I understand that a lot of people find the world that we are in to be rather scary, especially, dare I say, older people. Flows of people, goods, data, capital, services and idea are moving faster and in greater volumes than has ever been the case, and it strikes me that feelings against the EU has become a lightning rod for people who are uncomfortable with the direction in which the world has moved, just as Donald Trump has become such in the USA. The world of the past is just that, and seeking a return to some mythical age before the EU when everything was wonderful, the sun never set on the British Empire and the UK was better at everything from shipbuilding to football than Johnny Foreigner is like wishing an escapism to the world of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
My question is what are these rules and laws that everybody seems to find so much of a danger to Britain? I work with EU rules and regulations every day: Market in Financial Instruments Directive; Market Abuse Rules; Prospectus Rules; etc., etc.. Does anybody who reads this and wants out have the slightest idea what they are about? There are a 1001 other such rules and directives across matters from pharmaceuticals to recycling of electrical goods. Do they in some way make us less free? I can’t see why they would. Do they impose costs? Yes, but personally I would rather have old TVs and toasters recycled rather than in landfills. Would the UK have to have its own equivalents? Almost certainly. Would they be better? Quite possibly, but then we would lose the benefits of standardisation, which are massive.
In the first half of the 20th century, various countries developed their own standards of electrical plugs, different voltage systems, different sides that the steering wheel was placed in the car. I don’t think “wow, look how lucky I am to have a British plug”; no, I think “what a giant pain in the butt that I need an adaptor to use my laptop when I travel abroad”. Things are some things that are better with competition and others from standardisation. Cars and mobile phones get better with rampant competition; shipping containers and internet protocols are better with standardisation.
So I ask again, what are these laws and rules that are so terrible? Which ones oppress good ole John Bull and drag him to slavery?
Also ask yourself why younger people are disproportionately lining up to vote to stay in and older people out? Younger people are looking forward, not backwards; they see the opportunities from openness. They see a world where the borders of old are not the barriers they once were; air travel is easier and cheaper than ever; high speed rail networks criss-cross Europe; social networks, satellite TV and instant messaging make it as easy to understand and communicate with someone across the ocean as down the street. They don’t wish to limit themselves to Europe, but they certainly do not wish to distance themselves from it either.
As a 45 year old, I am apparently on the borderline of those disproportionately inclined to vote either yes or no, but on this (if not much else in my life), I am very much with my younger compatriots. Much is made of the Remain campaign being “project fear”, but proclaiming a future that is more prosperous, more open and more cosmopolitan does not sound like fear to me. I say to all those older people who find the modern world an uncomfortable place, do not ruin the futures of your children and grandchildren and vote to leave just because you feel Britain is changing too fast; the whole world is changing fast and it is time to embrace it because you can’t escape it.