So far the only benefit I can see from the EU referendum is that it has made me more sympathetic to agnostics. As a Brexnoistic, if we must continue the habit of making up stupid words to go along with this stupid referendum, I’m finding the certainty of anyone else to be annoying. This is unfair and unreasonable but nevertheless true.
To explain why I’m still floundering around in the muddy waters of indecision, tossed around by the cruel waves of complication and consulting with lost property for an opinion, here’s the EU referendum considered from too many different perspectives.
The good news here is that there isn’t one! By this I mean that any attempt to link an argument either way to explicit biblical teaching is spurious nonsense, worse, it’s also intellectually lazy and ignores the incredible complexity of this decision. The Bible was not written to solve this kind of problem.
The main argument I’ve heard for Out is that because the Bible affirms nation states then we shouldn’t set up any organisations that seek to be supranational. The main problem with this idea is that Jesus affirms the authority of Caesar (Mark12v17) with Caesar being the head of an undemocratic, supranational body that ruled over multiple nation states with unaccountable power. Yes, the Roman Empire was affirmed by Jesus as having God-given authority.
The Bible affirms God’s sovereignty in the rise and fall of nations and empires. This authority includes the rise and fall of the EU. This doctrine tells us nothing about whether the EU should exist or not.
What is acceptable is to ask: does the EU benefit the spiritual health of the citizens of the EU? There are two ways to think of this. The first is that as a secular government it does very little to benefit its citizens spiritually. But as it is a secular government of secular governments representing secular nations of predominately secular people then this can hardly be held against it. It’s not like leaving the EU will open the floodgates of spiritual blessing. As though our own government is any more spiritually minded than the EU!
The other perspective is that, like the Roman Empire, the EU makes it easier to carry the gospel around the EU thanks to the free movement of people and the decreasing barriers between European countries. However, this one benefit to the spread of the gospel is not strong enough to rest a whole case for remaining in the EU on.
The main studies that have been released on the economic impact of the Brexit suggest either a +4% economics growth or a -6% decline. That’s not too bad as ranges go. Regardless of how accurate any prediction is what can be said for certain is that a Brexit will cause uncertainty and in the short run an increase in uncertainty will cause economic pain.
I am in no doubt that Britain could do very well outside of the EU. But while the bonds are broken and the laws re-written and everything re-negotiated there would be a period of uncertainty which would damage the economy. Investments will be put on hold, companies will move, jobs will shift, labour market conditions will change and the economy will get the “jitters”.
And for some people, that’s an acceptable price to pay. And for others it won’t be.
I think it’s largely agreed that immigration would fall outside of the EU. Whether this is a good, bad or meh kind of impact is a whole other topic.
For many Brexiters, this is the central argument for leaving the EU. As an institution, it is too fundamentally undemocratic. It is run by an elite for an elite and the UK is better off as solely a nation state. Parliamentary sovereignty is an ideal worth giving up on EU membership for.
The counter argument is that the UK would still need to give up some sovereignty anyway. Dealing with any multi-nation organisation from the UN to Google, involves a certain degree of compromise and sometimes a loss of sovereignty is deemed acceptable for the benefits won. The EU makes this compromise extremely obvious. Some of the compromises would still have to be made even outside it.
Again, there are two stories. In one, the EU provides a forum for the UK to influence both the rest of Europe and the World. It compliments and extends our global influence and gives weight to our voice. And in the other story, our voice is loud enough without the EU and our standing would only grow if we replaced a close bond with Europe with lighter bonds with all nations.
If we left, would everyone hate us? If they did, would it matter? Two questions that can be happily answered either way.
The EU is doomed anyway
So it makes sense to leave, like a rat leaving a sinking ship, before it gets worse and takes us with it. But if we left and the EU goes under, we will be blamed by everyone else in Europe, let’s avoid that and pretend to be in it with everyone and then it will all be over in a few years’ time anyway and no one will be mad at us.
Could be more powerful again outside of the EU.
Easy holidays to Europe
Not so easy if we leave.
How can any mortal man make a decision, which will effect generations to come, based on such a diverse range of criteria, many which conflict with each other?