This Thursday, I’ll be voting to remain in the EU. Head and heart are in total agreement on this one.
To me it is clear that we’re economically better off in the EU. Almost half of all our trade is in that common market, and so many British businesses and jobs depend on it. If we leave but seek to continue trading in the single market like Norway, we’ll still have to pay fees (which may well be higher than ours are now because we’ll lose the rebate Thatcher negotiated for us), we won’t receive the funding the EU pumps back into its members, and we’ll have to adhere to all the same rules on free movement (including immigration)—only we will have given up any say in those rules. Talk about self-defeating.
I am sympathetic to the arguments about sovereignty, and the fear that we the British people have ceded our rights to self-govern to faceless bureaucrats. And I’m just as wary as anyone of the power creep of the EU, particularly its Court of Justice* that is hugely trigger-happy when it comes to declaring new powers for itself. But, firstly, we have always quite competently exempted ourselves from the biggest power grabs—the Euro, the Schengen protocol, and the common justice and home affairs policy. And secondly, the EU is fairly democratic. In many ways its proportional representation-based Parliament is more representative than our own with its first-past-the-post system. And so when the EU passes regulations that, for instance, protect workers from severe exploitation—something our own government would tear up in a heartbeat—I’m all for it. We’re a comparatively lightly regulated country, and it seems that our densest regulations are not due to Brussels but our own domestic lawmakers.
This is not to deny that there are EU laws that many of us might legitimately have huge problems with. But I don’t think that justifies washing our hands of it and saying adiEU.
Being part of the EU means being part of something bigger. It’s saying yes to an expansive, outgoing worldview where our own value as a global player is reflected by the respect and value we place in our neighbours. Where we collaborate to come up with ideas we could never have even imagined on our own. And though we’re too young to personally remember, the EU was founded after World War II upon the idea that mutual interdependence between countries, based on trade and economic cooperation, was the surest guarantor of a fragile peace. In a time where rampant hate has infiltrated even mainstream politics, we must not forget that. Plus, the simplest benefits are the coolest—the right to freely travel, study, work and live in a multitude of awesome countries. My own life in the UK is hugely enriched by the presence of so many European friends, colleagues and creative collaborators. We get all this, plus the vital economic gains and opportunities, for about £9 per month per person. As someone else has said, it’s better value than Netflix.
This is a momentous, once in a generation decision. For me the answer is clear.
* Note this is the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, not the unfairly-hated-on European Court of Human Rights, which has nothing to do with the EU. <Back>