The letter ‘I knew what I was voting for’ in the European Union (EU) referendum (Herald, 11 May) shows the writer clearly didn’t.
It argues the EU is at worst corrupt, but what is corrupt is the writer’s understanding of the EU.
The writer makes four arguments. He first notes he knew voting to leave meant leaving the Single Market. However, Daniel Hannan, Nigel Farage and other Brexiters promised we would stay in the Single Market.
The writer says he never voted to join the EU but did vote to remain in the Common Market in 1975. We elect governments in a parliamentary democracy to make decisions on a range of complex issues on our behalf. Referendums are a failure of parliamentary democracy. Why have a referendum on the EU, and not the NHS, crime etc.? There is in any case little difference for us between the Common Market and the EU.
The writer argues the EU is undemocratic and bureaucratic. The EU is in fact largely an inter-governmental organisation in which sovereign member states agree to work together for mutual benefit. As a member state, we won 97 per cent of the decisions in the EU Council, whereas outside it we shall have no say at all. The number of Brussels ‘bureaucrats’ is no greater than the number of civil servants in Leeds City Council. It is estimated we shall have to hire an extra 30,000 ‘bureaucrats’ in Whitehall to implement the ‘Great Repeal Bill’. In the meantime, taxpayers are forking out up to £5,000 per day for Brexit consultants.
Lastly, the letter says auditors have refused to sign off the EU accounts for 20 years. In fact, one British auditor of EU accounts notes they have been signed off since 2012. Where there were major errors before then, they were in programmes administered by member states. The UK’s National Audit Office (NAO), for example, has qualified the UK’s social benefits accounts since 1988. As the EU budget accounts for only one per cent of the tax we pay, it is about time we and our media focus more on how our government squanders major segments of the 99 per cent of the tax we pay to Westminster.
It appears the ‘Dunning-Kruger Effect’, which maintains the less individuals know about a subject, the more confident they are in their views, applies to many Brexiters. Last year’s ill-informed advisory referendum is now jeopardising the future prosperity and stability of the United Kingdom.
The writer says he was deceived by the political elite in 1975, but has the Brexit elite delivered? Where is the promised extra £350 million per week for the NHS? Where are the free trade deals? Where is the better standard of living? It appears many Leave voters have been deceived by Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove who continue to enjoy their large salaries, media contracts and perks while we suffer a real decline in our living standards.
The writer lastly asks why can’t remainers accept the verdict of the majority last year? The very same question could be asked about the 1975 referendum. However, there is no finality in democracy. If we can no longer express an opinion, it is no longer a democracy.
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