68 dumb-fuck reasons for leaving the EU

Brexit illo

‘I did it to put everyone else in the shit’

Brexit illoThe UK’s vote to exit the European Union has created many uncertainties. Will the country be better off, or worse? Is the UK a xenophobic, retrogressive nation, or a brave, proud, forward-looking one? Can the Conservatives and Labour remain united in this time of turmoil? Will anyone be able to afford to go on holiday again?

The result has made one thing crystal clear: the UK is a bitterly divided nation, along lines of age, race, region, class, wealth and education. If we are going to begin to heal these divisions, it is crucial that we try to establish exactly why it is that 51.9% of those who voted decided that being outside the European Union was better than being in it. Once we have a better understanding of these grievances, we can address them and – hopefully, one day – resolve them.

To this end, I have begun compiling a list of reasons given by Leavers, gathered from Twitter, Facebook, comment threads, discussion forums and friends.

1. “Because of all the EU laws that we have no say in.”
“Name one.”
“Erm …”
“Come on, what are these laws are that you won’t have to obey any more that made you vote for this short-term economic hit? Can you name one?”
“I wouldn’t be able to, no.” (Caller to James O’Brien’s LBC radio show)

2. “As a protest vote.”

3. “Because I want it to be a close result.”

4. “It [Sunderland] already is [a giant jobcentre]. That’s why I voted Leave, to put everyone else in the shit like us.” (Twitter)

5. “To stick it to the toffs.”

6. “To give Cameron a bloody nose.” (Express website)

7. “To give Cameron a better negotiating position.”

8. “Because the EU closed the coalmines.” [The EU had nothing to do with the closing of the coalmines.]

9. “Because I thought we had been in long enough.”

10. “Because I had the hump.”

11. “Because now our lads will get out of prison, cos there will be jobs for them.”

12. “The main reason I voted out was because the EU parliament aren’t elected representatives. The second is, they pass laws that affect us, but we aren’t given a say. Third, we need to sort our own house out” (J, on Facebook, giving exactly the same – factually wrong – reason in three different ways)

13. “Because I felt uncomfortable when a group of brown people got on the bus the other day.” (Family member)

14. “Because the EU made them change Marathons to Snickers.” [That was Mars’s decision, not the EU’s.]

15. “Because they banned our bendy bananas.” (Express website) [The EU introduced a law stipulating that bananas should be given different classifications depending on their curvature. No fruit was ever banned – it was just a different classification system.]

16. “Because fishermen now won’t have to throw fish back in the water and Muslim women will no longer be told by their husbands not to wear make-up” (Caller to LBC)

17. “Because I’ve lived here all my life, and when I was growing up, that street over there was filled with shops.” (TV documentary)

18. “To stop the Muslims immigrating here.” [Migration is unrestricted within the EU. But individual nations are responsible for setting their own limits on immigration from non-EU countries, such as those where the majority of citizens are Muslims. Leaving the EU will have no effect on the number of Muslims coming to the UK.]

19. “Because I want our old lightbulbs back!” [The EU has placed restrictions on the sale of old-style incandescent lightbulbs in a bid to reduce energy wastage and slow global warming.]

20. “Because vaccines should not be mandatory.” [The EU has never passed any law making vaccination mandatory, even though vaccination is widely regarded as being a pretty good idea. Some European countries have done so of their own volition.]

21. “Because the Queen said.” (Pro-Brexit Facebook group)

22. “Because we should not be signing up to TTIP.” [TTIP is a trade deal between EU and America, which the EU has just put on hold. After the UK leaves the EU, most commentators believe it will sign up to a similar deal with the US, probably with fewer checks and balances.]

23. “Because we are like Germany, and Germany isn’t in the EU.” [Germany was a founding member of the EU.]

24. “Because the country is full.”

25. “To annoy my wife.”

26. “It will be an adventure!”

27. “Because the value of the euro is going to go down.” [Even if it were true, this would not have a marked effect on the UK’s economy. Since the vote, sterling is down 18% against the dollar and 15% against the euro.]

28. “So that I can get cheap photovoltaic panels from China.”

29. “Because otherwise, 7 million Turks will come over here.” (LBC caller) [Turkey would never have been able to join the EU so long as Britain used its veto.]

30. “Because I am fed up with being ruled by unelected bureaucrats.” [The EU parliament is directly elected in regular European elections. The European commission –basically the civil service – recruits its own members.]

Screenshot of online conversation
The people have spoken.

31. “Because I didn’t want my sons to have to join a European army.” [The EU would never have formed an army so long as Britain exercised its veto. Even if it did, conscription would be a political and practical impossibility.]

32. “Because there’s too many Pakistan people in Glasgow.” [I repeat: EU membership has no bearing on immigration from outside the EU.]

33. “Because it takes more than 5 litres of water to flush my shit away.”

34. “Because EU taxes are making our petrol more expensive than everywhere else in Europe.” [No, those would be taxes imposed by the UK’s government. The EU plays no part in setting national tax rates.]

35. “To send them women in the headscarves back home. One of them stole my mother’s purse.”

36. “Because I don’t like what the EU is doing to Africa.”

37. “Because I’m scared of black people. They’re so physical.” (mother-in-law of member of Facebook group) [The mechanism by which leaving the EU will rid the UK of black people is unclear.]

38. “I don’t want to send money to Greece. I don’t care about Greece.”

39. “Because the EU does nothing for us.” [Estimates of the value of EU membership to the UK vary from £31bn to £92bn per year.]

40. “Because the EU has devoted 26,911 words to the regulation of cabbages.” [Seems quite a minor thing to sacrifice 20% of your pay packet for, but in any case, it’s bollocks. There are at present zero words in EU legislation specifically governing the production or sale of cabbages.]

41. “Because our prisons are full of Polish rapists.” [As of March 2016, there were 965 Polish nationals in British prisons. That’s out of a total Polish population of just over 800,000 — so 0.12% of all Poles here are convicted criminals. The total number of prisoners is around 95,000; about 0.14% of the population as a whole. I can’t find any figures broken down into both ethnicity and crime.]

42. “Because the roads in Oxfordshire are full of potholes.” [Technically, such matters fall within the local council’s purview.]

43. “Because the EU is anti-semitic.”

44. “So that we can go back to the way Britain was in the 50s.”

45. “Because they sold off the water, gas and electricity.” [Once again, that would be the work of the UK government, not the EU.]

46. “Because I couldn’t decide, and my boyfriend voted Remain.”

47. “Because schools are no longer allowed to hold nativity plays in case they offend Moslems.”

48. “Because the EU spent £13m on art last year.”

49. “Because they never vote for us in Eurovision.”

50. “Because if we stop all the immigrants using the NHS, it will work properly again.”

51. “So we don’t have to queue at the doctor’s.” [There is no clear consensus on the impact of immigration on the health service. Undoubtedly, more people in a country means more people to treat. But it is widely agreed that migrants to the UK are on average younger and healthier than the local population, that inward migration is good for the economy, which gives us more money to spend on the NHS, and that without migrant workers – 24% of doctors and 12% of nurses were not born in the UK – the health service would collapse. Besides, the ageing resident population is by far the biggest strain on health services.]

52. “Because I want a more powerful hoover.” (via Facebook group)

53. “Because the EU is going to ban toasters, and I love toast.” (BBC interviewee) [The EU has never threatened to ban toasters. It is, however, considering a limit on the amount of energy that household appliances can use, in a bid to reduce the effect on the environment.]

54. “So we can have our electrical sockets low down by the skirting rather than have to put them little higher up the wall.”

55. “Because they are building houses for Filipinos and it’s blocking the view from my kitchen window.”

56. “Because I don’t understand politics. This is what my friends suggested.”

57. “Because there’s too much traffic in Sittingbourne.”

58.”Because they tell me I need scaffolding to clean my guttering.” [Really not sure where this information came from.]

59. “Because I fancied a change.” (Caller to Radio 4 programme)

60. “My uncle voted Leave because his sister told him to.”

61. “Because the European Parliament building is the same shape as the Tower of Babel, which is anti-Christ.” (Facebook group’s family member)

62. “So all the fucking Chinks will leave.” [China is not in the EU.]

63. “Because the ensuing recession is going to bring house prices down, and I can’t afford to buy a house.”

64. “Because I want to buy sweets in ounces, not grammes.”

65. “Because they don’t pay for NHS prescriptions in Wales and Scotland, and that’s not fair.” (Manchester woman) [Again, nothing to do with the EU.]

66. “So that I don’t have to pay the bedroom tax.” [The bedroom tax was imposed not by the EU, but by … oh, can’t you fucking guess by now?]

67. “Because I’m fed up of the French burning our lamb.” (Frank, Twitter)

68. “Because I want to use my teabag twice and the EU won’t let me.” (Aunt of friend of commenter) [Another falsehood peddled by Boris Johnson]

Thanks for contributing and helping to turn a sad list into a truly depressing one. I’m turning comments off here now because I’m getting spammed to death, but you can still add your gems to the version on Medium if you like.

Down and out in Paris and Le Mans

A wabbit

Material of unexpectedly graphic sexual nature on TV at 7.30pm! Maybe France not all bad.

A wabbit
Do not grow too attached to this character.

Adrian Mole turned 50 last weekend. While we’re not exactly contemporaries, the day I was given The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 and Three-Quarters, I was aged exactly 13 and five-sixths. So Ady and I go way back.

While no one would describe Mole as an aspirational figure, I did find him inspirational – he motivated me to start a diary, which I’ve kept ever since. 

To begin with, and indeed for most of its duration, it was shit, but it did come to life for brief periods. The first time this happened was on my school exchange trip, to Le Mans in France, in April 1984. (Apologies for the artlessness, but this is more or less as I originally wrote it.)

Day 1

Left school 6am. Coach journey: predictably riotous. Ferry journey: ate, lost all money on machines, force 7 storm, vomited. Still, was one of last to succumb and managed to keep pullover mostly clean.

As a result of storm, coach arrived four hours late in Le Mans. Was lined up like criminal in identity parade, picked out and dragged into Renault 11. Treated on arrival to cup of “real English tea”, which turned out to be Earl Grey. Drank it anyway.

As we went to bed, M Broussard remarked on funny smell. Turned out to be chicken Mum packed me for lunch that I never had a chance to eat.

Day 2

Fabrice – for that is my exchange partner’s name – bounded into room to wake me for breakfast at 7am, seemingly having forgotten that we had retired only four hours previously. Forced to deliver something to a friend of Mme Broussard. Fabrice deliberately didn’t tell me what “Chien mechant” meant on the sign.

Out to play on French pinball machines. Not as good as English ones. However, turns out 2p coins are exactly same size as 10 franc coins, so we can play for ever basically for free.

Back for first lunch: unspecified meat, hard lumps rumoured to be pommes de terre, and grated carrots in butter.

Back to town to play more pinball. Get feeling cultural scene in Le Mans not wide and varied.

Home for tea. More grated carrots in butter, plus chicken Mum packed me for lunch yesterday. French seemingly unaware chicken is not like wine and cheese and does not improve with age.

TV after dinner. Material of unexpectedly graphic sexual nature at 7.30pm. Maybe France not all bad.

Day 3

Swimming 7am. Are they in a different time zone here? Might have had good time if had been more than a quarter awake.

Having had sneak preview of dinner, did best to cram myself full of tolerable pre-meal crisps.

Bicycle ride with Fabrice. He almost hit one old lady, two joggers and a dog.

Discovered to horror that entire family are Formula One fanatics, and was thus forced to watch cars driving round in circles all afternoon.

Kidnapped and driven 30 miles to see les grandparents. Not most exciting of hosts, despite endlessly fascinating vegetable garden. Things perked up when they introduced me to their collection of cuddly rabbits. “Which one do you like?” they asked. I pointed to a perky-looking white one. At which point they pulled it from its cage, wrung its neck and presented me with that evening’s supper.

Next, the pigeon coop. “Well,” I thought, “at least we won’t be eating these!”

They’re the main course on Monday.

Day 4

First day at school. Never been so glad to see English classmates. First lesson English. Now know why Fabrice barely speaks a word.

Tour of Le Mans racing circuit. Totally dead and deserted and all in all, great value for money (entrance free).

Biology lesson interesting, not so much because of activity (dissecting hearts) as because of one of people performing activity (lush brown-haired French girl).

Dragged into school dining hall where was confronted with yet more lettuce. Clearly, this country needs more rabbits. Still, probably not even rabbits can face the stuff when it’s drowned in vinaigrette.

The Broussards’ bath contains a rubber mat, the ostensible purpose of which is to stop bathers sliding around in the bath, but the actual consequence of which is that you have to physically get out of the bath and back in again every time you want to wash a different body part. Exited bath with beautifully patterned back to find household asleep.

Day 5

Thumper Day.

Now, have never exactly been gourmet. Prior to arrival here, had tasted little beyond roast beef, fishfingers, and Jason Parker’s fist. So rabbit flesh, for the likes of me, was asking a lot.

But got it down, and kept it down! (Although if anyone mentions Watership Down in next 24 hours, will not be accountable for consequences.)

Little fascist bastard beat me at chess. Must have cheated – he is idiot at everything else. Bundled into bed at gunpoint at 9.30.

 Day 6

Typical French: think they are modern industrial nation and haven’t even discovered flavoured crisps yet.

Thrashed pants off Grand Master Broussard at chess. Knew last night was a fluke. Also helped him with his homework. His French homework.

More pinball. 2p coins now like gold dust.

Yesterday, the family, apparently concerned I am not finishing my dinner, asked me what I like to eat. “Most kinds of meat,” I said. Which presumably explains today’s 100% vegetarian meal.

Day 7

School this morning brought the perfect opportunity to impress ravishing Gallic goddess Sophie. No one could solve the chemical equation on the board. The class was paralysed and in despair. But then, out of nowhere, Sir Andrew Bodle galloped to the rescue, snatching the chalk from a hapless student’s hand and filling in the solution with no little panache. The classroom fell silent in awe. Until little brat Fabrice piped up and told everyone I’d already solved it the night before.

French dinner ladies on strike so trudged back to Broussards’ for another 20-course battle with various drowned vegetables. First radish division moved in and neutralised my tongue; then Secret Tomato Service carried out all-out assault on throat. Finally, horde of kamikaze cauliflowers mopped up what was left of taste buds.

Afternoon: guided tour of West FM Radio. Two offices, two microphones and collected works of Barry Manilow. Very popular station, apparently.

Dinner: lettuce in weedkiller with rare consolation side of sauteed potatoes. Seriously. What’s happened to the meat?

Day 8

Up 6.30am again. Whoever drew up timetable for trip should be boiled alive in vinaigrette. Reason: day trip to cold building filled with old towels (tapestry museum), followed by cold building with “bifurcating flying buttresses” (Le Mans cathedral). Original plan was to tour third cold building, a castle, but no one could find way in.

Stop four was a stable, which, as expected, offered horses and some hay. Final destination was vineyard, which might have been interesting but for fact we weren’t allowed so much as a sniff of the produce.

On return was for some reason denied access to almost palatable-looking tomato soup-flavoured pasta everyone else was eating and instead served another portion of lettuce in napalm.

Day 9

Lunch: grated carrots in butter, which had to deploy stupendous feats of imagination to keep down, plus beef and chips. Have now worked out why the French words for animals are same as for meat from those animals; because they barely do anything to it before chucking it on the plate.

Eight hours chez les grandparents. No ritual sacrifice this time, at least.

Day 10

(Because this was a physical diary, it was subject to the depredations of the physical world, and day 10 sadly went missing at some point.)

Day 11

New personal worst. Up 6.15am. At least in good cause: off to spend the day in France’s grand capital. Coach journey took three hours, which looked like it just flew by for Andrew Rogers and Collette, Damian Cullen and Jeanne-Marie, and Fabrice and Michelle Wilkinson.

Sacre-Coeur: photographs and annoying tradesmen.
Pompidou Centre: “art” and lunch.
Shopping: bought cheap tat for presents.
Notre Dame: photographs.
Arc de Triomphe: photographs, toilet.
Eiffel Tower: too late for final ascent. Photographs.

Might have been bit more excited about today if hadn’t visited every single one of these places 12 months ago.

Back to Le Mans 8 o’clock for another grisly encounter with a pasta swamp.

Day 12

Resolved to end bathtime misery by removing rubber bath mat. Succeeded in doing so after titanic struggle, only to replace immediately upon seeing caked-on grime underneath.

“Boum”, or “party”, at Sandrine’s house. All could manage was peck on cheek from Sophie. And this is FRANCE, where people peck one another on cheek 50 sodding times a day.

Back by 6 for dinner of unidentified fluid and what I hope was a sausage in bog of beans.

Day 13

Blessed morning without Fabrice, as he had to go to dentist. Not sure what he had done, but he still has way too many teeth for his face.

Final pinball session. 2p coins now exchanging hands for 50p.

Dinner: grapefruit, some sort of fish, rice, and … drum roll … will it be lettuce or grated carrots today? … PRAISE THE GODS, IT’S LETTUCE!

In hindsight, wish had loaded up little more on it, cos have since been informed that farewell dinner tomorrow will be … snails. SNAILS. Spent rest of evening trying to work out how to fake own death.

Day 14

The smell was the worst part. When stench of roasting mollusc first wafted in from kitchen, was all could do to stop self bolting. Creatures accompanied by beetroot and, quelle surprise, grated carrots, which have never looked so appetising.

But plan worked. Close eyes, swallow whole – no chewing – and immediately follow with copious quantities of bread and wine. In this manner managed to get 10 down before palate and stomach revolted.

Afternoon trip to Alpes-Moncelles. Hiked for what seemed like 70 miles before returning to Mystery Soup and the soundest sleep of the fortnight.

Fabrice packed Michelle in. Little tosser.

Day 15: le jour du depart

Coach arrived outside school 9.15. Made maximum capital out of French custom of bisous by getting two lots from every girl and three from Sophie.

Coach stopped at Arromanches and Bayeux en route to ferry – first bit of real heritage/culture of whole visit. Had about three minutes at each.

Crossing quite choppy again, but managed not to decorate toilet bowl this time. Clearly, after what it’s been through these last two weeks, stomach is now made of cast iron.

(Post scriptum: I feel obligated to point out that my raging xenophobia subsided somewhat with age.)