In a few short weeks British people will flock to the polls (or trickle, maybe) and make one of the most important decisions of our time. Unfortunately not everyone impacted by this decision is a part of it (the rest of Europe and the world can only watch, as a growing number of people is considering a suicide bombing of the European economy). You can probably tell which way I would vote. What I find interesting though is the mixture of fact and emotion playing a part in how people make these decisions. Because politics is never just about facts, most of the time it’s actually about our feelings – we just hide that really well, especially from ourselves (yes, I include myself in this). When making a decision people make both emotional and factual arguments (and there is nothing wrong with that).
Here are some facts:
If Britain leaves the EU, there will be job losses – in both Britain and the EU. How many is anyone’s guess, this article says 100.000. Could be more, could be less (I think it’s more)
There are many EU regulations that most of the leavers probably agree with – especially when it comes to the environment and worker’s rights.
Leaving the EU will be a complicated process impacting many areas of law and anyone, including businesses who does something internationally. This starts with not being protected by EU travelling regulations and ends with family law.
Britain will lose influence in Europe. Maybe European countries shouldn’t care but Britain’s influence has been beneficial overall so we’d like you to stay, please.
The EU is only semi-democratic and has a long way to go on earning the trust of its citizens.
There is a growing mistrust in facts and those that present them to us. This is of course not typically British but rather an international phenomenon. Whether it’s the media-hating followers of Donald Trump or the right-wing demonstrators against the „Lügenpresse“ (lying press) in Germany, there is a widespread scepticism when it comes to new information. And it’s true, that it is really easy to mislead people using „facts“. We have all read the newspaper article that was not marked as commentary yet clearly biased towrads one side. One great example describing this problem can be found here. I am also critical of the press and the choices they make.
It is difficult to quantify how much emotion plays into the decisions people are making – because of course nobody says that’s why they are voting in or out. Everyone has (seemingly) good arguments for their decisions that are (supposed to be) based on facts. In my time in England I got to know some British people and here are some emotional arguments nobody is really making but that are influencing people anyways:
Europe is them and Britain is us. In my time in England I only ever heard two British people talking about Europe as if they were part of it – both of whom had grown up on the European mainland, not in Britain. This is probably the biggest emotional hurdle for many yes-voters becuase it is so wide-Spread. And why shouldn’t I feel dictated to by something I don’t feel a part of?
Britain is a great country and important to the world. We don’t need the EU for that.
Unfortunately it has yet to occur to many Brits (those I went to Uni with did not have this particular mindset, in my experience this is the older generation mostly) that the great days of colonial power are over. Yes, Britain still has a lot of influence in the world – let’s not kid ourselves. Without Britain as a mediator and/or silent partner the world would look very differently! However, one (not so small) part of Britain’s power is actually its membership in the EU. I wish more people would celebrate the positive influence Britain has had on europe and feel proud of their membership.
We saved Europe from the Nazis – and now they are telling us what to do. Seriously, British people still see themselves as the saviours of the world. I’m not saying they weren’t a great part of the effort of defeating Nazi-Germany. But let’s not forget the USA, Russia and all those other countries around the world without whose support it would never have happened. I am grateful to all of them – including the British whose sacrifice made it possible for me to grow up in a free country.
I don’t like so many foreign people coming to Britain. (Okay, this argument people actually do talk about, though they cover it in unemployment and housing problems.) And then there are others who celebrate the new opportunities immigration brings to Britain.
Have anything to add? I don’t know whether people should use their emotions or facts to make political decisions. Becuase there are other decisions when my only arguments for my side are emotional (eg. it is simply wrong to let people die on the borders of Europe). I keep hoping for the best and pray that in June the British go out and vote and make the right decision.