November 20, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith
Whilst lying is worse, being deliberately obtuse to make a point demeans the Brexit debate.
At no point did places that voted for Leave say they wanted none of the benefits of being in the EU. They just wanted British politicians deciding what they get, not an EU bureaucrat.
Every time a Remain supporting journalist pokes fun at a place that voted leave worrying about losing immigrants that did certain jobs or losing subsidies that helped industries or missing out on the benefits of trade, they say ‘well you should have thought of that when you voted for Brexit’. But they did, they just wanted the UK to be in control of those things. I think journalists know that, but are pretending not to.
A great example is Jenni Russell in The Times (click here). She highlights fishermen in Grimsby asking for a free trade deal for fish, farmers in Cornwall needing immigrants to pick their produce, and industry in South Tyneside hoping for their regional subsidies to remain in place.
Grimsby (70:30 Leave) is one of the most deprived areas of the UK. Representatives of their seafood processing industry went to Westminster to lobby to get special exemption as a free trade port on Brexit to retain their competitive edge. Russell notes that whilst in the EU they had free trade, so they shouldn’t have voted Leave. But along with free trade came the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which meant Grimsby’s fishermen had to share British waters with other countries. After Brexit, the UK can make its own rules on fisheries, AND it can choose to grant special exemptions from protectionism should it want. The key is that it will be the UK Government in control of this, not EU bureaucrats.
Russell then points out that Cornwall (57:43 Leave) has farmers reporting fruit and veg rotting in fields as so many EU migrant labourers left after the referendum. Locals tend not to apply for the jobs, so hundreds of seasonal workers are needed. So, Cornwall wants an exemption to any post-Brexit migration curbs for low-skilled workers. They are asking for a ‘place-based approach to future migration’. Again, one could argue that the people of Cornwall should have thought of that before voting Leave. But they did. Leaving the EU means that the UK could be in a position to make its own migration rules, and if it suits Britain to create migration rules that encourage low skilled fruit and veg pickers to move to Cornwall, then all well and good. In the EU, there can be no control over these things.
Russell then turns to South Tyneside (62:38 Leave). The council is asking for the northeast’s EU subsidies (almost £190 a head, higher than every other region), to be replaced by government ones at the same level, with a “continued free flow of skilled people, and frictionless, barrier-free trade”. Russell calls this ‘cloud cuckoo land’, but I say, ‘not so fast’.
At the moment we send £350m a week to the EU, minus the rebate, and then, at the whim of an EU bureaucrat who can’t be voted out, some subsidies come back via EU regional development funds. But we still send a net around £170m a week. ALL of that £350m could be spent on helping areas of the country that need help, and it can be targeted using local expertise, guided by the UK’s own government. There is nothing wrong in all the places that received subsidies wanting to keep them, and even asking for more. Those subsidies weren’t a gift from the EU, they were, in the words of Margaret Thatcher ‘our money’. In fact, around half of ‘our money’.
There ARE of course going to be some negative implications of Brexit, and Russell spots that the elderly (64:36 Leave) are going to struggle to find careworkers (unless pay, training and working conditions are improved – which wouldn’t be such a bad thing). There is the waste management firm in the Midlands that cannot get European firms to renew five-year deals on taking unrecyclable waste to use as fuel, as nobody knows what the post-Brexit trade terms will be. True, there is short-term uncertainty, although the short-term economic meltdown predicted by Russell and the Remain campaign hasn’t happened yet.
But in the long-term, the quid pro quo for many parts of the country (possibly not those frequented by Cambridge educated BBC trained journalist Russell), the chance to take back control of sovereignty, borders and money overcame economic fears. They don’t want nothing to change from their vote from Brexit. They want better, and they want the UK Government to deliver that better, not wait for better to be possibly imposed by the EU.
Russell, who is an outstanding, award-winning journalist with more writing skills in her little finger than I have in my whole body, hopefully understands why Britain voted Leave. It would help if people like her stopped, in my view, ‘pretending’ that she doesn’t. She may want Brexit to stop, but there is no chance of that happening without a proper reckoning with why 17.4m voted for it in the first place.