In a little over three weeks time, British voters will go to the polls with the possibility of the country leaving the European Union. Although we’ve become used to the referendum and all that has come with it, we should pause for a moment to reflect on how amazing it is that the plebiscite is happening at all. It’s almost like if we had a really left-wing government and they held a referendum on whether or not to abolish money. But we are where we are.
Then let us reflect on other things that could very well happen over the next year: Donald Trump could become president of the United States; Marine Le Pen could become president of France; North Korea could develop long range nuclear weapons powerful enough to strike the United States of America – and if the regime topples there, who knows who inherits these bombs; Russia could invade one of the Baltic countries, leading either to further capitulation to Putin (and then who knows what comes next) or World War III. None of these things could happen. But then again, all of them could happen. Each one is within very acceptable limits of possibility.
I am not one to speak of apocalyptic scenarios by nature. I tend to try and be positive about human affairs, and I do have a post-enlightenment view of progress being the arrow of mankind. But when you think about President Trump trying to deal with a rampant Putin and a Europe that is disintegrating and becoming more fascistic as it does so, then it’s hard not to get a little jumpy.
This is before we get into the mess in the Middle East with Daesh or climate change or the fact that most economists think we’re due for another recession, something which could be the sledgehammer that makes all of this horrible stuff happening even more likely.
You want a good reason to vote to stay in the EU? It isn’t because it will make Vladimir Putin unhappy. It’s that by leaving the EU, we would almost certainly set in train a bunch of other EU countries leaving said union and the whole thing collapsing, thus encouraging Putin to invade the Baltics, thus starting World War III. Perhaps that is a worst case scenario – but it’s a pretty terrible one to have set off if came to fruition, don’t you think? Gove’s idea that the EU falling apart would let “democracy spring forth” across the continent is easily the stupidest idea he’s ever put forth. The demise of the European Union would, at least in the short term, be catastrophically horrible for Europe, and the extremist wave that is just barely being kept at bay (recall the recent Austrian presidential election as an example) would finally burst the dam.
All of that would be reason enough for me to vote to Stay In, but that’s just me, I guess. Perhaps the fact that a Russian invasion of Europe and nuclear bombs falling on American cities at a time when the US stands to elect a president who will make George W Bush look like Abraham Lincoln has me a little overly worried.