When people asked me early on in the referendum campaign if I was for Remain or Brexit, I declared myself “very reluctantly pro-Remain”.
I said that for all the EU’s faults, staying within was a matter of “better the devil you know than the one you don’t”. After the massive debate to which the country has been subjected, I now believe the benefits of remaining in are outweighed by the burdens.
The overriding burden is bureaucracy. The EU – its Commission, parliament, judiciary and colossal civil service – employs thousands of people, many in pointless jobs. It costs billions anually to maintain. The so-called richer countries like Britain contribute on a totally disproportionate basis.
Then there is legislative interference. Stifling volumes of rules and regulations are churned out within Europe on almost every conceivable issue. They range from environment to health and safety, employment, food control and “human rights”. No longer is the UK in control of its own affairs. No longer is the Westminster Parliament really sovereign.
As for immigration, I would be among the first to argue in favour of hospitality to refugees. That includes, believe it or not, Syrians, for whose welcome I led a motion at Barnet Council. Thousands of Jews were destitute and stateless not so long ago. Where would many of us be now if countries such as Britain had not taken them in?
However, the open-border ethos of the EU has enabled millions to migrate here from eastern Europe purely for economic reasons. They benefit from a buoyant economy and excessively generous welfare state, at the expense of British taxpayers. David Cameron promised to bring immigration under control. The latest
figures show just the opposite.
All the burdens to which I have alluded are relevant to Jews, as to all other integrated British citizens. And on specifically Jewish issues there are equally strong causes for concern. The EU has a strong pro-Arab bias.
It gives large sums of money to the corrupt, terrorist- sponsoring Palestinian Authority. Its resolutions are viciously critical of Israel, with the boycott, divestment and sanctions momement often prominent on its agenda. Do we really want Britain to continue to be part of it?
Extremist Islamic activity , particularly terrorism, poses a continuous threat to the continent’s security, which will be further exacerbated if Turkey joins the EU. Its influence among Muslim youth breeds hatred, anti-Semitism and contempt for our democratic society. A consequent backlash here has been an alarmist obsession with countering “extremism” and protecting “British values”.
It has generated a sinister secularist campaign within certain establishment echelons to undermine religion and faith education as a whole. Jewish schools are suffering unfairly, and future teaching regulations from the EU could make things even worse.
Then there is the festering conspiracy within Europe to interfere with shechita under the
duplicitous banner of animal welfare. If EU laws are passed against shechita, Britain would be affected, whether it likes it or not. Not far behind is the equally-virulent anti-circumcision lobby, waiting to pounce.
Remain campaigners argue that by staying in, Britain can exercise a moderating influence. However, one country among 27 can have precious little effect. Moreover, if a Corbyn-led Labour government were ever to be elected, it would undoubtedly support all that’s bad within the EU, exploiting it to advance its new socialist pan-Islamist agenda.
An unfortunate consequence of a Brexit victory would be the likely resignation of a prime minister who is a genuine friend of the Jewish community. With his stridency, Cameron has effectively staked his political future on staying in the EU. However, his likely successor would be Boris Johnson or Michael Gove, both of whom have excellent track records on Jewish issues and Israel. So the leadership question need not sway us.
Weighing it up, my eggs have rolled into the Brexit basket. But I’m not passionate about it.
I don’t see the referendum as a make or break. Whatever the result, Anglo-Jewry should accept it graciously. We should continue to be loyal, patriotic British citizens, observing our Torah and making the best of our future – whether we are out or in.
— Jewish News (@JewishNewsUK) June 8, 2016