So Long and Thanks For All the Fish


So Long and Thanks For All the Fish

Illustration: Namaah/ Arré

“Listen up. You got a choice. Stick to English ale and your cuppa, or go for a grand combo that also has German beer, a pint of Guinness, French wine, and Spanish Sangria. So, vote now.”

Sigh! If only referendums were so simple. As a certified – and severely uncool – nerd, I have been sifting through data for weeks now, trying to find out what happens if the UK opts out of the EU. And I find myself swaying back and forth between IN and OUT, distracted less by the data and more by passionate arguments on both sides.

Why only yesterday, that bright, well-groomed Englishman David Cameron, who also happens to be the Prime Minister, thundered as he campaigned for IN: “Brits don’t quit.” Damn, I know that from somewhere. I have heard so much about this typical Brit-grit in World War II stories. Be it Colonel Wingate’s guerrilla-style war against the Japanese in Burma, or the Second Battle of El-Alamein where Sir Montgomery’s boys thwarted the famed Desert Fox, Rommel. (Aside: Several on Montgomery’s side were brought in from the Empire’s different corners, including the Jewel in the Crown. Things don’t change much, do they?)

But anyway, what really pushed me towards IN was Boris. You don’t know Boris? Are you kidding me? He is the guy with the awful hair. I mean he looks like he just made his way out of Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole, where he got bashed up for gate-crashing a “ladies night”. No, he is not Russian, dear reader. He is a former mayor of London and he normally talks sense, especially on the economy. More importantly, I owe something to Boris because he gives me confidence about my looks.

Now, Boris has been railing that he wants OUT by quoting astounding trade numbers on the sides of buses that John Oliver has proved to be wholly made up. Boris says being in the EU would mean more immigrants, less economic independence, stifling European bureaucracy, and so on and so forth. And while most of it sounds like Grade-A Conservative whingeing, I have to say, some of Boris’ fears are valid.

As a nerd, I have seen crisis after crisis in Europe with policymakers ensuring the road is endless so that they can kick the can down forever. The UK, in contrast, is more dynamic. Take the City, for example, with its financial wizards pushing global markets up and down. The rest of Europe cannot match that. No way with all their regulations and weird labour laws. And of course, the endless debates. You can’t have solutions – let alone smart ones – when Italians, Germans, French, Spanish, and Brits haggle with each other. Hell, never!

It appears though, that Boris, my bad-hair idol, has some personal, ulterior motives. He wants to succeed Cameron at the Conservative helm. If OUT wins, you can force a succession. But let’s forget your ambition for a moment here, Boris. You seem like a nice chap, not like some of those scary OUT cheerleaders. Reader, have you heard speeches by right-wing Brit sanskaris like Nigel Farage? Jeepers creepers!

Rest assured. Syrians will not steam into Britain and bring Assad to power in Westminster.

Boris has been claiming that Brits will be in “la la land” if they vote OUT. But, you forget, Boris, that I am the nerd here. Oh, how I have researched as if the prize were the role of the next James Bond. No, Boris. I can assure you, there will be lots of pain, as much on the Brit pocket as on the Brit backside. If you opt OUT, the pound will slide, inflation will go up, the economy will contract, and your financial hub will lose out to rising ones in Asia and Europe. The world economy will also be jolted.

If the Brits vote OUT, the world also runs the risk of disintegration in the most dangerous region by historical evidence. No, not the Middle East. I mean Europe – the leader of the race for colonisation, cause of the Great War, and World War II. See how much Europe has changed and achieved since then. It has pioneered liberalism and brought former enemies together to build a better world. It would be a great loss if you abandoned this Enlightenment Project, Boris.

Somehow, silly arguments about loss of identity and immigration are making an impact on a demographic renowned for stiff upper lips and Churchill-worshipping. Ah, how some of them yearn for the Raj and hate being in the same boat as those vanquished at Waterloo and Normandy. I mean those blokes want to be distinct – as if being Brit were not distinct enough – and fret about the Poles and Asians taking over jobs.

Gonna put forth an unpopular view here, but I kind of understand that a bit. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am all liberalism and free markets. It’s just that I had some puzzling experiences in the UK. But dear ol’ timers, I would like to say, all these immigrants are small in number. And rest assured. Syrians will not steam into Britain and bring Assad to power in Westminster.

So yes, more and more, I’m inclined toward IN. After all, David Beckham has also weighed IN. Of course, there were other arguments that I agreed with, like avoiding tariffs on exports to the EU and being part of the EU helped the UK shape arguments within wider Europe but that’s all trimming in view of Beckham’s bending.

So, here the thing, my PoCo Brit friends – don’t listen to Boris and just vote IN. You and the world will be much better off. And don’t be influenced by the other Bard of Bad Hair from your erstwhile colony across the Atlantic, that man who wants to build unbreakable walls. It’s better to build bridges than walls, said a comedian at a great fighter’s funeral recently. You’d do well to listen to that.