Wilby on Brexit

Peter Wilby in last week’s New Statesman makes the Remain case in better words than I can find.  It’s one of the reasons he’s paid to write and I am not. He says,

…..cast my vote for Remain. I did so without enthusiasm. I agree with the Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins that “the EU is anti-working-class, anti-socialist and anti-democratic”. Moreover, many warnings about the supposed consequences of Brexit strike me as things to be welcomed rather than feared. A fall in asset values, particularly house prices, would hit the rich and give poorer and younger people a chance to acquire assets of their own. A run on sterling would help British exports. A decline in foreign investment would stop so many profits from British workers’ labours going overseas. A weaker City of London would help rebalance an economy that has become too dependent on the parasitic financial services industry.

However, a socialist Britain, nationalising vital industries, eradicating poverty and spending lavishly on the NHS, seems no more likely as an outcome of Brexit than the right’s vision of a buccaneering Britain sailing the high seas, 18th-century-style, to trade freely with distant lands. Whichever way the vote goes, big corporations and financial markets will continue to dictate most government policies. The most significant result of a Leave vote would be to strengthen the more reactionary, xenophobic forces in British society.

He ends this piece in the right place, a factor ignored by the growing number of Labour MPs and those even further left.

As noted in many places, immigration is becoming key issue, and unlike many of Labour’s Northern MPs, Wilby takes it head on,

Talking of borders, I hope, once the referendum is over, to hear less of the demand that “we must take control”. … with international travel infinitely easier and millions moving around daily for business or pleasure, the only countries that enjoy anything resembling complete control of their borders are Australia, which nobody can easily get to, and North Korea, which nobody wants to go to.

The US has 11.4 million illegal immigrants, many of whom endured a five-day march across the Sonoran Desert from Mexico to get there. No doubt they would find a way over, round or through Donald Trump’s wall. In the Mediterranean, we see every day the hazardous journeys desperate people will make to reach western Europe. Of the UK’s 330,000 net inward migration, only a little over half is attributable to the EU. Non-EU migration alone easily exceeded the 100,000 that David Cameron promised – “no ifs, no buts” – as an overall limit.

If employers have jobs and migrants want to work, they will find their way to each other. The only means of cutting UK inward migration is to induce a long and deep recession. Which, according to some economists, is exactly what Brexit would do.

I particularly like his comments on Trump’s wall, and on Cameron’s failure to reduce the number of non-EU immigrants. People come here to work; if we leave it’s likely that work will go to them.

ooOOOoo

Image Credit: @flickr James Diewald CC 2006 BY-NC

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