I keep seeing lists on social media. Lists of people who think leaving Europe is a bad idea and lists of those who don’t. The ‘remain’ list is impressive, containing as it does a diverse mix of world leaders, high profile businessmen and foremost economists. They have two things in common. Firstly, they all predict that leaving the EU will be economically disastrous for Britain and second – and this is the reason why we can trust their judgement on this – they all failed to predict the global economic crisis.
The list of those in favour of leaving the EU is less impressive and includes ‘that bloke who heads up ISIS’. We don’t know his name but that doesn’t matter. We know he wants the UK to vote leave because David Cameron told us and therefore it must be true – just like his pre-election pledge not to cut child tax-credits.
Also on the vote leave list are Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. These two are becoming so politically indivisible it can only be a matter of time before they are rebranded ‘DonBo’. But, inexplicably, it excludes self-made billionaire Sir James Dyson and all of the other 299 British CEOs who think leaving Europe would be good for business. No prizes then for guessing which side of the argument has a penchant for compiling lists.
However, it seems rather obvious to me that if the primary consideration in the referendum is economic then there will be winners and losers whichever way you vote. Sir James Dyson will be freed from the European bureaucracy be believes constrains his business, Lloyds of London and the £60 billion London Insurance market thinks losing its unfettered access to the EU single market will be disastrous. Home owners may find themselves in negative equity; aspiring home buyers may finally be able to own a house.
Personally, I’ve never been terribly motivated by economics. It’s probably why I’m broke, unemployed and of no fixed abode. On the other hand I am happy and I’d rather be happy than rich. The United Nations’s 2016 World Happiness report lists Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway as the top four happiest states in the world. At number one is Denmark with more opt-outs than any other EU member state and in its own referendum in December last year rejected any further integration. The other podium positions go to Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, countries that, despite their geography, have all declined to join the Union. So if you want to be happy then independence from the EU, with all the extra happiness this seems to bring, might be a good place to start. Cast your vote accordingly.
And there it is. In my quest for happiness I now find myself in the DonBo camp along with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (yes, that’s his name). Except, of course, that I’m not.
The best, and as far as I’m concerned, the only reason to remain part of the corrupt and dysfunctional Economic Union is humanity. The current trend on both sides of the English speaking Atlantic to retreat behind borders, to put up walls and impose quotas – the politics of fear – is inhumane and will only lead to more trouble and more conflict. Our ability to love, be creative and above all to have compassion requires us to stick together, to unite rather than to divide even if this is sometimes difficult, frustrating or personally disadvantageous.
It’s not an easy choice, I don’t like the bureaucratic travelling circus that is the European Parliament, it doesn’t deserve my vote but I’d rather live in hope than in fear. I’d rather be human than happy.