I’m going to be honest, when I say I want Britain to stay in the EU I am thinking mostly about myself (well, and all other young people).
I spent my early twenties in the midst of an economic crisis, that hindered my job prospects and resulted in years of pay freezes, and I don’t want to spend my early 30s in the same capacity.
No one – not Brexit campaigners or David Cameron – truly knows what will happen if Britain comes out of the EU, but I think the fact that almost all economic experts are saying it will be immediately bad for the economy means we can expect that to happen.
In fact, the economy only has to retract 1% for us to lose more than we pay into the EU. There’ll be at least four years of economic uncertainty. That we can almost guarantee.
I think the Brexit campaign has been staggeringly misleading. Not necessarily false but only telling half-truths and I’m concerned that most people won’t bother to find out the full story.
Some of the key issues that I didn’t fully understand until I decided to educate myself are:
- I am not against immigration, my father and uncle are both immigrants who have paid taxes all their lives, and I live cheek by jowl with immigrants in Streatham Hill, and love doing so. But if you are against immigration, it is worth knowing that as a collective group immigrants pay more into Britain’s GDP than they take out in services such as NHS and housing etc so it’s not accurate to say that immigrants are to blame for long NHS waiting lists, lack of places in Primary schools or a lack of social housing. The money is there but the government isn’t putting the money back into these services, probably because it’s paying off the deficit caused by the financial crisis or giving tax breaks to big businesses, I don’t know. Plus, even if we leave the EU there is no guarantee we will reduce immigration. Britain may have to partake in the free movement of people in order to enjoy other benefits of the EU, like trading with them. To me immigration is a fact of life, it’s been happening for thousands of years and we can’t just be ignorant and say we don’t want immigrants without acknowledging what immigrants bring to our country and economy.
- The EU does not make most of our laws, we have to pass all our laws through our own parliament before they become actual laws. Yes, it does dictate some product laws i.e the use of inflammable materials in pillows etc but this is because product standardisation makes it easier for EU countries to trade with each other as each country has the same product requirements. I honestly don’t really care about this, personally.
- The EU costs us £350m a week but we get a £13bn rebate (as negotiated by Margret Thatcher) and another £5bn never leaves our account. So the £350m a week figure isn’t accurate. It actually costs us £136m a week. As I said before, not even counting what the EU provides us in terms trade, if our economy was to retract by 1% (very likely) we would be losing more than we pay into the EU. Negotiating new trade deals will be long and arduous and as President of the US Barack Obama said the UK ‘will have to get to the back of the queue behind the EU’ when it comes to negotiating trade deals. Plus we’ll still have to abide by all those EU product laws if we want to sell stuff to Europe, our biggest trade market (56% of UK exports by value are delivered to European trade partners. Also, England accounts for only 2.5% of overall global exports, so we’re not exactly a massive trading superpower as some like to think.)
Those are three of the key issues, but there are many more, of course.
I hope Britain stays in Europe for these reasons but also because the world is fighting the same problems – terrorism and global warming to name just two – why do we think we will be better at fighting these problems alone? Leaving the EU won’t make global warming or terrorism disappear from our shores.
Does the EU need to reform? Yes, and we need to be at the table when it inevitably does or we’ll be left out in the cold.
But if you want to leave the EU make sure you’re doing so for good reasons. I and my future children, my friends’ children, all children, have to live with your decision. Some of the reasons I’ve heard so far when I’ve asked Brexiters why they want to leave the EU are: ‘It’s nice to have a change’, ‘I’m patriotic’ and also just radio silence because they can’t tell me why they want to leave (or I suspect because they think their answer will make them sound racist). I’m not saying this is the case for every Brexit supporter this has just been my experience.
I’m also suspicious of the people behind the Brexit campaign – Nigel Farage (do I need to say any more?), Boris Johnson (who I think is doing this because it will give him a decent shot at being Prime Minister), Katie Hopkins (do I need to say any more?), Michael Gove (who has managed to piss everybody off) and the Daily Mail (do I need to say any more?).
My instinct tells me listen to those independent experts, the universities, health care experts, Stephen Hawking, Noble Peace Prize winners – the full list of people behind Remain are here – all those that are far more educated and knowledgeable than me. I hope Britain does the same because now is no time to be bloody minded.
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