Dear John

Many friends have views about Brexit but often their stance is based on impressions rather than evidence. Of course bias is not eliminated by knowledge but it forms a basis for discussion through which views may be refined or changed. Here are two attempts to engage in real debate.

One of our authors sometimes exchanges views with friends and tries to show them that the EU is not what it claims to be. Here are two quick comments-and-responses from recent exchanges:

From John:
Very busy trying to persuade locals that Brexit is definitely not a good idea. Farming in the area will be trashed. I’m sorry but Owen Patterson really doesn’t know what he is talking about. Have you changed your mind about it yet as the economy has slowly degraded? It is a slow puncture!”

Dear John,
We need to look after our farmers, indeed the climate-change agenda should ensure that we produce more of our own food. Interesting that the majority of farmers voted to leave the EU in 2016, but not the large land owners who get the biggest CAP subsidies and seem to speak for the NFU. The slow decline of our economy will be partly due to world conditions and also the uncertainty of whether or not we’ll leave the EU, which is harming investment and productivity.
It is not certain what lasting damage or improvement may result from Brexit, if it happens. Past forecasts have been rubbish but that’s generally true of economic forecasts because they depend on models which make assumptions, in particular that the rest of the system outside what is being modelled remains on track and that which is modelled does not successfully refocus to solve the issues it faces. It almost never works and the models are most useful in showing us what dangers need to be addressed rather than what is actually going to happen. Not that GDP growth is the only issue.
I believe the European union we have is on the wrong track and always has been. It has been particularly unhelpful to the UK, from the start of our membership. It has elbowed out a better framework and stolen its achievements, even its logo (The Council of Europe). I believe it is “all mouth and no trousers” in relation to its claims, has caused great harm to many member states and their citizens and is unlikely to survive, principally because of the eurozone. A banking union may give it a little more time but the Germans can never recover the trillion euros owed them, by Spain and Italy in particular.
I’m happy to justify my views and perhaps to learn where I might be wrong. Not many want to debate in detail and I wouldn’t press you further unless you’re willing.

Help for our readers:
The points in this reply are supported in more detail in previous posts, including:
Farm View
Italy Missing the Target
Questions and Some Answers
An Alternative for Europe

From Annie:
I don’t trust Boris

Dear Annie,
It isn’t clear which political leader you trust more. His somewhat rakish behaviour has attracted outrage but I think he should be judged on his public actions rather than his private life, within reason. Commenting on the saintly aura of the All Blacks rugby team, one sports writer noted that, “despite its ‘No Dickheads’ policy, players have been re-admitted to the team who have even committed assault. He said, “You can be reprehensible in private and a brilliant sportsman and team mate. The two often go together.” This applies not just to sportsmen but to actors, business leaders and politicians. When a man (usually a man) is famous or powerful he sometimes abuses his position, milder personalities often do not have the same drive. Without dickheads like Manu Tuilangi, Ben Stokes and Wayne Rooney their respective England teams would have been weaker.

Dear Nick,
I take your point about undesirable behaviour by sportsmen, but I am of the opinion that the argument doesn’t hold up for a Prime Minister in 2019. Have to agree to differ there I think, but I’m afraid I can never trust Johnson, like many of his own party it seems.
I like the Guardian parliamentary sketch writer, John Crace, who seems to me to hit the nail on the head most of the time and is pretty rough on all party leaders. Here’s a link to yesterday’s piece:

Dear Annie,
I read John Crace’s article. He certainly castigates Corbyn for his actions but he also includes the following highly personal attacks on those he doesn’t agree with:
Jacob Rees-Mogg -“For once he was almost telling the truth” – meaning JRM is a habitual liar
Boris – “The only thing he really cares about is himself” – meaning BJ is just a narcissist. And “… Boris himself, if his lack of conscience allowed” – oh dear.
You questioned Boris’s honesty but such challenges apply to both sides. It is more important to examine the policies rather than to question the motives and integrity of the people, otherwise we descend into a fruitless debate about who has told the biggest lies. We are likely to be attempting to measure their relative culpability rather than examine the main issues.


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