The countdown to the #EUref – Ben Goldacre

The following is by Ben Goldacre. Full credit to him and do visit his site at

Why I am voting Remain.
by Ben Goldacre, aged 41.

A smaller democracy will not be  “more representative”.

The UK government is no more under your control than the EU. Diluting your vote one in 65m or one in 500m amounts to the same thing: no control. You couldn’t get political agreement from the people in one family, one pub, or one bus. You can’t “vote them out”, you’ve never done that, stop pretending you can do it in the future. Politics is about compromise: terrible, soul-destroying, mature compromise with other people, most of whom are awful. Your local council don’t represent your views and values any better than your MEP.  

Immigration is just going to happen.

In or out of the EU, there will be lots, and lots of immigration: bad luck if you don’t like that. We’re perfectly able to control non-EU immigration, right now, and yet no government ever does. They never will. This is not the fault of the EU, it’s more complicated than that. Deal with it. Immigration will never stop.

“Straining” schools, waiting lists, and hospitals are your fault.

This is not the fault of the EU. It’s your fault. It’s happened slowly. The UK has failed to build houses, failed to train hospital staff, failed to invest in the NHS, failed to build schools. Your country. Your UK. Your government. Your fault. Nobody else. The NHS is staffed by immigrants, they keep it running, they will save your life and build your house. Don’t try to blame them for things that are your fault.  

The EU is a good shot at preserving peace.

Remember that news story about the British generals who think we should leave the EU because NATO preserves peace, not the EU? These are bad generals who only know about guns. Russia right now is an odd, aggressive country. But they didn’t show up at the Ukrainian border with tanks, out of the blue: they manufactured a social and economic pretext before they rolled in. A strong EU makes this kind of pretext harder to contrive. You want to be good close friends with all your neighbours, and their neighbours, as far as the eye can see. That’s how you hold a line that preserves peace: by sharing friendship, sharing trade, and sharing grumbles about crap admin in Brussels. You do not preserve peace by buying and using weapons.

Brexit use language that’s targeted at losers.

The Brexit campaign talk about “taking control”, about “building an optimistic future” for yourself. These are things you say to losers: to people who feel they have no control, or a gloomy future. It’s the language of crap self-help books in airport bookshops. You are better than that.

Countries come and go.

Right now, people talk about Eastern Europeans like they’re biologically destined to be parasites, because their countries are poorer, and some of their citizens travel for work. That could change, really fast. Polish people are not a biologically inferior race: they lived under communism for four decades, and now they’re catching up. Poland has the fastest growing economy in Europe (faster than Central Europe, faster than the EU-15). Warsaw is full of skyscrapers. Be nice. Make friends now. Cement those ties to a large, fast growing European economy with a rich cultural history.  

Brexit will hurt the economy.

This means your children and neighbours. Stop pretending you don’t care. Just vote remain. It’s boring, there’s nothing awesome about it, but sometimes you have to take a break from useful productive work to stop idiots breaking things.

Ben Goldacre