From the ridiculous if amusing ‘Battle of the Thames‘ to the tragic and horrifying political assassination of a Labour MP by a fascist causing both campaigns to temporarily suspend themselves, it is apparent that emotions runs high in the upcoming vote for Britain staying or leaving the EU. Obviously, the geopolitical ramifications are potentially quite large.
Interestingly, there could be both a left wing and a right wing case made for leaving. Though considering the reality of domestic British politics the left could probably deliver far less than the right when it comes to this, even if their case on the inherently opaque and corporate backed EU probably more accurately identifies the organization’s problems than the Little Englanders on the right. The EU has many problems for sure, this blog has previously talked about some of them. However, as things currently stand, I am here to make the case that for the cohesiveness of the United Kingdom as a state, it is best at this juncture of time to vote ‘Remain’.
Granted, if the dissolution of the UK is more your style you might take this as a reason to make an accelorationist vote for ‘Leave’, as we shall see.
It boils down to trading one form of compromised sovereignty for another.
Britain is no longer a major world power, but a secondary one located in close proximity to other secondary ones. To offset this factor if freed from the EU Britain must compromise by becoming an even more attractive economic partner to other non-EU states. Naturally this means pulling a Boris Johnson (who once, it should be noted, almost ran over me while riding his bike up Holloway Road) by trying to turn London into a kind of Singapore-West but without the intelligence of discipline of that state. All the current factors affecting the housing and renting prices in London would be accelerated as London was made more and more a city built for Russian oligarchs and Chinese capital flight. The rich get richer and ironically for UKIP, it will be at the hands of foreign interests at least partially. Granted, the Conservative Party and UKIP will take credit for the short term economic boom that will ensue, but the long term trends will be to exacerbate already disturbing and unsustainable paths already being taken. Once the city becomes addicted to getting a nice chunk of its budget from these sources, it will further attempt to appease such investors in order to attract more.
And that is just the city of London. More interesting might be outside of said city.
For reasons listed above and others, leaving the EU will already exaggerate what I have come to call ‘The London Effect’, which is noticing how the UK is so dominated by its capitol city, which no close or even moderately distant secondary center of urban power can compete with, that it resembles a massively overgrown city-state in all but name. Perhaps this is something that comes from living in a variety of locations in the UK starting with London and eventually ending with my favorite city of Edinburgh which I liked much more, but it is a very real structural phenomenon built into the state.
Without being part of a zone containing the various competing mega-cities of Paris, Berlin, and what-have-you, the dominance of London over British affairs (and budgeting) will only increase. Combined with the likely loosening of various regulations on average workers this will exacerbate forces pulling away from state centralization. In other words, expect another Scottish independence referendum if the UK leaves the EU, and expect it to win the second time. And once that starts, who knows what next for a supposedly United Kingdom? Especially if, as would be extremely likely, Scotland then immediately applies for EU membership. How long could Wales agree to be even more proportionally dominated by the English? What would this bode for Northern Ireland?
We don’t know the answers for sure, but at this moment in time if one wanted to keep the UK together one should want to keep it inside the EU, at least for now.
Perhaps in the future we can talk about an alternative to the EU and NATO I came up with called ‘The Northern Alliance’, which would exist to protect the interests of states with arctic and sub-arctic climate change challenges and who do not wish to be divided and dominated by Russia, but that is a different enough topic that it can be saved for a future post.