I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK

click on any heading for more information

I wish my country were still :

one of the greatest trading nations on the planet

Do you doubt this, Vladimir?

the 5th largest economy

There are many ways to measure and rank economies. Most convert the measurements into US Dollars before comparing, so if the UK’s currency drops in value against the dollar, as it has done after the EU referendum, then we may fall in the rankings.

The method most used in the referendum campaign was that of comparing total GDP, where we may soon fall behind France : Wikipedia List of Countries by largest historical GDP.

Personally I think a better measure is GDP per person because this would be closer to the experience of people living in those economies. Here the UK is 13th : List of per capita nominal GDP for countries and dependencies

Another measurement of economies can consider the net indebtedness of each, the balance of what each is owed less the amount it owes. We are in 31st position in an incomplete list, below France and above Italy. Singapore, Hong Kong and Norway are the strongest : Wikipedia List of countries and Regions by net international investment position

This last could be considered an indicator of potential strength in international trade negotiations.

a full member of the EU, punching well above our weight at the top table as one of the big three along side France and Germany

The integration of Eastern European countries after the fall of the Iron Curtain was a British initiative, even though we were behaving as the American lapdog. America wanted Eastern Europe in the EU much more than any EU member did.

The Single Market has been trumpeted as the “Thatcherisation of Europe” by several of Thatcher’s ministers : “… the Single European Act of 1986. Margaret Thatcher was herself a driving force behind the Act and some of her Ministers positively fizzed with enthusiasm about the Single Market which it spawned. She and they believed that the Act achieved the Thatcherisation of Europe through the furtherance of free trade.” – John Bercow on the Bruges Group website

getting our way in over 96% of EU votes and shaping the future of the EU

a market of over 440 million potential customers only 22 miles away

The distance from Dover to Calais is 22 miles. There is only the width of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and between Gibraltar and Spain.

Subtract the UK population of 64 million from the current 28-member EU total of 507 million, giving 443 million, more than the combined populations of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand : Wikipedia Population and land area of the 28 member states of the European Union

a powerful nation, bridging the EU with North America

Many US and Canadian companies wanting to expand into Europe have started with a foothold in the UK, and turned that foothold into their European HQ. As the quality of English spoken in many countries in Europe has improved so much we have lost the advantage of being the main English speaking nation in Europe

one of five members of the UN security council with a permanent veto – this is now under threat

Superficially this is a case of how, in common with the Swedes and the Germans, the UK withdrew our policing staff from South Sudan without prior consultation with the UN. But we have to ask who will defend our right to the security council seat when we have annoyed so many other countries?

Metro : UK could lose its permanent seat on the UN Security Council

able to service our eye-watering levels of debt while so many want to invest in Britain and trade with Britain

As a total we have the second highest public debt in the world after the USA, and as a percentage of our GDP the third highest behind Luxembourg and Iceland : Wikipedia List of countries by external debt

The Migration Observatory charts this out here

protecting our consumers with sound legislation on goods and services that we have been very happy with

Let’s just take one area – food. Given the huge increase in the amount of food we consume in total there has not been a corresponding increase in food poisoning or in problems with food quality, compared to before we joined the EU. The horse meat scandal was a rarity. We have a wealth of information on packaged food. There are a number of people in the government that see this as unnecessary regulation, and hope to remove this in the near future.

More information here : The UK Food Standards Agency on European legislation

producing the culture and cool that were the envy of the world, from fish and chips to Bowie and so much more

From Purcell to Punk, from the Beatles to Britten, from Delius to Drum and Bass there has hardly been a style of music in which we haven’t excelled. From Hitchcock, through The Third Man, the James Bond films and the Ealing comedies to Trainspotting we have made movies enjoyed the world over. Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses and One Foot in the Grave have showcased our superb sense of humour.

Cultural Goliaths like Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas. We haven’t been slouches in literature, theatre, opera, fashion, architecture, art, sculpture and more.

a powerhouse of scientific research, thanks largely to a healthy share of EU research funding and to European cooperation, creating exciting new high tech businesses Updated 14/8/2016

Before we joined Europe we invented, over several hundred years, the steam engine, vaccines, the pedal bicycle, the light switch, the telephone, the television, the jet engine, carbon fibre and the computer. Since we joined we have invented the World Wide Web, DNA profiling and the new wonder material graphene

12th August 2016Philip Hammond, Uk Chancellor of the Exchequer, announces plans to guarantee funding for science approved before the date of his forthcoming Autumn Statement, and to offer some support after that. Scientists will still lose opportunities to participate in EU collaborations if we exit, and have concerns about future funding, but at least some of their issues with current and planned projects have been addressed.

where we can drink the water and swim off many beaches and in many lakes without worrying about water quality

“We can turn on our taps with the certainty of a safe, clean and refreshing supply”
UK drinking water quality standards

We can find out where is safe to swim or bathe, though only “where the Environment Agency expects a large number of people to bathe in the water”.
Water quality information at swimming beaches and lakes

I don’t want my country to be :

a country that treats the less well off so badly, unlike other countries in the EU

Let’s take one line of work : waiters. Pretty much all of us have been waited on, whether we eat in a “greasy spoon caff” with table service or in a five star café. In Britain we would not expect a waiter to mix socially with a bank manager or a company director, but that is much more likely to happen in the older established member countries of the EU. In part because we haven’t shaken off the class system but mostly because we do not allow waiters to have more dignity and our education system is not adapted for their needs.

For example, because I have spoken to a Brit with extensive knowledge of workers rights and entitlements there and because one of my sons works there, let’s take Austria. There if you are planning to work as a waiter you will be taught the maths you need as a waiter – adding, subtracting, multiplying, … , not set theory and algebra. You will know that you are going into a line of work that is respected and will not automatically distance yourself from your school friends with their different career paths when you leave school. Your career has possibilities of advancement, to senior or head waiter if your workplace is large enough or to restaurant manager. And you will be better paid than a British waiter. You will not struggle to feed your family.

The zero hours contract is a nasty British way to make the lives of British workers worse and does not exist in the rest of the EU. It is argued that company bosses will employ more people when they have the option of zero hours contracts, but it has also enabled many jobs to be downgraded that would still be available without these contracts.

We have a huge benefits culture for big business, the corporate subsidy. We give about £3,500 per person to big companies every year. Read a Guardian article about this here

Even if the “£350 million per week goes to the EU” claim of the Leave campaign were true that figure is dwarfed by the amount we give to big business, which is five times that amount. Read Tax Research UK’s article with pie chart breakdowns of government spending here

a far right experiment into how few rights workers “need” and how little the poor matter

Priti Patel would like to make things even worse for British workers once she is freed from the EU’s Social Chapter protections. Other Leave campaigners have said similar things. Read the Huffington Post article here

We can be almost certain that leaving the EU will reduce our level of trade with the EU, because of all the extra paperwork that will become necessary, and possibly because of new tariffs. We will need to find new sources of trade by offering goods and services we haven’t been offering recently. This will mean more manufacturing and to be competitive we will either have to offer workers less benefits and pay than the Chinese and other Asian economies, or move that manufacturing abroad.

run by a government that increasingly tugs its forelock before self-interested media moguls and ignores the concerns of our citizens in their favour

Antony Hilton quoted Rupert Murdoch in the Evening Standard : “I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.'”

Both Blair and Brown ensured that the Mail were on-side and Blair, until he dallied with Wendi Deng, had Murdoch’s ear.

so plagued by tax avoidance and evasion that only those on middle incomes and less pay tax, like Greece

Funny that the media owners, after the EU made serious noises about cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, should back the Leave campaign so strongly!

so powerless that any country larger than Luxembourg will have the upper hand in trade negotiations with us because we are much more hungry for trade than they are

See the “Important Articles” page – “A Definitive Guide To The Brexit Negotiations” and “Why Brexit won’t mean that we’ll get a better trade deal”

powerlessly sitting on the sidelines while the EU tells us what to do to keep trading with it

Somewhere between 40% and 45% of our exports go to the EU. Membership of the Single Market, but not the EU, brings with it the respect for the Four Freedoms and the need to adhere to extensive regulations to be able to sell our goods and services into the Single Market. If we leave the Single Market and trade outside we can only sell our goods and services to the EU if we adhere to those extensive regulations that we will have no say in. The Prime Minister of Norway warned us about this before the referendum : read the Independent article here

the next Greece in the region, unable to generate enough trade to service our debt, crashing and burning

See “able to service our eye-watering levels of debt” above.

possibly further divided as Scotland and Northern Ireland may break away

We are a long way from being clear what might and could happen in both cases.

the victim of a serious brain drain of our best scientists

From the Times 30th July 2016 : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/brain-drain-of-top-scientists-after-brexit-ckxh6nqkl

World-leading scientists have started turning down roles at UK universities after the Brexit vote, a survey of academics has found.

 

The poll also recorded numerous instances of British researchers being sidelined in EU collaborations, over concerns that their presence would reduce the chance of receiving funding.

During the referendum campaign British scientists were consistently found to be overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU, citing concerns about freedom of movement and access to EU grants. The organisation Scientists for EU, which campaigned for Remain, has now begun collecting reports about the impact of the vote in the community.

Among more than 300 responses were dozens claiming that foreign applicants had refused jobs citing Brexit, or that British members of research collaborations had been asked to reduce their involvement.

One academic at a Russell Group university said a researcher they had poached had now reversed his decision. “World-leading researchers are already reconsidering positions in the UK because of the Brexit vote,” he said.

“One leading mathematician was due to arrive at our university this summer to take up a professorial chair. He has now told us that he has changed his mind, citing the Brexit vote as the principal reason.”

The respondents all asked to be anonymous but The Times has verified their details.

Another contributor said that for the first time in ten years he advertised a PhD studentship and received no European applicants. “This lack of applicants from the Continent is especially surprising and cause for concern, as I had numerous informal discussions with potential students from outside the UK, including the EU, leading me to expect a good number of applicants (20 or more),” he said.

Other scientists reported that staff were planning to leave or had already left. One said: “My Italian postdoc, who is a highly capable scientist, has decided to take a position in Norway after the referendum vote. He feels that he is concerned about his options here and that he also feels very unwelcome here after receiving verbal abuse and accusations of ‘stealing British jobs’.”

At least one academic said his group had been asked to step down completely from an EU-wide partnership. Another, from a Russell Group university, said she had been involved in a consortium that had been putting together a funding application but had been asked to step back. “The consortium, I think rightly, feels that having a UK co-ordinator will reduce the chances of being funded,” she added.

Despite all the reports, most of the effects on science as yet seem to be to do with perception rather than policy. Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said this week that he had seen no evidence that EU funding bodies were discriminating against the UK. He said the community should accept the results of the referendum and work to build a new immigration system that attracted the best scientists.

strategically weak against the big energy producers we hate – Russia, Saudi, … – while unable to generate enough of our own energy on these wind-swept isles

When did we last criticise effectively Saudi on human rights, their involvement in the backing of the expansion of fundamentalist thought through the muslim world, or anything else that we strongly disapproved of? Simialr things can be said of Bahrain and other gulf states. While we rely on Russian gas during the winter months we are strategically weak against them.

run by unelected bureaucrats in Whitehall, of which there are far more per head of population than EU bureaucrats for the EU population

On 31 March 2015, there were 439,323 UK civil servants. For 65 million people that means one civil servant for every 148 people, or 0.007 civil servants for every person in the UK. See the figures here

In contrast there are 50,000 EU civil servants serving a population of about 470 million. That is one civil servant for every 9400 people, or 0.0001 civil servants for every person in the EU. See the figures here

an object of ridicule around the world for the self-inflicted damage the referendum caused us.

I will add links to newspaper articles from other countries here later. You will need to view these with Google Chrome and take the translation option unless you speak many languages.

a country ignorant of the world around it

As a matter of personal experience I have found that ordinary people in many European countries understand much more about what is happening outside their own country than the typical Brit does.