It’s popular to look back at former times through rose-tinted spectacles. After all, I was young and in my prime some decades ago. Reality in those post-war years was grey rather than coloured.
In the 1950’s throughout the whole winter, cabbage was king. We were relieved only at Christmas by the arrival of brussels sprouts. There simply was not a wide range of fruit and veg available all year-round, only seasonal UK produce.
Do you really want to pay 20% more for inferior, less varied food (as we used to before we joined the Common Market) for the sake of feeling that we’ve got our own way? I can remember those meagre baskets of winter vegetables, no more than 2 or 3 varieties – including occasionally onions, parsnips, turnips and carrots – that I used to deliver to local families on a bike as a 16-year old in search of weekend earnings. Pictures of veg from the 1950’s focus entirely on summer, when peas and beans were available. Here are examples:
Dismantling as many arrangements and contracts as we will when we leave the EU may result in events that touch every home in Britain in small and important ways. It may not be fruit and veg, but other products and services from our EU neighbours will be affected.
Take retirement in old age: less than 40% of Britons have adequate pension arrangements. Among the 60% who have not, many will be relying upon the equity in their family homes to boost their pension when they retire. They may plan to downsize and move elsewhere, thus realising tax-free capital gains from their principal residences. That equity may be much reduced – by as much as 30% according to some forecasts – in the event of Brexit. Britain will overnight become a less attractive – more expensive – place to live.
You can see below just what a fantastic investment London houses of various types have been in the last 25 years:
What no Brexiter has mentioned or factored in is the efficiency, speed and price advantages of integrated European markets or the huge benefits of ease of movement, entry and exit across 28 nations for business, pleasure and knowledge. You will find nary a mention of these advantages in the UK Media, devoted to trumpeting the singularity of the UK.
In the 1970’s Britain was the sick man of Europe, isolated, unintegrated and with no say in European policies or procedures. Most of us either did not know or have forgotten the shabbiness of Britain in the 60’s and 70’s, and even thereafter how slow the colours of modernity were to spread through the land!
Since 1975 as a member we’ve been part of shaping and participating in the networks and machinery of the EU, as they made things more efficient, quicker and cheaper.
These networks will need re-engineering or re-inventing if we can no longer count on sources, suppliers and infrastructures. While we might be able to influence interruptions to distribution on our side of the borders, we can do nothing about barriers and regulations on the side of our former partners in the 28 nations. Even at home our track record on coordinated infrastructure projects is appalling, (where is HS2?) so we can’t expect better as people squabble over power and rights post-Brexit. Brexit is certain to drive factionalism at home.
What is so smart about going it alone rather than collaborating anyway?
Look at your own life and notice the difference between successful and difficult interactions. We are designed to live in groups, whether related by blood or mutual interests. Much the most common problem in family life is healing or working around divided interests and unhelpful entrenchments. The European Community provided a setting to work through such problems on a larger scale – and while daunting, boring and long-winded provided tens of thousands solutions. Now those conversations will return to the streets of England and much time will be wasted in frustration and squabbling over details.
Do we even know which way ‘our own way’ is? It was the FT that confirmed my suspicions that we were burning down the house we live in – and that because that house is relatively expansive and luxurious, we could not yet see the damage: see their piece of 11 July, “Brexit means goodbye to Britain as we know it.”
Having it easy after Brexit is a common assumption and still part of the national delusion accompanying this suicide mission. Apparently, Liam Fox (“the easiest trade deals in history”), has drastically revised his estimates of both how easy and how beneficial new trade deals will be. Specifically, with regard to the US we will be required to open up our markets (think NHS) and lower our food rearing and production standards (chlorinated chicken). We have a whole lot less food poisoning here than they do in the USA.
As part of Europe we could afford to stand up for our standards. As supplicant Britain, we will have to compromise. We may even find ourselves major producers of food we once would not touch. And if we go our own way, it might be that the humble cabbage rules again. OK?