Observations of an Expat: Tunnel Lights

March 1, 2019 Europe , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS , UK

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Tom Arms



You can just make it out. It is still dim and indistinct in the swirling political mists. But there appears to be a light at the end of the long Brexit tunnel.


Hopefully, it is not the oncoming No-dealt train, but rather a Remain engine pulling a long line of carriages waiting to be boarded.


If it is the latter than a great deal more work still needs to be done before a People’s Vote is agreed. Then more work to secure a Remain result and then, finally, an ongoing effort—to win continued support in Britain—and other countries—for the European Union.


So first of all, how to reach the initial goal of the People’s Vote and what to put on the ballot paper. Rule number one: Don’t trust Corbyn. He is still fighting the class wars of the seventies and is hoping for a chaotic political vacuum which he can fill with his Marxist-Leninist platform. Brexit train crash spells opportunity for the Labour leader.


The ballot paper should duplicate the binary choice of the 2016 referendum. Voters should be given a choice to revoke Article 50 and remain in the European Union or to accept whatever deal the government has negotiated at the time of the People’s Vote. A third option with an alternative vote system would take too long to negotiate and confuse the voters.


The campaign will be tough—for both camps. Over the past two and a half years positions have become increasingly entrenched. The pool of floating voters that canvassers normally target has shrunk as voters have fallen off the fence into one camp or the other. A person’s stand on Brexit has become an identity badge and to swap it for another involves huge loss of face.


But the demographics definitely favour the Remain camp. According to a YouGov poll an additional two million young people entered the voters’ lists since June 2016 and nearly the same number of over 65’s died. Polls indicate that 87 percent of the new voters would vote to Remain—if they can be bothered to vote. In the referendum 64 percent of 18-25 year olds voted whereas 90 percent of the over-65s voted and the oldsters voted overwhelmingly to leave. So the focus must be on winning the support of young people and then persuading them to climb out of their beds, shrug off their usual shroud of apathy and vote on polling day.


Assuming that the vote result is Remain (a big assumption) then there are still problems. The Brexiteers will attack the legitimacy of a People’s Vote. They were promised that the first referendum was a once and for all binding decision on British membership of the EU. To go back on that is a frontal attack on British democratic values and systems. Expect a backlash. Expect violence. Do not expect the hardline Brexiteers to just roll over, hold up their hands and exclaim: “OK, you win,”


Now comes the hard part, chipping away at the Brexiteers support base. The hardliners will always be there, but their supporters can be persuaded otherwise. The British public needs to become more aware of the enormous benefits of EU membership. For the past 45 years most of my colleagues in the media have done nothing but attack Brussels for its unelected bureaucracy designed to undermine British values. Mind you, the Eurocrats too often made themselves an easy target.


If we are not to have a repeat Brexit then the relationship between member states and Brussels must change to reflect the increased concern about the erosion of national identity across Europe. Czechs are Czechs. Poles are Poles and Brits are Brits. It may be common sense to pool sovereignty for the sake of the common good, but too often common sense encounters the brick wall of emotion and history.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected]

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