For at least one of us here the argument in favour of leaving the European Union is that the EU prevents the creation of the sort of governance we would prefer. We find now that those arguing in favour of Remain are making the very same argument, an interesting confirmation of our basic contention.
John Harris in The Guardian:
The likes of Liam Fox seek a Britain that would be disastrous for many leave voters. These ultra-free-marketeers must be stopped....If we take that as a given, anyone involved in progressive politics ought to focus on one imperative above all others: the defeat of the zealots who saw the dismay and disaffection of so many potential leave voters, opportunistically seized on it – and now want to pilot the country into a post-Brexit future that is completely inimical to their future. We all know who they are: in the Conservative party, their strength is built on a bedrock of true believers in a weird kind of anarcho-Thatcherism: Jacob Rees-Mogg, Fox, an array of MPs too obscure to mention.......these politicians are blazing a trail for a rightwing politics that has decisively left behind any semblance of moderation, and fully embraced the reckless mindset of the revolutionary. There is a reason why the hard Brexiteers cannot coherently explain their vision of Brexit: their chief aim is to break as many things as possible, in the belief that from the rubble might arise a kind of flag-waving, small-state, free-market utopia that even the blessed Margaret might have found unpalatable.
As regular readers will know our views on the role of the state in the economy are rather more subtle than that propagandistic description. And yet there is a truth underlying the point.
That sort of small state, interventionist only when absolutely necessary and reliant largely upon free markets, society is what produces the wealth and living standards of Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland and, in fact, all the places richer than us which aren't just living off resource rents.
We'd like Britons to be richer than they are, as rich as the current state of knowledge enables us all to be and we're really pretty sure that our fellow countrymen would also like that. Which is why we advocate what we do. Including to point out that the European Union's basic governmental ethos isn't amenable to that plan.
The contention here from Harris is that we must leave the EU in order to have that plan. Sure, he's exaggerating, but his point is that the EU saves the progressives' desired system. Leaving would enable to deconstruction of that bureaucratic social democracy if that's what Britons want to do, therefore we must stay in to preserve that bureaucratic and regulatory social democracy.
Which is rather our point, isn't it? Note the difference between Harris' accusation and our own position. Harris insists that this small state solution will be imposed by Brexiteers red in tooth and claw. We are only insisting that the standard classically liberal order can only happen if we're outside the EU. Whether it does happen will still be in the hands of the people of Britain. That being rather our point, being in the EU means Britons cannot have what they might want, being out gives the choice.
Sure, we argue that people will prefer, possibly even should prefer, that classically liberal order. But what we're insistent upon is that people should have the choice. We are, after all, a democracy, are we not?