Unsurprisingly I’ve voted in.
The EU is flawed, but a system for countries and peoples to work together collaboratively and democratically to solve common problems is better than the alternative.
The economic risk of Brexit is very real. We hear a lot about the £350 million that the Brexiteers say is sent to Brussels every week. Aside from being a deliberate and cynical lie, it’s also smaller than the £450 million in inward investment to the UK that we get every week in large part because of our position in the EU – and a tiny proportion of our £35 billion per week economy and and £15 billion per week government spending. A 1% drop in the economy if we leave will wipe out the “£350 million” in a flash. Anything more than that and we will be worse off. The uncertainly that a vote for Brexit will cause will also have an immediate impact as investors pull their money out of the UK, the pound drops (because fewer people want pounds) and things that are priced in Euros and Dollars (like food, oil and holidays) cost us more. It’s not just the threat to jobs that will hit the economy as investment falls, but a collapsing pound will mean that everyone will be worse off…
We’ve heard a lot about sovereignty. One question I’ve repeatedly asked – and never had an answer to – is “Name a law or regulation – that the democratically elected UK government or democratically elected MEPs didn’t back – that has been imposed on us.” And then there’s silence. I realise people are concerned that we’re being bossed around by Brussels – but surely it’s not unreasonable to ask for a single example of how. I’m still waiting.
There are a lot of issues that this referendum has thrown up that we need to address – housing, pressure on public services, and how we ensure that we create a society where all members are able to look to the future with a sense of positivity and optimism. But most of those problems come from decisions made in the UK – not in Europe – and it’s in the UK that we must find solutions to them. And if the EU does things that work against these goals, we should try to change it, not run away.
And we do need a positive vision for the future of Europe. The question of “where do we go next in Europe?” is an important one. There needs to be much more transparency – real effort put into better ways of engaging people in how decisions are made – and continued efforts to ensure that the EU is genuinely a “people’s Europe” that is responsive to the needs and concerns of people across the continent.
But in the end, I believe in collaboration, cooperation and reducing barriers between peoples and countries. I believe it in my work life. I believe it in my politics. I believe it in my private life. I have friends in countries all over the world. And I believe the more friendship, the more collaboration and the greater the reduction in the sense of ‘other’ in relationships with people around the world, the better for us all.