Following on from my post a week or so ago concerning why you should register to vote, today I’d like to discuss why I feel we should all be looking to vote to remain in the European Union. Something I feel we haven’t seen enough of over the last few weeks is a strong, positive case for staying in, due mostly to the “project fear” campaign being run by senior Conservative figures who receive the majority of press coverage, leaving the positive message to be spread by the more marginalised members of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green parties. On this basis, I have tried to make the following reasons to remain in the EU as clear from scaremongering, lies, and personal attacks as I possibly can.
There is perhaps no better place to start than the number one reason why the Leave campaign feel we should vote for Brexit on the 23rd of June. They would argue that immigration is a burden on this country, and that by taking in people from across the EU we are putting pressure on the country’s infrastructure. However I would argue almost the complete opposite; firstly in pure economic terms, according to a 2014 UCL report, immigrants who have arrived in this country since the year 2000 have had a net contribution to this country’s finances of around £20bn (see independent charity Full Fact’s website for more detail), so in the crudest possible manner you could argue that immigration makes the country money rather than costs it. Secondly, and I think more importantly, regardless of any monetary aspect, immigration has a rich cultural benefit to this country. Going to university in Birmingham, a city containing migrants from all over the EU, and indeed the world, I see first hand the positive effect of a melting pot of people. Far from resentment for one another, there is a real sense of togetherness in the city, where everyone is both respectful and tolerant of each other’s cultures and beliefs. The grey concrete buildings of Birmingham may not be much of an inspiration, but its people are. Instead of trying solve the challenge of a growing population in this country (which is caused by a higher life expectancy as much as immigration let’s not forget) by leaving the EU (which only accounts for a third of immigration anyhow), we should be meeting these challenges head on by working together to invest in both public services and housing, increasing supply rather than cutting demand, aspects of this country which remain very much under the UK government’s control.
For me working together is the key reason to remain in the European Union. I often hear the argument that the UK faired quite alright on its own before it became a member of what is now the EU back in the 1970s, however to me this is actually largely irrelevant, as the world we live in now has changed so much since then. In the internet age, both threats and opportunities pay no attention to border lines; the two main threats we face today are climate change and terrorism; it goes without saying that in terms of changes to the world’s climate, we are all affected regardless of the country we reside in, and to an extent, the same could be said about terrorism. Yes, perhaps in the 1970s the terrorist threat was some way linked to nationality, particularly in Britain with the likes of the IRA, however in the 21st century, whether you are British or French or German or Polish does not concern terrorist groups such as ISIS. It is not the nationality you associate with that they object to, but the liberal way of life that across Europe and much of the rest of the world we all share. A problem shared is a problem halved, why retreat to deal with these problems on our own when we can pool information and resources together to better combat these threats?
Remaining in the EU does not only help to better deal with threats, but also continues to offer great opportunities. Free access to the single market has been covered many times over the course of the EU Referendum campaign, but as well as this I think it’s also important to remember the other benefits, such as being free to work and travel from the very north of Finland to the very south of Greece and Spain. A great deal of people who read this will be young people, and it’s perhaps them who would most benefit from the EU’s latest regulation, abolishing data roaming charges within the EU by 2017. This means that not only do our holidays to Ibiza or our gap years spent inter-railing across Germany and Holland stay cheap and easy, but the uploading of the thousands of selfies which come part and parcel with these trips abroad is about to become and damn sight easier and cheaper too.
By claiming to be “taking back control”, the Leave campaign often try and portray themselves as the patriotic choice at this referendum. Again, I disagree. To me, the UK is not a country that takes a step back from its seat at a table of nations, it a country that not only takes a seat at the table but also takes the lead of it. Nobody is arguing that that EU is perfect, but by staying in, staying strong and taking the lead in Brussels, we can change it for the better. Over the past hundred years Britain has fought for a better Europe; it is not now, just because things appear slightly tougher than we originally thought they might, that we retreat and give up. In 2017 Britain takes on the presidency of the council of the European Union (assuming we vote to remain), this is our country’s chance to lead from the front not only in facing the global challenges that affect us all, but also at the same time to build a fairer, more democratic, more representative Union at the same time.
Thank you for reading, please cast your vote to remain in the European Union at the referendum on the 23rd of June.
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