Tag Archives: David Cameron

Why do I find myself arguing in favour of leaving the EU when I’m going to vote to Remain?

EU referendum

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.


Invictus Games opening ceremony

Some Westminster insiders want me to shut up about veterans’ care. Here’s why I won’t

In the wake of the Invictus Games, Johnny Mercer MP stands up for injured veterans in his article for The Telegraph saying: ‘We know we owe you for the sacrifices you made in defence of the freedoms that we enjoy. We have a duty to you. Come forward; don’t suffer in silence. You gave the best years of your life in Service to this great Nation, in the proud traditions of your forebears.’

I could not agree more, but there’s a very good reason why veterans need a champion like Johnny and why other government ministers are urging him to drop the issue:

“Just like everyone else in the battlegroup, I hoped for the best and planned for the worst. In view of the very real and obvious dangers inherent in dismounted close combat I took out life insurance with the MoD’s approved provider. I wasn’t entirely certain if I was insuring myself against the risks of death or injury in the service of my country, or against the inadequacies of the long‑term care I would receive from the State in this second eventuality.

After more than ten years of conflict and a willingness by successive British governments to commit soldiers to combat, it is still a shameful reality that soldiers wounded in the service of their country are not adequately cared for by the State. They must rely instead on the generosity of the public through charities such as Help for Heroes to provide not only resources for their immediate rehabilitation as they recover from their injuries, but also for the long‑term care that many will need throughout the rest of their lives.

It was most unedifying to learn of the personal greed of our political masters in the Parliamentary expenses scandal that engulfed British politics in 2009–10. At this time, according to official statistics released by the MoD, eight British soldiers a month were dying in Afghanistan. A further 13 were very seriously wounded, sustaining injuries that would change the course of the rest of their lives. It is notable that our political leaders at almost every level of governance will show public support for the men and women of the Armed Services – yet still drag their heels when it comes to ensuring that those who make the ultimate sacrifice receive adequate financial support from a grateful country.”

Johnny concludes: ‘Should we have done more as a Government in this sector [veterans’ care] to facilitate it and “guarantee it” over the years? Undoubtedly yes. Are we getting better? Is this PM committed to it? Yes.’

I hope you’re right Johnny but don’t stop raising the issue at PMQs.

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is available as an Amazon Kindle e-book

SPIN ZHIRA: Old Man in Helmand is the unauthorised, unvarnished and irreverent story of one man’s midlife crisis on the front line of the most dangerous district in Afghanistan where the locals haven’t forgiven the British for the occupation of 1842 or for the Russian Invasion of 1979. Of course, all infidels look the same so you can’t really tell them apart.