“If we vote to remain, EU laws will overrule UK laws and the European Courts will be in control of our trade, our borders, and big decisions like whether prisoners are allowed to vote.”
This was the stark warning thrust my direction by an eager Leave campaigner during my daily commute. I like to think I was caught off guard but the truth is that I took it out of social embarrassment.
After initial indignation at the fearmongering at the heart of this so-called ‘positive message’ I started to focus on the question of votes for prisoners. Putting aside the merits of giving prisoners the vote, this issue has nothing to do with the EU Referendum, rather it involves the European Convention of Human Rights which predates the EU. Thus voting to leave would not take back control from the European Court of Human Rights, that would require us to join Belarus, a country that is of course renowned for its human rights and democratic accountability, as the only countries in Europe not to sign up to the basic rights embodied in the ECHR.
This got me thinking about the rest of the warning and how it too misrepresented the truth as well. Much has been made of the so-called ‘Norwegian Model’ as a basis of our future relations with the EU. Thus following the Leave narrative, Norway must have control. Not so, to gain access to the Single Market, Norway must abide by all EU regulations relating to it. That is to say about three-quarters of all EU laws. The only difference with the U.K. is that Norway has no say in making these laws. It thus struck me as a contradiction to suggest that we could take control by throwing away our power to make decisions that will affect us anyway.
That is when it finally struck me, there had clearly been a typo and the leaflet should have read: “If we vote to leave, EU laws will overrule UK laws and the European Courts will be in control of our trade, our borders, and big decisions like whether prisoners are allowed to vote”