British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

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British EU referendum in June [update: Leave wins 52% - 48%, politics ensue]

Postby Mambrino » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:47 pm UTC

BBC link

BBC wrote:Britain will vote on whether to remain in the EU on Thursday 23 June, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

The prime minister made his historic announcement in Downing Street after briefing the cabinet.

He said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU - and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions "in our lifetimes".

Ministers immediately divided up into the leave and remain camps as the campaigns got under way in earnest.


As a fellow EU citizen I find this worthwhile news topic, and there's quite many UK nationals on these fora. What probabilities you would assign to Brexit?

Update 2016-06-24: Brexit it is
Last edited by Mambrino on Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:53 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Zohar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:50 pm UTC

Noooo! I have an EU citizenship and I REALLY don't want to have Britain closed off from me as a place to live in.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Mutex » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:21 pm UTC

Current polls are roughly 60% for staying in, and 30ish% for leaving. Which is why Cameron is rushing for a referendum ASAP, rather than letting the Out campaign have enough time to convince more people to want to leave.

I think Cameron has played this well in some ways, but badly in others. Having a referendum, and timing it for when the answer is most likely to be to stay in, takes the wind out of the sails of UKIP and the Eurosceptic members of his party - They won't stop after this, but they won't be able to complain that the British people were never given a choice about being in the EU. I'm less impressed with how he decided to go through this whole pantomime of negotiating a "better deal" for the UK, with restricting benefits for EU migrants to the UK. In general I think the only result we've got from that is to make us look like a bunch of whingers who think they can unilaterally redefine the EU's fundamental principles on a whim, without actually having any effect on support for the EU within the UK.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby icanus » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:23 pm UTC

As an ardent left-winger, I'm genuinely conflicted over which way I'll vote.

In theory the EU is a great idea, and I support things like the working time directive and ECHR - but then there's craziness like the CAP and TTIP, which seem designed to funnel money to big companies.

As far as freedom of movement, I'm in favour generally, though there's definite issues for UK workers presented by an enormous supply of labour from poorer countries that haven't been confronted (this is exacerbated by our own government's inability/unwillingness to enforce a decent minimum wage and employment conditions for domestic and foreign workers alike, which ould go some way to levelling the playing field).

I suspect most people's decision is going to come down more to momentary domestic political concerns, which is a shame, because either way the decision has ramifications that will far outlive the current crop of politicians. But it'll still leave a sour taste in my mouth to either side with Farage, Iain Duncan-Smith, and the swivel-eyed loons for Brexit, or Cameron and Goldman-Sachs for Remain.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Mutex » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:40 pm UTC

icanus wrote:but then there's craziness like the CAP and TTIP, which seem designed to funnel money to big companies.


RE TTIP: Which we'd almost certainly have some version of in the UK if we weren't part of the EU anyway. Hell, I'd bet the UK was a big part of why the EU got those agreements in the first place, we're one of the biggest voices shouting in favour of free trade agreements, the rest of the EU is a lot more protectionist.

RE CAP: We get a rebate from the EU because we're not big agriculture exporters.

There's plenty of things about the EU that aren't perfect and there's lots of improvements to make. I'm definitely in favour of staying in the EU and fixing those things though.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby felltir » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:50 pm UTC

I want us to stay in the EU.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Roamin » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:55 pm UTC

I'm afraid it's getting harder each day to be proud to call myself English ...
Living for many years on the continent, I'm so often ashamed seeing my countrymen continually whinging about Brussels and the EU.
Cameron seemed to be cock-a-hoop getting Britain a 'Special Deal' .. but what real justification is there for it ...?
Brits seem to want all of the benefits of the EU but don't want to be part of the team and pay their own full share.
Either Britain is in the same boat as the rest, pulling just as hard as the rest and in the SAME direction .. or they SHOULD throw the lifebuoy out .. jump .. and sink or swim alone.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby charliepanayi » Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:18 pm UTC

This is likely to be four months of both sides declaring all the catastrophes that will occur if the other side wins (see also: the Scottish independence referendum). It's already tedious.

I'd like to hope the Remain vote wins, and I think they will, if only because people love endorsing the status quo in referenda (referendums?). There are a lot of Little Englanders in the UK though, so you never know. If the Remain side wins, it won't be by much anyway and the issue won't be put to bed in the slightest. The only silver lining if we do vote to leave will be seeing this daft gamble blowing up in Cameron's smug face, and he can always be remembered as the PM who broke up the UK.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby HES » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:08 pm UTC

An election, you can fix your mistake five years later. But an out vote is forever. And when it turns out all the supposed benefits fail to materialise, and when we can't negotiate better trade/travel deals with the people we just told to fuck off, we've screwed ourselves forever.

You can't fix an organisation from the outside.


To answer the OP, an 'out' vote is plausible enough for me to worry. I might even actively campaign on the 'in' side.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:27 pm UTC

Well, I'm a Brit who is pretty neutral on the EU. I'm inclined to the status quo. I wouldn't vote for Brexit, right now, but I also would not vote for a closer Brentry if that came up. It seems to work well enough, as is, but that's just an impression, given the impossibility of a proper comparison... (Well, how would you run a double-blind study on the issue?)

Everybody is overstating their own positions (the benefits of leaving and the dangers of staying / the benefits of staying and the dangers of leaving), and all the usual bigmouths are being as obnoxious about it as they always are. I dislike Cameron, I dislike Farage, I've got little love for any of the usual suspects. Although I'll doubtless be forced to start paying attention to which way everyone is 'swinging'.

All I know is that my vote won't change the final result, as with most things. At best, any swing in my own opinion might reflect changes in the national barometer on this issue, but right now I'm just sitting here and waiting for something convincing (not the oft-repeated "<foo>% of British Laws are created by the EU" fallacy, nor the "we wouldn't be able to trade with the EU if we left" argument, either) in the next few months. Perhaps I'll get a revelation... Perhaps the world will end first. One can always hope.

(HES's ninjaing point, above, is somewhat valid. Although if we're outside the system (not Norway/Switzerland outside, but completely - that might depend on the relative strength of the Brexit tendency when the time comes, and I'm not sure it would get that far) then we probably wouldn't want to fix it, because we're no longer actually bound by the 'errors' in it. And I know some people who would rather like to be on the outside of the tent pissing in. I don't agree with them, but it's a position with its own arguments.)

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Grop » Sun Feb 21, 2016 1:57 am UTC

Doesn't the UK have this talk several times a year? I am not certain what would change at all. They have been part of the EU while not really being in for all that time.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Roamin » Sun Feb 21, 2016 9:54 am UTC

Although born in London, early years in Kenya and living in nine different countries .. including several times in England (and Scotland) I still feel for my English heritage.

However it gives one a wider view on the subject of nationality and nationalism ..

When I'm in the UK it's so easy to see the Island Mentality of most Brits ... so insular in their thinking. Many still thinking that the GREAT in Great Britain still means something .. not realizing that the Great never was in terms of Large or Impressive in the first place anyway (just the consolidation of the Scottish & English parliaments in the 1800's :) ).
Many Brits still live mentally in the past, in the days of the Empire when Britain had genuine power and a major voice in world politics not realising that those days are long long gone and that it's really now just an island(s) off the coast of Europe. It took Rome (Italians) centuries to accept that their Empire was no longer and their voice was just another little peep amongst the rest.

That many of the leaders in Europe are trying to keep the UK within the EU, I'm pretty sure it's more a matter of an image question than need.
If UK left, it would give a dent to the image of the EU but in real terms the EU doesn't NEED UK at all... and honestly it would be better off without the UK, always wanting 'Special Treatment' like a load of spoilt childen.

One thing I'm pretty sure of .. UK would soon rue the day they left. They would then be just the same as any other country in the world outside the EU.
Want to export goods to the EU .. then there are tariffs to pay. UK citizens can't just come and work here any more .. special limited term work permits would then apply. Freedom of movement withing the EU no longer applies for UK citizens.
It would soon be felt in the economy .. being a pariah may be a heavy word but Brits would definitely no longer be 'one of us' and they'd sure leave a bad taste within Europe and that wouldn't be without consequence.

The pound has dropped from 1.42 to 1.28 against the Euro in the last few months since the talk of the referendum became more serious and more are talking for exit .. and that's not for nothing .. it bodes not well for the UK.

Shame to say .. but if the UK want to continue to have their cake and eat it too then I hope the Brexits win .. and feel the consequence.
I'm personally sick and tired of the childish whinging.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:31 pm UTC

"Island Mentality" and "insular" are of course pretty much de rigueur for, as you point out, an island/group-of-islands.

(The "Great" does mean "Large", but not in the impressive/powerful sense. At one point (in Greek, originally) to distinguish the main Britain that is the 'British mainland' from the next largest land-mass of the British Isles that is the island of Ireland; at a later date (now with Latin as the source) it was to distinguish "Greater Britain" (as best translation) was used to differentiate the core Celtic (considered 'Brittanic') tribal areas from their "Lesser Britain" exclave within with the modern bounds of France that is now roughly identified as Brittany.)

Thus post-Union (Scotland and England(-and-already-Wales!)) it was the country of the whole of Great Britain, later to be Great Britain And Ireland, later yet to be Great Britain And Northern Ireland. (Ironically, the Northern Irish majority seem to be those who have most consistently considered themselves to be "British", over and above the English (who have, for much of my life, usually been quite reticent about the Union Flag) or Welsh or Scottish (who have sufficient local nationalism, even without a desire for independence, and it it is generally best you don't call them English!)...


The biggest problem I see with Brexit is Ireland. The island of. Our only land-border, excluding the technicalities of the Chunnel, with the (rest-of-the-)EU, and one that has only just recently become relatively unguarded (definitely down from its peak, during the heights of The Troubles). A process that would necessarily have to be reversed, if we were 'out' of the system.

That's before we consider Scottish independence (so that they may hope to rejoin the EU), and possibly even Welsh sensibilities (though probably less so, and they were famously missed off of a map of Europe, in the past!). The first problem would be whether the Northern Irish would rather have a border-with-Europe where they once had a border-with-the-Republic, or would their desire to remain in the EU send them in the direction of the Reunited Ireland?

(Then consider the Isle Of Man, Channel Islands, etc. British Crown Dependencies, each, or some-such description. I think both remain outside the EU, but already with special Customs provisions. Either way, I foresee that even more complicated matters, especially when it comes to increased smuggling opportunities.)

But, again, that just highlights some of the insular nature of various 'British' forms of patriotism. I don't pretend to understand it all, and I live here... Born-and-bred!

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby HES » Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:35 pm UTC

Roamin wrote:Shame to say .. but if the UK want to continue to have their cake and eat it too then I hope the Brexits win .. and feel the consequence.

Yes, but then I have to face the consequences as well.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Mutex » Sun Feb 21, 2016 3:36 pm UTC

HES wrote:
Roamin wrote:Shame to say .. but if the UK want to continue to have their cake and eat it too then I hope the Brexits win .. and feel the consequence.

Yes, but then I have to face the consequences as well.

And the people responsible won't actually notice their ideology has been tested and proven wrong. They never do.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Angua » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:16 am UTC

I really hope that we stay in the EU.

Not the least because without the EWTD I'm going to be even more screwed than I already am.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:49 am UTC

I think I'm in the out camp, with the thing that tips the balance being that I do enjoy a good bit of political chaos :)

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby elasto » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:54 am UTC

My highly inexpert English opinion: I would vote to stay in for the following reasons:
- Yes, we could probably negotiate trade deals roughly as good as we have now - but, as others have said, a vote to leave couldn't be viewed as anything but a poke in the eye by the rest of Europe, so it might take years to get there. There might be a lot of petty snubs, foot-dragging and score-evening to get past first.
- Scotland and Ireland would be a mess, as also stated. Scotland would almost certainly vote to leave the UK and join the EU, giving us an open land border with the EU through which any European terrorist or black market worker could walk through. Ok so they can get in easily right now too but my point is leaving the EU wouldn't really make us any safer. And, Ireland could become a political quagmire as stated.

Much of the 'renegotiation' Cameron has been involved with is a nonsense - for example the paying of lower rates of child benefit to those with children overseas: I read that that only accounts for 0.1% of our child benefit budget. A meaningless battle made purely for show.

I blame both our political parties: Migrants are of net economic benefit to the tune of billions of pounds. Both political parties just swallowed the income into general taxation instead of investing it in building new housing, new schooling etc. You only have to fly into the UK to see that we have MASSES of green land even in the South East. We are nowhere near to full up - we just need(ed) to invest in new infrastructure, which would have the side benefit of generating lots of new jobs, a bump to GDP etc.

Fear of immigration is the sole driver behind this populist drive to cut ties with the EU, and that's because of spectacular mismanagement, in the main by Blair and Brown. eg. Brown mortgaged our futures to ridiculous PFI deals - and now, ironically, conditions could hardly be better for borrowing money on the international markets for investing in long-term projects, with long-term low rates of interest; If we borrowed and invested now we could reap the benefits for a generation to come. But we get the politicians and economic policies we deserve I suppose :/

I think the UK has mostly the best of both worlds right now (many of the benefits of being part of the EU; many of the drawbacks opted out of). I fear we might end up with the worst of both worlds if we exit - for a decade or so at least. Over the long run it's probably a complete coin-flip as to which is better...

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:09 am UTC

Mass immigration naturally improves GDP, but its suppressing per capita

So long as you agree with the dodgy assumptions in the latest reports (and some were very ropey) Eastern EU migrants barely cover their own tax / benefit cost whilst none of them are old (Old EU, generally being high skilled are net benefits - except the French of course)

Ultimately though being middle class I gain from it in cheaper services, the working class - well I'm surprised at how calm they've taken the last 20 years

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby elasto » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:50 pm UTC

leady wrote:Mass immigration naturally improves GDP, but its suppressing per capita

Depends how you do it. Personally I would have taken the profits from immigration and used it for mass building of new public housing - which would also go to suppress private rent rises - providing a double boost to the standard of living of the working classes. Suppressing per-capita income doesn't matter so much if the same money goes further. As a bonus, new public housing stock would cover its costs in only a couple of decades and then be providing rich returns to the government / the people.

Also I wouldn't have tax credits and such set up the way they currently are. But that's outside the scope of this thread.
Ultimately though being middle class I gain from it in cheaper services, the working class - well I'm surprised at how calm they've taken the last 20 years

I don't disagree. Both the middle and working classes could have had much greater improvements in standards of living over the last two decades and every government has failed badly in this regard.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

There were no profits on immigration in the UK as a whole in fact going back from the start in the 1950s through to today its been a massive net negative with everyone added in. You can't build public services with negative money :) and in the reports only the incremental costs had been assigned so no military or policing additions as they are consider fixed cost (which is of course a nonsense given that young males commit like all crime :)) and no pensions either for recent arrivals (another piece of nonsense).

basically the per capita problem is a real problem. One of my strong suspicions for both the UK and US is that inequality has ballooned through the heavy taxation of the middle class to pay for the importation of poverty, basically screwing everyone bar the capital rich.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby elasto » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:13 pm UTC

leady wrote:There were no profits on immigration in the UK as a whole in fact going back from the start in the 1950s through to today its been a massive net negative with everyone added in.

Well, we could fight your studies against mine which report that immigrants add billions of added value to the economy but that's pretty pointless since neither of us are experts - and even the experts disagree. You can find an economist to back up any opinion you like after all.

One of my strong suspicions for both the UK and US is that inequality has ballooned through the heavy taxation of the middle class to pay for the importation of poverty, basically screwing everyone bar the capital rich.

Don't really see how that's possible given that taxation has generally fallen rather than risen over the decades. The issue is that in the 1950s, a family could have a good middle-class existence with a single wage earner - whereas half a century later, you need two people in full time jobs - and probably both working overtime - to achieve the same lifestyle. A big part of that is the insane growth in house prices, but there are other factors too like student debt now vs apprenticeship schemes then.

Imo, the reason for inequality growing is that efficiency gains from globalisation and improved technology have gone into increased returns to capital investors rather than increases to wages. You can see this anywhere from how CEO remuneration has risen 1000% over the last 30 years, to how Apple has hundreds of billions in cash sitting offshore.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:39 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Well, we could fight your studies against mine which report that immigrants add billions of added value to the economy but that's pretty pointless since neither of us are experts - and even the experts disagree. You can find an economist to back up any opinion you like after all.


This is by the official study from 2012, which showed a massive (read trivial) surplus from the immigrants from the former eastern block of £4bn over 10 years since the ascension treaty. The same report showed the real costs of mass unskilled immigration with its massive £256bn deficit for non-EU migrants for the same period (i.e. ex commonwealth that had the temerity to stay and get old whilst bringing their entire extended families over). Its hardly advanced economics to realise that bar essential low skilled work, the UK being an incredibly expensive place is not the best place to have gangs picking vegetables etc or run basic production lines.

Don't really see how that's possible given that taxation has generally fallen rather than risen over the decades. The issue is that in the 1950s, a family could have a good middle-class existence with a single wage earner - whereas half a century later, you need two people in full time jobs - and probably both working overtime - to achieve the same lifestyle. A big part of that is the insane growth in house prices, but there are other factors too like student debt now vs apprenticeship schemes then.


the nominal top rate in the UK maybe lower, but the boundaries have also sneakily become lowered such that it now catches millions. How much you tax the top 2% + is not irrelevant but its less important than hitting the top 20% with 50%+ incremental tax I suspect is.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby elasto » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:12 pm UTC

leady wrote:This is by the official study from 2012, which showed a massive (read trivial) surplus from the immigrants from the former eastern block of £4bn over 10 years since the ascension treaty. The same report showed the real costs of mass unskilled immigration with its massive £256bn deficit for non-EU migrants for the same period (i.e. ex commonwealth that had the temerity to stay and get old whilst bringing their entire extended families over).

Even if I accept that, it doesn't aid the Brexit argument one bit: So non-EU migration (which we could have curtailed at any time) cost us money but EU-migration (which is what Brexit would allow us to curtail) made us money?

The twisted logic at play there reminds me of how Cameron has made it much harder for foreign students to stay in the UK following the end of their studies purely to improve the headline numbers - despite how I think we'd both agree that young, healthy, educated workers are exactly what any economy should be fighting to invite in - but Cameron chooses to appease the Daily Mail xenophobes rather than make the case for doing the right thing for the country and the economy.

And putting all that to one side, I find it hard to accept a purely economic analysis anyhow. So a doctor immigrates and an economist works out they pay in $x more in taxes than they receive in benefits. How do you factor in that they save person X from losing their legs, increasing their quality of life - and meaning they remain a net tax contributor rather than a massive burden on the state? Or a firefighter immigrates and stops a building burning down, saving the economy £z,000?

And what about the effect of the children of immigrants? Steve Jobs is the child of immigrants; the taxes Apple does pay covers the shortfall of an awful lot of less productive ones...

Anyhow, there have been plenty of threads here about immigration; I don't think we should turn this thread into another one of those.

the nominal top rate in the UK maybe lower, but the boundaries have also sneakily become lowered such that it now catches millions. How much you tax the top 2% + is not irrelevant but its less important than hitting the top 20% with 50%+ incremental tax I suspect is.

Even if I accept that (does it take into account, for example, that the middle classes over the last few decades have tended to be home-owners, and so if they have paid slightly more tax, their properties have gone up in value way more than any loss of income), I don't believe it is true in the US, so your thesis that it is increased taxation of the middle classes that has provoked increased inequality would not seem to hold there:

Federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows,[1] according to the latest available data. That’s true both for federal income taxes and total federal taxes.[2]

Income taxes: A family of four in the exact middle of the income spectrum filing its taxes for 2013 this filing season paid only 5.3 percent of its 2013 income in federal income taxes, according to estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC).[3] Average income tax rates for these typical families have been lower during the Bush and Obama Administrations than at any time since the 1950s. (See Figure 1.) As discussed below, 2009 and 2010 were particularly low because of the temporary Making Work Pay Tax Credit.

Overall federal taxes: Overall federal taxes — which include income, payroll, and excise taxes, and imputed corporate taxes — on middle-income households in 2009 were at their lowest levels in decades, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

---

Federal income taxes on middle-income families have declined significantly in recent decades. In 1998-2000, the years before the 2001 tax cut enacted by President Bush and Congress, the median-income family of four paid roughly 8.0 percent of its income in individual income taxes, according to TPC estimates — a smaller share than in any year since 1967.[4]

The Bush tax cuts further reduced taxes for middle-income taxpayers, and the 2012 “fiscal cliff” bill (the American Taxpayer Relief Act) made these middle-income tax cuts permanent.

TPC estimates that the median-income family of four paid 5.3 percent of its 2013 income in federal income taxes when it filed its return this year.


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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:24 pm UTC

elasto wrote:And putting all that to one side, I find it hard to accept a purely economic analysis anyhow. So a doctor immigrates and an economist works out they pay in $x more in taxes than they receive in benefits. How do you factor in that they save person X from losing their legs, increasing their quality of life - and meaning they remain a net tax contributor rather than a massive burden on the state? Or a firefighter immigrates and stops a building burning down, saving the economy £z,000?


Any analysis of benefits will end up being a largely economic one.

The whole reason we pay wages for firefighting, doctoring, etc is because they provide a useful, beneficial service. Money describes the value we place on that relative to other things. While I don't have a side of preference for this particular fight, looking at economic benefits when evaluating immigration seems quite reasonable.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:51 pm UTC

Even if I accept that, it doesn't aid the Brexit argument one bit: So non-EU migration (which we could have curtailed at any time) cost us money but EU-migration (which is what Brexit would allow us to curtail) made us money?


Basically (if you accept the report) it showed the brutal reality of the Ponzi scheme that shores up the British welfare system. Unsurprisingly if low paid workers abide in the UK for their entire lives then they cost the public coffers a crap load - this should be unsurprising but I don't think many people quite grasp the imbalance of tax vs benefits in the west. So best avoid importing more via almost any route.

Of course how this applies to Brexit is a wider question, after all a lot of people are less concerned with financial considerations than they probably should be. All I know is that when my wet lefty friends find it disconcerting enough to notice that there are no English people any more (hyperbole alert) then there is probably an issue. Ironically I kind of like the sullen, heavy drinking eastern block culture (to generalise to hell) so the fact that I seem to live in a weird combination of the Baltics and central Europe is fine :)

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:26 pm UTC

As a sciencer - I would really, really like us to stay in the EU. I have no idea what kind of romper room fuckery will happen if we just throw all our toys out of the pram with regards to science in the EU and collaborative work. One of the reasons why we have such great collaborations and such awesome prospects for science in the UK is the multiculturalism of our science (for me, physics) departments. Why have the best of just the UK when we could have the best of all of Europe?

I don't want to see it become any harder for sciencers to come over here and do great work.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby felltir » Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:42 pm UTC

That applies to what I do (programming) as well.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby cphite » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:32 pm UTC

Fractal_Tangent wrote:As a sciencer - I would really, really like us to stay in the EU. I have no idea what kind of romper room fuckery will happen if we just throw all our toys out of the pram with regards to science in the EU and collaborative work. One of the reasons why we have such great collaborations and such awesome prospects for science in the UK is the multiculturalism of our science (for me, physics) departments. Why have the best of just the UK when we could have the best of all of Europe?

I don't want to see it become any harder for sciencers to come over here and do great work.


I'm an American who doesn't follow the EU so I apologize if this is an ignorant question... but is it really so all or nothing? Is it not possible for the UK to leave the EU but also maintain the same (or at least similar) standards when it comes to things like letting in science-folk and collaborating and so forth? I ask because I keep hearing arguments (not just on this forum) that suggest that the only two options are staying in the EU and being part of Europe; or leaving the EU and being isolated from Europe. Is there nothing in between?

Couldn't the UK and France (for example) decide that, even if the UK isn't actually in the EU anymore, that free travel and trade between the two is of mutual benefit and therefore something that should be maintained?

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:44 pm UTC

So obviously it's not all or nothing. But the freedom to work anywhere in the EU is really important because it allows people to move around the EU to the best universities/funding/collaborators are with a lot more ease than they would be able to otherwise. There's also PhD funding that's earmarked for people in the EU only and I'm sure that there's other funding issues that would come about from leaving the EU.

I know that ESA (the European Space Agency) and ESO (European Southern Observatory) are not specifically part of the EU (which makes my life a little bit easier because ESO is important to me), but I am pretty sure that there are probably pros with having EU membership with these organizations.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:10 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure all the stuff like free travel into EU, all the science stuff etc will end up unchanged. The interesting question is what price France & Poland will extract for entry into a free trade area.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:20 pm UTC

leady wrote:I'm pretty sure all the stuff like free travel into EU, all the science stuff etc will end up unchanged. The interesting question is what price France & Poland will extract for entry into a free trade area.

...Do you know that for sure? Because it's the being able to work in other countries not just the free travel that's really important. Being able to work in short term contracts (max 3 years) is really important for physicists at the start of their careers. It's important to be flexible with where you can work because post docs are extremely competitive. We're shooting our science in the foot if we can't guarantee that our scientists can work in the EU easily as well as people coming here.

I don't think that you can fix that with some hand wavy 'I'm sure all the science stuff etc will end up unchanged' because it's work being done by immigrants, they just happen to be doing something that people think might be useful.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:48 pm UTC

How can anyone be sure, but I just don't see any political capital in blocking the free movement of phd physicists and so it won't happen (and never did pre-1974?). Nor do I see EU students being blocked either way.

What it will come down to is the cost of free trade vs freedom of travel and work. I suspect we will have to bribe Poland :)

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Vahir » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:23 am UTC


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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Angua » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:33 am UTC

I don't know, do physicists make more than £35 000/year? Because given the government is fine for that to block nurses coming into the country, I don't see why they'll care about anyone else - and it's not like we're managing to train enough of our own. Given that a large point of moving out of the EU seems to be people not liking free movement, I can't see how anything will stay just as easy.

Please do not take this post as me saying that physicists should not be valued....
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:36 am UTC

cphite wrote:I'm an American who doesn't follow the EU so I apologize if this is an ignorant question... but is it really so all or nothing? Is it not possible for the UK to leave the EU but also maintain the same (or at least similar) standards when it comes to things like letting in science-folk and collaborating and so forth? I ask because I keep hearing arguments (not just on this forum) that suggest that the only two options are staying in the EU and being part of Europe; or leaving the EU and being isolated from Europe. Is there nothing in between?

Couldn't the UK and France (for example) decide that, even if the UK isn't actually in the EU anymore, that free travel and trade between the two is of mutual benefit and therefore something that should be maintained?

No, it's not all or nothing. But it's very uncertain how the in-between situation would look like. There is no precedent. If it was easy to set up international cooperation, then the EU wouldn't exist. The difficulty is that every is tied together in some way or another. You want scientific cooperation. Does it mean scientists get to work freely in other countries? Where do they pay taxes? What about jobs for their partners? What if they change jobs afterwards? How do you organize funding? Who sets priorities? Now that you have this group of well-funded scientists, where are they going to be based and spend on the local economy? Where will they buy expensive equipment? What do other countries get, if they miss out on some of the benefits of this particular project? Etc.

And that's just science, a small and isolated part of society. You get such questions on every issue, often with much heavier stakes involved. The EU has been a decades-long diplomatic project to guide such matters. If the UK leaves, they couldn't organize a replacement in the best of circumstances. Let alone if they have the reputation to blow up agreements on a whim.

This might be harder to see from an American perspective - the US makes bilateral agreements all the time. But they are "agreements" in a very limited sense - the US writes the terms, except for some minor points, then other countries sign on the dotted line. The UK won't have that position.

An often mentioned alternative is to do like Norway or Switzerland, who mostly sign the dotted lines of EU terms but get to choose for which parts they sign on. That's acceptable for them - they are small countries, they know that they wouldn't have much influence on the details if they were in the EU either. For the UK, we'd have to imagine a hypothetical anti-EU majority who will also easily agree on deals on terms set by the EU.

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby HES » Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:03 am UTC

leady wrote:I'm pretty sure all the stuff like free travel into EU, all the science stuff etc will end up unchanged.

Hahahahahaha. Deam on.

It's not just a collaborative thing, which I'm sure the scientists would endeavour to continue, it's that the bulk of science funding comes from the EU. If we can't properly fund our emergency services thanks to austerity measures, why the hell would the government fund the advancement of humanity?

And if we keep free travel into the EU, that's not going to happen without free travel from the EU. And since migration (read: racism) is one of the main sticking points of Brexit, they've not gained anything.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:32 am UTC

To be accurate the British tax payer gives the EU £20bn a year to get some of it back in terms of science funding. The EU funds nothing, its a legal fiction like the UK government :) Naturally that's not to say that the UK parliament might take different decisions, but at least they will be decisions taken more locally (which itself has +ves and -ves).

The practical free movement of people is going nowhere, the debate is about the right of abode and work, not tourism. The UK isn't in Shengen today, so passport checks are going to remain, the Irish border not withstanding (Ireland and the UKs relationship for all the explosions has always remained a mini union in a union). General business requirements already cover the need for foreign companies to be able to conduct business in the UK with foreign nationals. One imagines that as a base guide the standards applied to the states and Canadians would be carried over to the EU, i.e. an annoying long term business visa process :)

But yes there are a fair number of UK nationals around the EU, primarily in Germany that may get screwed by the decision (or rather may need to get local residency). I tend to agree there is a fair amount of xenophobia in the decision (but I don't necessarily see xenophobia in the national interest the self evident problem its supposed to be)

I imagine even in the event of a leave vote, it will take 2 years to negotiate an exit - and it wouldn't surprise me if we have another GE before anything final happened

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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:51 am UTC

leady, I don't think that you're providing anything substantial to back up your claims that it will probably all be fine other than vague 'I'm sure it will work out for the best'isms.

The EU is massively important when it comes to things like the ability for physicists to get jobs, their partners to move jobs easily (as EDIT: Zamfir HES said but I totally forgot about) and to keep ideas moving around. From the small amount of work I've done in the scientific community: there is specific PhD funding earmarked for countries within the EU - we won't have access to this any more, cutting down on the amount of PhD students that we will have. There is funding for post docs, which (because they are extremely competitive, only about 10% of PhD students carry on to get post docs, at least in physics) is strictly for countries in the EU. Grants for travel - earmarked for EU countries only - which will stop some of our scientists being able to go to conferences.

Being able to work in other EU countries is a must - as I said, the post doc situation is incredibly competitive, if you're serious about being an academic, you have to be able to move pretty much anywhere in the world. So being able to work in the EU without that much hassle is very important. Cutting back on the ability to work in the EU is (as Angua said) probably not going to be saved, given that they don't give a shit about nurses.
Last edited by Fractal_Tangent on Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:47 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British EU referendum in June

Postby leady » Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:59 am UTC

you could well be right and to be honest in that position undoubtedly I'd vote on my personal stability too

I just think most of the unknown fears are not going to play out in practice. The UK government funds science today both directly and indirectly and used to be the sole funder back in the olden days. I'm not saying that's a strong reason for leaving or staying in practice except for people directly affected.


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