Accusations of Vested interests
As mentioned above, one common tactic of BrExiters is to accuse anyone advocating remaining in the EU of having vested interests, or being part of some “elite” that has such an interest. One would hope, and expect, that after over 40 years being in a “club” that many, and arguably most, in this country do gain direct or indirect benefit from EU membership. You would hope that farmers do apply for their entitlement under the CAP (whether or not one approves of the CAP), that researchers apply for and get Framework Programme and ERC grants (even if BrExiters don’t understand the nature of international scientific collaborations), and that less developed regions get the EU regional aid that they qualify for. BrExiters can’t, on the one hand, claim we get no benefits from the EU and, on the other, accuse the EU of “bribing” individuals and groups through the funds it disburses according to the treaties and budgets it is responsible for. Instead we hear the same superficial and worn-out arguments for leaving the EU.
The EU programmes and funds are there to achieve collective economic, social, and strategic benefits not as an “inducement” to “betray” one’s country to achieve some “EU Superstate” whose purpose according to this narrative is to bring those “plucky Brits” to heel, undermining our democracy.
So, when any pro-EU entity (such as the CBI, Universities UK or any specific business) advocates staying the in EU because of the benefits they or their members obtain and which they would lose if we left, there are three possible legitimate responses that the BrExit campaign could give if they wanted to engage in real debate:
- Don’t worry. We’ve considered that. You’ll be able to keep those benefits and here’s how and why….
- That’s unfortunate, but we believe your loss will be more than offset by these benefits elsewhere and the country will be better off even if you’re not. [however, don’t expect them to be grateful and join your cause]
- That’s tough and we don’t care. Restoring national sovereignty is much more important than your narrow economic interests. If you or even the whole economy go under then that’s a price worth paying so we can rule ourselves.
Prominent Leave backer Arron Banks clearly thinks option 3:
Arron Banks of Leave.EU says each UK household losing £4,300 if we vote for Brexit “is a bargain price for freedom”. pic.twitter.com/d8gWJASgAv
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) April 18, 2016
Instead, the BrExiters want to silence any pro-EU groups via ad-hominem arguments on the grounds they are biased and have some pecuniary or nefarious interest in being in the EU. By hijacking terms such as “Believe in Britain”, they imply that those who argue for continued EU membership do not “believe in Britain”. This is outrageous. Of course I and all other Europhiles “believe in Britain”, we just believe Britain’s national interests are best served engaging with the EU. But Europhobes seem to only want to engage in debate with those of similar mind and not address the very serious issues of exiting the EU. They could do us the basic courtesy of answering the issues raised.
Below is a more detailed exploration of the issues: