Despite a big budget, a 5-star cast and great special effects, significant plot holes in a storyline can leave movie goers deeply unsatisfied.
The EU Referendum was certainly like that in at least one respect:
The Remain camp failed to engage adequately with a major question in the minds of many undecided voters.
Are immigration levels – the size of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne per year – sustainable? Simply that! That is not a racist question (necessarily); it’s a practical one. I voted to Remain, but this question of sustainable immigration levels was one that I felt was not addressed satisfactorily. (The irony, of course, is that it was and is still unclear what effect exiting the EU will have on immigration levels.)
Unaddressed, this would leave a significant plot hole in the Remain storyline.
Remain, however, did not engage with the question. Instead, as politicians often do, they answered the one they wanted, but even then not very well.
Immigrants are net contributors to the economy, they said; “they put in more than they take out”.
But what does that mean? Does it mean that those coming from overseas pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits? Does it mean that their tax contributions or labour more than offsets the demand on the healthcare and education systems? It would have been good to have had that detail.
Without that detail or an alternate credible narrative, it is easy to imagine the worst – especially when people experience hospital/GP waiting times and competition for jobs, housing and school places – or just personal and societal disharmony and needing something to blame it on.
Without information to the contrary, logic would, for many, argue that it is ‘in fact’ unsustainable.
So the plot hole remained but the country didn’t, as the “Remain” campaign flopped at the Box Office!