Just the facts, ma’am*

We often see complaints — from pundits, journalists and private individuals — that they don’t have sufficient facts to inform a decision on whether or not Britain should leave the European Union. This is curious, since there is a massive amount of information available to those who care to do their own research and form their own conclusions. But it is also true that fundamentally there is only one fact and one judgement which matter.

The fact is that the future is uncertain. Whatever the result of the referendum, we shall never know whether the alternative route which could have been taken would have been better. GDP up or down a bit? Trade deals more or less advantageous? Border control stronger or weaker? Who knows? The fundamental judgement, however, is that managing this uncertainty to the benefit of Britain will be more effective if the British people rather than the Brussels apparatchiks control it.

There’s a great deal of research about the interaction of rationality and emotion in decision-making. In routine, everyday decisions, it makes sense to use rational evaluation. But in the big decisions, emotions should and do carry the day. Do you want to be governed by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels or — despite their many faults — by your own elected representatives? Simple, no?

*Apparently, Joe Friday never actually said this line in Dragnet.

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