So after months of facile soundbites, misinformation and angry confrontations, we finally get to vote tomorrow on whether we should Remain in the European Union, or Leave.
I’ve been hugely disappointed at the tone set by both sides, and by the way they’ve managed their campaigns.
But not surprised.
Politicians just don’t get it, do they? We want facts, reasoned debate and mutual respect. Instead we get exaggeration, lies, rancour and vitriol.
If you don’t know the answer to a specific question or issue….just say I don’t know. Or we can’t be sure.
The Remain team’s trump card has been the assumed economic implications of leaving, the challenge of securing new trade deals, and the resulting impact on jobs and incomes.
An additional strength of the Remain argument is the potential destabilisation of Europe, should the UK leave. A Brexit could be the straw that breaks the Greek camel’s back…and the Italian’s and other southern EU members’, constrained by the rigidity of the EU and suffering systemic levels of high unemployment. But could the possible disintegration of EU federalism expose us to a repeat of historic conflicts…?
The Leave team’s trump cards are immigration, and control over our borders and sovereignty. But I got very bored during the course of last night’s Great Debate, orchestrated by the BBC. The Brexit team of Boris, Gisela and Andrea were programmed to repeat their mantra at the end of every segment: Vote Leave and Take Back Control. And there were a lot of segments.
Which side can say with any honesty how the country – and Europe – will evolve over the next 10, 20, 50 years, whether we vote Remain or Leave tomorrow?
On balance, I stand by what I wrote on this blog in January – before David Cameron returned with his non-existent deal.
I embrace everything about Europe…its people, languages, history, food, wine.
Except the bloated, bureaucratic European project that is the EU. It’s teetering on the precipice of failure, and I’m leaning heavily towards the exit door.
I’m not racist. I’m not xenophobic. And I’m not rooted in the past. But I can’t believe the status quo is sustainable.
I love Europe. But I love its separate, beautiful, independent cultures rather than its homogeneous, bureaucratic mass.
I will be voting to Leave the EU tomorrow. Not without some trepidation about the immediate financial and economic turmoil. Not without some concerns about the longer term implications for all European countries, and their interaction. And not without an expectation that it might be more awkward to travel to our beloved Italy. Or France. Or any of the other EU member states.
But my vote will be cast in the knowledge that we will be able to have more control over how we spend our taxes on our own priorities. And in the expectation that over the longer term, having more control over our borders will allow us to eliminate the obvious risks of complete freedom of movement within EU member states, and to alleviate some of the pressures on our health system, our schools and housing demand.
But I completely respect, and understand, all those who will vote to Remain.
Only time will tell whether Remaining or Leaving the EU tomorrow is the right thing to do over the long-term.
Until the next Referendum, at least.
And the only thing I’ll miss now the campaigning is finally over is the frequent airing of that brilliant musical memory from 1982…when The Clash wondered whether they should stay or go, when I first went to Bermuda, and when we all hoped that being a part of a united Europe would undoubtedly be A Good Thing.