I’m voting LEAVE. Here’s my reason in ONE WORD.

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The upcoming referendum on the EU is, I believe, the single most important political decision any of us is likely to make in our lifetime. I’m voting ‘Leave’. Here’s my reasoning in ONE word. Accountability.

Accountability keeps us behaving responsibly.

As individuals we are responsible for how we treat each other, responsible for our possessions, and responsible for what we do with what we have. We are responsible for what we ask of others, how our decisions affect them and how we adjust to the effect we have on other’s lives – our response-ABILITY. Responsibility and accountability are linked. We are responsible FOR things and people, and accountable TO those people, obliged to maintain a free flow of transparent communication so that we prove ourselves worthy of trust.

In Britain we have decided that those who are responsible for the direction and management of our country are ultimately accountable to us, the people they lead, whose lives their decisions affect.  Responsible for. Accountable to.

The reason I’m voting Leave is because such accountability is missing in the EU. We have no idea who makes the decisions that affect us. We do not know the person responsible for each of the myriad of choices imposed on the millions of people who must do as they are told. There is no cabinet minister’s name attached to an ‘EU Directive’. Parliament cannot overthrow it. As a result of that ongoing and unstoppable anonymity, power becomes absolute and absolute power corrupts absolutely, regardless of the intentions of those who wield it.

The counterbalance to the abuse of power is democracy, described by Churchill as “the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.” Or as it has been succinctly put, ‘the least worst form of government.’

Every few years in Britain the people have an opportunity to kick out those in power if they don’t lead well, or spend our taxes carelessly, and this makes they much more attentive to the people they, at least in theory, are committed to serve. We wisely wield that power every five years in Britain – about the right time-frame in my view.  But no one can kick out those who wield the power in the EU, so its bureaucrats can – and do – decide as they like.

Worse than that in some ways is that the inertia of this unwieldy autocracy is so great that the EU has proven to be UNABLE to reverse, even though catastrophe lies in such a path. It has become unABLE to respond. It has lost response-ABILITY.

We paid a high price for democracy – many many lives. Let’s not give it away in a single day of apathy.

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This issue of power is way more important than any financial implication (or even issues like immigration). Prosperity comes and goes and we’ll love to exercise our creative skills in developing our markets with the rest of the world.  We are certainly mature enough, creative enough and courageous enough as a nation and economy to do so. But democracy, once it has been surrendered, cries out for blood in order to be restored. Germany, Spain, Italy, and indeed ourselves, could well do with remembering the lessons of history.  So let’s not, due to negligence, weakness or ignorance, drift into blind obedience to the relentless autocracy the EU has determined to exercise since its inception.

By the way, I love being with people from other nations. I’ve visited every country in Western Europe (except Iceland and Macedonia).  And I’ve visited many other countries too – from China to Canada. Human beings are amazing.  I’m always impressed. But I’ve also noticed that where accountability and transparency flourish, corruption is minimal. Where it is diminished, abuse of the people, people like you and me, sooner or later becomes normal. Dark deeds are done in secret.

One final thought.
Reformation. Membership of a ‘reformed’ Europe (whatever that might mean) is an option, but to be committed to a vague undefined so-called reformation without knowing what it will be, and knowing that the very people choosing the reforms are the same autocrats committed to the original governmental system – well, that would be foolishness indeed, wouldn’t it?

I personally think that the removal of the U.K. from the EU could be a catalyst for reform. Brexit will be a major upheaval for Europe, perhaps even big enough to force such reformation, so us voting ‘leave’ will serve the EU well, as a child running away from home usually causes the child’s family to ask deep searching essential questions of themselves, their relationships and parenting. What freedom is that person seeking that they could not get here? “How is it that such freedom is SO important that they have left the apparent security of this ‘home’ to seek it?”  Although of course Britain isn’t a child. It is a mature thoughtful adult choosing to leave a business club that is no longer serving its members well.

The British people have given Europe’s leaders a chance to change. They haven’t. They don’t care about the members’ concerns, the sincere concerns of those they rule. Instead some have even threatened us with retaliation and financial ‘punishment’ for making a free legal choice. Some friends!  Do we want to be forced to live the rest of our lives with them, ‘return’ to their walled fold? Not exactly enticing, is it. Bullying tactics are in the DNA of the over-powerful. Do I want to continue living within the doors of such a ‘home’? Certainly not. A bully living next door is one thing. Living with them is something else – as millions of people know only too well.

Time for Britain to grow up, believe in itself again, move out, seek our fortune in a less confining environment and move on. These EU walls that are hailed as protecting us have become our prison. We don’t need them thanks. This is our chance to walk out from that prison. Our world is a big place to explore, to play and work in. I believe we are courageous enough to say goodbye to our fears, stand up tall as a nation again, trade with confidence … and show the world how good it is to live with an accountable government and a free press in a democratic society.

That’s the reason I’ll be voting ‘Leave’.

139 Replies to “I’m voting LEAVE. Here’s my reason in ONE WORD.”

  1. I cannot thank you enough for this thoughtful, prayerful and truthful post, written succinctly and unbiased as ever. I will repost, forward and pass on in any way I can your invaluable view of our situation as responsible British subjects. Thank you.

    1. ‘A “no” vote will greatly extend the crises that the EU is already trying to manage. Geopolitically, a Brexit will weaken Europe’s ability to stand up to Putin’s aggression and the challenges of jihadism. The EU would lose a member that has one of its biggest military and diplomatic capacities, its main advocate of interventionism, and the strongest link with Washington. Brexit will threaten the global role of both the UK and the EU. Internally, a Brexit will rejuvenate fears of Germany hegemony, with France alone unable to be the counter-balance, with concerns revived in Europe’s east and south.

      1. Putin hasn’t shown any aggression… your reply is full of mainstream assumption… our military is being REDUCED under EU austerity programs, as are our own Police force, industry, fishing, farming… we are being turned into a basket case by EU protectionism and ‘allocated’ roles of each nation… ours is as service industry and ‘entertainment’ (dance for us Britain). If we are a main advocate of interventionism they are better without us… just look at the mess we have made in Syria, Libya etc… We are not responsible for clearing up the mess made by the EU in Greece, Ireland etc… it was deliberate destruction by EU policy in order to buy each country’s assets for pennies on the pound… it’s a sick organisation that has no concern for it’s peoples, simply a gravy train at the expense of the poorest… jihadism is a western product of sponsoring dissent in countries we try to exert regime change on… i would say it has backfired, but the results are exactly as planned… This whole EU is just one part of the Vatican One World Order that need destroying, not completing… it would be fine if we had compassionate and moral leadership, but we don’t, we have satanists and power hungry nobodies.

        1. Anthony…NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance. Is that the kind of solution you envisage? Oh, and on the question of sovereignty- we have allowed NATO to issue literally thousands of treaties with our name on. That’s OK with me -but Is it OK with you?

  2. Andrew, well done, I fully agree. Thank you for your straight thoughts. We over here in germany do have many enlightened persons with ideas & thouhgts like that. But they are suppressed and put down by hard-core-ideology. Anyway opposition is becoming larger & larger. Thanks God. Klaus. (..meeting you with scooter/bmw in sweden 2011..)

    1. Thank you so much for this, Klaus. I’m glad there are German people who feel the same way. Hard-core ideology rarely works. It forces people away from their hearts and away from seeking truth towards fear and conformity. We have it here in the UK, with one of the biggest current assaults on free speech being in the universities!

      Over the years I have personally found it takes a lot of courage to speak out, far more courage than I have expected. Not to do so hands the power to the intimidator. In-Timid-ator. Timid = fearful, lacking in courage.

      Anything you can do to circulate this post will be appreciated, Klaus. Feel free.

      Yes I still have your picture on my iPhotos! I think you are the handsome one, aren’t you?

    1. The argument is not only about the costs of leaving but also about the benefits of membership.

      Peace should not be underestimated because so few people are left who can remember the Second World War. The EU has also helped to consolidate democracy in Southern European countries formerly under military dictatorships and in former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
      Membership of the world’s largest economy creates considerable economic benefits.
      Membership gives greater control of the international environment (climate change, control of multinationals, action on tax havens).
      Free movement benefits the large numbers of Brits who live and work in other EU countries, something of particular relevance to younger people who live and work in other EU countries for part of their career and older people who retire to warmer climes.

      1. More speculation, Pen. When we have only experienced one side (in) we cannot compare based on that experience, and that is the reason I’ve avoided doing so. To do so is guesswork and relies on the huge assumptions that you make. I don’t accept the assumptions.

  3. Thanks for this I have chosen to vote ‘Leave’ also, however, you read this article and then you read that and both sides are passionately adamant that theirs is the true and reasoned argument.
    There are points and things to consider on either side of the argument but ACCOUNTABILITY trumps them all!
    This is now my one word argument and I am at peace with this, Thank you.

  4. But we vote Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in every few years to represent us in the EU parliament. Sure, not all people in the EU system are elected….but then again, when was the last time you elected a member of the House of Lords? Oh right…never. Nor did you ever vote for the civil servants implementing policies.

    Your argument is therefore void.

    For the sake of favor debate, other arguments are welcome though.

    From Wikipedia:

    MEP: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_of_the_European_Parliament
    House of Lords: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords
    HM Civil Service: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Her_Majesty%27s_Civil_Service

  5. But we vote Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in every few years to represent us in the EU parliament. Sure, not all people in the EU system are elected….but then again, when was the last time you elected a member of the House of Lords? Oh right…never. Nor did you ever vote for the civil servants implementing policies.

    This argument is therefore void.

    For the sake of favor debate, other arguments are welcome though.

    From Wikipedia:

    MEP: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/

    Member_of_the_European_Parliament

    House of Lords: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords
    HM Civil Service: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Her_Majesty%27s_Civil_Service

    1. We don’t elect the commissioners nor the presidents They are the law makers in the EU. At home we do elect the law makers – the Commons (not the Lords). The argument is NOT “therefore void”

    2. Thanks for the links, Florian. They all help. I love Wikipedia – it is information about the big world we all live in, for the people, by the people!

      I agree, the Civil Service is unelected, and is pretty much out of control. So what would possess me to vote for more of the same, giving it even more power over my life, work, family and friends?

    1. Thanks, Phillip.

      Yes, it is nothing to do with immigration or money. It’s to do with boundaries – to our own lives, to our country, and ownership of the boundaries of those who make decisions on our behalf.

    2. British MP make law to run Britain?YES provided they dont effect what the EU as to say we have tried but the commision as put us down 16 to1. We require to rule our own land sea and air 100% in my opinion (It is a proven fact that too many cooks spoil the Broth.

  6. The one word you’re looking for is “ignorance”.
    Just because you don’t know, or want to know, how the EU works doesn’t mean it’s not accountable.
    The parliament is elected and the commission has a representative put in place by our own, elected, government.
    If the EU parliament wishes they can, and have, force the commission to resign.
    The accountability may be obtuse but it’s there if you can be bothered to look for it.

    1. Brexiters dont do research unfortunately. They simply swallow the lies and misinformation of the right wing ukippers and Toriesho have a completely different agenda to the rest of us. I am voting to stay in for one simple reason – i fear the tories more than i fear the EU. As foccountability i would suggest the writer of this rubbish article actually does some proper research.

      1. Stephen Kelly, us Brxiters have done the research which is why I went from accepting the EEC/EU as a necessary part of life to realizing it is and always has been an Anti Democratic, Anti Nation State, dictatorship. (Sure it has the veneer of democracy and even “requires” joining states to be democratic, but the nature of the beast is very different.

      2. Stephen, this is unworthy of you! “Brexiters don’t do research”. I understand you may disagree and be keen to ‘rubbish’ those who disagree with you, but that seems to me to do your cause a disfavour. Stick with the argument. Those who don’t have a convincing argument tend to attack the speaker. We want light not heat in this debate.

        I’m interested that your comment is based on fear. More fear, less fear. Fear of the future, perhaps. If you took that fear away, (tories, EU, and I suspect Labour, socialism, the Establishment, etc.) how would you argue then? If I were to pay you £10,000 for every convincing argument you could come up with to Leave, how rich would you suddenly be?

      3. you must have hit a chord Florian. As far as I can see there is no reply from Andrew Sercombe. Or maybe his logic, powerful as it may be, is flawed. To counterbalance the rhetoric and sycophancy on this post I’m with you. I seek to remain.

        1. That’s the lovely thing about democracy, Peter. We each have a vote that affects the future. Each vote is equal to every other vote. This country is filled with millions of intelligent people whose decision-making is respected by an accountable government. May it ever be so. “Of the people, for the people, by the people.”

      4. Hotlush , Stephen Kelly, For the life of me, I have looked, read, re-read till I’m blue in the face for many, many hours (husband looks on neglected & rejected). Yet no where can I find the accountability for the monthly move from Brussels to Strasbourg costing + – £85m per year! I note that: 1 We are still waiting for the Chilcot report. 2 Conservative expenses during the last elections in 2014, investigations still on going by our Police force. ‘There’s none so blind as those that cannot see’. Our forefather must be turning in their graves at this utter EU/Cameron debarcle.

    2. Oh yes the Great Commission resignation. One problem with your lack of understanding. Every one of those members that resigned got put back in a few weeks later! All they did was move the goal posts!

      There is no accountability in the EU. In fact the EU under its own rules should just close up shop. Why? It has to have it’s finances passed off by a reputable accounting firm. This has not happened for getting on 20 years.

    3. Yeah, sure. Mr Santer has really gone into a backwater never to be seen again after his mauling by the Commission:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Santer

      Still appears to have his snout in the trough.

      If this is what you mean by “accountability” it’s certainly “obtuse” and I’ll give it a pass.

      I’d also suggest that the rise of extremist parties across Europe (nearly had a neo-Nazi President in Austria) is precisely because people do not *believe* that the “accountability” you talk about actually means anything in reality.

    4. Hmmm, thank you for your help, Hotlush. For me, accountability happens in a context of transparency. We know WHAT people are accountable for, and WHO is accountable, and TO WHOM they are accountable. ‘Obtuse’ accountability is a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it? In the UK we have been very concerned about ‘off-shore’ accounts, etc. because they are hidden and encourage corruption. (Hiddenness again. If you think no one is looking you behave very differently to when someone is.) I’m not saying national governments don’t, but I AM saying we are more able to control our own government. For many of us, of course, if we kept our finances hidden we would eventually be put in prison by HMRC, but we are happy to be governed by a massive organisation that refuses to open its accounts and cannot balance its books – and NONE OF US have power to stop it at any time, ever.

      1. Just silence, Peter, not a deafening one. Adding an adjective that has an intention to force me to reply is the very thing people hate about this debate. It so happens that as a practicing coach (www.powerchange.com) I currently have four presentations to design, my new website to put on line, and a book on Self Worth to write. And this blog has taken off – 28,642 at the moment.

        It is easy to add your own meanings into a person’s actions. I personally don’t want to do that. My wife has a cautionary phrase, “What I say about others says more about me.” I want to make sure that what I say has thought behind it and is not just a knee-jerk reaction.

    5. Hi, Hotlush. Thank you for supplying “the one word I’m looking for”. Yes, I am ignorant in so many ways. I’m currently studying the roots of Islam in order to understand it better. And the long-term effect of prescribed psychotherapeutic medication. What are you studying at the moment?

      I’ve been reading widely on this current subject too. The more I read, the more concerned I have become. In my coaching practice I blythely say “I have very little to offer ABOVE ground level.” I’m interested in the underlying principles and beliefs that surround a person’s (client’s) decisions.

      I’m interested in yours too.

  7. I’d be more persuaded by your argument about accountability & responsibility if the current British government, or any of the past few, showed much sign of responsibility. The breathtakingly cruel cuts to vast amounts of support for the poorest and neediest in our nation, such as disability allowance and so on, seem to show the government aren’t actually worried about accountability. I’d love to hold Cameron or Hunt accountable for the destruction they’re causing to the NHS, but they seem blithely unconcerned. Indeed, the election results after the coalition make it seem as if Cameron is completely unaffected by any consequences of his actions during the coalition. Given this is the situation at home, is the EU any worse?

    1. alextfish The reason the government is acting as it is, is because all of the ruling parties are tied in with the EU and they are getting the country closer and closer to being the same and the EU. Have you never wondered why Labour did not re-nationalise the railways etc, and in fact did a lot of PFI deals for new Hospitals and prisons etc? The answer when you scratch the surface is the EU (one of the pillars of the EU is Governments of whatever level own nothing, but through the EU control it. Much like the National Socialists in Germany and Italy in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Where they allowed the private businesses run but called all the shots).

    2. Yes of course it is! One of the reasons Cameron acts like a dictator is because he knows he can get away with it. And why is that? Because we have allowed him to! But in the case of the EU we have no power whatsoever to prevent the planned march to the EUSSR! The EU already has it’s own flag, anthem and fledgling army and nobody can argue that the plan for ‘ever closer union’ will not go ahead if we remain. If we leave then others will follow and the EU will crumble. Then we can unite with the countries of Europe in a far more ‘accountable’ way, with each country still in control of their destination. This referendum isn’t just about us here in the UK. We have the opportunity to free Europe!

    3. Alex, for me this isn’t about any political group. That is the point. In ten years time, Cameron/Hunt/Corbin/etc, with be gone. This is about the principles underlying government. It’s about power, and who wields it, and how you and I as voters on the 23rd can stop that power becoming more and more corrupting.

    4. Well how’s this one for you that no politician dares speak of , the EU plan on making wages a regulatory basis of limitation meaning keeping wages low making sure everyone will never be able to see prosperity while we will all be highly taxed to make way for Housing developments throughout the UK destroying our Greenbelt just to make way for housing millions of immigration from third world country’s and those who are facing manufactured wars , the Labour Party have already stated they will not be rebuilding if we do not get a win vote in the EU , not forgetting it’s our money anyway

  8. Aalexfish we can, as you say, hold Cameron & Hunt accountable at the next general election by as a nation voting them out. However I fear that if we remain in the EU after the referendum then general elections will become irrelevant, because the unelected mandarins of the EU will see a remain vote as licence to take even more control of what happens here.

  9. Very clearly and well put, without any of the usual innuendo which normally is spouted. The comments here from EU supporters demonstrate how we are kept in ignorance of how the EU is thoroughly undemocratic.and self-serving (for the politicians).

    1. Thank you, Joe. As a coach I know that it is in the hidden areas of our lives that corruption begins. Open government is the key, with people knowing and electing those they believe to be trustworthy – or at least are less untrustworthy! Broken promises are everywhere in politics, and whoever they are, holding them to transparent scrutiny goes some way to keeping them in check.

  10. My vote is to stay in. Accountability is down to one factor me. I am personally accountable for all my actions and regardless of who I am ruled by be it Cameron or the unseen “Gnomes” in Europe I stand alone as the author of my life decisions.Our views and theories will not matter one iota when we are called to give Account and the only ability[account-ability,hope you saw that] We can believe as the one sure factor is standing firmly in Christ and His gift of salvation. In or out ? hmm. I do not write this for any other reason than to remind us all ,me included ,to hold onto the one who proved His accountability Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I used to take that view (for years I didn’t vote) but eventually felt that I was surrendering my response-ability to others. (That ability word again.) As you will see from my other blogs and my business (www.powerchange.com!) I am a coach, and have watched so many people be damaged by an imbalance of power. In my view, ‘Leave’ reduces the gap between those who govern and those who suffer or enjoy (depending on your view) the outcomes of their government. It may also encourage others across Europe to stand up and be counted.

  11. We are ruled by an unaccountable elite who only got 26% of the vote already. Without a major restructuring the difference to the ordinary person in the street will be minimal, if anything worse, as things like the last court of appeal when your government turns on you will be removed.

    I’m all for accountability – but there is none. Venal politicians, rotten boroughs. The whole system is broken, and voting leave makes it even worse.

  12. You are missing the basic point. After 2000 years of factional nationalistic conflict and war in Europe, we won the right to form and be part of a European Union, designed to equalise tensions and prevent conflict for ever more. Now you deluded nationalistic sycophants want to bring it all crashing down. I doubt the EU will survive if we leave and the next War in Europe will be your doing entirely. On the subject of ACCOUNTABILITY!!? some 20% of the electorate voted for our current government who are governing with impunity against the best interests of its own population in regards to the disabled, the health service, fracking, tax evasion, to name but a few. The EU are the only restraint on this bunch of psycopaths. God help us all without it.

  13. The democratic checks and balances in the EU may be more difficult to understand than our own, but they are there. If you are saying that Europe is too big an entity to govern itself democratically, compare the USA.

  14. How is the EU a prison? We have seen some of our EU neighbouring countries actually imprisoned for decades, and as soon as they walked free, where did they go? To join the EU. It’s not a perfect institution, all human constructs are flawed. But, on the whole, it is a force for good. Europe is more stable, peaceful and prosperous, for longer, than in other time in its long history. Someone described the EU as a sort of permanent peace conference. Instead of divisive nationalisms we talk with each other about our differences.
    If you imagine that destabilising our country, and our continent will somehow ‘serve the EU well’, can you provide a shred of evidence for that?

    1. Tom I can understand that the EU can seem a place of comparative liberation for eastern bloc countries escaping the forced compliance of dictatorship. The crunch for me is the direction of movement towards freedom – walking out of solitary confinement (unable to share your deepest thoughts with anyone) into a more open cell, into an enclosed inner courtyard, from there to the outer yard, and finally through the big gates into the scary ‘big wide world’. People coming out of long-term prison have a terrifying challenge to take responsibility for their lives, and often long for prison again. (At least they ate ‘inside’.) Your country’s people may be in the outer courtyard. However, I think the EU has doors that confine not liberate. That matters to me.

    2. You mean Germany, France, Belgium are prosperous. The UK is prosperous, but not because of the EU. We always have been an innovating, world-leading nation and that’s where our prosperity derives from, and will continue to do so. I wonder how poor old Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain etc would react if you told them “Europe was prosperous”? Far from destabilising our continent – and let’s not forget us “Brexiteers” don’t hate Europe, like Andrew, I like Europe, one of my best friends is Portuguese, so it’s not a case of wanting to shun Europe and being xenophobic, this is about the EU/EC – Brexit would pave the way for referenda in many other countries where there is growing unrest about what future continued membership of the EU has in store for them. The recent election result in Austria is evidence of that. It can be likened to neighbours who are good friends. They get on well, but would soon get sick of living in the same house, so would still be perfectly good friends, just with that little bit of distance of living in separate houses. If you’re talking about destabilisation, remaining in an unreformed EU, for many people on mainland Europe, is disturbing and the direction the EU is heading is far more likely to cause problems in the form of civil disobedience, violent protests, rebellions, even wars, than leaving ever will.

      1. So the EU’s far from perfect, I agree. But for all its many flaws, it is the best ‘arrangement’

        that Europe has worked out in its long, sometimes bloody, history. You seem to want others

        to follow our example and vote to leave…that can only bring years of instability. Why would

        anyone want that?

        1. Dictators survive by NOT providing an opportunity to the people to vote ‘Leave’ if they want to, hence Syria, and every other totalitarian state. If providing that opportunity brings years of instability we might ask what might be a better arrangement than the one we’ve got. It would seem to me that the EU is unwilling to ask that question with an open mind. In such a refusal they are depriving people of something better.
          I’m not convinced that in this world of chaos and complexity, stability is either possible or helpful. In my view, trustworthiness is what provides significant stability. When that is missing, we need transparency. We don’t seem to have either.

  15. Guys. Let’s break it down into easy to understand chunks. A bit like the small chunks of offerings we’ve been showered with by the EU in an attempt to make us stay.

    1. We do not have control by election of the law makers in the eu.

    2. Peace in Europe is policed by Nato and has nothing to do with the EU.

    3. Remember you are not only voting on whether we leave he EU. You are voting on agreeing to the eu way of doing things for good. We will get hammered if we stay in having just said “yes we’re fine to go along with anything you say, look our people have just given you the power to do what you like without hindrance”

    4. There is more to this than whether your mobile phone bill is a little bigger when you go on holiday, or whether you don’t have the E111 (who doesn’t buy £5 travel insurance or get it with their bank anyway?) or whether a beer is cheaper. It’s about full control over our economy. To forge our own future within the EU. Remember we will always be only 20 miles from France! Look at Switzerland as an example! Look at Germany pre common market as an example!

    5. Turkey and Romania are about to join the EU. If we stay in that is a further 2 huge countries who will have free access to our country. Immigration is not the main point for me. But it is a point!

    6. The most important reason is the huge waste of money the EU is. For every pound we get out on average it costs us £2.30 to pay in. Imagine just a 1/4 of the money saved being used by your local government to spend as their electorate wished in improving infrastructure etc. Not to mention the other 3/4 that we could invest in the NHS, lower taxes, business injection and more.

    It’s so obvious that the stay campaign is based around fear of change. But that is just what our forefathers went through to get the world where it is today.

    Vote to leave. Control your life a little more. Europe will only ever be 20 miles away…

      1. Brilliant, Andrew?! Turkey is not about to join the EU. We pay in more because we are a richer country and we are enabling poorer regions to develop. Leaving would not provide more money for the NHS – as even Brexiteers admit that the ‘savings’ could be wiped out by the effect on the economy – Sarah Woolaston changed sides because she realised this proposition did not stack up, Peace in Europe is more than down to an army – NATO……etc etc.

        No one, that I can see has said anything about tackling things like climate change which needs an international consensus which would not be possible without the EU. The EU allows us to stand up for ethical principles in trade – putting some sort of break on leaders like Modi. Without the EU there could well be a race to the bottom as far as workers rights are concerned. Let’s face it, many of the right wing Brexiteers (I have no idea what your politics are, so am not making a personal attack) want us out so that ‘business can be freed of regulation’ i.e. trashing workers rights.

        I can understand your single word for leaving is “accountability” and the EU is not perfect and needs reform. This referendum has been a wake up call and people across Europe will hopefully engage much more and there will be further reforms propelled by people power. – witness the popular dissent across Europe over TTIP. Let’s work together with our EU partners (people not bureaucrats) to create a better Europe and make the positive case to hopefully check the rise of neo-Nazism.

        The trouble is, the way the Brexit campaign has been fought, the rest of the world will see not Great Britain but ‘Little England” giving in to xenophobia, as the voices of principled people such as yourself will be lost in the populism promoted by Farage and the right wing tabloids.

    1. A few observations on your six points

      1. Law – much criticism in this area is around ECHR judgements eg Abu Hamza: The ECHR is not an EU court, and leaving the EU won’t change that. The only European country that doesn’t acknowledge the ECHR is Belarus!

      2. Peace in Europe – NATO is vitally important, but peace between EU members is down to the EU and it’s predecessors as well.

      3. You are voting on agreeing to the eu way of doing things for good – A big assumption, based on what evidence?

      4. It’s about full control over our economy – We will still have to negotiate trade deals, both with the EU and other places, which means accepting regulations on how we trade.

      5. Turkey and Romania are about to join the EU – Romania joined in 2007, and Turkey is far from ready to join.

      6. The most important reason is the huge waste of money the EU is – the figures are disputed, but it is only a small part of the U.K. annual budget, and if you don’t think we can waste money all on our own, check out our new aircraft-carriers, the ones without any planes.

      Vote to stay – unless you see Europe as the enemy, and want to destabilise our country and our continent.

      1. I don’t think those are the only two choices, Tom. We can vote to leave without seeing the people of europe as enemies. If us leaving, when we are already pretty much ignored, ‘destabilises our country and our continent’, I’m wondering what they might be founded on. It is speculative to assume either or both of those things will happen. I believe people are much more resourceful than that.

  16. Excellent piece on accountability.

    When I voted in 1974 (or was it 1975) to join the European Common Market I did so because I saw the benefit of entering into a free-trade zone with a number of other European Countries. Norway, Iceland and Switzerland who are NOT members of the current EU are members of the European Free Trade Area. They do have to abide by some EU rules to be part of the Free Trade Area but they have their own governments and their own self determination.

    What I did not realise is one of the first casualties of our joining the European Common Market was New Zealand’s economy that lost its major export market (the UK) for lamb and dairy products virtually overnight. We decimated its exports and livelihood of its farmers (we had to import from Europe not New Zealand). Yet New Zealand sent its troops to assist Britain in the Boer War, First World War and Second World War – they are part of the Commonwealth and share our Queen.

    We are told we need the EU for our exports. I understand that we now export at least 50% of our services and commodities to elsewhere in the world. Ireland will not cease trading with us if we leave the EU and they represent at least 10% of our export trade. Is Germany and France going to stop selling us cars and wine – and buying our services? I think not!

    I love the many different people of Europe (and the rest of the World). I loved working in Germany and Ireland and doing business elsewhere in Europe. The things I have learnt from European (and other) business associates have always stood me in good stead.

    Some of the arguments for staying and others for leaving seem (to me) farcical. Why not embrace the EU laws, after all we accept international laws of Human Rights? We support the UN, we are part of a Commonwealth of Nations etc. The key is our elected government considered the international laws and the UN provisions and voted to include them or variations of them. As I understand our membership of the EU we have to embrace the laws it dictates (I welcome an education if I am wrong).

    What I did not sign up for in 1974 was the United States of Europe (USE) – which is where I believe the EU is heading.

    It would be easy for me to ignore the issue and not get engrossed in the debates – after all why should I worry about the United States of Europe (USE) at my age? I worry because I am concerned for future generations of British people and the British way of life.

    I feel part of “our richly multicultural and multi faith society” – my forebears are predominantly Anglo-Saxon (but there is Chinese some generations back). I consider myself British and if pushed I will say I am European or even a Westerner.

    I have yet to be convinced that remaining in the EU will be good for Britain. I know that if we vote to leave there will be a hiatus for the economy for a while during a transition period. However, I believe that the transition period will not last more than a couple of years (it will be like 2008 and its aftermath again) but once through it our nation will once again control its own destiny.

    Perhaps these points will resonate with some and bring disparaging thoughts from others. My mind is made up (with apologies to the other 20 or so national languages):

    vóta a chaitheamh mé a fhágáil an Aontas Eorpach
    Yo voto para salir de la Unión Europea
    Je vote pour quitter l’Union européenne
    Ich stimme für die Europäische Union zu verlassen
    I vote to leave the European Union

    1. James I have deleted NO comment so far, (as far as I’m aware) so if it came this way it has gone up on the site. My intention is to do so unless comments are clearly insulting in some way – and I’m pretty liberal on that too! Send your reply (again?) by all means.

  17. This is a brilliant piece of journalism, thank you for that. If only we Austrians could have the opportunity to vote out…… Will try to put it on my Facebook wall for my friends. And won’t comment on the presidential election as I strongly believe parts have been rigged the establishment having been afraid of losing their privileges.

    1. Yes, Liselotte, I have had people from all over Europe express a longing for the opportunity for an Exit vote.

      Since the beginning of time the rich and powerful have sought to be richer and more powerful – at the expense of others. My commitment to democracy as ‘the least worst form of government” is, for me about “being part of the answer, not part of the problem.” Hopefully, expressing my view is helping, in a little way, others to reexamine their own attitudes, and perhaps look to the future with hope.

    1. Yes, sadly I have had first hand experience of corruption in the UK – and it has been argued that Britain is the least corrupt nation in Europe – possibly the world. However to willingly surrender to more of it, though an easy option, is not going to make it better. Bad men and women succeed when good men and women do nothing. That is the reason I’m voting Leave.

  18. An excellent article Andrew, argued with passion but without hyperbole – at least by the originator. I’d like to add some fuel to your fire if you’ll allow me too.

    Have you ever wondered why, regardless of the party we’ve “elected” to “govern” us for the next 5 years, nothing much really changes? What many people don’t – or won’t – appreciate is that the country is actually run by civil servants, with the majority of their work being to enforce the various EU legislation that has crippled us and made us such a nanny state.

    And who controls the EU? The same, unimaginably wealthy elite who control the politicians, foreign policies, economies and the money of virtually every civilised country. They also control the major media, which is probably why we don’t get know much about them.

    Fanciful nonsense? Conspiracy theory? New world order? Well, that’s what they’d have us believe, but don’t take my word for it. Look around at what’s happening under our very noses. How on earth is the government getting away with murder, quite literally in some cases…?

    Think of privatisation for example. Who benefits? The general public? I think not. Privatisation serves one thing only – profit! They’ve been gradually privatising the NHS over the years, which is one of the main reasons it’s in such a state. Now they’re talking about privatising the Land Registry for f***s sake! Are we all blind? Will things get better if we remain in the EU? I think not!

    Whether we leave or remain, there are risks on both sides, but isn’t it curious Curious that those leading the charge for remain have the most to lose (eg: financial institutions, bankers, big business leaders, the US president… and Tony Blair)!!!

    ‘Nuff said – Brexit here we come!

    1. Perhaps we’ll never know. What I do know is I have a chance to vote towards more personal responsibility for all the citizens of Britain and Europe, so at least we have less and less people to blame for our woes, and more and more personal control – however little that may be at present. There is no virtue in giving even more away just because we don’t have much.

      As a coach (I am the director of Powerchange) I spend a lot of time with clients who have become disenfranchised, usually by people/companies that are much bigger than they are, so I’m careful about ‘big’ anything. I do know that big international companies have huge power and use it for the benefit of their shareholders. (That’s the reason I developed a personal power-rebalancing tool to use in my coaching!)

  19. Something else that I believe the EU is up to is removing each country’s population FREEDOM OF CHOICE. I like going to airshows along with millions of others – as I have a great interest in planes, something I choose to spend my money on.
    However one day (if we stay in EU), there will be a directive about airshows, the RED ARROWS etc and although I dont exactly how that directive will be directed, you can be certain the EU will want to meddle with that, particularly as they have plans for a EU army, airforce and navy and that means ours will cease to exist.
    There are of course many other bits of life that the EU will want to CONTROL and although I am 76 years of age, I WANT OUT.
    I also want a lot to change in this country particularly reducing the amount of control and therefore the numbers of MPs. I think a referendum of whether the House of Lords should remain is also a possibility once we are free to make that choice. I dont think government should be able to dictate so much in this country also and pleased that Nigel Farage has already promoted a smaller government being better for us all.

    1. Great article Andrew. By remaining we are saying that we as a nation don’t have the skills, passion, intelligence, courage to be able to make leaving the EU a success. There’s a huge lack of belief in the country as a whole, not an opinion I share. Unfortunately people will read the scare stories put out by those with most lose and believe them. How can this be changed?

  20. Thanks for all these comments. I am a leave voter and all I have read so far has said I am on the right track. Lets keep Great Britain ‘Great Britain’ while at the same time admiring other nations for what they achieve. Going it on our own terms may be a leap of faith but our history tells us we can do it. Go for it but above all be convinced in your own mind so that when the result is published you can say “I played my part to make that happen”. So help us!

    1. I’m never sure what’s in people’s head when they say things like ‘let’s keep Great Britain Great’? The name of our country is just that; did we think Greater London was greater than Greater Manchester, or even Great Grimsby? Would the EU be greater if they rebranded it Great Europe? The EU is not a perfect institution, all human constructs are flawed. But Europe is more stable, peaceful and prosperous, for longer, than at any other time in its long history. That didn’t happen by accident, it required a hell of a lot of work across Europe; Someone described the EU as a sort of permanent peace conference. Instead of divisive nationalisms we talk with each other about our differences.

      According to that lefty rag, the Financial Times, if we leave the EU it would set off one of the most complicated divorces in history, and have a decisive impact on the country’s economy and place in the world for generations. The formidable To Do list includes Renationalise 5,896 full EU regulations and 6,399 technical regulations by ditching them, passing legislation or negotiating a transition. Let’s factor in‪, in no particular order – SNP seeking another Scottish referendum (majority of Scots want to stay in EU), reimposition of border controls between N Ireland and R of Ireland (which will become an EU-non EU frontier), French move to abandon juxtaposed controls at Channel Tunnel (remember what Dover was like then), run on Sterling by foreign investors, return of many (ageing) expats from other EU countries when their access to Pan-EU healthcare is lost, exit of young EU workers (and their taxes), not to mention the time, money and effort in replacing the current EU free circulation with our own version‬. The whole model of 15,000 TEU container superships is built around fast, efficient turnaround at hub ports, such as Europort. Much of our imports from China etc arrive on the continent first, then transfer to feeder vessels to us, and it’s ‘cleared’ at the first EU port, a very efficient and low-cost model. It’s environmentally ‘friendly’, reducing fuel burnt per container mile, and losing entry port clearance within the EU will mean more paperwork, slower operations and higher costs. We will lose access to the EU customs systems, the costs of which are of course shared by all the member states. How many UK manufacturing/supply chain jobs will be lost while we re-invent a UK system, train people to use it, and handle all the IT issues involved?

      ‪Not to mention that the vast bulk of informed advice is telling us that a ‘Leave’ vote would be a mistake, and no country has ever left the EU. Of course we’re free to ignore the evidence, and minimise the risks…personally, I will vote with my head, not my heart, so it’s Stay for me!‬

      1. Hi, Tom.

        The EU will get on becoming and doing what it wants to become and do. It is just that I don’t want to play that game, and I’d prefer the UK not to.

        I want to play a different game that includes an agenda of freedom. Every significant ‘freedom’ change through history, from women’s votes to the abolition of slavery seems to have entailed men and women going with their hearts, not their heads. I work with many clients in personal development, and it is only when they STOP the endless confusion of chatter in their heads and go deeper that they find stability and strength, and a personal sense of destiny.

        However it takes courage to go for something higher than how difficult it might be. Every adventurer and explorer has determinedly stepped out into an unknown with courage and conviction, and some died. Personally I love the challenge of deliberately putting myself into an unfamiliar and new context. It is at the core of personal growth for me.

        As a person, my longing is for us here in the UK to lead the way in living with clear boundaries, honouring and valuing our neighbours, accepting responsibility for our finances and health, and choosing to trade in the marketplaces of our lives with transparent honesty.

        I’m also committed to community – choosing to work with one another for a time for our mutual benefit. I also want to be able to visit and talk (and trade with) to all my neighbours without someone telling me I can’t “because if I do I won’t get such a good deal.” Community for me depends on openness and trust, and often finding ourselves in a situation where it is clear we need to help each other – locally the 1987 storm and globally, WW2.

        What I don’t want to do is hand the keys of my house to my neighbours, nor live like them, nor marry them.

        What do you want?

    2. I think leaps of faith are an essential ingredient to both progress and personal well-being. They are not ‘blind’ leaps, but calculated ones. They involve facing and overcoming our fears, and result in greater self-confidence and courageous new development. “Take the risk and manage the risk” moves us away from fearfulness to great achievement.

      Our biggest problem is that a huge percentage of people think faith is just a religious word. It isn’t. It is an essential ingredient to emotional health.

      1. Hi Andrew, this is a reply to comment of yesterday.

        Some fine words, and laudable sentiments. It’s hard to argue against your vision, or your focus on openness and trust. But, of course, you’re not giving the full picture; few of us do.

        The fact is that we’re in a kind of marriage, not a perfect marriage, but it’s lasted for most of our lifetime. Now, many of us want a divorce, and not content with that alone, some want to see a complete family breakdown. We’re eyeing different partners, more in tune with our ways, we imagine.

        My own personal experience includes work in a number of hot-spots; former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. So I’ve witnessed at first hand how dysfunctional societies operate. Yugoslavia in particular both fascinated and saddened me. In the late 1980’s it was the second most popular holiday destination from the UK. Then it all came crashing down, with a series of civil wars, and eventual break-up. When I asked our locally-employed staff, well educated graduates in the main, how it had come to that, few of them could articulate any real reason. The best response, from a young graduate engineer, was “We just stopped listening to each other”. They all agreed that the country was ‘lost’, for at least a generation, and they were right.

        So while we all need to listen to our heart, denying that sometimes we should follow our head is more foolhardy than courageous. There’s overwhelming evidence that our best interests are served by staying in, better for us, better for our neighbours.

        I’ve witnessed too many broken lives to take a leap in the dark, and I don’t do blind faith!

        1. You’re right, Tom, it is never simple. And no analogy is going to work 100%. And of course it is impossible to give ‘the full picture’. None of us has it, nor could we comprehend it if we did have it. So we are inevitably working with incompletion. Hence my comment above about having deeper (or higher!) principles to work with, and making those our guide.

          I also know that ideals are like stars – they’ll guide us safely across the ocean, but if we try to reach them we will live with frustration forever. And I know too that sometimes we need to sail in the opposite direction to our ideals in order to avoid shipwreck to everyone aboard.

          I have heard very little about ‘stars’ – those principles, values, vision, or any sense of mission for our country in the last few weeks. They are the very stars that will guide our decisions. The old sage said 3000 years ago, where there is no vision the people are without restraint.

          As a coach I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about the consequences they are experiencing from previous mistakes – marriage and home break-up, anger, injustice, abuse – and I think we, including the UK and EU, are currently reaping the results of wanting to be something we aren’t. We’ve been more concerned about image and money and power than kindness, acceptance and accountability. Hence rampaging debt, blame, the slow breakdown in relationships between governors and people, both cultural and national, and it will be good for us to face the consequences. The phrase ‘a house of cards’ comes to mind.

          The Brexit vote is revealing hearts. Whatever the result on the day, a lot more will be out in the open. That, however unpalatable, has, for me, to be a good thing, for it forces us to take a long hard look at our own national and personal ‘character’.

          In a strange way, reading the above comments again, whether for and against, reveals the underlying character of the contributors. Me included.

  21. A very good word. When Mr. Cameron tried to “negotiate” a change to EU rules he was sent home like a cheeky boy with no more than a pocket of marbles.

  22. Tony Benn’s test for accountability was “Who’s in charge? How can we get rid of them?” Our elected government is in charge. Our MPs and MEP’s are accountable. We can and do “get rid of them” when they make decisions -or deals that we don’t agree with.

    Of course there are faceless civil servants, from all EU countries, making decisions. That’s not the job of MPs. Pre EU we had the British Standards Committee doing the same stuff. If we leave the EU our manufacturers will still have to comply with EU standards -they just won’t get any representation.

    Europe and the Middle East are in crisis. If we leave the EU we will lose our place in the forum where some of the most important decisions of our lifetime will be made in the near future.

    1. Pen I haven’t been a fan of Tony Benn, but I love quote!

      I’m not sure that we won’t have representation. Men and women talk to each other around the world and make decisions to trade together, or not. For a 1000s of years European countries have done so. We have persuaded, discuss, argued, and traded very successfully.

  23. Hi Andrew! Thanks for this contribution, well written and with an important central theme on accountability, but forgive me, I feel like (having just watched Question Time too!), whilst I have great sympathy for much of the rhetoric and ideological positivity of several “leave” campaigners, I’m yet to read much that compels me on the hard facts and benefits… in fact the opposite… Perhaps that’s not possible because there are, by definition, so many unknowns associated with “leave”, but I wonder what you’d make of a friend of mine’s recent post on this (Dan Bowring on fb), without trying to tell us which way to vote (not that there’s a problem with that) his research does challenge some of the arguments you and your groupies(!) make here… And he of course challenges the main “remain” arguments too!

    Head to thethingsthatithink.com if you have time… interested in what you think and still not 100% on how to vote…

    1. There are so many reasons for me, with Accountability being the main one. I recently discontinued my professional membership of Association for Coaching because I could not accept the direction of travel, and the attitudes it maintains are constrictive and based on more and more control. The opposite of my own “greater and greater individual freedom” attitude to life.
      An old proverb says you cannot have your cake and eat it. My view is that if you give control to another person you will not have it yourself. As we know, the direction of travel is the uk surrendering more and more to the EU. Although we are told that we’ve opted out of that, it will continue in my view, and we will be consulted less and less anyway. Leaving accepts that.
      For me it is clear. Base decisions on deep principles and the rest falls into place. The EU has, in my view of the evidence, no freedom agenda. In which case let us leave it to its own devices and accept the reality.
      A French guy I spoke to recently on a trip to Italy and France said, “Geographically the Uk isn’t part of Europe. Just look at the map. It is an island off the coast. It never has been culturally either. We quite understand you leaving.”
      My next post is likely to be titled “Confident Britain”. Watch this space!

      1. Geography’s not your French guys strongpoint…The UK consists of one large island, a portion of a smaller island, and numerous other even smaller islands on the continental shelf of Europe. Some other islands are British, but not part of the UK (Channel Isles) but are part of the EU Customs Union and are essentially within the Single Market for the purposes of trade in goods, but are third countries (ie outside the EU) in all other respects. The Isle of Man, has a separate, similar, but not identical status. Other EU countries have similar status areas, eg Canary Islands, Heligoland. Yes, it’s complicated….

      2. Confidently pulling up the drawbridge to little britain. Part of nothing greater than itself.
        In control? Weaker by far.
        At odds with itself as Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland get ever more disenchanted with the Union.
        Denying our multi cultural rich past.
        To say that the EU has no freedom agenda is so historically ignorant that it is hard to know where to start.

      3. Thanks for responding Andrew, and let me repeat, I’m drawn to your argument, I’m not campaigning for ‘remain’, but I would like people like yourself to engage with some of the counter-arguments… I have already said the rhetoric and ideology is all good, but the nuts and bolts really need engaging positively with because I don’t want us to be joyfully waving our Union Jacks as we skip towards a precipice, full of positivity and vision, but without having prepared the bridge to cross that precipice… I’m not sure you’ve read Dan’s blog… here, in summary are some of the points he makes when he is arguing against ‘leave’ – points that are important to engage with…

        The EU is in fact democratic, its far from perfect, but the council and parliament are elected, and therefore democratic and accountable. We have many key roles in this country that are not elected, not democratic, and perhaps that’s a good thing (eg. head of the Bank of England and MPC (who set interest rates), head of NHS, Defra, Judges, etc) – so the EU’s structures are not undemocratic or unaccountable and there are individuals and bodies that have a far greater impact to our lives here that are much more ‘undemocratic’. Incidentally, we spend FAR FAR more on the NHS than the EU…its not about the ‘cost’ to us, it’s about the ‘value’ to use that is the important assessment to make.

        Dan makes the point that whilst the EU inevitably impacts sovereignty to an extent, that actually what they have impact on is far less than you might think – you make it sound like they have a finger in every pie! That, as I’m sure you know far better than I do, is not the case, it’s ‘say’ is very significant in some areas, but completely absent in others that are very important to us, education, welfare, health, taxation, defence…

        Are we better off alone? Perhaps we will be, but the point is, we simply don’t know. And I’m less than convinced… I need more than rhetoric that stirs my heart (and your rhetoric DOES stir my heart – I have great sympathy for it…), but my head needs satisfying too.

        Finally, so this isn’t too long, the ‘freedom from regulation’ thing is I think a bit of a straw man – because much of the regulation it seems to me is very sensible, and just stuff that we’d end up having to reinstate ourselves, without much alteration so that we can work sensibly and trade effectively with the single market…

        Oh, and whilst I concede, Cameron’s recent ‘deal’ with the EU didn’t look very good, I’m not sure pulling out of that position of influence and co-operation is the right thing… though, like you, I am anxious about what I think does look like and increasingly unsustainable, or at least fragile ‘union’ as it experiences more and more pressure (social, economic, migration,…)

        Thanks

        1. Hi Mike. The counter reasoning you’ve detailed is compelling. Both sides don’t actually know what the future entails but from a personal point of view I think that EU will insist on further integration economically, fiscally, legally and military. I don’t want that. I would urge you to have a look at Dan Hannan’s view. He’s an MEP and wants us to put him out of a job.

  24. In fact there lies the problem, this myth of hidden decisions & directives, & in fact the EU is accountable & transparent, but UK citizens & business have continued to ignore & not participate in the EU, the people & British business community have failed to take any interest in or take advantage of membership since joining the EEC back in 1973, & whine when new directives come along. The mechanisms are thus a mystery, and just because of this, you & others are now claiming that EU decisions are unaccountable? There are MEPs & lobbies representing business interests in those so called unaccountable decision making committees, as with any rounded democracy, & lack of participation does not equal unaccountability!! In order to participate people & businesses only need to get off their backsides, & find out about decisions being taken in their absence. & if you do you will find the process is quite transparent.

    And those hidden decisions ? http://eur-lex.europa.eu/browse/directories/legislation-preparation.html

  25. Dear Mr Sercombe –

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    I have a couple of observations on accountability.

    There are individuals I can hold accountable for directives made at EU level:
    — the MEPs for London, who will have voted on directives in the European Parliament
    — the relevant UK Minister, who will have agreed to directives in the Council of Ministers.

    The UK Minister is not allowed to agree to the directive in the Council unless and until the scrutiny committees in the Commons and the Lords have looked at the draft directive and either cleared it or ensured it has been debated in Parliament.

    That UK Minister will doubtless also be responsible for the UK legislation necessary to implement the directive in the UK.

    I recognise that there is a measured and principled case to be made for Leave. Unfortunately, misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the EU’s governance structures does not help it.

    Austin Lane

  26. This is insanely selective. EU directives don’t anonymously come out of nowhere, they are debated, amended and ultimately adopted ONLY by the elected representatives of the member countries. The UK actively contributes to EU lawmaking, the idea of faceless authoritarians with absolute power is a Farage-encouraged myth (and if Farage really cared about the 7% or so of laws that come from the EU he might have exercised his responsibility as an MEP and turned up to vote on some of them). Let’s also have none of this rose-tinted optimism about our own democracy: Whitehall is full of anonymous, unelected bureaucrats, we have an unelected House of Lords which can block our elected MPs (the unelected staff in the EU have no such power), and our government walked into power with a grand majority of 24%. So much for accountability.

    But let’s talk about accountability, since you brought it up: who is it holding our government accountable when it comes to the possible human rights abuses caused by Iain Duncan-Smith’s welfare reforms? Or on prisoner voting or legal aid? It’s the European Court of Justice, to which all the EU institutions are accountable (and which, again, was created and is actively guided by the UK). There’s a reason Theresa May and Chris Grayling want to be shot of the ECHR and that is because the pesky thing keeps holding them accountable, at a time when this government with its teeny tiny minority of a majority continually breaks its pre-election promises at the very real expense of the electorate. Thank God they are being held accountable at the moment, and while we’re in the EU there’s little chance that they’ll be able to shake off the ECHR and they have explicitly said they want to. If we leave the EU, it’ll be the next thing to go, and that means NO accountability.

    1. Hi, James.

      Please point me to a blog that isn’t selective and I will happily read it. ‘The Whole Truth’ is outside an individual’s grasp to know. Any comment you or I make is inevitably filtered through our own experiences of life, and will be both subjective and selective. A couple of questions for you:

      1. What experiences have you had that are the basis for your own beliefs regarding the EU?
      2. In your comments, what are you leaving out?

    2. Thank you for a bit of passionate common sense James Lark. Andrew, you punctuate your posts and replies with emotive words like accountability, control, freedom and democracy. But you only respond to people who agree with you. Not so thoughtful really.

      1. Hi, Pen. Well, you won’t be able to say that tomorrow, will you!

        I think it might be worth checking back through the 100 different comments, Pen, and you;ll find I reply to lots of different ones and have approved them all.

        Is the word accountability emotive? Or freedom? Well, it may be to some and not to others. I guess that depends on the perception of the reader. Democracy is just a word describing a system of government. The fact that I may personally prefer it is neither here nor there. My ultimate preference would probably be ‘benevolent dictatorship’, but that is an impossible dream for any human culture.

    3. The Prisoner appeals were all to the ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights), not the ECJ (European Court of Justice), as far as I’m aware. The ECtHR has NOTHING to do with the EU, it’s connection is to the Council of Europe, a much wider body, geographically speaking. The ECtHR upholds the European Convention on Human Rights; the UK was a founding member of the Convention, and one of the first signatories in 1951. The European Convention on Human Rights was based on the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The decision on ‘EU stay or go’ has NOTHING to do with our ECHR/ECtHR obligations. So, unless we want to renegotiate the UN Charter, and leave the Council of Europe (even the Russians balk at that), we must take into account judgements of the ECtHR. The only European country that isn’t signed up to the ECHR is Belarus; they won’t agree to dropping the death penalty, a necessary condition of joining.

  27. Thanks for taking the time to write this, a clearly written well thought out argument, and well articulated, without all the scaremongering and lies that seem to feature on both sides currently.
    However, I will be voting to stay. I firmly believe that unity is better than division, and we can see that the future of this world will see borders becoming less and less significant and countries working more and more together. This is surely a good thing, as hopefully it will lead to less conflict and more understanding. While I’m not naive and don’t view the EU as a fantastic organisation, smoothly and effectively run (although I have more faith in it’s accountability than you do, there is no mention in the article of our elected MEPs and their role), I do think that the best way to affect change in any organisation is from the inside rather than the outside.
    Standing up and walking out on the EU is unlikely to make it better, and will certainly make it weaker.
    And in addition, what message does it send to the rest of the world? That we think we are better off without others? One thing history shows us about people is that we are better when we work together and we use everyone’s strengths for the benefit of all.

    1. Thank you for your compliment, Daniel. I have put a lot of thought into this, and this article is intended to move us away from speculation, not to ‘facts’ (Any statement about the future is speculation not fact) but to principles. Democracy, freedom, the nature of INTERdependence (only available to two or more INDEPENDENT parties) and accountability. I agree of course none of these can be total, but for me it is the direction of travel that matters. Newton’s First Law tells us that an object will continue to travel in a straight line unless operated upon by a force OUTSIDE itself, and I believe that this applies here in this situation too. The EU is a physical body – people – and they will continue to go in that straight line. I want to go in a different direction, towards greater diversity, more freedom to individuals, less taxation, smaller government, more personal responsibility and accountability. I have no confidence whatever that the UK can significantly affect change within the EU. It will be just one of 28 voices/votes, a voice crying in the wilderness.

      I’m absolutely committed to people working together where they want to, for particular tasks and projects. I’m against any body to whom we might have surrendered our power who will say we can’t or insists we do it ‘like this’ or only ‘with them’, and we are unable to remove them and so unblock that working together. We are not little children. We are a mature ‘adult’ nation.

      The message I want to send to the rest of the world is ‘We want to work as an independent nation with anyone and everyone who would like to work and trade with us”. We don’t need to be married to them for that to happen.

  28. Thank you Andrew your blog has helped a lot in sorting the ‘wood’ from the ‘trees’ and I feel that I can vote to leave at the moment but I will try to keep an open mind until the 23rd

  29. Thank You Andrew, your eloquent reasoning for leaving the EU summed up exactly how I’ve been thinking. I feel reassured that there are a body of like minded people who recognise the heart of our country, our heritage, and our desire to have a modicum of involvement in choosing who governs us. Accountability, democracy and freedom will be my reasons for voting to LEAVE the EU. I have shared your blog and urged everyone I know to read it.

    1. We all,I think, value, accountability, freedom and democracy. Being out of the EU will not increase any of these. We elect our government. We elect our MEPs. They are accountable to us. The EU has offered a pathway for other countries to enjoy these values since the break up of the USSR. In doing so the EU has helped to promote peace. British values surely encourage us to look outwards. We are an island -or a group of united islands but we have so far been brave enough to not be insular.

      1. Pen, the issue is that MEP’s are powerless. The real power brokers are the unelected and unaccountable former politicians and bureaucrats in the EU commission.

        1. And interestingly, Steve, many of them lost their seats people actually voted them OUT of Parliament, unwanted here … so off to Brussels then to a fat expenses cheque each month and a pension out of reach of the majority of the people they are supposed to represent!

        2. The EU Commission is quite small and precisely limited. It is answerable to the Council of Ministers which, as I am sure you know, is made up of elected and fully accountable Ministers from each country.

  30. Excellent statement made by Andrew, it simply does everything our so called elected leaders have failed to do, which ever side they are on.
    On Wednesday Evening l attended a meeting in Cromer Church, the place was full to bursting. The two speakers one for remain and one for leave. Our local M.P. Is for staying by my account he failed, why because he failed to grasp the feeling in the Church and l believe the Country. His opposite had the gathering for leaving from the start but l have to say it was a poor presentation and not for his grasp of the situation.
    What most of the candidates fail to understand is we are for regaining our rights, our ability to have a legal system, centuries old that we have the right to be judged by if required and not have an un-elected, without control or say by our Government, elected by us.

    As a former Manager working for an International Well known Company, it simply staggers me that The E.U. Has NOT been audited for nearly two decades, how can this be allowed? As a manager my department was audited twice a year as was the Company, one by internal auditors and one by an outside audit. That is laid down by U.k. Law, so how does the out of control, un-elected body known as the E.U. and all the Commisions and Parliament get away with it?

    Finally, it staggers belief that those in Parliament who fail to see what so many of us can see is disgraceful, we must take back control of our Country, this includes our Borders, our Budgets, our Laws not to mention our Soverinty.

    ADH Cromer

  31. I think the word you’re groping for is ignorance. Ignorance at every level, of how the EU works and of the motivations of our government. The EU keep our government accountable and in check. In fact there have been several times during the last government when the EU have stepped in and prevented our government from doing things even more heinous than they have already gotten away with. The EU isn’t perfect, far from it. None of us wanted to go into it, but now we are in we are best off staying that way especially while we have a bunch of grasping posh boys desperate to re-write our laws so no-one can ever get rid of them (look what they did when they made it so a GE cannot be called without very specific circumstances), they have consistently while in power made boundary changes to constituencies so that they win, and they have purposely cheated to win.
    They want us out so they can continue having us over a barrel, Cameron’s In campaign is a joke. It’s a reverse psychology Out campaign because it benefits the rich posh boys (and Priti Patel has admitted this!) if they can change laws that the EU would otherwise not allow and remove all kinds of rights, kill off the welfare state and privatise the NHS (look carefully which Tory MPs have their fingers in health insurance pies).

    1. Well, Bendy Beauty, That’s an interesting take! My thoughts, for what they are worth…
      It is the British People that keep the UK government in check. We reelect every five years, and if we don’t like it we can get rid if it. Including the ‘posh boys’. I’m not that concerned about how ‘posh’ a person is. I’m concerned about things like freedom, democracy, honesty, and the use and abuse of power. A man bullying his wife is no different from a man bullying his employees, etc. “None of us wanted to go into it (the history of the manipulation needed to dupe the British people when we went in is horrendous) and we can come out of it.

      1. Yes we re-elect every five years, you do remember the utter shambles that were the May elections right? Hardly anyone can be bothered to turn up to vote any more they are so disillusioned with the whole process as many feel that so who they vote for nothing will change. The government will always govern for the rich and not for the working man. Unfortunately this apathy is producing exactly that situation, the Tories (old Etonians, born with silver spoons most of whom have never done a real days work in their lives) are put in charge without the slightest clue about regular people’s lives but know exactly how to stay in power and stay rich even if that means changing ward boundaries and actually cheating.
        Yes I agree that no one wanted to go in and in many ways people were lied to. But the fact is we are in, and we are much better off staying that way. Some of us cannot afford to risk the Tories being given any more rope to hang Britain with.

  32. In a word your article is excellent. Well done.
    For me my word is consent. All governments in the UK since 1688 have governed by consent. In other words a political party produces a manifesto of what they intend to do and then the voting public give consent.
    In the beginning that consent was given by a small number of landed gentlemen who privelaged to vote. Over time universal suffrage was hard won.
    In the last 41 years since the referendum of 1975, the EEC has gone from a trading agreement into a full on political project, taking govenance and competance to a supranational government based in Brussels without asking for CONSENT from the people. The truth be known it was always a political project since it was dreamed up by Jean Monnet in 1920. Shame the UK politicans were a bit shy in telling us.
    Legally in the courts they found consent, because the 1975 referendum gave them consent, but that consent was based on lies and as it turned out later treason.
    It was never explained that Ted Heath gave a foreign court(ECJ) jurisdiction over our own courts with the power to strike down any legislation our own parliament makes. That court can make decisions to over-ride any opt outs we made in the treaties.
    It was never explained that EEC laws would have primacy over UK laws
    It was never explained that EU laws and regulations can’t be amended, repealed or rejected.
    We were assured that whenever a law or policy was proposed by the EEC Commission against our interest there was going to be a British Minister who could use his veto to block it.
    It was never explained that any regulations from the EEC/EU there was no redress or greivance procedure in the event a regulation would cause loss of business or even close them down, huge up front costs making thousands of firms unviable. Not one EU regulation is in the competance of MP’s in Westminster to deal.
    We were not told that Ted Heath had signed over sovereignty to be given up in the future. In effect the ECA 1972 had a statutory instrument adopting all the laws, treaties, decisions and regulations that appear on the Acquis Communautaire and many more in the future. When Ted Heath signed the Treaty of Accession in 1972 it took two men to lift the 8000 pages of close typed body of law, now that pile has grown and would reach the top of Nelson’s Column at more than 170,000 pages of active legislation.
    We were not told that our borders would be flung open to 500 million that will probably break our welfare system and NHS.
    By voting to remain would be endorsing and consenting to what Ted Heath and all those governments that followed surrendering more powers and soveriegnty and consenting to everything else the EU intends to bring in.

    My other word would have to be betrayal or more precisely treason. What Ted Heath did was in full knowledge perform the biggest surrender of national sovereignty in UK history. See FCO30/1048 (released in 2002) and the Werner Report of 1970.

    1. What a well written piece, Simon. Thank you. I agree that we were deceived. As I have watched the Brexit referendum develop, or perhaps a better word would be unravel, I too have been stunned into how we were deliberately duped by those who led us in. In the 45 years since then I’ve learned not to trust, and the more these weeks go by, the less trust I have. I’d love you to ‘flesh this out’ with the relevant references.

  33. What a let down. Accountability? Really?
    I hasten to add that those that fought in the world wars and in subsequent wars from this country, fought not just for our freedom but the for the freedom of European citizens. The EU, NATO and the UN were all results of the peace achieved through the allied victory – after an immense sacrifice. By your argument therefore – leaving the EU is actually turning our backs on those that we fought for, and who indeed fought for us.

    1. Thank you John. And thank you for speaking out for my parents and their brave generation who gave their lives for something greater than self interest.

    2. John, whilst I agree with your sentiment (my immediate family lost 2 people in WW2) this isn’t about turning our backs on anyone, except the bureaucrats in Brussels. Trade is the key and in fact was the key element that Churchill advocated and championed after learning from Europe’s errors after WW1. Political, fiscally, economic and legal integration was never part of the plan. It was always going to fail.

  34. … and it’s about caring about one another as we comment too.

    Warning: I’m fine with rigourous comments, and controversial ones. Anything too personal, etc., I’m likely to delete.

  35. The one word accountability turns rapidly into an essay on democracy. To say the EU is unaccountable is NOT true. We ELECT our MEP’s to the European Parliament (eg even Nigel Farage is an MEP). The council of ministers is comprised of representatives (Cabinet Ministers) of our ELECTED government. The Commission is the equivalent of the civil service. All in all not much different to UK democracy.

  36. I agree that there is a problem with the EU/EC and that it won’t go away overnight. It seems to me that we are not alone in this belief and right across Europe there is much call from the people for reform to ensure the stability and financial security of the region, which neither Brussels nor our governments at the table can ignore. If we leave, we can make many assumptions about what might happen to our economy and country as a whole, but our stability is directly affected by those we are able to trade with and their stability in turn. By remaining in Europe we are better placed at the table to debate and resolve the region’s problems, and lead the reform to ensure a more democratic approach. By leaving the table, we will have even less influence to ensure a strong economic region and stability for our families now and in the future.

    1. I admire your optimism, Josie. If it was a democratic organisation, perhaps we could. Interestingly, even having the 5th largest economy in the world threatening to leave and causing the “carnage” they say we will hasn’t provoked a response worth its salt . No, if we want change, maybe the only way is Leave.

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