I have been asked a few times over the last few weeks which way I will be voting in the referendum and had a range of discussions with friends (some heated) concerning my views. I have thought quite a bit about this, as I am sure many others have (though unfortunately some not all as much as they should have) and have come to the belief that we are better remaining in the EU than exiting it. I have come to this belief (which is mine and I understand if others disagree) based upon the following:
- I truly believe that any organisation that is designed to get nations working together can only ultimately be a good thing. The history of the human race is filled with conflict; we seem to be very good at upsetting one another (negative view of humanity I know but I think it’s true). Any way in which we can start cooperating for the good of the species has got to be worth pursuing. Yes, the EU has flaws as it is a human endeavor but surely it’s worth fighting for and trying to get right rather than abandoning when it has only way just begun (50-70 years is not a big amount of time to get something right especially as it has only really started accelerating in the last 20)
- A lot of the arguments I hear for leaving seem to be old-fashioned reasons (Turkish people are going to steal my job, the country is going to be full of Romanians etc.). To me these reasons seem old-fashioned as they reflect a world before we had planes and the Internet where people only communicated with those nearby. The world is getting smaller by the day and it seems that where someone is born makes less difference than it used to. As long as people contribute and do not threaten our safety or security then I’m not sure where the issue is (I conscious avoided saying “our way of life” as progress requires that it changes and has changed so much in the last 20 years due to many reasons which have nothing to do with the EU)
- Arguments concerning sovereignty also seem strange to me. As I said in point two we live in a small world and every country is impacting on others. This is especially true of Britain whose history and culture are very tied to our European neighbours through invasion and immigration from well before the EU existed. The Normans, Romans and Vikings to name a few have shaped this country through conquest and their legacy has made Britain what it is today so to attempt to avoid European influence now seems to be a bit late. None of the history of Britain is going to disappear as a result of continued EU membership and will doubtless be enhanced into the future.
- I am also not particularly concerned which currency I use to buy things with and therefore if we stayed in the EU and ultimately took the Euro then I’m not convinced it would make much difference to me in my daily life except I would be exchanging a loaf of bread for a piece of paper (or whatever Euros are made from) with an EU flag and some British monuments instead of one with the Queen on the back (I’m sure she or he will appear somewhere on currency either way). The benefit would be that I would be able to very easily spend my money if I went to France etc and the difference in cost of goods and services between countries would be much more transparent.
- I saw a statement from the head of JCB in a local newspaper recent explaining his reasons for voting the leave the EU. His primary argument seemed to be that we could survive on the outside. I don’t doubt that we could survive, I feel we would be less in the long run as a result but we would survive. The statement made me think of a quote from Star Trek 6: “Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing it does not necessarily follow that we must do that thing.” I’m not sure where the quote is from originally but it’s a good statement non-the-less. Just because we can survive outside the EU, does that mean we should?
- A lot of the legislation that people are upset from the EU was either designed by us through discussion with our neighbours, proposed by us in the first place and/or will apply to us even if we leave, I was attending a conference the other day and the new European Data Protection regulations were being discussed and one of the panel said that whether we leave or not the law will apply as companies which trade with Europe or have European subsidiaries will be impacted by it. This will apply in many cases and is demonstrated by Norway situation, as despite being outside the EU they have to cope with EU law to do trade with European countries but do not have any say in what the laws will be.
That’s about all I can think of to say concerning Europe for now. If you read this and agree or disagree then feel free to comment but please don’t just attack me based on thinking I’m wrong as that seems too much of the debate over this already.