I was pretty surprised when the below - little more than a rant on Facebook - ended up getting over 480 shares in barely a day. So with Thursday's European Union referendum looming, I thought I'd share it here:
11 things that are worrying me about Brexit:
1. The near-certain collapse of the pound - which is likely to be lasting, and to have a devastating effect on the UK standard of living for a decade or more.
2. The removal of the protections on workers' rights afforded through the EU, with a relentless stripping away of these rights by the Tory right over the next four years (or sooner).
3. A massive "brain drain" of skilled workers out of the UK, with a massive knock-on effect to productivity and living standards for all in Britain.
4. The knock-on implications for the EU's ability to counter Russia. Brexit may well trigger nothing less than the disentangling of the European Union, which in turn would trigger a new phase of Russian expansion in Eastern Europe - Ukraine would only be the start of it. Whilst NATO exists as a military bulwark, it is the EU which is presenting an economic bulwark to Russia; and Russia's modus operandi today is in the far subtler forms of economic expansion, which NATO is not equipped to counter. The EU is.
5. The complete marginalisation of the UK by the USA. We would go from being the USA's vital link to the EU, to being on a par with Brazil or Canada - way back in the queue of influence, behind the EU, India, China, or Japan.
6. Even in the best-case scenario, we're looking at being locked out of any free trade deals with our major trading partners for the next few years, since these things take an *average* of two and a half years to negotiate (though far, far longer in any trade deals with the US), and Brexit would have to happen within two years of a 'Leave' vote. With the USA, it's highly doubtful we would negotiate any free trade agreement at all - with their congressional ratification system, they're only really interested in free trade deals with major blocs like NAFTA and the EU, not with individual nations. That's why they don't have any free trade deal with major economies like Japan, China and Brazil. Nations like Canada, Mexico, France and Germany only get free access to the US market as part of a bigger trading bloc like NAFTA or the EU. And as for the EU, it's unlikely to grant us preferential trading terms if we've just thrown the whole European project down the pan, and most likely triggered a run on the Euro; far more likely is the scenario that they'd penalise us with stiff tariffs. Tariffs on EU and USA trade would affect over 70% of our exports. There won't be a recession, it'll be a major, crippling, lasting depression.
7. The fruitcakes advocating Brexit tend to fall in two camps: those who want to turn the Commonwealth into a second British Empire, and those libertarians who want Britain to become the 51st state of the USA. Neither will happen. There is no viable post-Brexit model.
8. Scotland will secede from the Union, and will apply for EU membership (which will probably be granted). Northern Ireland probably won't follow, but renewed calls for Northern Ireland secession to follow will result in a renewal of Northern Irish terrorism between loyalists and republicans, which will affect the whole UK.
9. In the longer run, with all of these factors, the GDP of what's left of the UK will steadily slide in gradual decline. What's left of the UK will oscillate between "managed decline" and "unmanaged decline" as the country will go back to the 1970s (or worse).
10. The UK currently has the best deal in Europe, including numerous opt-outs, vetoes, and the only rebate of any EU member state. When the remaining rump of the UK eventually goes back to what's left of the EU with its tail between its legs in 20/30 years' time, admitting that it made a terrible mistake in 2016, and applying for readmission to the EU, it will be on the most punitive terms imaginable.
11. There will be a realignment of politics, for the worse. In what's left of the UK, the Conservatives will have a natural majority, and the Labour Party will dwindle into irrelevance. UKIP, which came second in 125 English constituencies at the 2015 general election, will become the principal opposition; and UK political battles will be pitched in a new "centre ground" between the Conservative Party and UKIP.
On the plus side, housing stock would probably start to become affordable again with the whole economy going down the pan.