Honesty and intelligence on both sides of debate
I am responding to a letter from “name and address supplied”, published on 9 September.
In this, they accuse Brexit Remainers of being a “leftist minority in pursuit of power”, fuelled by hatred and scorn, who use “negative rhetoric” against Leavers, the kind of which Leavers have not used against them. They finally conclude that “the ignorance of the Europhiles is lamentable”. I beg to differ.
There are honest and intelligent people on both sides of the Brexit debate, whose views should be respected, but Remainers are certainly not all “leftists in pursuit of power” and they have had plenty of opprobrium heaped upon them by Leavers – even the term “Remoaners” is deliberately insulting.
Leavers also seem to see Brexit as a “war” with Europe in which Remainers have been called “traitors” and “collaborators”, and the Prime Minister has called the insistence on a deal with the EU “surrender” – while no deal would count as some kind of victory! This kind of anti-Remainer, war-related rhetoric is nonsense in a situation where we are trying to establish a new friendly relationship with our nearest neighbours.
As for “ignorance”, the Leavers like to use simple slogans such as “take back control” and “regain our sovereignty” to get people on their side.
But if you ask Leave voters what aspect of their lives has been negatively affected by membership of the EU, very few of them can come up with an answer. On the Remain side the argument has mainly been about two things: the damage to our economy if we leave the EU (dubbed “Project Fear” by Leavers, but backed up by all the evidence), and the personal benefits of EU membership – such as ease of travel within Europe, the opportunity to study in Europe, the freedom to work in Europe and the ability to bring back as much “duty free” as you like!
The differences therefore mainly seem to be between people who can’t define how the EU has negatively affected them, don’t have a personal interest in Europe, and don’t care that leaving the EU may harm our economy – and those who are aware of the benefits of EU membership and have a personal interest in Europe.
To illustrate this, the depth of “ignorance” of some Leavers was brought home to me by a conversation I had with someone from my village recently, who said: “I’ve never been to another country, but when it comes down to it there’s nowhere as nice as England, is there?”
Robert Monro, Whitchurch
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