In a few weeks we are being asked to vote on whether we should remain in the EU or leave it.
For those who have yet to make up their minds, can I remind them that this vote is not on David Cameron & how he is performing as PM, it is not a vote on the Tory party’s record in power, it isn’t even a vote on Cameron renegotiation of our terms on membership and it certainly isn’t a vote on if we should have joined the Common Market in 1973. All these issues are irrelevant in the Referendum
What we are voting on is the future of the UK, the future not just of those like me who have lived most of our lives but the future of our children & grandchildren. What sort of country do we want them to grow up in? Is that future better if we stay in the EU or not?
Do we want a future that gives generations to come a life full of opportunity to study, work & live anywhere in Europe? A future where working & cooperating with people from Croatia, from Finland, from Portugal is not unusual but the norm. A future where we work with our neighbours to combat the cross-border threats that we all face, pollution, terrorism, crime, people smuggling. A future where our rights as workers, as consumers, as travellers are protected and expanded. A future where we are stronger together.
Or do we want to a future as a diminishing county, isolated from but dominated by a Europe that will imposes decisions on us but we have no say in. a future where our rights are chipped away as the “Brussels Red Tape” that guarantees them is done away with, a future where jobs and opportunities are lost as the foreign investment we have enjoyed because we are in the EU dries up, a future where the Press Barons & hedge fund managers that have backed Brexit tell the UK Government what to do, a future where public services like the NHS are run down as the country, with an contracting economy, can no longer afford to pay for them (or indeed where the same Hedge Fund managers stand to gain millions in the event of Brexit), a future where we are divided and weaker.
Those who are proposing we leave the EU do not seem to have an idea what will happen after a vote for Brexit. Some claim we can continue to be in the Single Market but not have to accept the Free of Movement of labour, an idea that has been roundly discredited by experts. Some seem to think that in the event of Brexit, the remaining nations in the EU will roll over and agree to whatever terms the UK demands in subsequent negotiations on a trade agreement between the EU & the UK, again, an idea that does not seem to have any basis in the views of those countries who will still be in the EU.
The EU is not perfect, then again neither is the UK Government, and needs to carry on reforming just as it has through it existence. 20 years ago, the directly elected European Parliament (EP) was little more than a talking shop, now it is one of the three equal parts of EU decision making. In 2014, after the most recent elections, it played a crucial role in deciding who would be the President of the European Commission, where the nominee of the largest group in the EP was appointed over the objection of some individual national Governments.
Of course the EU, especially our directly elected MEPs, needs to do better at engaging people in its work. Also, like all bureaucracies, it tends to accumulate power and we need to push that power is brought back down, not to equally rapacious national Governments but to regional & local councils throughout the Union
However, the benefits of membership, the cooperation, the investment, the protection of our environment and much much more, all more than outweigh the drawbacks and mean that we stand to lose more than we could gain if we left
So, the choice on June 23rd is that stark, Remain & Gain or Leave & Lose. I know which way I am voting, I will be voting Remain to protect the future of the generations to come, I hope you will be voting to do the same.