Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Whether you're Brexit or Remainian, you need to think carefully

By Lindy McDowell

Published 24/02/2016

Trolley dash: Boris Johnston admitted he wants to check out from the EU
Trolley dash: Boris Johnston admitted he wants to check out from the EU

Is BoJo the Trump of Brexit? Six months ago that sentence wouldn't even have made sense. It doesn't make a whole lot even now, you might argue. But at least you get the gist. Dominating the political headlines on either side of the Atlantic we now have two fabulously wealthy men whose main appeal seems to be bad haircuts, big gobs and a talent for "connecting with the masses". However you define/explain that last bit.

Like Trump, Boris is a ferociously ambitious player. For Boris, Brexit isn't specifically about getting out of Europe. It's about Boris getting in to Number 10.

Tellingly until his Big Announcement earlier this week he was refusing to say which way the wind was blowing chez Johnson. Was he for Brexit? Would he remain what's been dubbed Remainian?

Refusal to reveal is always a clever way of ratcheting up attention. But if we are to believe Boris, he'd actually still been trying to make up his mind.

In his own words, up until close to decision day, he was "veering all over the place like a supermarket trolley". (A supermarket trolley which presumably did not conform to EU guidance on supermarket trolley wheel alignment.)

But now, as has been comprehensively confirmed, Boris finally is off his trolley.

He's heading for the Brussels checkout confident there's a better deal to be had on the Out side.

Not to mention lots of publicity for himself between now and polling day.

I'm just impressed that he has seemingly gone from a Don't Know to Nigel Farage in a matter of a few days. He has gone from ditherer to standard bearer faster than you could say politico-economic union of 28 member states.

Where does that sort of certainty suddenly spring from?

Here in Northern Ireland we have our own ditherer - sort of.

Mike Nesbitt and the UUP have been accused of "dithering" over which way they're going to jump although, in fairness, this caution seems to stem from the desire to have a proper in-party debate about what is really a very major issue before rushing to embrace either the In or the Out camp.

In political circles dithering never gets a great name. There's probably even an EU directive banning fence-sitting on the grounds of health and safety and non-compatibility with fence construction best practices.

But actually there's nothing wrong with a bit of a dither. Sometimes, anyway. We have until the end of June to get our heads around the different arguments (if ever we do). We all need to calm down a bit.

What startles me is that so many people who have much the same grasp as myself on global economics (ie none) are suddenly asserting with such confidence that we will be a whole lot better off if we leave.

Um ... how do you know? I think it may be a wee bit more complex than the old "money we're putting in, money we're getting out" equation.

I'm especially concerned about here. Even if the UK as a whole fares well after a Brexit, there is a possibility that any resultant prosperity would be centred on London and the south of England. It always is. We could be left out on a limb.

This doesn't mean I can't see the flaws of the EU. It's too big and growing bigger still. It's an obese union of lunacy, waste, conceit, faction fighting, bureaucracy and daft rules about banana shape.

But that doesn't necessarily mean we're better off out of it.

Let's hear the arguments, let's listen to the speakers and let's weigh up why certain people and parties may be saying what they say. What's in it for them? Is it really about the good of the nation (and Northern Ireland)?

Or about personal or party advancement?

Let's get on our trolleys and veer and dither a bit. This is a very big decision with truly massive implications for Northern Ireland.

So let's take a bit of time to consider all the Ins and Outs of it.

A step too far in the name of safety

In Belgium, China and Washington DC they now have text lanes.

These are specially marked out pathways on the pavement where texters can walk (guided by a white line on the ground) to avoid bumping into other pedestrians.

Surely Belfast with its obsession for lanes is missing a trick here.

We could do with some sort of signal anyway, at junctions where texters and iPoders currently saunter on out into traffic seemingly forgetful of where they are.

A jog-your-memory lane?

EU leaders give us food for thought

While EU leaders and directives lecture the rest of us on healthy eating, it’s interesting to note they don’t put their guidelines where their mouth is.

Apparently Cameron and the Brit pack downed a couple of dozen packets of Haribo during negotiations in Brussels.

Meanwhile peckish Angela Merkel (and minders) headed down to the local chippie. Must have been a gob-smacking moment for other customers.

There’s a gal walks down the chip shop swears she’s Chancellor of the Federal Republic of German.

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