Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The EU referendum - why I'm voting to stay #brexit #EUreferendum

The EU referendum is looming and I wanted to share why I'm voting to remain.

Firstly, I should point out that I fundamentally disagree with the idea of this referendum in the first place. The British public should never have been asked to make a decision about something which is so incredibly complicated. Recent general elections have presented us with a choice of parties that are different but not radically so, and choosing between one or the other would not have changed our lives a great deal. This decision about the EU, however, feels like it could have a fundamental impact on our society, and not necessarily for the better. To me, it feels like we are choosing between Totalitarianism and Democracy – admittedly that might be a bit melodramatic, but I don't think it's too far off the mark and it's a scary thought.

The main argument from the Leave camp seems to centre around EU controlling all that we do, and the whole issue of immigration. Those are genuine concerns, but I don't think subjecting the country to catastrophic uncertainty because of those issues is the right way to go about it. The EU has less 'power' over us than people tend to think (that nonsense about 'straight cucumbers' being one of those lies), and immigration is a far more complex issue than one that just relates to the European Union.

I accept that the EU is not perfect, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages in my opinion. If things are not right with how we relate to Europe then we should get stuck in and call for change rather than run away in an isolationist paddy.

As far as I can tell, no-one really knows what will happen to us should we choose Brexit, and to gamble an entire nation's future in this way seems irresponsible and risky. We know where we stand with Europe at the moment, but should we choose to leave we really don't know how things will pan out in terms of economy, politics and security.

A strong Europe provides an effective counterbalance to the superpowers of China and USA, something which a single nation (ie Britain) could never do, plus trade with those nations could prove far more difficult post-Brexit (as President Obama has pointed out). Not only that, Britain's exit from Europe could weaken its position with Russia – arguably an unstable and unpredictable entity under Putin.

There's a chance it could lead to the break up of the UK, especially as the SNP is pro-Europe. I was actually curious to see what would have happened if Scotland gained independence, mainly because it would have been such a fantastic snub to Westminster, but if Scotland leaves, why shouldn't Wales or Northern Ireland do the same? That may not be a terribly bad thing perhaps – but to me, Brexit feels like the wrong reason for breaking up the Union.

We do have a lot to be grateful to the EU for in spite of the bureaucracy, especially when it comes to employment law, environmental issues and human rights. Such progressive directives have improved working and living conditions for millions and I fear that breaking away from these commitments could, in the hands of unscrupulous leaders, send us back to the Victorian age.

As for the various heads of the Leave campaign, I suspect they are purely in it for self-interest rather than the wider good of Britain. It's a golden opportunity to divide political parties and whip up the populace into an unnecessary frenzy – all thanks to 'fear', a primal emotion that stifles logic and reason. If the Brexit leaders succeed, it will only line their pockets and feed their desire for power while ordinary people face decades of economic and political uncertainty.

Finally, I think Brexit can only help to stoke the fires of right-wing extremism in this country. The far-right have been gaining ground over the last few years and there's a real chance that one day in the not-too-distant future we will find ourselves governed by them. The implications of this don't bear thinking about.

So, that's why I'm voting to Remain, and my plea to you dear reader is to do the same.

If you want to read more about this, a far more eloquent article can be found here (https://thethingsthatithink.com/2016/05/26/brexit/) which does a much better job of putting the argument across for remaining in the EU so have a look.

As for me, what if Britain does decide to leave?


We could always emigrate to Canada.

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