I’ve long said that the UK’s remain campaign and “remainers” aren’t very pro-EU at all.
Much of what they said in 2016 and still say today, is implicity or directly anti-EU. Or at best, they fail to challenge the misleading way anti-Europe opponents in Britain talk about the Union.
British remainers suffer from a timidity. They calculate that others don’t much like the EU or want closer union, so they tailor a strange transactional, technical, message, boasting about what a good “deal” they’ve snuck through. It doesn’t dispute fundamentally anti-EU narratives and often alligns with those anti-EU messages. Instead of proudly touting a big vision for European political union, the remain message is one of caveats, opt outs and dealmaking.
Helpfully, Nigel Farage gave the best advice to remain campaigners in early 2016, when he spoke about the remain campaign’s weak, transactional, anti-union message:
“There’s no positivity. I mean literally none at all.
There is nobody saying:
‘The EU’s fantastic, we love this flag, moving towards a full political union is fantastic.’
– Nigel Farage (May 2016)
1. Boasting about being outside of the Euro
How many times have remain campaigners or “Pro-EU” British people made a boast that goes something like the following:
“We have the best deal!
Outside of the Euro, no Schengen!
A veto on any future EU projects!
The words: ‘Ever closer union’, deleted! Just for us!”
To boast that the UK rejected the Euro, to say that that rejection was a wonderful, excellent, thing, is anti-EU.
The European Union’s founding treaties include the aim of “Monetary and fiscal union”, the Euro is the EU. Boasting about rejecting the Euro, is not Pro-EU.
To boast about rejecting it, is in fact to agree with Nigel Farage that the Euro is terrible. The fundamental position of remainers is the same as his. To boast about rejecting the Euro and what a great “deal” that is, is to be in agreement with anti EU campaigners, namely that the Euro was skilfully avoided.
If one tries to press “remainers” on the logic of this issue; they usually reply with some variation of the simultaneously anti-EU, and also irrelevant, retort of:
“Well yes, the Euro IS terrible!
You can’t seriously claim that the EU is perfect!
That would be dishonest!
Remain and reform!”
The Euro is not terrible. “Remain and reform” is not positive, it’s negative.
Being pro-Euro, or pro-EU, or pro-anything, isn’t about perfection. Being ‘pro UK’, but anti-pound sterling, wouldn’t make any sense either.
The Euro is the world’s second reserve currency, for a start. More governments around the world trust their national reserves in Euros, than the pound. Many of the world’s richest and successful, stable, advanced, countries use it as their currency, successfully, every day, year in year out.
The Euro is 20 years old, the Euro crisis is long over. Greece is still in the Eurozone and will never leave. Matteo Salvini, who passes for a Eurosceptic in Italy, has said things like (repeatedly, for several years):
“My children will grow up with euros in their pockets.
The exit from the euro is not on the agenda, not today, tomorrow or the day after.”
-“Eurosceptic” Matteo Salvini (2018)
Despite the crankish, incessent, predictions of doom from British commenters. Despite silly anti Euro PR stunts by Russia Today and Nigel Farage in the 2000s. Despite repetitive smug crowd pleasing predictions of collapse “this weekend” and “desperate decline” by talking heads, like Mogg, who have all endlessly claimed that the end is nigh. Despite their decades long dull chanting that the Euro is doomed “soon, very… soon…soon”, year in, year out, from the start.
Despite that, the Euro is a success.
The majority of Eurozone citizens are in favour of the Euro, the 2008-ish crisis is over. The American sub-prime crisis and British credit crunch of the same era, are also over. British Remainers can understand that concept, but find it psychologically difficult to extend that idea of progress to the Euro too.
The Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland and other highly advanced countries use the Euro successfully. It is going nowhere, no matter how many times British doomsayers say otherwise. The Euro was an incredibly ambitious, enormous, project, that is also still relatively new.
If the UK had adopted the Euro, there would be ADVANTAGES to that. But ostensibly “Pro-EU” remainers, find that very, very, hard to admit and remain stuck in a loop, boasting about how wonderful it is that Britain rejected it in a cunning “deal”.
In effect British remainers oddly insist on what basically amounts to congratulating Nigel Farage and Dominic Cummings, on their successful campaigns to prevent Britain joining the Euro in the late 90s/2000s.
For some reason remainers calculate that the victory of the “No to the Euro” campaign is something for us to celebrate or that it was a very good “deal”. Do they imagine that rejoicing over rejecting the Euro and opting out, is a pro-EU argument?
The classic example of this implicitly Anti-EU, remainer, sloganeering on this, and similar issues is:
“We have the best deal!
Forget Canada+ or Norway-!
As if for British remainers, each “+”, in that special Germany+++ ‘deal’, signifies getting one over and beating other European countries.
It’s as if the best thing about the EU, for British remainers, is actually managing to avoid being in as much of the EU as possible.
Their triumph and argument revolves around celebrating getting “deals” to cut bits of EU membership out and reject fundamental parts of the EU, like the Euro or Schengen. How clever of us.
+ Staying out of that horrible EU Schengen thing +++!
+ Avoiding the terrible Euro +++!
+ Cunningly haggling a big budget rebate, to minimise contributions to that useless EU fee / budget +++!
We beat those EU suckers!
2. Denying, and criticising, a ‘European army’
If one calls something a) dangerous and b) a fantasy
Is there any possible way that one might be considered in favour of that thing?
Nick Clegg, repeatedly, called the idea of a ‘European army’ a “dangerous fantasy”, first in a debate with Nigel Farage in 2014. He continued to repeat the phrase again, the following year.
For good measure he also jumped on the Farage bandwagon, by joining in the Brexiters’ insane, Orwellian, Emmanuel Goldstein-style demonisation of Jean Claude Juncker. Clegg said that the head of the European civil service was “as dangerous” as Nigel Farage, for suggesting the EU create a joint defence capability.
How is that “pro EU”?
“I actually so happen to think that Jean-Claude Junker and Nigel Farage are both dangerous fantasists when it comes to this issue.
It’s not going to happen, it doesn’t matter whether Nigel Farage says it’s going to happen or Jean Claude Juncker…he [Juncker] can’t create a European army.”
– Nick Clegg (2014, 2015, 2016)
What kind of “pro EU” campaigner would join in the Farage-style character assassination of “Herr Juncker”, as they call him?
Clegg is another example of a British “remainer” who could not bring himself to actually be pro-EU; preferring to timidly indulge what he thinks are his audience’s anti-EU views.
For some reason Clegg thought that it was a good idea to claim in the run up to the Brexit referendum that Juncker was lying about EU defence. He also thought it was a pro-EU argument to add in that Juncker is ‘dangerous’, for proposing that the EU strengthen joint European defence.
A supposedly “Pro-EU”, remain campaigner, speaks:
Juncker wasn’t lying.
Pesco (the EU’s military structure, defined in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty) is 10+ years old. Other initiatives are older. There is a 10 year old EU naval mission off the coast of Somalia, commanded by British Naval officers, from Britain:
There have been dozens of EU peacekeeping missions. Gallileo (an alternative to GPS) is essentially a military project safeguarding European security and independence from America. It is also not “dangerous” to call for joint European defence. The idea of joint European defence, like the idea of a joint currency, has been on the cards for more than 50 years and there are concrete, real, projects that have been happening in this space.
So why would “Pro EU”, British remainers, like Clegg, say joint European Union defence is “dangerous”? Why are they so comfortable calling the head of the European Commission a liar as well as dangerous. Why do they wrongly deny the existence of current and past European military projects and defence collaboration, by implying it is a “fantasy”.
If I was sympathetic towards the idea of Brexit or sceptical about the EU, how would a ‘remainer’ calling Juncker a liar, a remainer being misleading about EU defence (by pretending it’s a fantasy), a remainer being entirely against the idea of EU military collaboration in the first place, convince me the EU is a good thing? Not even remainers think it’s a good idea, they think it’s dangerous. Or, maybe remainers and the establishment are just lying and hiding their true plans for a European military, without consent?
The Brexit campaigns recognised this hypocrisy and weakness, so they used Clegg’s comments extensively and relentlessly.
Brexiters and anti-Europe campaigners still use Clegg’s “dangerous fantasy” phrase today, in their videos, memes and campaign material. It’s a wonderful shorthand to demonstrate to their followers that the establishment are “hiding” the true intentions of the EU, of course!
Never mind. We can console ourselves by imagining what the electricity bill for Nick Clegg’s $15m, Facebook-funded, mansion in California must be.
Joke’s on him?
3. Engaging on their terms. For example; the EU “Bill” (the budget)
Boasting or celebrating at how small the “bill” is, for EU membership, gives into the Brexity lie about the EU’s budget. To focus only on the amount, is to agree with the Brexity notion that the European Union’s joint budget is a “bill”.
A bill, or a fee, is something that is unilaterally imposed, on conquered subjects.
The remain argument seems to be, in general, that our European overlords are “actually quite nice!”.
AND that they “don’t even charge us THAT much!”.
If we don’t challenge this notion and we are to accept that the budget is indeed a “fee” or a “bill”. Rather than a democratically agreed joint budget; then logically it follows that the “fee” is essentially an imperial tribute to foreigners.
A fee decided by them, imposed by them.
If we agree with that, and our only quibble is with the amount of the fee, then the optimal, moral and sensible amount to pay to these extortionists (or in remain-speak, our kindly, patrician masters) would be a big, fat, £ZERO.
Throughout the referendum it was frustrating to see remainers arguing, rather lamely, that this EU “fee” is not really £350m, but was in fact:
“Actually a bargain £156m a week!
They didn’t count the rebate on our fee!
Triumphantly remainers debunked the £350m lie, so pleased with themselves to have have exposed the truth and proved that is actually £156m.
“See, they lied!
They got the wrong amount!
The bus should say: “We send £156m a week, lets spend it on our NHS”
It is irrelevant, whether a “fee” is £156m, or £350m, or £10m.
To anyone who believes this payment is a “bill” from foreign masters, in exchange for free mobile phone roaming and Erasmus, it would be an absurd disgrace and insult to pay even £50,000 a year.
Debunking and minimising the amount, is not a “pro EU” argument, it is to implicitly agree with them. If it’s only the amount you have a problem with, then you agree that the optimal amount to pay in an ideal world, would be: £ZERO.
The head of Vote Leave publicly and openly spoke about this. He admitted that his goal in promoting the misleading £350m inflated figure, was to trigger the factcheckers into getting tied up in knots over the amount. Ensuring that they don’t spend effort on making it clear that we would WANT to spend lots of money on the EU budget.
And in fact, a larger EU budget would be a GOOD thing.
Remainers post memes online triumphantly (and absurdly) minimising the EU budget into a personal payment, as if only individual citizens pay tax, or that we all pay the same amount. They break the EU budget (or fee) down into inane lists of benefits like:
“ALL OF THIS for JUST 39p a day!
Free roaming, freedom to work across Europe, Erasmus for students!
Shorter passport queues across Europe!”
Below which they tend to list a bunch of highly technical and unemotive benefits; that the magnamimous EU (Romans) have graciously handed down to us, in exchange for our multi-billion pound “fee”.
Instead of actually making clear what the budget is, remainers engage with the brexiters on their terms and implicitly acknlowledge that it is a “fee”. They play along with their nonsense, that it is an externally created, arbitrary, “bill”. Instead of making clear that it is a (relatively small) JOINT budget; that member nations’ governments jointly draw up and agree to; democratically, a jointly agreed budget, that is spent on JOINT projects. A jointly agreed budget that is spent on things that may not all be physically located in the UK!
Instead, remainers try to endlessly argue that the fee, or bill, is in fact very small. Remainers quibble about how much “we get back”.
Remainers bizarrely seem to agree with Brexiters that anything not spent within the physical borders of the UK, is categorised as a “net” payment, a waste, or a “fee”. In other words, not part of what we “get back”.
If one believed that the EU is an unaccountable, uncontrolled, foreign empire, that receives tribute decided by them, in the form of a “fee”, then the remainer argument that says something like:
“Our fee is actually a lot smaller than Farage says!
Just £22m a day, not £50m!
Put that on the side of a bus!!”.
Is the weakest, lamest, completely misleading, implicitly anti-EU, response.
Would you boast about the NHS budget being SMALLER, than a hypothetical anti-NHS campaigner claimed?
No, of course not, why would a pro NHS campaigner boast about spending LESS on the NHS?
Because it is our shared belief, that spending money on the NHS (or police, space program, foreign office, farming, foreign aid) is a GOOD thing, because we value those things.
So WHY would remainers boast, and spend time and endless effort to argue that the EU budget is smaller than brexiters claim, if it is our shared belief that the EU budget is a good thing and not a waste?
Even if remainers are right about the amount, and the Brexiters are intentionally inflating it, remainers are agreeing with them that essentially the best amount to pay is £ZERO.
Remainers have to be actually pro EU, to win.
Be brave, like the brexiters are.
Say the budget is far TOO SMALL. Rather than lamely agreeing with them that a big EU budget is very, very, bad and merely squabbling about how big it is.
For example, Europol’s costs are part of the EU budget. It’s spent outside of the physical borders of the UK, so in terms of the British debate, this is apparently part of the “net payment” and therefore a waste, or somehow lost. Or what we don’t “Get back“, apparently.
For example, one might make a point that Europol, is funded by some of that “net payment” that “we don’t get back”. They’ve used that money to very successfuly coordinate cross-border anti-child abuse police operations.
Do you want to defund the EU’s work catching paedophiles, Nigel? Do you really hate children that much?
The EU budget is just 1% of EU GDP and just 1% of UK government spend. If you think joint EU projects are worthwhile and you actually want to be in the EU, it would be logical to demand that it is DOUBLED and boast about what could be done with more.
If not and you think the EU budget is a “fee” that should be as small as possible, you’re probably not really pro-EU at all.
4. Immigrants pay £81,378.93 more tax, than they claim in benefits, actually! Vote remain!
Earnest comments about how EU citizens “contribute more”. Or are a “net benefit”, to the treasury or financially, is another very English, un-European, way of talking about EU citizenship.
EU Migrants Pay In More Than They Take – Sky News
It’s very culturally superior, once again a way that remainers try to pander to Brexity nationalism. They try to “prove”, with statistics and numbers, that these foreigners and “migrants”, are a net positive. Actuarially speaking.
This type of framing is the exact opposite of European values. We dont put a £Pound value on citizens and human beings. The right to live in your own European Union is equal and fundamental, it is not based on an accountant’s calculation of your personal contribution in taxes.
European citizens are equal, that is what European citizenship means, you have the right to pay absolutely nothing in tax and sit on your French, Spanish, or British bottom, doing nothing, anywhere you like in the union, if that is your choice.
To try and understand how offensively un-European this remainer argument sounds; try to imagine an argument in Scotland for remaining in the UK that hinged on the fact that “English people contribute positively to the Scottish economy, they pay in more than they claim!”. Insultingly stupid, no? Feeling British and a shared sense of identity is why many Scots, in general, would vote to be a part of a political union with the rest of the UK. Not because the average English person is “useful”, or a wonkish study says they are a “net benefit“.
What is really telling and absurd about this remainer tendency to reduce EU citizenship to “tax”, is that even nationalistic brexiters understand the concept of European citizenship.
As long as it’s framed correctly, namely, a fundamental right for only EU Citizens, to live in Europe. With those fundamental rights extending ONLY to EU citizens, who they feel jointly European and share a form of identity with. With actual borders around the outside of the union.
Watch, for example, this evidently racist man, who voted to leave the EU because of “muslims”, explain EU citizenship far better than most remainers:
Brexit voter: “It’s all about immigration. It’s not about trade, or Europe, or anything like that.
Interviewer: “So you think you voted to leave the EU to stop Muslims coming into this country?”
Brexit voter: “To stop immigration.
The free movement of people in Europe?
But not from Africa, Syria, Iraq, elsewhere, it’s all wrong.”
This Brexit voter understood what EU citizenship means, it’s not “fair enough” because of a “net benefit”:
“Free movement of people in Europe? Fair enough.”
He understood that:
a) European citizens aren’t “immigrants” or “migrant workers” as they’re referred to in the UK. Iraqis and Syrians might be. EU citizens are not, we are Europeans. Fair enough.
b) Free movement for Europeans, within Europe, is not a problem, it’s fair enough.
Yet remainers spend their time trying to put a price tag on human beings, or boasting about how many of these lovely hard working “migrants” are “useful” because how many work in the NHS, or pick fruit, or something and give us some tax.
The remain narrative again relies on boasting about a transactional “deal“, that proves that Britain and British people have benefitted, sucked value, tax, skills out of this resource (other EU citizens), therefore making the EU a “good deal“.
This is not what the EU’s values are or what EU citizenship is.
It’s not what the UK’s values are or UK citizenship is either. We don’t believe and support free movement of people within the UK, or believe in UK citizenship, because Scottish people pay tax or are a “net benefit”. We don’t believe in Britishness and the idea of the UK because there are lots of Scottish nurses, fruitpickers or policemen. We believe in it because we believe in the concept of Britishness and their equal rights as British citizens.
Calculating Welsh people’s “net benefit” to the UK treasury, to prove they are worth enough to live in England, would seem quite unseemly, wouldn’t it? It would undermine the entire idea of the UK, wouldn’t it?
Similarly, EU citizenship is not about calculating exactly how many pennies in tax or “net benefit” other citizens deliver to your tribe. EU citizenship is part of a political, common citizenship. They are not good little “immigrants” who obediently work hard for us, so we can harvest tax from them. In the same way that the concept of the United Kingdom means Scottish people aren’t immigrants in Wales. Even the Brexity racist in the video understands that in a European context.
They are equal, fellow EU citizens, whose rights don’t derive from the fact that they are a nurse, or a doctor, pay £2300 in tax, or provide some special skill to be harvested.
If your support for EU citizenship boils down to something like:
“EU immigrants are bloody useful”
“Migrants and European foreigners hardly claim any benefits!”
“the helpful little chaps pick fruit and work in care homes, who else would?!“
then you aren’t pro EU, you’re colonial.
5. “Proving” Brexit is wrong because of dull lists of (minor) job losses, or quarterly GDP forecasts
“257 jobs lost at the Coventry Snickers factory!
0.37% drop in manufacturer’s PMI YoY in the first quarter of 2019!
Goldman sachs to transfer their reverse-derivatives & Euro futures desks to Frankfurt!
Kleenex tissues have chosen Paris for their EU innovation hub, over London!
Sunderland Pepsi Factory to SHUT DOWN production for 24 hours after Brexit!
Put that on the side of a bus!!”
The constant predictions of doom, and a big change of mind, when people realise just how many jobs were lost in X, Y, or Z, corporate restructuring or latest announcement has absolutely zero effect on anyone.
“Proving” that Brexit is wrong because Nissan shut down production for 12 hours to manage supply chains, or because HSBC moved 350 jobs to Paris, is transactional and irrelevant. Human beings don’t want to be part of a tribe, union, or country to stop a biscuit factory closing in a remote town they’ve never visited and frankly couldn’t give two ****s about.
Whenever I see earnest remainers posting about the latest “disaster” news, as they gloat over 100 jobs being “lost because of brexit”, I think of the Russian experience. The Kremlin invaded Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, murdered several hundred civilians on MH17, 10,000+ people are dead in Ukraine since Putin invaded.
The EU and USA sanctioned Russia, the Rouble collapsed, supermarket shelves emptied, EU food disappeared, real wages collapsed since 2014. The narrative in Russian media however is spookily similar to the Brexit narrative, complete with “they need us more than we need them“. And variations of claims like “we’re Germany’s biggest importer of Cheese, let them come crawling back, when the German cheese makers feel the pain and pressurise Merkel into a deal!“.
Sanctions happened, Russians suffered real world consequences that can quite clearly be proven, but guess what? Putin became MORE popular. The confrontation with Europe was something millions of Russians LIKED, despite the job losses and empty shelves. The collapsing Rouble and food shortages were no problem for patriotic Russians.
The exact same behaviour exists in the UK, telling a patriotic brexit voter that the McVities factory will be moving their entire RnD department to the Netherlands is totally irrelevant. In fact, it is almost a necessary and enjoyable suffering, as a bonus, they don’t even have to personally suffer. The fake blitz-spirit and imaginary sacrifice is thoroughly enjoyable for people of this mindset.
No one cares about the Snickers factory moving jobs to Spain, the big man or woman standing up to the powerful, decadent, bullying, EU that is also simultaneously failing and collapsing, is an existential struggle for victory.
Remainers crowing about the IMF downgrading UK GDP by 0.2% this quarter, because of Brexit, is not a Pro-EU argument or a good reason to want to be part of a political European Union.
Remainers also don’t respect the fact that Brexit is possible. There is a way for Britain to exist just fine outside of the EU, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine have many millions of citizens who live happy and fulfilled lives outside of the EU. Turkish people are happy with this, Russian people are happy with it.
If the argument to be part of the European Union did actually boil down to:
“74% of manufacturers say a frictionless border is either ‘quite important‘ or ‘very important‘ to their business!”
Then there wouldn’t be a European Union at all.