Friday 29 April 2016

Sorry Nige. Just not that bothered about immigration.

Nigel Farage says to win the referendum we should say more about immigration. I'm finding this difficult because I don't hate foreigners that much. It's true I'm not overly fond of the French but leaving the EU doesn't fix that and I'm only suspicious of Jews and Muslims out of a more generic aversion to people with beards - which is why I am not overly fond of hipsters.

In fact, my general dislike of the species precludes any special treatment because of their geographic origins. As it happens I do have eastern European neighbours I can hear through the walls, but it's more the fact I can hear them at all that bothers me. To be honest, it's an improvement on the English bunch because I could hear every last word of their arguments and they were quite tedious things about the guy not having done any of the housework. At least with the new lot I can pretend they're having a fierce row over the origin of the universe.

More than that though, it's a dumb idea because this is not a referendum on immigration. No realistic scenario sees us ending freedom of movement. In many respects it existed before the EU and it isn't the cause of our immigration woes. The real problems are from people overstaying their visas and human rights rules that are in effect an open invite to extended family. This is nowt to do with the EU.

As it happens, those things will never be fixed while we are in the EU but the act of leaving does not address these matters of international law. The EU is in far too much of a stalemate to even correctly identify the constituent parts of the problem. But then I care far less about immigration than I once did. I live in the whitest suburb in all of England and it will still be that way in another hundred years.

I genuinely don't see how more people coming to the UK to work hard and set up businesses is a bad thing on balance. I'm told we should be reducing the number of people who intermarry and don't care about British society and refuse to respect our laws but I'm not sure if they mean foreigners or Tories.

In my view, if we want to reduce the number of people coming to Europe, we should probably pay greater attention to the reason they come. In that regard we should look at the EU's own disastrous trade policy, and its record of vandalising West Africa by allowing EU fishing boats to destroy marine habitats.

We might also want an independent trade and aid policy so that we can open up new markets in Africa. A targeted trade and aid policy is going to do more to reduce immigration and more to the point will turn out cheaper than heavily bureaucratising our economy just to control our borders. There is a lot to be said for foreign aid if we spend it directly instead of delegating it to the EU and global NGOs.

Come to think of it, since we will have to work hard to restore our global standing, I don't see us being anything other than outward looking if we leave the EU. We won't have a choice. We won't have the luxury of abdicating our trade missions to EU officials. I see us building alliances and working with any number of global partners in order to bring lesser developed countries up to the standards required by the global marketplace. Where they get the idea we will be isolated beats the hell out of me.

In this I don't identify with any of what Ukip has to say. I don't think foreign aid is bad, I'm not that bothered about immigration, and call me crazy but I'm not going to rail against having safety devices in cars for children. I don't hate the idea of international helicopter safety regulations either. In fact the only thing I have in common with Ukip is our common appreciation of the fact that the EU is not and never will be a democracy.

There is a big debate to be had about what shape our trade and aid policy will look like after Brexit. But the point is, by leaving the EU, we will actually have a trade and aid policy - and it will be us deciding what it looks like. Imagine that. British taxpayers being the ones deciding how their own money is spent. That would be something of a novelty wouldn't it?

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