Oh my eyes…Thu Jun 2016


I know summer has started when my mother reminds me to wear sunglasses. I can’t recall when she first read that blue eyes are especially sensitive to light but over the years the risks have assumed ever-greater dimensions. I know now that if I don’t wear shades my eyeballs will disintegrate, dribble out of their sockets, and drip down my complacent face. Yet here I squint unprotected beneath the cloudy sky on my way to vote In.

Looking at the odds (1/3) it seems that Remain will win today. But then the odds were a staggering 1/16 in favour of a hung parliament in 2015 and look what happened. Had people envisaged an outright Tory victory, a referendum on our EU membership would never have sneaked into the Conservative manifesto. A coalition government was supposed to banish this debate to the backbenches. Instead, it’s going to the wire.

The Prime Minister has suggested World War III could be the outcome of a referendum he proposed, while Farage has threatened Cologne-style sex attacks if we stick with the status quo. Lawd, my eyes are melting. The only person who doesn’t seem to care either way is Corbyn, who made a brief appearance, in faux fur on The Last Leg, to declare he was about seven out of ten in favour of Remain.

The democratic deficit in the EU, and the plight of weaker economies struggling in the Eurozone haven’t crept into the Leave arguments. Our favourable position outside the Euro is a coup for Remain and generally people seem less keen on democracy than usual – suggesting those they disagree with should only get half a vote – or are too dumb to vote at all.

Maybe we are too dumb. The distinction between the institutions of the European Union and the cultural, geographical, neighbourly fact of being European have been unconscionably muddled by both sides for no one’s benefit.

What is certain is that uncertainty is economically risky and leaving is uncertain. It’s not in anyone else’s interests to make a Brexit easy. Right now, the UK is doing relatively well. We might hope to do better. We could certainly do worse. But if we want to trade in the EU we must follow the same rules as everyone else. And if we have to follow the same rules we might as well have some say over their formulation.

Here’s hoping then, that Boris Johnson made the wrong call, that Nigel Farage is about to disappear from our screens, and that we won’t spend the next ten years finding out what happens when you stare directly at the sun. As for the commentators that argue the Referendum debate will prove fatal for the Conservatives either way – they are forgetting the Conservative wild card – the ultimate Tory weapon – yes, you guessed it, Jeremy Corbyn.

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