Perhaps it’s the lawyer in me, but I’m not a big fan of slogans – Making America Great Again: how? And what do you mean by ‘great’? Working Hard and Playing By the Rules – don’t even get me started on that load of nonsense.
But, what is perplexing me, and has indeed perplexed me since the Summer has been the Brexit slogan, Taking Our Country Back.
As a political slogan, it’s clearly a winner, but what does it actually mean?
Well, I’ve thought about this, and I assume that when Nigel Farage claimed that a vote for leaving the EU would mean we were Taking Our Country Back Again, he meant that we would be taking control once again, of the important aspects of civil, economic and personal life, the things that really affect us. And I get that, people need to feel they have control – so, I decided to put it to the test, by keeping an one day diary of all the people and organisations which actually do control or influence my life and whether Brexit will impact upon this relationship.
I wake up to the sounds of BBC Radio 5 Live.
Who owns this organisation? Well, we do, through its Charter to Parliament and the TV Licence.
Does it have an influence on the British people? Yes, massively, the Reithian principles of education, entertainment and information, together with a massive degree of skill and expertise has ensured that we have just about the best public sector broadcasters in the world.
Is it influenced in any way by the EU? – no. Not in any way.
What would potentially change the BBC? A decision to take away its public funding and make it commercial.
Do I want that to happen? No I bloody don’t.
Drop my kids at school.
Who owns this organisation? The local authority/Welsh Assembly
Does it have influence over the nation? Yes, absolutely, collectively the education system in our country is massively important.
Is it influenced in any way by the EU? – no, education policy is solely the concern of the Welsh Assembly where I am, Government and Local Government elsewhere. However, the EU has been responsible for significant programmes of international education schemes and given students the ability to study abroad.
Is that a good thing? Well, surely it is, the EU has helped to ensure that a year studying abroad is not something that was the sole privilege of the posh kids.
Drive to work.
Who owns the roads and controls Road Traffic Law? Local Government and Police and law enforcement agencies respectively.
Does it influence the British People? Yes, the ability to get to and from places safely and efficiently is important for all of us.
Is it influenced by the EU? Well, EU grants have been used to improve infrastructure in deprived areas. Do we want to take control of that? True we might; but, saying that we don’t want your hundred million quid for road improvements because it was sanctioned by a Dutchmen working out of an Office in Belgium seems a bit churlish to me. In any event, our government appoint our representatives on the European Council and we elect our representative to the European Parliament – so, we do have a certain amount of control over the policies that might affect us.
Stop at petrol station.
I pay a lot of money to fill my car with diesel.
Influence on the British People? Yes, the rising cost of fuel has been a significant influence upon our economy for years.
Is it influenced by the EU? Not really, though there is some influence concerning tariffs and taxation and also climate policy. But, ultimately the price of petrol is determined by market forces and the profits that are sought by the oil companies.
Is my control on Oil Companies enhanced by Brexit? No, not for a single minute, in fact any intention to exert pressure on the oil companies to regulate their pricing structures would be far more effective coming from the auspice of the EU than the UK government on its own.
If anything Brexit means I am less likely to have control over fuel pricing in the UK.
This happens to be my place of work and probably not a good example of the Employment Regulations that have been enforced by the EU. But for most people, the regulations passed by the EU and put into UK law are a force for good, to quote just a few: equal pay, right to a fair hearing prior to dismissal, limit to working hours, limits to extreme temperatures in the workplace, the right to be consulted prior to changes in pay… and on and on.
Is the workplace influenced by the EU? Yes, undoubtedly.
Do I want to take back control? Well, again, if you hate the idea of foreign influence then you won’t be troubled by the possibility of losing all these excellent worker’s rights, but I would wager that those who may have voted for Brexit and suddenly find that they are made redundant without any right to representation or have their pay docked unilaterally may suddenly decide that the EU wasn’t a bad thing.
First Court Case.
It is a criminal case.
Influence on the British People? Yes, of course, we are all protected by the Criminal Law.
Influence of the EU on the domestic criminal law? Negligible, most laws are either pretty old, or have been passed as part of large Criminal Justice Acts that have cropped up every couple of years for the last couple of decades. Europe only gets involved if there is a particularly novel and important piece of criminal law that might be taken to the ECHR, which is not the same as the European Court of Justice. The CPS is an entirely British funded and controlled organisation, whilst the Police is answerable to the Government and the monarch.
I suppose that one way the EU has influenced the British Criminal Justice system are the reciprocal agreements between countries concerning arrest warrants and the exchange of information and evidence, in fact I’ve now done a number of cases where witnesses have given evidence from a European Country over a live link – is this a source for bad? No, not in my book, to put it in the language of the Daily Mail, if the EU helps get a rapist back from Spain, then isn’t that a good thing?
Do I want to take back control of the Criminal Justice System? No, I bloody don’t, I want to leave it in the hands of the judges and the police. I am glad that I have a Parliament with my representative in it to influence any criminal acts, but that is as far as it goes.
Pop out to the Supermarket for a sandwich and a bag of crisps.
Influence on the British people of supermarket and food? Loads, the price of food and commodities is a hugely significant factor in our day to day lives.
Influence of the EU on British food pricing? Some – the free movement of workers has been a positive factor in British Agriculture, whilst some EU regulations concerning food hygiene and packaging have been important.
Do I want to take back control of these things? Not if that means a reduction in the quality of food I eat, or a massive increase in the price.
Do I want to take back control of agricultural policy? Well, no, not if it means a diminution in the ability of farmers to control and farm the land – which, it almost definitely would – the CAP may be flawed in many ways, but it has, without doubt kept many small farmers in business.
But, in any event, who is to blame for the prices I pay in the shops? Not, the EU, that’s for sure, it comes down again to multi-national companies – would I like to take control of them? Well, not directly, no Marxist I, but, I would like to be able to exert some kind of control over them, and, is that more or less likely to happen after Brexit? Less, without doubt, the EU was powerful enough to take on the Multi-national companies, the UK, is not.
Withdraw £20 from the cashpoint.
Influence of banks on the lives of British people? Goes without saying, banks own most of us, without them we would be knackered.
Influence of the EU on the banking and financial sector? Not as directly as you might hope, thought of course, the European Central Bank and the vagaries of the Euro influence the banks and the financial sector – but, that isn’t going to change one bit after Brexit. If a German bank goes under, it will affect us just as dramatically whether we are in UKIP land or not.
Only the most foolish government and Chancellor would think that Brexit will somehow lead to the British Government being able to make economic policy in isolation to the European Union countries, whilst no governor of the Bank of England is ever going to set fiscal policy without taking a long hard look at what is happening across the Channel. Of course, now we are no longer in the EU, our ability to influence what is going on in Europe is going to much diminished – so, rather than taking control of our economic policy we are in a position where we may become little more economic flotsam and jetsam on the sea of European fiscal policy.
Is that taking control of my country? No. It bloody isn’t.
The rest of the day went on in a similar vein.
After Brexit will I be more or less in control? Will I have taken back my country? Will I be able to exert more or less influence over the things that influence my life?
The answer is less.
Brexit, will lead to me having less control not more over certain aspects of my life not more. Brexit will not mean I take back control of my country, Brexit will mean that my country is left open to the decisions of the faceless directors of massive multi-national companies and what is left of the European Union.