Barlow's Beef: Has the EU debate left you confused?


Like most people I've swung this way and that on my voting intentions in the forthcoming EU Referendum. Over the past few weeks the quality of debate from both sides has degenerated from calmly expressed opinion through wild speculation to all out fear-mongering.

Do I believe a billion immigrants will storm into the UK if we remain within the EU? Not really.

Do I think house prices will collapse or mass unemployment follow our exit? Absolutely not.

Will working conditions revert back to the Victorian era and all employment rights workers have gained over the past century cease to exist should we leave? Give over. Stuffing small children up chimneys disappeared with coal fires and chamber pots.

Will opting out give us billions of extra funds to improve public services? Given the proclivity of politicians for squeezing the least benefit from the maximum investment I doubt we would see any change.

So... what do I believe?

I believe that no one really knows what will happen should we vote to leave the EU. There's a myriad of claims and counter-claims but the only real certainties are:

We are heading towards a Federal Europe.
Given we have waited 41 years to for this referendum it's unlikely we will ever have another.

I shall dismiss all the speculation and make my mind based upon whether I prefer to be part of a Federal Europe or an independent United Kingdom.

This Referendum is my last chance to influence the outcome.

Considering the idiotic statements made by politicians of all persuasions and the monumental blunders made by them in the past (Weapons of Mass Destruction, bank bonuses, pledging to reduce net immigration below 100,00 etc) I don't have any faith in political forecasts.

I suggest you make your own mind up based on your own beliefs.

If a Federal Europe is for you that's the way to go if not... get out now while you have the chance. Everything else is pure speculation.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlows Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alan R Davies
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 8:53 am
Vic Barlow criticises scaremongering and then resorts to scaremongering about a "Federal Europe". You just could not make it up. Isn't it about time you gave some coverage to the views of our local MP on this subject, rather than appearing partisan on behalf of the Leave campaign?
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 11:11 am
"Ever closer union", has always been a fundamental aim of the European Union. That must mean either federation or a single entity. Federation is obviously more probable. What you appear to mean is that this situation will not soon come about. Here, as with Turkish Membership and an EU Army, the EU is the only major organisation whose supporter's best argument is that it will never achieve its stated objectives. One notes, however, that many such objectives, notwithstanding earlier denials, have in fact come to pass, see, for example, the Lisbon Treaty.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 11:28 am
@ Alan: our local MP has failed every target that he has set himself since becoming Chancellor. As far as I am aware he has not asked his constituents how they feel about leaving the EU; that being the case, how can he represent his constituency on this matter. Any feeling he expresses must therefore be personal.

This whole affair has turned into a megaphone shouting match; any thin veneer of Party solidarity shattered instantly, with slanging matches from all sides against members of their own parties. This shows just what a sham our party political system has turned into.
Mabel Taylor
Tuesday 14th June 2016 at 7:22 pm
We have been bombarded over the past few months with propaganda as to whether we should vote to remain in the EU or to leave.
However if we turn the clock back to the time before we joined the EEC (a trading union we were told) we were already trading with Europe under the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) and most people thought the new agreement was merely an enlargement of an already mutually beneficial trading arrangement, with a small number of other European countries- bear in mind the big threat in those days was from the Soviet Union and its satellites states.
Travel in Europe was problem-free , and the UK prospered with a vibrant fishing industry and UK manufacturing industries.
Fast forward to to-day and we are threated among other things that if we opt out we shall witness the demise of the NHS - as if the UK were not already spending a smaller percentage of Gross Domestic Product on the NHS than the amount spent on health care in about every other country in the EU!
Our over-crowded island has managed in the past to absorb millions of people fleeing persecution and prejudice but no one expected so many economic migrants from the EU to want to work in the UK, and while they may have `grown` the economy they have also placed great strain on housing, schools and the NHS. Can we continue absorb unknown numbers of incomers ?
Of course many UK citizens have chosen to live in Europe, but what we do not know if how much money leaves the UK by way of pensions paid to ex-pats, child allowances and cash remitted by EU citizens living here, and how much money the UK receives in return from ex-pats etc. remitting cash to the UK, and what impact this has, if any , on our economy .
As the UK, has lost much of its former manufacturing capacity and now relies heavily on convoluted financial services, without far more reliable unbiased information can any of us really understand the consequences of opting in or out ?
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 1:53 pm
Dear All.
Your various views are interesting, but do you all realise that the biggest problem of the EU has been brushed under the carpet, namely we have Habeus Corpus, which means if the police lock a suspect up, they either have to charge them within 3 days or release them. Only the UK and the Irish Republic have these. When Tony Blair was PM, he wanted to get rid of this, but was stopped. All the countries of the Eu have Corpus Juris system, which means there is no time limit on a similar situation in the EU. Look at recent cases on the Internet about this. I am surprised that all the rhetoric in this debate, this has been hidden from us.
As the Eu court is supreme, think what could happen.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 4:13 pm
I know on a local note. I cannot get a GP appt. Two years ago.It was the same day.Now if I want a favourate can be 3 weeks.Also The baby and mothers side is being heavily used by overseas mothers at great expense.On arriving at the practise we had one button to register.English' Now 6 languages .And this is Wilmslow!! Baz
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 4:24 pm
Today our constituency MP appears to have sealed his fate, with 60 of his own MPs having signed a public letter saying they will not support his ridiculous Brexit revenge budget. With Corbyn saying that the pro-EU labour MPs will not support it either then George looks to be toast. Hopefully he will do the decent thing, resign, and give us the chance of another Independent MP for Tatton.
Christopher Baker
Wednesday 15th June 2016 at 7:33 pm
I am waiting for the "EXIT" camp to say that they want to "take charge" of UK weather. One does not have to be blind to the imperfections of the EU to vote "REMAIN". I am not blind to the imperfections of the UK but I am not about to tear up my passport.

When expert economists, leading business managers, prize-winning scientists, etc., issue warnings of the likely consequences of a "Brexit" their response is to say "scaremongering". Which of the regular warnings issued by Government bodies (e.g., on road traffic, severe weather, terrorism, health risks, infectious diseases) do they imagine constitute scaremongering, and which of them provide reasonable people with information on problems we are likely to encounter in the absence of strategies to avoid them?

Is our future is to be determined by voters who 'know what they believe'
and whose motto is "Don't confuse me with the facts"?
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 16th June 2016 at 12:03 am
My opinion is that everybody is entitled to their own options and beliefs.

Vic statest "I believe that no one really knows what will happen should we vote to leave the EU. There's a myriad of claims and counter-claims"

I agree with that belief.

He then goes one to say "but the only real certainties are: We are heading towards a Federal Europe."

This is where our opinions and beliefs part company

I too, like Vic, do not want a Federal Europe, but my opinin is that we are not heading towards a Federal Europe. I will concede that there are certain parties in the EU who want a Federal Europe and are trying to facilitate this through EU Law. However, it does not mean that it will happen.

I hope and believe that if an EU treaty is every proposed that would enshrine the goal of a Federal European State into EU Law, then a Prime Minster of the UK would never sign it

However, if they did, I believe that there would be good and reasonable grounds for them to be arrested and charge with “HIGH TREASON”.

And then, in time be dealt with accordingly by one or all of the separate justice systems of England and Wales; Scotland and Northern Ireland. Hence rendeering the signing of the treaty null and void.
Christopher Baker
Thursday 16th June 2016 at 9:25 am
In an article (called "Ever farther union") in The Economist on Feb 27th 2016 we can read "... after two gruelling days of talks over the terms of Britain’s EU membership, Mr Cameron opened his post-summit remarks not by trumpeting the emergency brake on euro-zone integration he had just secured, nor by crowing over his success in denying benefits to EU migrant workers... Instead he highlighted the carve-out he had won for Britain from the EU treaty commitment to 'ever-closer union', a golden oldie that has infuriated British Eurosceptics for decades."

Previously, I wrote ''Is our future is to be determined by voters who 'know what they believe' and whose motto is 'Don't confuse me with the facts'? ''
In a democratic society everyone is entitled to their viewpoint and beliefs.
(Some definitions: "Opinion" - [1] a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge; [2] a statement of advice by an expert.) That said, in a matter that seriously affects the whole community, it seems appropriate to take account of known facts and expert opinion when forming one's own opinion prior to voting. (An "expert" should know, and be open about, what they do not know -- as well as what they do know!)
Vic Barlow
Thursday 16th June 2016 at 4:06 pm
in a matter that seriously affects the whole community, it seems appropriate to take account of known facts and expert opinion
As in 'Waging war re Weapons of Mass Destruction?'
Sorry Mr Baker, not trying to belittle your contribution, but after the political establishment dragged us into war on completely false information then made Mr Blair our 'Peace Envoy' I lost faith.
Christopher Baker
Saturday 18th June 2016 at 2:02 am
Mr Barlow's last contribution perhaps deserves a response.

When I wrote "When expert economists, leading business managers, prize-winning scientists, etc., issue warnings of the likely consequences of a 'Brexit' their response is to say 'scaremongering' ", I was not referring to so-called information supplied by Mr Blair, I was referring to the opinion of people who are EXPERTS in the area on which they comment. It seems just a little arrogant to assume that everyone making a statement in public is a liar because we have been misled by some prominent politicians in the past. I forget who it was who wrote " If even the Devil tells me that 2+2=4, I shall believe it."

Some sources (like the "i" newspaper, cost 40p on a weekday) have been supplying good summaries of what the EXIT and REMAIN campaigns have been claiming -- and contrasting and comparing these with more independent assessments. As I asked earlier, "Is our future is to be determined by voters who 'know what they believe' and whose motto is 'Don't confuse me with the facts' ?"
Ryan Dance
Sunday 19th June 2016 at 12:49 pm
Not in the slightest bit confused by the EU debate...I'm only confused by the remain campaign team's ability to conjure up sensationalist news story daily.

Were they not able to articulate the risks of leaving at the start of the campaign? Or have the remain campaign lost control of the PR wizards. Irritating & desperate!

With regards to so called "EXPERTS". Use the term loosely....most not only failed to predict the banking crisis....but caused it! who was in charge in the preceding years? poor governance? The same so called "EXPERTS" decided it was far too embarrassing to endure a great depression. The results of their ineptitude....resolved with a policy of quantitative easing! ...... suggest that to your bank manager when you miss manage your financial affairs!
Keith Chapman
Sunday 19th June 2016 at 4:33 pm
In 1975 when the last referendum took place there was no problem of excess net immigration because the tendency was for people to leave an underperforming UK deemed to be 'the sick man of Europe.' Following 40 years of hard graft reshaping our economy and prospering as a leading member of the EU, we seem set to throw away a winning formula with a 'leave' majority next Thursday. Net immigration may decline, but the reason will once more be relative economic failure. No-one will want to come here, as in the 1970's. Christopher Baker's voice speaks for sanity. We need of course to interrogate the opinions of economists and come to our own views. However when all informed opinion is lined up on one side, and the other side are just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best there is only one rational course of action.
David Jefferay
Sunday 19th June 2016 at 8:25 pm
The problem is, Keith, you need to question the motives that that 'informed opinion'.
Keith Chapman
Monday 20th June 2016 at 11:03 am
The Leave campaign is led by the right wing of the Conservative party and you should only vote Leave if you want a government led by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Bernard Jenkin and John Redwood, supported by Bill Cash and the UKIP wing of the party led by Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage. Doesn't sound appealing to me and like John Major I don't see more money being spent on the NHS!