EU Referendum – What Are We Voting For?

Posted: May 25, 2015 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics



Peter Widdows asks an important question about the EU referendum. What would a vote to stay in entail?

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    It is worth remembering that an EU exit is not “going it alone”. The world is much larger than German and French dominated continent, and closer ties to the Commonwealth are available.

    Would not a Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India free trade zone be even more productive? …

  2. A C Osborn says:

    Roger, I have posted this on the original post.
    My problem is that the UK will have no idea of the consequences of either decision.
    Most people do not understand how the EU works, how controling it is, how corrupt it is or how much it is costing each and every UK citizen.
    Using the mass media they will brainwash the public in to thinking that leaving will be disastrous, none of the benefits will be included.

  3. tallbloke says:

    E.M. Too right! The anglosphere plus India would make a formidable trading bloc.

    ACO: The referendum will be won or lost on the grassroots efforts made by well informed people talking to neighbours, friends, and the bloke down the pub, armed with info and leaflets laying out the facts. Look at how many people joined the SNP after their IndyRef defeat. We need lots of people to join UKIP or other Eurosceptical groups and get involved BEFORE the EU referendum.

  4. Fanakapan says:

    The EU is a Confederation, and I expect that the gradual move to Federation alluded to, and considering that All the member states have histories of which they are just a proud as we are of ours, might occur over a period of some generations.

    I am amused at this idea of trading with the ‘Commonwealth’ Any analysis of that body must reach the conclusion that Canada has almost the entirety of its trade relations with the USA, and the Aus/NZ having been effectively dumped upon from a great height nearly 50 years ago when the UK was Begging to be let into the EEC, will have formed new and more lucrative trading links elsewhere. Then there’s India, I’m sure that any who have done business with folk from the sub continent, will be well aware that not many crumbs fall from that table. If one then takes the remainder of the Commonwealth, it is a fact that the trading opportunities available don’t even amount to that which would be possible with One of the more wealthy members of the EU.

    Its also a given that we not prevented from trading with anybody in the world by virtue of EU membership, we just have to do so within the rules of the club.

    After 2 World wars that had as a component of their being engaged upon, the threat to exports at the time, and the loss of an Empire, we have to face the fact that Britain’s situation in the world aint what it was even in the 60’s, so it makes good sense to be part of a bigger club 🙂

  5. Fanakapan

    A truly socialist viewpoint and not to be criticised for those who seek safety and security in numbers. Pack or shoal culture is fine for those with insecurities in life it gives a sense, sometimes falsely, of society sticking together for the greater good.
    There are though those of us who prefer standing up to a challenge, forging forward to advance our lives, taking some risk as a part of being human. Seizing entrepreneurial challenges as a means to raise standards of living not just for ourselves but for those who are willing to follow in our wake. For too long now this country has suffered the lethargy of a socialist society always dependent upon someone else. It’s time for a change, really.

  6. Fanakapan says:


    Rhetoric in answer to facts ? you should try challenging my points with reasoned debate ?

    Added to which your reply has a distinctly American sound, which if it were true, would mean you dont really have a dog in the fight ?

  7. A C Osborn says:

    Fanakapan says:
    May 25, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I would suggest that you have a look at the food in most UK Supermarkets & Shops.
    Lamb & Butter from New Zealand worth $1,265,210,453.41 we export $1,018,143,081.50 to them.
    Boots, lager, precious stones (Opals in particular) & from Australia, over $12Million Australian per year.
    Canada exported $12.1Billion to the UK in 2009 in trade. YK exported £8.1Billion in 2012 and UK Investments were £157Billion.

    So you have no idea what you are talking about

  8. A C Osborn says:

    Trade with India is expected to be between £12-£23Billion in 2015.

  9. A C Osborn says:

    Bilateral trade with Africa is £10Billion.

  10. A C Osborn says:

    Trrade to Japan £9.9Billion per year.

  11. tallbloke says:

    ACO, thanks, useful figures. In inflation adjusted terms, our trade with the commonwealth fell steeply after our membership of the EU led to enforced tarrifs damaging our previous bilateral agreements. No reason we can’t rebuild them after we leave the narrow, blighted, protectionist EU.

    Fanakapan: Thanks for presenting the opposing case here. Good to have civil debate.

  12. Fanakapan says:

    A C Osborne,

    All of that rather proves my point about not being prevented by EU membership from trading with anybody ?

    Also in the interests of fairness your figures in isolation are meaningless, we would have to see how much trade within the EU generates in order to reach a meaningful conclusion ?

    I see from this article;,Authorised=false.html?

    Behind the FT paywall I’m afraid 😦

    It seems that UK trade with the EU is worth £211 Billion per annum .

  13. oldbrew says:

    UK-EU exports were £11.8 bn. in March 2015, while EU imports were £19.7 bn.

  14. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: It seems that UK trade with the EU is worth £211 Billion per annum .

    Yes, and EU trade with Britain is worth £300bn per annum.

    So, if we left, do you think they’d put tarrifs on trade with their biggest single export market?

    Take your time…

  15. Fanakapan says:


    I think we need to remember that if indeed we were to end up outside of the club, then there is no shortage of cheap labour hotspots within the EU that would welcome the opportunity to exploit any vacuum ?
    With any club, being a member gives one the reasonable expectation of fair dealing with the other members, something that those without might not be able to receive.

    But then again, that raises the problem of what is meant by ‘Leaving’ ? Will it mean retaining access to the Single Market on the same terms as Norway and Switzerland, or will it be a case of completely out full stop ?

    If its Out completely, then I have grave misgivings over the hopes of relying upon the bones of EFTA or the EEA ?

  16. sandyS says:

    To encourage Nissan, Toyota and Airbus manufacturing to move to European locations already in operation. To name three off the top of my head, not to mention making selling the Eurofighter impossible as a a purely French action, the Rafale being more popular already but why not kill it off anyway.

  17. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: The UK is a MUCH bigger player than Norway or Switzerland. We can negotiate favourable terms for our trade deal with Europe, of which there are already many different flavours. Adding a new one tailored for a fair deal between UK and EU is perfectly feasible. In fact the WTO will insist on it.

    Cheap labour hotspots are great for the exploiters of cheap labour. Not so great for the cheap labourers. We should be looking to build a manufacturing economy which offers trained high skill , fully paid work.

  18. tallbloke says:

    SandyS: Welcome. Airbus already do a lot of their work Stateside. Toyota and Nissan won’t be hurrying off elsewhere if we leave. Why would they? They have a highly skilled and motivated workforce here.

    All the same big companies were telling us years ago that they’d leave if we didn’t join the Euro. They didn’t.

    I call bullshit on them.

  19. Even this morning it is being reported that Germany and France (Merkel and Hollande) are meeting to agree on closer union. The UK is sidelined in EU decisions. We need to get out of the EU as soon as possible and become a free, self-governing country.

  20. As E M Smith says agreements with Commonwealth countries make more sense.
    Just an agreement with Australia would provide all the benefits and more of the EU
    Australia has FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) with :- Chile, China, Japan, Pacific area countries, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and USA. It has an CER (closer economic relation) Trade agreement with New Zealand. It is in talks with India, Indonesia, Malaysia & Vietnam.
    Norway and Switzerland have trade agreements with the EU. Switzerland (which i regard the most democratic country with their Citizen initiated Referendum (CIR) and politician recall).will never become part of the EU.
    It would be great if Australia had CIR and made it compulsory for any outside agreement (such as the UN Human Rights agreement) subject to CIR. Power needs to be given back to the people (as in parts of Switzerland since 1215) For CIR to work there has to legislation for honesty in presenting the cases for and against and equal opportunity (including financing) of both cases. If the people are properly informed they will make the right decision.
    There is an overwhelming case for Britain to get out of the EU. There is also a case for Great Britain to be split into self governing states like Switzerland. (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, channel islands and Isle of Manx) having free trade between the states and a federal government restricted to defense, foreign affairs, trade agreements with other countries, transport issues such as air routes, shipping lanes, and a few other issues such as customs & border security.

  21. oldbrew says:

    If Britain ends up near the North Pole it will all be academic anyway 😉

    The Moving Continents:

  22. Fanakapan says:


    Admittedly the UK represents a bigger blob that either Switzerland or Norway, but the question still remains as to exactly what the referendum will be asking ? Instead of being a simple A or B, it looks more A, B, or C, in that the three options available would seem to be, completely out, completely in, or membership of the EEA ? The fact that Switzerland, a country with a standard of living the UK can only dream of, has to toe the EU line in order to remain within the Single Market and EEA, may help give a clearer idea of choices on offer 🙂

    As for the workers of Swindon and Sunderland, not to mention Brough, I dont think you realise just how easy it is these days to up sticks and move, added to which you’d have to consider the ‘Incentives’ that would be offered. Take a look at the companies that are setting up shop in Poland, its quite surprising.

    It will be one thing if the UK remains in the EEA, but quite what the advantages of that would be over full membership, I cannot imagine, It would mean a reduction in payments, which would have to be offset by the UK having to pay out its own farm subsidies, and deprived area grants, and would leave the UK having to abide by the same rules as currently seem to invoke the ire of anti EU people.

    Anybody who thinks that the UK will get a ‘Special’ deal that enables it to be outside the club, and yet still receive the benefits is likely in for a rude awakening. The fact is that the UK is not that special any more, its much the same as many others.

    And to those proclaiming the Aus/Nz theory still, I’d advise a trip to Wiki to check out the population numbers of those nice place’s, then come back and explain how Britain can expect to maintain a growing economy on the back of those numbers. Whilst at Wiki, check out the Latin American countries, and see just what the proportions of their populations survive on $2.50 a day, it may come as a surprise, Certainly its difficult to see how nations that are not able to offer a large number of their own populations a life beyond Penury, would provide impetus to the UK economic dynamo ?

    Another fruitful line of research may well be the Extent to which Britain has been ‘Sold by the Pound’ ? Imagine Roll’s Royce Cars being BMW, and Bentley being Volkwagen, Britain’s railfrieght operations owned by Deutsche Bundesbahn, and the myriad other companies that are effectively foreign owned, some might suggest that the UK has already given away its good cards, and thus has little chance in what is likely to be a high stakes game 🙂

  23. Fanakapan says:


    There’s a hell of a lot of ‘Utopian’ ideas in your post, would those occur before or after the decision is made ?

    Given that UK politicians since the war have led us to the point where UK per capita GDP is significantly Lower than that of Belgium, you’ll forgive me for wondering where these visionaries are hiding 🙂

    As for Switzerland, lets not get too carried away with how brilliant the place is, and 1215 and all that. They have since that date had to bend to the whichever winds were blowing at the time, and their great skill has been to avoid (Napoleon excepted) committing themselves,

    And then there is their wonderful ‘Democracy’ I remember a fairly recent plebiscite concerning Immigration, in which the majority expressed a desire for an immigration policy very similar to that promoted by UKIP ? How did that work out when the EU told them that they could either have that or membership of the EEA, but not both ?

  24. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: I think it would be great if unpatriotic investors moved to Poland, and left patriotic entrepreneurs and patriotic customers to reinvigorate Britain again.

    With the sensibly paced development of shalegas, we’ll be competitive in the world marketplace, regardless of how severely exploited labour is elsewhere. Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Fanakapan likes to talk of being in the “club”. I have a couple of thoughts on that.

    My general feeling about “clubs” is that they are dominated by a few opinionated power brokers who want to run the place, often have high dues (or “pay to play”?), and are usually more infatuated with themselves than are those outside the “club”. Then there are the rules. Whole books of them. Frankly I usually find it a lot cheaper, and much more pleasant, to indulge in the informal friendship of equals than deal with the hierarchy of “clubs”.

    But those feelings might well be tempered by my other early experience with a club. At about 5 years old, a kid two doors down made a club. It was some tack board and such cobbled together into a ‘club house’ with one wall being the back yard fence. In order to join his club, you had to accept some hazing (strange how that tends to come around in joining clubs, like frat houses and such…).and contribute some “dues”. In this case, it was to walk barefoot on broken glass in the alley behind his house. I thought about it for a good 30 seconds (that, for me, is a very long bit of thinking). Then I said “If that is what it takes to join your club, no thank you.” and left.

    Little did I know this would so peeve the bully that he would spend the next half dozen years trying to find ways to make me unhappy for not recognizing his right to rule me… and his desire for a cut of my lunch money.

    BTW, eventually he ended up dead. He had joined the local Neo Nazi group (though then they didn’t use the ‘neo’ name) and due to his violent nature and desire to do evil, they said HE was giving THEM a bad name. At any rate, one Friday night he “woke up dead” out on the bank of a local river. The police “investigated” (i.e. showed up and said “Yup, that’s him. He’s dead all right. Looks like someone shot him. Guess we have to write it up.” The local rumor was that the Nazi folks felt him an embarrassment and decided they would be better off if he left their club…

    True story, BTW. In a small farm town of 3328 population, where everyone pretty much knew everyone else and the “rumors” were almost certainly being relayed first hand by someone who was a participant…

    So my sense of the value of being in a club is a bit different from Fanakapan’s. And the value I place on voluntary associations of friends far higher.

    Then there is the ‘complaint’ about the trade levels with Australia and New Zealand. In this case we see the (perpetual?) habit of ‘static scoring’ by folks with an agenda. Is it really needed to point out those trade levels are now with the EU club barriers in place? That they would change in a direction of larger with those barriers gone?

    There is also a complaint that Australia and New Zealand have moved on to new trading partners. Not mentioned is just the simple fact that those folks are trading without being in the EU, or in an EU like ‘club’ with each other. And again, static scored. Now for me, Mum was from England (so I could get a UK passport now, though could not up until a decade or two back when only a Dad was enough to bring citizenship) and I can say unequivocally that the bond of common ancestry and history is not gone just because the UK joined the EU. (BTW, spouse has an Irish citizenship, so we can go either way…). Frankly, were the UK to propose joining the North American Free Trade Association, I’d be 100% in favor of it. Think trade with the entire North American continent might be of enough size? Canada, USA, Mexico big enough to be of interest? ( I strongly doubt anyone here would see any reason to argue for not letting the UK join… Heck, right now Obama is looking for some kind of trade deal legacy and the Trans Pacific Partnership isn’t moving well, so he’d likely even go for it. Fast track even.) BTW, no club “dues” either, and no broken glass to enter…

    Then there is the lament that key nameplate industries are owned by others (largely German… but somehow the implication of that was ignored…) and that somehow matters. It doesn’t matter at all. Many companies in the USA are owned by non-US owners. ARCO is now a division of British Petroleum, for example. Ownership is just irrelevant. Companies put operations where there is money to be made. At one point the London Stock Exchange and some other stock exchanges here in the USA were in merger / takeover talks. I have no idea at this point who bought whom, or if nobody bought anyone. But the simple fact is that it can, and does, happen even with folks inside the EU vs USA; and would be even easier for outside the EU bodies as you don’t need the club master to grant permission. At one time not too long ago the UK owned more of USA business than any other country. I don’t know about now (that was about the time folks were panicking over Japanese buying US businesses.) So yes, nameplate businesses change hands. Like IBM sold their laptop business to China. So what?

    Frankly, nothing at all prevents the UK from becoming a world center in any industry that it cares to go after. Set the tax laws right, and you already have a global financing center and the abilities that come with it. For ‘low cost labor’ issues, do realize that all the iApple stuff that folks think of as American are actually low cost assembled elsewhere ( China mostly last I looked). Yet Silicon Valley stays the center of that tech industry and the global giants in it. Just put the low value add ‘glue bits on boards’ one ship ride away.

    Which brings up a final point: The UK is surrounded by water. Yes, I know. Obvious really. Yet do realize that water is the cheap way to move goods. The UK is directly connected more than most countries to just about every other place on the planet. As a nexus for trade and commerce, it is hard to beat that. Set up some free trade zone ports (think old Hong Kong / Singapore legal structures) and watch out for the economic boom. Ask why so many ships are registered in Panama or Greece instead of the UK… then fix it. Holland dominated shipping for a very long time, even from the other side of the world. Embrace what that water means. It means global reach.

    The only thing standing in the way of a free, sovereign, and prosperous UK is the willingness to do what it takes to ‘make it so’.

    For me, I am a “club of one”. Have been since that day at 5 years old. I depend on me. I have friends I like, and a family that I care for. All on terms of mutual agreement and respect, and nobody is forced to stay. It has worked out rather well, and I’ve never felt the need to look to others for my self validation nor for their pockets to be the source of my favor. Yes, it takes a bit of courage and sometimes a ‘stiff upper lip’… but I got that from Mum, in other days…

  26. Well said Chiefio! I like your philosophy. Academics and public servants do not understand business, trade and economics because they have no industry experience ( and yes it applies to my daughter who is a university professor with a world respected reputation in her field of research)

  27. dscott says:

    Take it from someone who lives in such a system as some of you hope to achieve through a US of EU. DON’T!

    The larger an organization/government is the easier it is for the powerful few to manipulate it and control it against the express wishes of it’s members to their detriment. Learn the lesson of US history, go with the Articles of Confederation if you want to promote economic benefits.

    When we debated the formation of a federal government, we started in a much stronger position of the idea of the “consent of the governed.” From my observations, Europeans don’t vigorously guard their individual rights and as such rights of free speech and religious liberty aren’t very strong. I suggest you do a review of the Federalist debates with the Anti-Federalists to have an idea of the issues. Virtually everything the Anti-Federalists warned about has come to pass in the US.

    Federalist Papers

    Anti-Federalist Papers

  28. Fanakapan says:

    Now that the subject of the USA has been brought into play, I would urge those interested to research the McMahon Act, and the unexpected and sharp end to Lend Lease in 45, Now whilst I have nothing against Americans, they are a fine bunch of cousins, those two topics should leave anybody in no doubt that the USA will Always do what is in its best Interest, and thats just how it should be, but it does demonstrate that when UK and US interests diverge, as they often do, dont imagine there’s any fraternal feelings.

    Whilst on the topic of the USA, A Federation or Union of 50 diverse States, that very diversity does rather preclude the USA being used as an argument Against the EU ? I would venture that most people in the UK today would have more in common with a fellow from Turin, than would a New Yorker, and a chap from Texas have with each other 🙂

    Agree with Roger on the Invigoration of the UK, but lets face facts, since the day of St Margaret of Grantham, the UK in an industrial sense has been virtually emasculated, and by some estimates now has some 40% of its GDP generated by Finance. At this point it would take nothing short of an invasion by extraterrestrials to even begin to get the UK on a track whereby it could change its current trend towards a Low Wage economy, to that more like, dare I say, Germany ? So any idea of Britain Reborn outside of the EU may fall within the category of Wishful thinking ? In fact it may be possible to make the case that the EU may well be our best defence against out own politicians who over generations have presided over the productive decline of the UK.

    All these arguments have barely begun to be put forward for consideration as yet, and I have little doubt that over the next 18 months, they will grow to be constant companions within the media. It may be more illuminating to know the reasons why some are so strongly Against EU membership ? Obviously the comments regarding Free Speech, and Religious Freedom being somehow not regarded by European countries, seem a little misinformed when one considers that the freedom to not be Catholic originated in Germany, and that its the government of the UK that would like to separate Britain from the European Court of Human Rights 🙂

  29. Fanakapan says:


    Need I remind you of the words of Mr Franklin of Pennsylvania, ‘A Republic if you can keep it ‘

    The very fact that the Founders codified the Constitution has only had the effect of simplifying things for those who sought to get round it, and effectively precluded any evolution of the same in order to try and head off the Hucksters.

    It still remains the case that were the American people so minded, they could change things by simply getting out to vote. With it being an inconvenient truth that the elections to the EU Parliament enjoy a higher turnout across Europe, than do US Presidential Elections.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: the freedom to not be Catholic originated in Germany, and that its the government of the UK that would like to separate Britain from the European Court of Human Rights

    There was that chap called Henry VIII who made a bit of a difference over here too.
    The ECHR should not and cannot have jurisdiction over a UK that has left the EU. So thinking caps on for the ‘British bill of rights’.

  31. oldbrew says:

    TB: 47 states have signed the ECHR, including all EU members – see graphic here.

    That’s why it has 47 judges.

  32. Brett Keane says:

    By all means don’t be afraid of leaving the EU. As another antipodean and worldwide trader, I/we knew the ‘continong’ would screw you. It was a French enterprise, now run by bureaucrats, the unelected, and East Germans. Nuff said. Don’t worry, blood is thicker than water, and the Commonwealth is better for being entirely voluntary. I note that trading preferences made UK industry uncompetitive. They lazily just took the percentage for themselves, droit de seingneur. Similar with our own protected manufacturers, who were subsidised by the rest, and similarly got lazy. Also rich for a wee while.

    Rather than Blocs, I suggest an insistence on open free trade, or a real path towards it. No ideology, but firm practical realism. Meanwhile, there is a Test to win……

  33. Richard111 says:

    Can we expect to see Mr Cameron, on his return from Europe, waving a piece of paper and claiming “Unity in out time.”

  34. Fanakapan says:


    Henry 8 remained a Catholic throughout his life, he retained a belief in transubstantiation to the end, and wrought punishment upon those who denied it. It is true that Catherine Parr did much to soften his view towards the end, and that separation from Rome did much to pave the way towards Protestantism in England.

    Its also interesting that Wycliffe and the Lollard movement probably beat friend Luther to it by many years, what a difference the introduction of printing made 🙂

    As for a Bill of Rights, we already have one, it was so good that much of the US Constitution is copied from it. But the main problem there is the joker card of no Parliament being bound by a predecessor ? Traditionally Britain has played a big part in preaching rights to those who were tardy in adopting them, so it seems odd that now most have caught up, or in some cases overtaken us, that we should wish to quit membership of a forum where rights can evolve ?

    The real story is that HMG wants to be able to talk big on human rights, and yet be able to discard those that prove inconvenient at certain times. Take for example the contracting out of torture to Gaddaffi, although that story seems to have disappeared 🙂

  35. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan: And there was me thinking much of the US constitution was copied from the Philadelphia constitution, which was in large part written in consultation with one Thomas Paine…

    There are so many skeletons spilling out of previous Labour and Tory government’s closets, their blocking the path of the chickens that are coming home to roost.

    We can still take due note of a supranational forum but still maintain the supremacy of British law, once we’re out of the EU.