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The Dragon Says: EU Referendum To Be Decided With Hearts Not Minds?

Published on: 21 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 21 Feb, 2016

The previous Dragon opinion piece on the forthcoming EU referendum has confirmed one thing at least. The EU excites debate and polarises opinion.Dragon Says 470

There have been more comments on that article than on any other in the Dragon’s four years (nearly) history.

Interestingly, very few of the comments have dwelt on immigration or migration. Maybe the national press have been wrong to concentrate on that.

Most of the talk is about whether we will be economically better off ‘in’ or ‘out’. That approach to deciding which way to vote makes sense.

Unfortunately, there has been no ‘killer punch’ from either side on the economic question. You can find convincing arguments and so-called facts which support whichever side you happen to favour.

So, where else do we look to help us decide?

Other comments refer to our sovereignty. That is a less tangible concept but no less important for all that.

Our vision of what we want from our membership of the EU seems unclear. There is a sense that very few people in the UK have an affinity towards ‘an ever closer union’. At the same time, we don’t want to lose out.

We seem to be struggling to define where we want to place ourselves in the world.

The negotiations in Brussels to redefine our relationship with Europe seem to be a side show. Few believe that it will change the essence of where Europe is headed – with the UK in its tow.

Are we going to assert ourselves as a huge economy in our own right, the sixth largest in the world, and assume that our economic size and our own drive will see us right?

Or do we see our future as merely one of 28 nations – and a larger EU when Turkey finally joins.

Our post imperialist angst also demonstrates itself in the Trident debate. Are we a world power sitting with the big boys but in reality, are we punching above our weight in the hope that no-one will call our bluff?

Would the UK’s exit, Trident or not, weaken the EU bloc and therefore be a threat to our national security?

There will be strong arguments on both sides. But this important plebiscite, now set for June 23, will be a political judgement in the end from all of us and one that will be made, we suspect, with our hearts rather than our minds.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has asked our Guildford politicians for a comment on their views on the EU and how they believe Guildford will be affected. We will report back on what they tell us.

Meanwhile, the debate must rage on and we will be part of it.

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Responses to The Dragon Says: EU Referendum To Be Decided With Hearts Not Minds?

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    February 21, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    My previous comment, sent yesterday, to the previous EU comment post certainly covered immigration among other things, but the referendum is not just about immigration.

    Apart from the corruption in the EU, non certifying of its accounts for 19 years, contempt for our democracy, removal of our sovereignty, open door immigration (admittedly originally started deliberately by the Blair/Brown regime), security dangers (by the EU deciding who can come here), the vast cost (£55 million per day), the NHS, schools, housing, hospitals, etc. swamped by the immigrants, what other reasons do we need to get out? there are plenty more but that gives a flavour of it.

    Dave has played a blinder in his faux renegotiation and efforts to fool the people. It is sad to see how a majority of so called Conservative MPs seem to be putting their careers and party before country and the people who elected them by supporting Dave’s pretence.

    I hope and expect that our people will see through the lies and half truths and vote to get out. Then maybe, just maybe, we will get a Conservative to lead the Conservative Party and Dave can go back to deserved retirement as he will not be able to stay on after a vote to get out.

    We must act now before what is left of our country goes. It is already difficult to recognise much of it. Going to London for instance is like going to a Third World city with the English very much a minority in their own capital.

  2. Christopher Fairs Reply

    February 21, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I would always be pleased to contribute to the poorer countries of Europe and, indeed, the world but I doubt whether the EU, in its current form, is the most efficient way of doing so.

    In varying degrees, we all enjoy the benefit of living in the UK. In part, this is derived from investments in huge companies that seek to make disproportionate profits from vulnerable world communities.

    Such profits are reflected in incomes we might enjoy directly, through shareholdings or indirectly through pensions and bank or building society accounts we hold and mortgages we have taken out.

    Morally, we will always need to support poorer nations, whether in or out of the EU but the inefficiency and corruption in some member-states seems uncontrollable.

    However, if peace in Europe could be guaranteed through our continued EU membership, it should overrule any decision to leave, despite the possibility of our suffering a declining standard of living.

    Ultimately, our short-term success as a nation might be reflected by the confidence in which the Pound is held, when we either remain or leave the EU: quite a dilemma for the average voter who, arguably, shouldn’t have the option anyway, having invested such decisions in one’s elected Member of Parliament.

  3. David Wragg Reply

    February 21, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    The Dragon is to be congratulated on raising this issue, and the large number of comments shows how important it is to people.

    One important point, however, is that the EU does nothing at all for security, which remains in the hands of NATO.

    Indeed, many would argue that the various attempts to create a European army undermined NATO and were prompted by jealousy towards the United States on the part of France.

    As it is, the Franco-German axis seems to be dictating to the rest of Europe – the ghosts of Bismarck, the Kaiser, Hitler, Napoleon, etc, haven’t left.

    Most of the defence expenditure of NATO is in fact made by the United States and the EU members, many of whom are neutral, have had a cheap ride at the cost of the American taxpayer.

    • Lynda MacDermott Reply

      February 22, 2016 at 11:23 am

      The fact that the EU exists, to iron out problems before they get to the bellicose stage, is the reason why the EU is vital for our security.

      To live in peace with your neighbours and discuss problems when they arise – isn’t that the way forward, rather than surrounding yourself with a wall of weapons as a first step?

      I know what my father went through in the Second World War and how that has affected my life.

      I am glad the EU exists so that neither I nor my sons have had to face such horrors.

      • John Perkins Reply

        February 24, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        In reply to Lynda MacDermott:

        Please tell me where this “wall of weapons” is and who is building it and why?

        The EU has proved its ability to iron out problems many times.

        Yugoslavia: where the precipitate recognition of Croatia by Germany may have prevented a peaceful solution.

        Libya: where an unstable dictator has been replaced by several unstable dictators thanks to the efforts of Britain and France.

        Syria: where Britain and France (amongst others) are attempting to replace another unpleasant dictator by – something, anything.

        Admittedly these examples are all outside the EU, but what gives you any faith in their ability to do better internally?

    • Mark Insoll Reply

      February 23, 2016 at 9:03 am

      With respect Mr Wragg, the two world wars fought last century were fought because Europe was divided.

      The fault lines lay between France and Germany (and elsewhere). What the outcome would have been if Britain had had to face a “Franco-German axis” doesn’t bear thinking about.

      Also, since in both wars the support of the Americans was critical to our national security, perhaps we might pay some heed to their suggestion that it would be in Nato’s best interest if Britain remained in the EU.

      • David Wragg Reply

        February 24, 2016 at 11:27 am

        In reply to Mark Insoll:

        I am afraid that Mr Insoll doesn’t appreciate there was no chance of a Franco-German axis emerging in 1914 or 1939. Before both wars we had a clear understanding with the French, but failed to prepare properly. Prior to 1914, the fear was of a Russo-German axis.

        There is also the not unimportant point that democracies seldom fight one another, and most of Western Europe since 1945 has been democratic, although Portugal and Spain took some time to catch up with the rest.

        Despite what former senior officers from the armed forces are saying in one newspaper today, the EU has done nothing to enhance our security. In fact the opposite is the case.

        For a start, the EU’s interventions in defence have had more to do with undermining US leadership of NATO than enhancing our defences, and for this the French must take most of the blame as de Gaulle might be dead, but his spirit lives on, with the French seeing themselves as the equals of the Americans, and superior to everyone else.

        The much-vaunted EU Rapid Reaction Force which was supposed to be able to place 60,000 personnel in a combat zone and sustain them for a year never materialised. The same applied to a plan to deploy troops to the Sudan.

        Most of NATO’s expenditure comes from the American taxpayer, and despite the wealth of its members, the EU has done nothing to correct this imbalance. The record so far shows that far from countering Russian ambitions, without US backing the EU would cave in.

        The German Chancellor’s alarmingly ill-judged invitation to supposed refugees to head for Germany, has added to the problems of migrants entering Europe via Greece and now these people have arrived, they will soon have access to the rest of Europe.

        Many of these people are young men, fit and as the majority seem to be Muslims, one can only suppose that there are a number of potential terrorists in their midst. What is noticeable from the television coverage of this crisis is that many migrants seem to have a strong sense of entitlement.

        Once independent, we will be able to send phoney asylum seekers back to Europe.

        NATO is the foundation of the security Europe has enjoyed since 1945, but generations have grown up without appreciating the value of this.

        Sadly the members of our present government are amongst these, otherwise they would not have cut our armed forces so disastrously starting in 2010.

        • Mark Insoll Reply

          February 25, 2016 at 8:59 am

          The President of the United States of America has stated clearly that it would be in NATO’s best interests if Britain were to remain in the European Union. Yesterday twelve of the country’s senior military figures said the UK was stronger in the EU. David Wragg states: “The EU has done nothing to improve our security. In fact the opposite is the case.”

          Hmm… who to believe?

          Mr Wragg also suggest that a Franco-German axis is dictating to the rest of Europe. I don’t follow the logic by which he concludes this means we should leave the European Union (what, and let them get on with it?), but to my mind the smartest way of thwarting such a fearful conspiracy (should it exist) would be to stay in the Union and challenge it from within.

          I take his point about democracies seldom falling into war with one another, but given Europe’s long and depressing history of conflict, surely a Union (motto: United in diversity) is something to be treasured rather than discarded.

          • David Wragg

            February 25, 2016 at 7:12 pm

            In reply to Mark Insoll:

            As seen in today’s newspapers, No 10 has had to apologise to one of the officers named as he decided not to sign the letters, while others are claiming they were pressurised into doing so.

      • John Perkins Reply

        February 24, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        In reply to Mark Insoll:

        With respect, counterfactuals are not helpful.

        There was no “Franco-German axis”.

        Is he suggesting that there might be such a thing in the event of the UK leaving the EU?

        • Mark Insoll Reply

          February 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

          In reply to John Perkins:

          I agree counterfactuals are not helpful. But it wasn’t me who raised the ghosts of Bismarck, Hitler and Napolean 🙂

          I’ve no idea how the EU will shape up if the UK leaves. I’m guessing it would become a lot less British though. What do you think?

          • John Perkins

            February 26, 2016 at 8:54 am

            Fair points.

            However, I don’t much care if the EU becomes less British as it’s not very British now and I happen to like them for their differences.

        • Terry Stevenson Reply

          February 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm

          In reply to John Perkins:

          I wonder how many of the British expats currently residing in some of the ‘nearly all Brit’ villages in Spain can speak fluent Spanish?

          It would be interesting if those mainly elderly people were to be repatriated back to Blighty and start ‘burdening’ our system.

          At least they will have paid into it at some point, but will it be enough to cover their increasing drain on benefits as they become more elderly?

          • John Perkins

            February 26, 2016 at 8:51 am

            What does it matter if they speak the local language or not? Why would they be repatriated?

            Many, if not most, were in Spain before that country joined the EU. Many, if not most, are receiving benefits and pensions from the UK, Spain is hardly likely to throw them out, even if it were legally possible.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 21, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    I don’t think leaving the EU would be detrimental to our national security.

    The implementation of formal border controls would in my humble opinion enhance it.

    There is also the fact that even if we were no longer a member of the EU, we would still be a significant member of NATO and we would still be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

    As far as I know, leaving the EU would not suddenly put us at risk of being invaded by any of the other EU states!

  5. Ken Fuller Reply

    February 21, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    One word OUT

  6. Lynda MacDermott Reply

    February 22, 2016 at 11:35 am

    People say they want facts about the EU so they can make up their minds about how to vote.

    Here’s one fact: Only 0.6% of your tax goes to the EU.

    Go to this address to see the Government’s Treasury list:

    0.6% – not bad for clean air and water, protection for workers, especially part-timers, consumer protection, the European Arrest Warrant, over £10 million investment in the University of Surrey, regional development money.

    The list of benefits is long.

    I’m sure we’ll have time to discuss them all.

    • John Perkins Reply

      February 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      In reply to Lynda MacDermott:

      It’s amazing how much the EU manages to achieve on such a small amount of money.

      And how little the UK managed to do without the EU.

      Of course, there is also the VAT that is paid to the EU, but I’m sure it’s a tiny figure.

  7. Peta Malthouse Reply

    February 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    oooooer …. another word ‘IN’.

    I look forward to a full examination of the facts which supports or otherwise each issue of concern.

    I am sure we will be overwhelmed by everyone’s opinion but I am not sure where that gets us at least in the early stages.

    What are the issues? It is hard to say. If we look at only those highlighted by Mr Cameron I am afraid we will not make a good decision.

    The treaties we have govern the way we interact with our main trading partners and as part of that group, other trading nations of the world.

    One of the things we should be concerned about are the negotiations around TTIP which have sadly been neglected by our newspapers and TV news reports.

    Others are for instance: so what happens if we leave? A whole raft of bureaucracy will not just disappear, we will have to have our own players.

    Do we have administrators with the necessary skills? Probably not.

    These are just two of the issues we should look at before we leap one way or the other.

    Interesting that the Pound has fallen in value against the Dollar since the announcement. Our investors do not seem to fancy our future success as much as some of the EU’s critics.

    • John Perkins Reply

      February 24, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      In reply to Peta Malthouse:

      There is some doubt as to whether or not TTIP will be beneficial, so it might be better if we were not part of the negotiations.

      Anyway, it doesn’t seem to be much of a relevant point.

      The UK has about four million bureaucrats and administrators. Some of them must have some skills.

      Currency values go up and down all the time and it’s futile to attribute any movement to one announcement. What happened to the Euro in the same period?

  8. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 23, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Within living memory our countrymen have fought in two world wars against European domination.

    Millions of our young men gave up their lives, not only from here in the United Kingdom, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

    In the case of Canada we have a reminder of this supreme sacrifice on the hill on which our own cathedral stands.

    It was purchased by a former Prime Minister of Canada in their memory.

    In Australia and New Zealand alone the toll was even in greater numbers of their the population, fighting for a country far from their shores.

    Are we about to forget these people and for what they fought for and to become subservient to the bureaucrats in Brussels?

    • Terry Stevenson Reply

      February 24, 2016 at 11:03 am

      In reply to Bernard Parke:

      So no mention of the sacrifice millions of Indians made in the defence of the realm during two world wars.

      And then there were the Poles and Czechs, etc, although I guess they had greater self-interest.

      • John Perkins Reply

        February 25, 2016 at 10:02 am

        Many of the countries of the British Empire gained their independence, albeit indirectly, from their participation in the war. It’s fair to assume they would not have got that from Germany or Japan.

        The point is that all such people are now treated differently from EU members if they want to come here to live or work. For example, an Australian or Indian doctor has to pass a language test before being allowed to work in the NHS. It is illegal to apply such a test to a Polish or Czech doctor.

        So those who chose to fight on the British side are discriminated against in favour of those who only fought for their own country.

        It’s a small point, but nonetheless valid.

  9. John Perkins Reply

    February 24, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    There can be no ‘killer punch’ in the economic debate. It is indisputable that membership costs the UK money (about £20 billion per year, gross – about £11 billion net), but most benefits are impossible to assess.

    Those who support membership argue that the benefits outweigh the cost, but cannot prove what they say is true.

  10. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 25, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Perhaps it is worth remembering that we went to war over the invasion of Poland on the 3rd September 1939.

    • Terry Stevenson Reply

      February 26, 2016 at 8:18 am

      So we started a world war in the defence of Poland, but woe betide Poles being able to come to Britain to get work and then claiming in-work benefits.

      Of course, I am all for our government reducing / or raising the pensions it pays to all the retired British expats, so that they conform with the standard of living in the country they have chosen to reside in. Alternatively, the government could stop these payments and let the Brits claim the local ‘entitlement’.

      • John Perkins Reply

        February 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        In reply to Terry Stevenson:

        Retired British expats paid for their pension throughout their working lives. No commercial organisation would be legally allowed to deprive them of the promised return or reduce it depending on where they choose to live, so why should any government?

        EU residents coming to Britain have not made any contribution locally and only those that stay permanently are likely pay the cost of their benefits.
        Rather than not allowing people to come here, perhaps they should not be allowed to leave!

  11. David Wragg Reply

    February 25, 2016 at 8:29 am

    No doubt many of you will have seen the front page story and the letter in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, with retired senior officers from all three armed services supporting the stay in campaign on grounds of national security.

    Today’s story on the Internet is that No10 Downing Street, in other words the Prime Minister, has had to apologise to one of them, General Sir Michael Rose, who had seen the draft letter and refused to sign. An acquaintance with strong military connections was at a reception last night and heard that there was at least one other ‘signatory’ who did not sign.

    David Cameron is so desperate that he is trying to scare the pubic into voting to remain in the EU, and I write as a very disillusioned former Tory.

  12. Stuart Barnes Reply

    February 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I am surprised that more is not made both by politicians and the public on the very real danger of this country having even more unwanted immigration.

    Do people realise that the millions let in to Germany by the decision of Frau Merkel, once armed with official papers (passports, identity documents, etc.), will be able to come here because of our membership of the EU? We will not be able to stop them.

    That applies also to the migrants let in to other EU countries where in many cases passports and other documents can be bought quite easily.

    We need to vote to get out and save the £55 million per day that the failed EU is costing us.

    • David Wragg Reply

      February 25, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      I agree entirely with Stuart Barnes, as the real threat to our security is that our country might become swamped with immigrants who do not speak our language and understand, let alone share, our values.

    • Steve Pownall Reply

      February 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      In reply to Stuart Barnes:

      I wonder what the figures are for net migration between the UK and Germany?

      What would drive a flow to the UK from Germany?

      What are the opportunities here that would make migrants, welcomed in Germany and given papers, move again to the crowded UK?

      I thought Germany were welcoming migrants not just out of kindness but also because they recognise a need for younger workers in their economy – which must be true for us to some extent as the proportion of elderly people rises.

      PS – well done to the Dragon for getting this debate going.

      • Stuart Barnes Reply

        February 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

        In reply to Steve Pownall:

        There are many reasons why the immigrants would head for England – not just those now in Germany but also those in other EU countries.

        What about our much higher wages (soon to be even higher); free housing; the scandal of our easily cheated benefit system; the fact that English is for them a more common language than other European languages; the army of lawyers in our race relations industry; the black economy here, etc.?

        Why are the criminal gangs of illegal immigrants in Calais and other ports terrorising the lorry drivers daily to get to England when they could stay if France for instance if they do not see (rightly) England as a soft touch?

        On another topic, I hope that ordinary Conservative voters will try to deselect those 50% of Conservative MPs who are going against the wishes of their voters and putting career before country by following Cameron in spreading lies about the “dangers” of getting out of the corrupt EU.

        There will be a chance to do so when the boundaries are redrawn for the next general election.

      • John Perkins Reply

        February 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

        In reply to Steve Pownall:

        Why do you limit the question to Germany?

        All you are saying is that Germany is more attractive to migrants than the UK.

        There are 28 members of the EU and there is free movement of people between all of them.

        It seems to me that migrants will always head towards whatever place will provide them with the best living (who wouldn’t).

        So all that is needed to assess net migration between any two countries is to estimate their relative benefits.

        Whatever figures you choose to use, the UK will be high on a list of attractive places, though probably below Germany.

  13. Roland McKinney Reply

    March 1, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I’ve read through many of the comments and am surprised that no-one has mentioned what seems to me to be one of the fundamental failings of the EU – the root causes of the migrant crisis.

    Within the EU, the (one size fits all) euro has created extraordinary levels of youth unemployment in countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. Young people get on their bikes and head for successful economies.

    So the euro has in considerable part created the internal flow of migrants and destabilised Europe from within.

    Outside the EU, trade barriers prevent free access to EU markets, and even when limited access is granted, countries have to comply with rules that are largely designed to inhibit imports and to compete with heavily subsidised EU farmers.

    Consequently, their agricultural industries have not developed as they could, and this inhibits industrial development in these countries, limiting employment opportunities. This has resulted in internal revolutions and civil convulsion, even war.

    The EU attempts to make up for this by distributing aid, but this flows to the top, fostering corrupt and kleptocratic elites. Again, young people get on their bikes to look for a better life – and head for the “successful” economies of Europe.

    The EU ignores these fundamental issues, the massive problems it creates.

    The EU is as likely to split apart through populist uprisings as it is to attain the objective of “ever closer union”. It is a shameful institution, and we should have no part of it.

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