser.
OK A BIG QUESTION: WILL SCOTLAND LEAVE BRITAIN IF WE LEAVE THE EU?
Here’s Adam Ramsay from our last episode on that very subject:
ADAM RAMSAY CLIP
So in conclusion, the EU is good and bad and does some good things and some bad things and we know what will happen if we stay because we’re in it now and we don’t have a clue what will happen if we leave but it may be good or bad. Unless you’re a scientist in which case it will likely be bad. Unless you’re a fisherman in which case it’ll likely be good. Unless you’re an EU migrant wanting to work in the UK or a UK citizen wanting to work in the EU, then it’ll be bad. Unless you’re a xenophobe who once saw someone you didn’t know in your village and it scared you, then it’ll be good.
BUT TIERNAN MOST IMPORTANTLY THAN ANYTHING ELSE, WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL OPINION?
I’m glad you asked Eurobot 3000. I’m going to vote, perhaps unsurprisingly, to remain. Though I will say on the side of leave that I think whilst it’s not as undemocratic as you’d be lead to believe, as Jon Worth stated it could be improved. I also think some of the bureaucracy is bonkers and unnecessary and ultimately any system that’s designed to aid globalisation isn’t something I’m that keen on. Globalisation always sounded great to me until I realised that rather than uniting the world and bringing people together it just means it doesn’t matter where you travel to, you’ll end up saying ‘what? There’s a starbucks here as well?’ with individual identities of places disappearing as the world becomes one amalgamated lump.
But, I think that is going to happen to the UK anyway and with the neo liberal supporting Conservatives changing boundary rules, short money cuts and electoral reforms, we will see all those things happening anyway. Frankly if you really believe that a leave vote, leaving us either with David Cameron or Boris Johnson or Michael Gove will change any of that then please let me know what prescription you’re on, it sounds great. That we’re meant to believe Johnson and Gove are now anti-elitist after years of them being pro, or that Iain Duncan Smith is now all about social justice after deeming hundreds of people fit for work when they weren’t and causing their deaths, is crazy.
Overall I’m worried that this want to leave now isn’t for the right reasons. The stay argument isn’t for the right reasons either. It’s about protecting the city or the pound, rather than the environment. There’s only been snippets of arguments about protecting workers rights. But the idea that we’ll leave on the basis of blaming everything on EU migrants or outside forces isn’t right and I’m pretty sure if we leave there’ll be a point a year or so down the line where everyone realises things are still really shit. What will people do then? Separate ourselves from the UK? Separate your county from your country? Build a wall around your town and declare survival of the fittest battle to find your king?
Very selfishly, I work in Europe loads. I do gigs in Belgium, Finland, Estonia, the Netherlands and more and it’s never stopped being exciting that I can just pop over there to work, with a passport and no other hassle, and the audiences there are amazing. Why would I want to limit the places where I can go and make people laugh by making it less cost effective with visas and work permits? I know comedians who live in Europe and fly back to the UK each weekend to gig, because they can and that’s amazing.
These arguments based on what the campaigns have decided to make up each day are so tedious and I worry that we’re now in a world where facts come second to who can shout loudest and who’s got the most ludicrous claims. Look I like a risk, I’ve got the Lord Of The Rings edition at home, but this risk seems like the sort of one someone makes in a teen fiction whereby one of your pals ends up dead and you for some reason have a leech in your pants.
Here’s political journalist Abi Wilkinson on her views on it from episode 13:
ABI WILKILSON CLIP
Really, you should just vote for whatever you feel is best but please please do read up on facts if you’re undecided, or in fact, even if you are decided. Maybe focus on what you get out of a non-EU Britain or what you currently get out of us being part of the union. And make sure you don’t base your vote on how either David Cameron or Boris Johnson feel about it or you’ll just be sick in your own shoe and not be able to go out and vote at all because it is really hard to walk down the road in sicky shoes.
If you need some facts, here’s Professor Catherine Barnard again with some recommendations where you can get them:
CATHERINE BARNARD CLIP
There is going to be no podcast next week because I think it’s probably best to now just see what happens and either this lengthy podcast that’s taken a lot of work will be irrelevant in two weeks time, or you’ll be able to use it for the next referendum in about 30 years when you listen to it via a chip in your eye. I’m going to be part of the Simple Politics politician free panel in Whitstable on June 16th if you can be bothered to hear at lot of these views all over again. If you’re not near Whitstable it’ll be streaming online at SimplePolitics.co.uk.
Huge thanks to all the guests who’ve clips I’ve cheekily used again for today’s show, to EuroBot3000 who will be dismantled if it’s a Brexit.
Sorry. And to Mark Struthers at Energy Studios who’s done fancy sound things to this episode to make it hear nice. As always please spread the word about this podcast, review it on iTunes and contact me @parpolbro on Twitter or Facebook, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLIP FROM JON WORTH ABOUT HOW WE’LL STILL BE GOING ON ABOUT IT.
See you in two weeks when things will either be the same but angry or different but different angry. And now for the last ever time.
OLD WITH OR WITHOUT EU JINGLE.