(They say that you should never discuss religion or politics in a pub. There are no clear rules, EU or otherwise, on whether you are allowed to do this in a blog, so here goes. If you are reading this in the pub, pretend you are looking up the football scores.)
With less than 12 hours until polling stations open, recent surveys suggest that the result couldn’t be closer, except if it was closer. 44% are in the remain camp, 43% intend to leave and an astonishing 25% are still undecided. If that adds up to more than 100%, it only emphasises how much fervour this debate has whipped up in a previously indifferent electorate.
Yet, as politicians hurl claim and counter-claim across an increasingly confusing multi-party patchwork quilt of ideology, the facts of the matter still seem elusive, leaving us confused and unsure. Questions such as “can you guarantee that my job will be safe” and “shall I still be able to buy a Cornish pasty?” remain unanswered. The trouble is that we shall only know the future with certainty when it has become the past, and then it won’t be the future any more. Do you see?
However, I feel it is my duty to my loyal followers to set out the situation as best we know it, so that you can go into the booth tomorrow armed with a pen* and as much knowledge as you can (* please provide your own pen, or ask somebody in authority for one). This is my offering to the undecideds:–
• We should have close ties with the continent, which will involve filling in the English Channel with quick-drying cement. This will mean that half a billion EU members could walk unhindered into our country, but that would be a good thing because we will need a lot of people to complete the project. If we wanted to do this whilst not in Europe it would take 17 years to agree the trade deal with China for them to sell us the cement, and then a further 68 years for the project to be completed because all young people in this country are lazy and we wouldn’t have the Poles to get it done.
• It is safer to remain in the EU. Lots of bad things have happened whilst we have been in the EU, but who knows how much worse things could be if we leave? Who knows? Nobody. Exactly. That’s how scary it is! And anyway, lots of experts say that we should stay and experts are never wrong.
• It is easier to change something from within than from the outside. Think of trying to change a lightbulb from outside the house. Or perhaps think of trying to remove somebody’s appendix without actually cutting them open but putting an enormous hoover up their bottom. It’s both difficult and impossible, but that’s what Brexiteers want to do – they want to put enormous hoovers up the bottoms of appendicitis-sufferers.
• The European Union invented and oversees human rights. If we left nobody would have any rights any more. Workers, non- workers, women, men, ethnic minorities and ethnic majorities wouldn’t have any rights. Oh, and morris dancers too.
• Brexit involves lots of tug boats taking us further away from mainland Europe, although we will need permission of the Spaniards and the 78 other member states to detach Gibraltar. This will mean we are less likely to be invaded by hoards of illegal immigrants, although the French (who have always hated us) could still lend them their boats as French fisherman won’t need them much because they haven’t opted out of the EU directive on a three-hour working week.
• Being tugged-off (so to speak) would mean we have more flexibility to make our own decisions. If we wanted to adopt the Norwegian model we could moor up in a fjord. If we wanted to adopt the Swiss model we could….well, we just could okay. We would be left a largely lawless country, as most of our laws come from Brussels and they would want them back, but we could then have referendums to make up new ones, because referendums seem like jolly good fun. Introducing an Australian style points system would mean it would always be sunny.
• We would save somewhere between £19 billion and £3.50 every year by not being in the EU. This figure would be likely to go up as well if Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan join. We could use this extra money to build a new hospital every three seconds. We wouldn’t have any doctors or nurses to staff them, but we wouldn’t need them because there would be less car accidents as everyone would know which side of the road to drive on.
• Faceless, nameless and possibly even brainless unelected bureaucrats in Brussels will no longer say what we can and can’t do. Instead, we will have our own faceless, nameless, unelected bureaucrats to do that, which will be much better because they will be led by our politicians, with faces and names that we vaguely recognise, who we have elected amid much statistical insignificance.
• There would be no tariffs imposed after we leave because they need us more than we need them. Imagine Germany putting tariffs on….whatever we export to them. We would then make BMWs twice as expensive and everyone here would buy British cars instead like Mini, Ford and Vauxhall….hold on, who owns them?
On a serious note, please use your vote tomorrow, unless of course you are still undecided, in which case it would be silly to flip a coin. I jest (I hope you noticed I wasn’t entirely serious with my comments) not because I dislike the idea of a referendum or because apathy has rendered me incapable of making a decision, but because I am annoyed by the lack of clarity. Democracy is a fine thing, and I utterly respect those brave people who have fought and died over the years to make it happen, as recent events have sadly shown. But democracy also offers the right not to vote, and if you have considered the arguments and feel unable to make a decision that is also a worthy stance.
I have read the papers, watched the TV and researched as best I can. The petulant squabbling and fear-mongering on both sides (yes, both sides!) has made reasoned debate almost impossible at times. I am glad that the public seems to have woken up to democracy these last few months, and am only slightly saddened that the mud-slinging and false bluster of most of our politicians hasn’t matched our own willingness to engage on the issues. I shall vote tomorrow because I have just about enough of an inkling to do so, but it shall be a vote of hopes and fears and, yes, guesswork. Whatever they say, the future is uncertain, and if I hear one more politician shout “but can you guarantee…?” I think I might explode.