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Monday, 11 April 2016

The EU Referendum: Why I'm voting to stay in.



The referendum on the UK's membership in the European Union is only 2 months away and a lot of people are still undecided. Almost on a daily basis I see someone on Facebook or Twitter asking which way everyone is voting. I decided several months ago which way I was going to vote but have continued to read the arguments both for and against EU membership and so far I'm still in the stay camp. I'm going to go through several reasons why I think Britain is better as a member of the EU and counter some argument the leave campaign have made.

Immigration



One of the main arguments people say for leaving the EU is that in the EU we have no control over our borders. Whilst it is true that any citizen of any EU country is free to come to the UK, any UK citizen is also free to move to any other EU country and depending on which survey you read there are between 1.5m to 2m Brits living in other EU countries who all enjoy the benefits of their respective countries. Also Britain doesn't have an 'Open door' policy to immigration as some right wing political parties would have you believe, Britain is not part of the border-free zone which means anyone who wants to enter the UK can still be checked and still needs to show their passport. We're also told that immigrants come here to claim benefits and whilst some do claim benefits the vast majority of immigrants come here to either work or study, one study in 2011 showed that between 1995 and 2004 new immigrants from EU countries paid almost £5 billion MORE in tax than they cost the UK in public services.

Security



As part of the EU British security agencies are able to collaborate with similar agencies throughout the EU to investigate and prevent crime and terrorism across Europe. The European arrest warrant means if a criminal or terrorist is wanted in UK and found in say Italy they will be arrested and sent back to the UK to face charges, there is no lengthy extradition process. Now I'm not suggesting that being in the EU will stop all terrorist attacks but being part of a larger network of countries it will allow us to stop a lot more than if we were working on our own.

Economics



Around 45% of British exports are to EU countries and 3 million UK jobs are directly linked to those exports. Now being out of EU would not necessarily mean those export would stop but there would be a period of uncertainty whilst the UK negotiates it own trade agreement with other countries which would inevitably hit the pound on the international market which would in turn increase prices of pretty much everything. Also, once the UK has its own trade agreement they will not necessarily be better or even the same as what we already have. As part of the European single market we are seen as a better investment from countries like USA, China and India who invest billions every year in the EU in general and the UK in particular. The leave campaign often cite countries like Iceland, Norway Switzerland as countries outside the EU but still part of the single market but these countries also have to abide by all of the EU rules and regulations and pay millions to have that access yet they play no part in making any of the decisions.

Law Making



All our laws are made in Brussels by unelected bureaucrats is what we're told by the media and this simply isn't true. For starters only around 7% of laws which apply to UK were drafted by the EU and these laws include environmental protections, workers rights and human rights.  While these 'Unelected Bureaucrats' are indeed real (The European Commission) there are unelected bureaucrats in our own government (the house of lords is entirely unelected). The members of the European commission are nominated by the elected governments of the EU members and confirmed by the elected members of the European Parliament, you know the MEP's elected in the european elections most people in the UK ignore. The European Commission reports to the European Parliament and doesn't make final decisions on any EU Laws or Policies that rests with the Council of Ministers, who are elected ministers from member states' governments, and the elected European Parliament.

A United Kingdom



I love Britain, I'm proud to be British, I wouldn't want to be from any other country. From our history to our contribution to the arts and culture, our advances in science and, yes, even our impact on sport. The people of Britain really are phenomenal and part of what makes us so good is our unique kingdom of four completely different nations. If Britain as a whole voted to leave but Scotland voted overwhelmingly to stay (as seems likely) then that could undoubtably prompt another referendum on Scottish independence and I have a fear the Scots would vote to stay part of the EU over being part of an isolated UK. The same could also be said if the Welsh or Northern Irish are forced to leave the EU by English voters and we could end up being Little England all on our own in the world.

Not forgetting...

I'm not going to list every reason why I'm voting to stay in the EU but there are a few of extra things that make it nice to be in the EU. Roaming rates, using your mobile phone in EU is cheaper than anywhere else in the world and in 2017 roaming charges will be abolished in the EU and you will be charged the same in Spain or Greece or any EU country as you are back at home. The EU also legislates for green environmental issues to make sure we have clean beaches, clean air, access to clean drinking and bathing water as well as animal welfare and sustainable fishing and farming practices. I recently read an article that quoted the loathsome Rupert Murdoch as saying "When I go to Downing Street they do what I say, When I go to Brussel they don't listen to me", corporate influence in British politics is horrendous and this needs to change. The British public deserve the right to make a proper informed choice about their future rather than being spoon fed biased information from the media.  

Finally

Just before the last General Election I joined the Green Party as I felt they were the only party I could genuinely trust. I was completely disillusioned with party politics as I felt all of the main parties were lying to me (especially as I voted LibDem in 2010 and was furious when they went against a lot of policies I agreed with to get into government with the tories). I no longer trusted Labour after being lied to by Tony Blair and the last Labour government about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (although Jeremy Corbyn is starting to win back my trust), I've never liked the Tories and never will as they are only ever looking after the rich. This distrust of my own government led me to think that there needs to be another institute to hold the UK government to account so they don't have free reign.

I'm not trying to convince you which way to vote, that choice is yours and you will need to make your own mind up. But these are just some of the reasons that have made my mind up to stay in the EU. Whatever the outcome of the referendum it will have a massive impact not just on our lives now but also on the lives of our children and for the next few generations.

Well, that's all for now

S





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