The people of the United Kingdom are about to make an important decision. Should we leave the European Union or should we stay in and try to reform it? I am appalled at the level of debate so far.
- Scare stories about the economy if we leave.
- Talk about an overcrowded island because of immigration.
- Politicians insulting one another.
- Total polarisation of views as though there weren’t good points on both sides.
- Talking down the 5th largest economy in the world.
I have been undecided but now must admit that I have made a personal decision but this article is not meant to be a one-sided presentation or tirade against the alternative point of view.
The National Health system relies very heavily on doctors and nurses born outside of this country, and yet it is claimed that increasing population through immigration is stretching it to breaking point. Nearly all immigrants come here to work and contribute hugely to our economy by employment and paying Income Tax, National Insurance and Value Added Tax. The slander of people coming here to live off benefits is a myth.
One might ask, “Why should a person from Eastern Europe have preference over a coloured man from a Commonwealth country?” I find some of the views expressed about immigration border on racism, in spite of the careful language used. I must declare that if this was the only issue at stake then I would vote “remain” …
Economists, bankers, top business people, world politicians seem to unite to prophecy doom if we are to leave. I have heard the following:
- We would be £4300 worse off.
- The value of the pound would be reduced.
- The stock market would plummet.
- House prices would fall.
- Hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost.
- We would all suffer from in-growing toenails. (Sorry, I made that one up!)
Now, I don’t want to make fun of experts, but did they forecast the banking crisis and worldwide recession? Sure, in the short-term a decision to leave will probably put the markets in turmoil, but nobody can forecast the medium or long-term future. We simply do not know whether we would be better off economically if we leave or stay. If economics was the only issue at stake I would have to declare myself a “Don’t Know”.
The remain side says, quite reasonably, “If the results of leaving are unpredictable, why take the risk? ” The leave side points to the slow progress of the Euro economy and the high youth unemployment in Spain and Italy, and declares that there is a risk if we stay in. We live in an unpredictable world and taking risks is a part of every day life. The issues are so complex that I think that if we commissioned an independent risk assessment of leaving or staying in that we might have to wait all our lives for the result!
Human Rights and Workers Rights
The parliamentary labour party, backed up by many trade union leaders is mostly in favour of staying in the EU. They base their arguments not upon immigration or economics but upon the workers rights encapsulated in EU regulations. They don’t trust the Tory party to maintain these rights if we left. If they formed a government they could, of course, pass laws to ensure that these rights, or better rights, are enshrined in U.K. law. In relying on the EU to keep these rights, it seems to indicate that they don’t trust the electorate to ever return a labour party government again!
I am all for human rights and workers rights but on balance I would prefer that these are based on laws made by our democratically elected government than rely on the EU to impose laws upon us.
The “stronger together” argument is a strong point of view and probably won the Scottish Independence referendum. How does it apply to Europe. We should certainly cooperate with European countries and stand with them in the fight against terrorism, climate change, recession and world poverty.
I think many of us are worried about the possibility of a “United States of Europe”. It is the declared intention of many EU enthusiasts for “ever-increasing union”. David Cameron has said we are protected from that but I am not sure he can stop it. If we vote to remain it will give the green light to the inexorable process of becoming a European super state. Indeed, now that an Asian country (Turkey) may join, why stop at Europe, how about the prospect of a world government?
Reforming the EU
Some say, “let’s stay in the EU and improve it from the inside”. Certainly we cannot hope to change it without being a signed-up member. But with 27 other countries we only have an equal vote with Latvia, Malta and Slovenia, so we cannot democratically reform it. We have often found ourselves alone on particular issues.
But we could be an influence for good. I fear that our influence in the world, and particularly Europe is waning. (Perhaps the voting in Eurovision is an indication of that!) European doomsayers would have us believe that the EU is fatally flawed and that it will eventually collapse in dis-array.
You only have to look at the pathetic attempt before the referendum to make changes sufficient to satisfy British electors to see that real change is not feasible. If we vote to remain we must be prepared to go along with constant compromise as 28 countries try to agree.
Controlling our own laws
For me, it all comes down to this: Is it valid for a country to make its own laws, or should those laws be subject to a higher law from Europe, or indeed from the whole world? Am I and Englishman, British, a European or a world citizen. In many ways I would relate mostly to being a part of the Human Race, a citizen of the world. I also enjoy the privilege of being born in Britain, and so the prospect of being a member of a random set of European and other countries fails to excite me.
Our democratic system is far from perfect. Only about a quarter of the people voted for the present government. Proportional Representation would improve things but our electorate voted this option down. It is no secret that I don’t like the present government of the U.K. but if more people voted for them, then I must accept that.
I must say that I would prefer to be governed by a parliament that I had voted for, or against, than by a Europe that is remote to me. If we vote to leave I would still be wary about a U.K. parliament passing laws on immigration or workers right that I fundamentally disagree with, but I can still campaign for justice and righteousness and hope to have some influence with my community.
So there you have it. I will be voting to leave in the referendum not on the basis of immigration or economic advantage but with my heart, according to what sort of community I want to belong to.
They say the result may be close. I really hope not. I would like to see a 70% : 30% split either way! A 51% : 49% result either way would produce much resentment and recrimination. Although I hope that the leave side will win, if the remain side should win, then I actually hope it is by a large margin. At least we could say that the people have spoken and I could live with the consequences.
So I say, listen to your heart, our heads cannot resolve the complex issues. Do not listen to scare tactics or fear-mongering from either side. But do go out and vote: your future and the future of your children depend on it.