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Monday, 20 June 2016

Lexit.. WTF were you thinking?

As many who knows me will attest, this post comes from someone who has seriously flirted with voting Leave; and so the title of this post, the somewhat aggressive question, is aimed squarely at myself.

I'm desperately keen to see EU reform, to see tighter limits on its overreach and more focus in its aims.

But this desperation is the source of my pain. It has woven a tight logical knot within my mind.

A vote to remain endorses the status quo, but I'm not happy with the status quo; I don't want to give the EU a vote of confidence.

In fact I'd go further in saying I will entertain the idea that Britain could do better outside the EU, but there are nevertheless some obstacles to be navigated on that path..

But I digress. Suffice to say I've read and agree with several centrist, liberal and leftist cases for Brexit, but there is no box marked:
□ Brexit, but I'm not fearful of migrants or maintaining close ties with my neighbours and I don't want the children of French, Polish, Spanish and Lithuanian parents in my son's class facing the fear of repatriation in 2 year's time 
We have a binary choice, leading to the seemingly never-ending question in my mind: which of the two options is the least-worst option?

That is until I started to examine what this referendum actually is.

Because in everything but the question itself this referendum isn't a simple choice between stay or go.

The referendum has no legal standing and, as such, it is a test of public opinion.

Parliament and Government have made assurances they will respect the will of the people, so my point above may seem like an irrelevant trivial detail.

However this one miscroscopic technicality gives rise to a line of thinking that unloops my circular reasoning. The result of the referendum isn't itself an outcome; it forms a mandate for the winning camp to implement the vision they have outlined during their campaign.

It is therefore a choice between the 2 visions outlined during the campaign and the only campaign agenda I can possibly endorse is that of Remain.

Voting for a liberal case for leaving the EU means putting my cross in the same box as UKIP, BNP and Britain First supporters. It means inadvertently supporting a campaign lead by people I don't agree with fought on an isolationist agenda bordering on outright racism propped up on a bed of triumphant patriotism.

I tried to lift myself above the gutter of the campaign - I mean, it's not as if either camp has refrained from barging the line between spin and outright lie.

But the only rational way to vote in this divisive split is along tribal lines - because the tribe that wins will use the outcome as a mandate to implement the vision they fought on.

And so the vote this Thursday is not the right shoe with which to kick the EU up the backside and destabilise what we have achieved in the UK and in Europe out of fear of where it will eventually lead us.

I am heartened by one thing alone from the last few weeks: after this bruising contest no British politician is under any illusion that Europe is without problems.

In some sense the British people have already spoken.

@JamesFirth

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