Letters: We need a new perspective on EU referendum

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Tuesday 31 May 2016 18:23
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There are some unconventional arguments for Brexit
There are some unconventional arguments for Brexit

As it appears that the Scots are more likely than the English to vote to remain in the European Union, surely it is possible that, in a close result, a majority to remain could be dependent on the Scottish vote.

If this were to happen, we could anticipate a new drive for a referendum on Scottish independence, not from the Scots themselves but from the frustrated English Brexiteers, who, if successful, would then call for another referendum on membership of the EU. You never know!

Grant Serpell

Maidenhead

Berks

In response to Crystal Dickinson, who intends to toss a coin to decide how to vote on 23 June because the information from both sides makes it impossible to make a rational decision. I absolutely agre with you, but I have found a solution: spend a while reading about two countries who are outside the EU, namely Switzerland and Norway, and if that doesn't make you vote Leave, I'll eat my hat.

Roger Wilson

Hayling Island

Hampshire

The hubbub of the EU referendum debate murmurs on and we're hearing the same arguments recycled over and over, and frankly it's starting to turn people off.

So perhaps it's time to explore some alternative angles to pipe up some interest. I've given some thought to International Development and Aid and I wondered why it hasn't come under more scrutiny. After all, many believe that our own International Aid budget, pegged at 0.7 per cent of GDP, is bloated and wasteful.

Other European nations similarly spend huge sums of money on their aid budgets on projects in Africa, and in other poor countries, but let's focus on Africa for a moment.

In reality, isn't part of the reason that we spend all this money on aid because the EU massively restricts trade with Africa? We have to prop them up with aid because we kick them down on trade.

As we've seen time and time again all over the globe, from the industrial revolution to the more recent development of Singapore and South Korea, the best way – arguably the only way – to lift people out of abject poverty is to build a strong economy.

Yet the EU trading tariffs apply to African nations, as many aren't in a strong economic position to negotiate a trade deal as we would be, and this makes it incredibly hard for African businesses to export to us. As if they didn't have a hard enough time already, the EU stifles African growth by applying tariffs to their exports, which can in some cases be punitive.

If there were no EU we, and other nations of Europe, would be free to strike trade deals with African countries to encourage free trade.

Rather than continue spending billions on wasted an inefficient projects, we should open up trade with Africa and help the continent to prosper.

It comes down to an age-old saying that I'm sure everyone will be familiar with: give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. Vote Brexit for Africa.

Tom Davies

Fareham

Hants

Staying in the EU would make my life so much easier, but I am very much in favour of Brexit.

I was too young to vote in the UK referendum in 1975 to withdraw from the European Community. In those days our political masters disingenuously sold us on the idea that it was purely a Common Market aimed at building a trading block that would safeguard our industry in an increasingly global market place. I was in favour. It seemed to make sense in so many ways.

I worked for years in a European institution and experienced first-hand the self-serving arrogance and undemocratic bullying that are fundamental to the European Commission’s mentality and modus operandi. It was a salutary experience. Of course, there are some earnest and able people working in the EU bureaucracies, but they are cowed by a dictatorial management framework that owes much to both Kafka and Machiavelli. Challenges to existing procedures or highlighting policy failures are severely discouraged. Any whiff of dissent or complaint results in the threat that the offender will be ousted from their comfortable salaries and extensive perks.

There is an argument often trotted out that the UK can influence positively the direction of the EU. Qualified majority voting and the political, historical and cultural complexion of the 28 member states show this to be a hollow boast. Even in the days of national veto, whenever a major European Commission initiative was blocked, a coterie of member states was able to sign a separate agreement and to shoehorn it into the acquis (the Schengen Treaty, for instance). Will such manoeuvring cease because the UK votes Remain? What happened when the people of Ireland voted against the Lisbon Treaty and earlier the Treaty of Amsterdam? What happened when the French and Dutch voted against the EU constitution? The British people were never given the option to vote on these milestones towards EU integration, but whenever there has been a negative response to EU ambition, it is an established tactic to continue asking the question until the desired response has been received.

The referendum debate should not be based on what might happen after a Brexit, but should concentrate on the experience and political trends that are already well established. There are many countries in the world that are thriving outside of the EU. Their citizens seem to be able to travel in Europe inconvenience. Their industries seem to progress and businesses profit despite operating beyond the ‘hallowed’ single European market. Does the Remain campaign actually mean to imply that such countries are more capable, better managed and better led than is possible in the United Kingdom?

This is no rant from a Little Englander. Apart from living and working extensively in several EU countries, I am resident in continental Europe and married to someone from another member state. I still work in association with the EU (I have no choice because of the EU’s monopoly position in my business area) and were I to be identified as deviating in any way from the EU hive mind, I would instantly lose my livelihood. For this reason, I feel I have no alternative, but to conceal my identity.

Brexit will significantly complicate my life, but I am convinced that leaving the EU is by far and away in the best interests of the British people and of democracy.

Ivor Veuw (a pseudonym)

Address supplied

The unbearable cruelty of humans

We'll never know what would have happened if Cincinnati Zoo hadn't shot Harambe the gorilla, but we do know that if he hadn't been locked up to serve as a high-earning living exhibit, this incident would never have occurred. Zoos put the con in "conservation" by hoodwinking the public into believing that something meaningful is being done for these animals, when the salvation of endangered species lies in habitat conservation, not a life spent behind bars. The message everyone should take away from this story is simple: don't give zoos your money, and eventually, they'll have to stop imprisoning – and killing – animals.

Jennifer White

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

London

I was so upset by the report about poachers using cyanide to kill elephants, I shed tears of fury and hopelessness. How can humans hope to live on this earth for very much longer if this is how nature and wildlife are treated?

Lynne Clark

Tunbridge Wells

And where did you school?

There is no need to ask if someone went to Eton: if they don't tell you, their wives do.

Angela Polsen-Emy

Birmingham

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