Brexit – Unintended Consequences

There are just six days left till the UK population casts its vote and answers the big question of 2016. To Brexit? Or not to Brexit? Everyone has had a lot to say on the issue. Each side have made threats as to what the future holds. On the Remain side, these have been thinly veiled threats. On the Leave side, these have been largely made up threats. But it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.

It’s going to be a close vote. Very close. Even the bookies have narrowed the odds considerably. If the decision came down to the people I speak to on a regular basis, I rather think the vote would be to leave. But as informed as people think they are, I feel that they are missing the point. Some of the most key issues have not been discussed. There will be unintended consequences to our departing the European Union.

Who will man the Starbucks counters? Who will pick the strawberries for Wimbledon? Who will sell copies of Big Issue magazines? There will be riots on the London Underground caused by caffeine deprivation, angry tennis punters will hurl half filled cups of cream at each other and drug addicts will no longer have anyone to highlight the plight of the homeless.

But there is another more sinister side to Brexit. The Leave campaigners want to see an end to political correctness. That might sound an ok thing. But that’s only because most people don’t really understand what political correctness is. Allow me to provide the definition:

The avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

What Leave campaigners really mean, is they’d rather like to see the reintroduction of permissible racism, homophobia, sectarianism and prejudice in general. That, in a nutshell, is what the abolition of political correctness is about. They just want to inject some casual racism into everyday life. It’s another step towards turning the United Kingdom into the 51st state of the USA.

Americans are very proud of, and defensive of, their right to free expression. It’s often promoted as an absolute right. Of course, there is no such thing. There are no absolutes. There are and always have been consequences to speech. Even in the US. Libel laws for example. And besides, an excess of any type of freedom simply impinges on competing freedoms.

A friend of mine has suggested that a mature society does not fear conflicting opinions. This has a large degree of truth to it. But it is, again, not an absolute truth. The implication is that a society that decides to self regulate what is and is not socially acceptable, is a society that lacks freedom. And that implication is  not true.

Political correctness is not something that needs to even be legislated. It’s simply a means of social convention to ensure that  extremist views are seen for what they are. Wrong and unacceptable. Get that right, and you are as close to a mature society as one could possibly be.

But you can vote Leave on June 23rd. You can vote to legitimize people like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and others of their ilk. You can vote for racism. You have the freedom to cast your ballot in deciding the direction of the country. But your vote will be one that stifles more freedoms than it liberates. I’m hoping that we are better than that.

 

8 Comments

  • The real threat of Brexit is not to the UK, which is cleverly omitted from the discussion. The real threat is to the EU and its failing banking system. If Britain exits, it is unlikely to suffer much in the short term. Politicians and people in places like Spain and Italy are likely to notice that and want their own leave votes. But if they leave, then they likely redenominate their debts in the new local currency and promptly devalue. That in turn bankrupts German and other Northern European banks, which in turn sets of the next financial crisis.

    This vote isn’t about Britain, but rather Britain’s willingness to sustain the life of the EU itself.

    Sadly, few people realize this.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where we have yet to figure out what is the point to Mexico City being a state.

    • I agree with your summary of events, although we both probably accept that forecasts of the economy are only just that little bit better than the forecast for the weather during a British summer.

      But that would make a Remain vote a decision based on self preservation. We’d not avoid the consequences of the EU going bust.

      Mexico City has always been a bit of a state. Pun intended.

  • It seems to me, viewing world events that this plague of nationalism that some are calling political correctness has swept the world into a storm of hate. My country the US has been at the forefront of this masking their undercurrent of racism into the surface. So glad that I can observe this from the safety of Mexico where I currently reside.

    • ricardomontoya: I saw a cartoon today, one man asking another, Where do you think you will be, three years from now? The reply was: Probably trying to sneak over a wall into Mexico.

  • I am happy to let you take the ball on this one. If my ancestors had not pulled up stakes in the early 1600s, I would be forced to deal with my ambivalent feelings of voting 21% remain, 20% leave, and 59% there has to be something better on the set somewhere.

    • There may well be something better on the set. But probably not in the UK till after June 23rd. And not in the US till after November. Perhaps you can find a good telenovela on TV Azteca to watch? Failing that, maybe a box set of golden oldies. West Wing or Yes Minister might fit the bill…

  • As a dyed in the wool Federalist, I think anyone who wants to leave the EU and make their own way in this world of Russia, China and the USA, has to be blamy. England leaves the Union and the next thing out the window will be its special seat at the UN and its veto. Leaving the EU puts a small state that has punched above its weight inside the EU, outside. Dumb move, no doubt. But then I’m a Federalist, a Federalist state combines the hard charging first stringers with the third stringers into a unit that is able to compete on a global scale. Voting to leave is voting to play second string and maybe third.

    • The Leave campaign is based almost entirely on nostalgia and misinformation. Mpost of the key campaigners do not even dispute the likelihood of a serious economic downturn post Brexit. It’s a slightly nuts premise to start with.

      Everyday I come across ludicrous memes in Facebook. But the tabloids are no better. The Daily Mail’s front page the other day featured a photo of (probably) Syrian or Iraqi refugees climbing out the back of a lorry having been smuggled into the country. The headline and story declared that this is what being in the EU means. More immigrants. And people will swallow it.

      EU migrants do not of course need to be smuggled in. And leaving the EU will not stop non EU migrants being smuggled in. It’s genuinely pathetic. And designed to bring out the population’s inner racist.

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