Watching unfolding events in my home country from the other side of the other world has been an odd, disorienting experience. With the benefit of rolling news and news sites live blogging, I’ve never been out of touch. But in another away I’ve always been out of touch. The surprise at the result and the resultant fall out has exposed a fractured country to harsh sunlight. Not only will exiting the EU take years to enact; so will healing those cracks.
15 years of pastoral ministry and 6 and a half years in post-apartheid South Africa have taught me if that if fractured relationships are to have any chance of healing, some deep listening needs to happen. I may be physically separated from the country, but I thought I could at least try to enable a little bit of that. So I posted three questions on my Facebook page over the course of four days or so. The goal was not to debate, but to get people to hear each other. Over the next few days, I’m posting the fruit of that here.
The first questions was for Leave supporters to answer, and for Remain supporters to listen to. I simply asked them to comment with ‘insight into why they voted the way they did’. The responses are anonymously reproduced below, only edited for typos.
Read, and listen.
- a) Sovereignty.
As Christians we believe in God’s sovereignty over nations. We also believe in the sovereignty of nations, under him, to determine their own affairs. “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” (Acts 17:26). This is also reflected in Article XXXVII of the Church of England’s 39 Articles: ‘The sovereign has the chief power in the realm of England and his other possessions. The supreme government of all in this realm, whatever their station, whether ecclesiastical and civil, and in all matters, belongs to him and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.’ Why do we believe national sovereignty to be important? One word: Accountability. The further governance gets from the people, the greater the capacity for sin and unaccountability. The simplest governance is the most desirable: representatives who are the most directly connected to the people can be held most easily accountable to the people. The constant complaint against the leadership of the EU is that is it is unaccountable.
The first duty of a nation-state is the security of its own citizens, for without that security, there is no nation state: the state will be taken over by another state. Defence of the realm is therefore the primary duty of the state. The EU free movement of peoples policy is a major risk to our nation’s security, especially with the rise of Islamic terrorism – the free movement of millions of people within the EU is now so large that it is impossible to have proper vetting of all those who come into a particular state. Only by detaching from the EU will we be able more closely to screen those who are coming into the United Kingdom for our own security. It will also enable us to deport those from other countries whom we deem are a risk to our national security.
Stewardship is important to Christian people. We believe we should use wisely the money that God has given us. Sending many millions of pounds a week (net) to Brussels is not a wise use of money. We are paying for too many extra layers of administration, when that money could be used for front line services at home such as healthcare and the education of our children, and also to help the poor of other nations. We want to be good and responsible stewards of our money and not waste money on expensive and needless bureaucracy.
Just one of these reasons would be sufficient to vote for Britain to leave the European Union.
- I Didn’t Know how to vote having emigrated but was pleased Leave won.
the EU was organising a free trade deal with North America behind closed doors so no leaks could get out. When leaks did, it was bad. TTIP was ditched in September 2015.
If you can’t vote out those who have power over you then you don’t live in a democracy. When the unaccountable rise to power the righteous go into hiding to para-quote a proverb.
c) Couldn’t deport Abu Hamza
Even the Queen was perplexed at this one.
d) foreign policy notably Israel
The EU’s anti-Israel stance was at odd’s with Britain’s and rather than Britain adding a pro-Israel voice to the EU, instead Britain’s pro-Israel voice was subsumed. Jerusalem Post believes an unshackled british foreign policy is best for Israel. If remaining meant having greater weight abroad through the EU this is worth nothing if the EU sides consistently against the only democracy in the middle east.
Concern of the one size fits all policy that EU encourages, fed up with non-EU nationals being discriminated against, fed up with the non-accountability of EU decisions and the colossal waste of money on bureaucracy and the gradual undermining of our sovereignty and the disgusting way the Greek people have been treated.
4. I wouldn’t say “Remain” are anti-democracy. But a key thing for me is small government. Someone said 1 size fits all above: EU will always be centre right/left. But what if we want to nationalise industries & another country wants 1pc vat. Last election saw from 3 major parties big guns fall, far harder in EU. The way laws are passed etc all flows the wrong way.
5. a) sovereignty / democracy. Too much power over too many nations in the hands of too few who are unaccountable. Laws could only be proposed by unelected commissioners.
b) trade justice: eu is a protection racket to make that makes trade with 3rd world (particularly African nations) hard. When we joined the EU we turned out back on poorer commonwealth nations
Within the euro zone there is also no trade justice: nations that fall on hard times (Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy) cannot devalue their currency to get themselves out of the mess; string nations (esp Germany) get to keep their currency unnaturally deflated so as to maintain a massive trade surplus. In this way Southern Europe is effectively in indentured servitude to Northern Europe for the next 50 years.
c) powerlessness to influence change: we were not ‘leading the EU to reform’ but, at best, occasionally slowing down its deterioration.
6. This is a great idea – to provide an environment where people can post their views without fear of abuse. There have been many times that I’ve wanted to reply to a friend on FB about some of the reasons people voted to leave, but I didn’t want to deal with the level of abuse and vitriol I’ve seen aimed at people who had – mostly from friends of friends, but sadly a few of my friends have sunk to new lows when it comes to letting people know what they think of Leavers. My reasons to vote Leave are below, but the condescension and patronising of many Remainers before the referendum actually affirmed to me emotionally that I was in the right ‘camp’. If I could summarise my reasons, it would be this: I voted to leave the EU for the sake of freedom, both socioeconomic and democratic (or sovereignty as others would put it). Not so much for me, but for my children.
a) In my view, the EU displays some of the characteristics of the beginnings of fascism; some even argue that it is already a fascist organisation. Principally, that power and influence within the EU was too far removed from the individual and was not a key part of the democratic process and accountability. The EU has too much power and, in my opinion acts like a bully, such as the way they applied pressure to the IMF to refuse loans to Italy unless PM Silvio Berlusconi was out of power. It had a terrible effect on Italy’s economy and is an interference-too-far in a country’s national politics. As much as I really don’t like Silvio Berlusconi, he was the democratically elected PM and it should be Italian politics/people who decide whether he should have remained so. What has happened with Greece also shows that, when push comes to shove, they are willing to put the population of a nation through awful austerity measures (when there were other options for Greece) for the sake of keeping the rest of the EU ticking along. I could go on and on, but it would make this post a) extremely long and b) not really be within the purpose of the space you created.
b) I didn’t like the direction I saw the EU moving in. In the run up to the vote, I read the Interreg report, Europe 2020 Strategy, the Five Presidents Report, and various other pieces of literature produced by the EU itself. In particular, I was concerned by the EU social cohesion policy and that it would inevitably entail top-down imposition of social (and economic) values. Don’t get me wrong, I believe social cohesion is a good thing, but anything other than it being an organic, bottom-up, grassroots ‘movement’ is bad news. This also happens at a national and local level, but at least I have more power as an individual to influence change and use my vote to protest.
c) The regulatory framework of the EU favours bigger and multinational businesses which can absorb the associated costs more easily, whereas small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are hampered by it. Big businesses LIKE regulation, because it enables them to out-compete smaller businesses, and they lobby EU commissioners to introduce legislation in their favour. We need to support SMEs as they generally employ more people (especially locally) per £ of turnover, with less centralisation of costs (usually administrative labour). Enabling British businesses to more freely trade with countries around the world, outside of the EU, will make us more prosperous and secure (less dependent on trade from a single zone).
d) Any EU laws which people perceive as beneficial over UK law (e.g. working time directive) can be made (and already are) part of the body of UK law by legislating it to be so. The electorate should be holding our own elected government to account for our laws and how they treat us, rather than depending on the EU for protection from our own politicians.
I’d like to state for anyone reading this that I’m not a racist, xenophobic, or bigot, and immigration was not a factor which influenced my vote. I don’t really care how many people from other countries are here and I was born in another country, so I’m one of them. However I do think that more border control over ALL of Europe would help reduce the ability of criminals to easily traffick girls/women (mainly females, although males are also victims) into domestic and sex slavery. And if me having to apply for a visa to work go on holiday/live in another country helps fight people-trafficking, I’m more than happy to do so.
7. I have always believed that the EU would move towards a Federal State and never voted “in” back in the 70’s. Responses to the Brexit vote by EU politicians are already using the UK result as evidence that the current arrangement is far too unwieldy and there needs to be a movement to just such a Federation.
8. Here is my main piece on it- which has been read 100,000 times….there are also other articles on my blog which explain. Click here.
9. I have nothing to add as all well covered above but nice to see the articulation of a broad spectrum of views without being ripped to shreds!! I suppose the only thing I might add is that it would be good to have views on whether or not we are “hard-wired” to feel most comfortable in a group with whom we have some affinity of culture, language and shared history?
10. Here are some of my reasons. Click here.