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But I’m Alright, Jacques

By April 19, 2016 116 Comments

I really resent this EU referendum. We all know that despite the best intentions, like most overambitious projects the EU is failing. Its representatives are corrupt, its economic policies are destructive, its unaccountability is contributing to a far right surge not witnessed in Europe since the 1930s. But until Conservative Party infighting made this moral maze my problem I could ignore it. I was like a long married woman who would never leave her husband even as she secretly hoped he choked on their Golden anniversary cake: now I’m being asked to renew my vows with the enthusiasm of someone that wants to. But if I actively vote for the EU, am I strengthening the very institutions whose policies are crushing our weaker European neighbours?

It’s not my fault that the EU is rotten. I’ve never even voted for an MEP. I pretend the European Parliament isn’t there; and simply enjoy the trickle down of benefits like a man whose dad had multiple offshore accounts in Panama. In fact I took a look at who does represent us in the European Parliament and the biggest party is UKIP (26.7%) – nothing to do with me at all. Meanwhile, our right wing looks more welcoming than an equal opportunities application at the BBC next to their defiantly nationalistic French cousins in the Front National.

I’m English not Greek. In the UK we’re not faced with the spectre of Golden Dawn representatives sitting in Parliament or its swastika-tattooed spokesmen strutting down our streets. My idea of a Nazi is someone that watches too much Top Gear.

We’re not in the Euro. So why should I care about the 50% youth unemployment stalking the Spanish. Their national crises are my bargain holidays. My passport is a golden ticket to their golden beaches. All I have to do is avoid the Greek ones buckling under the weight of the migrant crisis, while I sip a pina colada and criticise Angela Merkel.

So why do I feel guilty for lurking in the Remain camp? What’s wrong with voting for the devil I’ve been dancing with all my life? As the mean spirited calculator circulating Facebook reminds me, I might even be a few quid better off if we stick with the status quo. And for God’s sake, think of the paperwork. Certainly if I don’t do anything, I can’t be blamed for anything. Anyway, it suits me. Particularly mid-row when I remember I can move back to Paris, or when I’m having a drink with friends whose passports aren’t British. Of course I should and will vote for the convenience of me and mine, and ignore the mass unemployment of strangers.

The problem with short-term self-interest though, is that that’s all it is, and as I’m not an oligarch readying to empty my accounts and relocate to the Cayman Islands I care about the long-term future of Europe. Is weakening the EU by leaving better or worse for this long-term future? I just read the left wing Varoufakis’ scathing analysis of EU austerity that the right wing Gove recently praised so heartily. I don’t want to be sandwiched between these unlikely bedfellows when I can stay in the sack with Clarkson and the Remain gang. I’m due to give birth at the end of June and I don’t want a Brexit baby. What I want is someone, somewhere, to make the moral case for staying in the EU in its current form*. I want to feel good about my vote. In the meantime I will eat an enviable amount of curry in the hope of going into labour early and avoiding this referendum altogether.

*Varoufakis also believes that Brexit will hasten the deterioration of the EU but argues that staying in and fighting to democratise its institutions is the solution to the far right surge. Is this possible? By his own account “And The Weak Suffer What They Must?” it certainly isn’t probable. It’s also unclear how his pan-European Diem 25 movement will benefit by a strengthening of the power bases it aims to transform.

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