Friday, June 03, 2016

Being drawn into the EU Referendum Debate.

Wherever I go now, the EU Referendum intrudes into most conversations. Keep on meeting people with opinions, forcefully articulated. That is good. Since I'm not campaigning, I have no wish to enter into these arguments. I just let it go. Every opinion of equal value etc. But it's not easy when the arguments make no sense to me - especially when coated in a cloak of certainty and rightness. Today I was enjoying a rather lovely day in glorious sunshine at Cemmaes, near Machynlleth. I'd been invited to join the festivities surrounding official re-opening of the play area. Was having a bit of a chat with fellow-revellers, when an old friend of mine informed us that he disagreed with me. That's fine I thought. Seems he had read in the County Times that I intended to vote leave on June 23rd.

The reason I mention this is that I could not quite 'get' the reasoning on which the great enthusiasm for Remain was based - same arguments I've heard made by others. I'll mention some of them. First up is the damage Brexit would cause to farming because the EU makes individual payments to farmers. Well, yes it does. Just as the UK Govt did before we joined the EEC in 1973. I remember, having joined the family farming business in 1960. No Govt of an 'independent' UK would ignore the importance of food security. The main difference would be that support may be directed into payments the public approves of, rather than into payments unrelated to performance or public good.

And "we sell a large quantity of Welsh lamb to France, which is hugely important to the Welsh economy". Well, yes we do, and yes it is. The French (and others) want to buy it, because it's good. Why on earth would they stop buying it. "Ah, but what about the import tariffs".  Since the UK buys much more than it sells to our current EU partners, it would be a brainless case of self harm if they imposed import tariffs. They wouldn't do it.

And then it was that Wales received more EU aid money than we pay into the Brussels pot. Let's set aside how this is measured and accept it as fact. Of course Wales receives more money as part of the EU's 'regional aid' budget than anywhere else in the UK - because we are the poorest'  It's unthinkable that an 'Independent' UK would not run it's own 'regional aid' budget. And it would inevitably be based on 'need'. That's what 'regional aid' is. And Wales would inevitably benefit because it's the poorest part the the UK.

Now I don't want to make a big 'song and dance' about this. Mainly because I don't know for certain what a future UK Gov't would do. That's rather the point. Our Gov'ts in Cardiff Bay and Westminster would do what they would be elected to do. And if we didn't like it we would throw them out. But now we're getting into the policy territory around democracy that has greatest influence on my intention to vote Leave.

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