Wednesday, 22 June 2016

My EU Opinions... Why I want to Remain!

I have posted quite a bit about tomorrow’s referendum, I'm sorry if this has annoyed any of you, however it is the biggest decision that has faced our country in our lifetimes and on a subject I feel very passionate about. I think the leave camp have been much loader and passionate in general than the remain, therefore I have felt compelled to add my voice as much as I can just to make the remain a little louder.
But that’s the problem for me, the way that this referendum is run, so much of the media coverage is focused on personalities and their campaigns (which are often allowed to spout mistruths and sometimes outright lies almost completely unchecked) rather than the actual substance and facts of the debate. There are so many issues out there and possible ramifications that it’s impossible for them all to be understood by everyone, and therefore just soundbites seem to get picked up, misinterpreted or twisted to fit whoever’s point of view that is speaking – how can you really expect the general public to make an actual objectively informed decision? Almost everyone speaking in it has a bias (I admit that I do, my company has lots of contracts directly with the EU) most of the voices that get heard are speaking out of self-interest.
Saying that it was great to hear John Barnes’s rebuttal to the Leave campaign misquoting him and his support of Remain being despite the fact that he felt it was in the best interest of British footballers to leave (…/eu-referendum-john-barnes-br…). I wish more people took a less selfish view and looked outside of their immediate area.
I could go on to talk about all the issues in depth, but here’s a summary:
> Cost of Membership: Less than Leave claims, would probably cost us the same to join the free market (as even Leave campaign would like to re-join).
> Immigration: Free movement is a cornerstone of the free market and it’s likely we’d have to agree to it if we wanted to re-join (as other countries have had to).
> Sovereignty: Around 7% of our laws come from the EU, of which there has only been 2% or so of that our representatives have been on the other side of the debate – and any major change each country (including us) has the right to veto. Also more democratic than the British Parliamentary system with it's unelected House of Lords.
> Working Conditions: It’s thanks to the EU that we initially had guaranteed holiday pay, paid maternity leave and increased workplace protection. I know nothing is stopping our own governments including these, however the Tories over the last few years have been doing their best to repeal as much of the legislation that is in place as possible to make it easier to fire people.
> Trade: Don’t even get me started on where these mythical new trading agreements are going to come from (at the moment we are a gateway point for many countries as part of a massive continental economy, we are just as likely to lose current partners as gain any more, on top of those EU ones we are bound to lose!)
There are so many more issues, and I could talk about the above for so much longer, however for me, the issue doesn’t really boil down to any of them, it’s one of personal freedoms. I consider myself a global citizen, and being in the EU has enabled me to interact with many other EU citizens that otherwise I may not have had the chance to do so, or at least not so easily. Today I ran into my Swedish friend, who moved here because she could work here and now has a beautiful daughter with her Welsh partner. This August I am going travelling with a friend of mine from Finland who was able to come over here to study. I have also met many French, Spanish, Italians, Germans, Irish, Dutch, Hungarian and Polish people who are here in part due to their ability to come here, and knowing each one has enriched my life greatly and I feel lucky to consider them my friends. I have also met many, many people through my travels in the EU, last year I was in Croatia, Serbia and Greece, I have to say it was harder being in Serbia with it not being an EU member state. I love how open it was and how easy it is to travel around Europe, and I hate the restrictions that are placed on you when you go elsewhere (like the expensive visas with time limits). As a global citizen I hate the fact that countries put up barriers to entry, and restrict how long you can stay. I have not ruled out one day living abroad, I think I would love to live in, work in and contribute to another country, this would be so much easier if I had the right to settle anywhere in Europe.
I feel nothing good can come from constructing (metaphorical or physical) borders, creating feelings of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ and generally just disengaging with our neighbours. Humans are inherently social creatures, we all inhabit the same planet and our fate is common. The way I see it - the more alliances’ partnerships and agreements we create, the better. If nothing else I will vote remain tomorrow for LOVE, for peace, for freedom to travel, for shared knowledge and understanding, and for a dream of a world that can be more united for we have more in common than what divides us.
I don’t know if anyone has read this far but if you have and are still undecided I hope that you will consider what I’ve said and vote remain tomorrow for the hope of keeping a stronger, less divided world.