Fromage not Farage

I was on the 'Unite for Europe' demo.

I tend to buy cheese from Bermondsey Spa, under the railway arches. These outlets close at 2 pm on a Saturday, so this week I almost missed them because I was on the Unite for Europe march from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.

Of course a big reason for my participation is that the price of French cheese has already risen after the Brexit vote, and that, after we've left, as the pound falls further and tariffs kick-in, it's going to become even more unaffordable.

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That process, by the way, is going to affect a lot of things we like to buy. So the quality of our lives is going to diminish in all those little ways.

Of course the economic effects are wider than this. Trade agreements are going to be more complex than they are now, and less favourable to UK business. Meanwhile the government and much of the state bureaucracy will be so focused on trying to mitigate this mess that there will be strategic drift on education, health, the environment, and other areas that need urgent attention.

Cuts in migration will damage services like the NHS who are already having serious difficulties attracting staff. Many businesses will have to scale back, or like Pret A Manger, will try to maintain profitability and scale by attacking their workers' pay and conditions.

Businesses will be 'freed' from EU 'rules and regulations'. That means worse working conditions, lower wages, and probably a less predictable business environment.

But here's the thing that really gets me. Even the loony right believes in freedom of movement. A problem with the Soviet Union, quite correctly identified by its critics, was that if you lived in a part of the USSR cut off from the economic and cultural centres of the union, you had no right to move to those places. You were stuck unless granted permission. And you could find yourself sent home if your permission expired.

That should sound familiar. It's our relationship to Europe that the leavers are imposing on us. It will particularly harm younger people who have most to lose from these travel and work restrictions; and of course those who came in good faith to work in the UK from European countries.

Published on Mar 26, 2017

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