This is it – the final countdown (as a band called Europe once sung). Tomorrow, millions are expected to go to the polls and vote on the future of Britain’s place in the world; whether Britain should stay in a 28-member strong single market, or go it alone in a competitive and increasingly globalised and interdependent world.
The European Union has given us a lot of benefits and, although it may not be perfect, I will be voting Remain tomorrow and I hope that you will too. Let me explain…
Over the last five years, many parts of the media have built up a case that the EU does nothing for us, other than implementing crazy legislation and red tape that hurts British industry and the economy. And that’s not the mention story after story about how immigration has stolen jobs from British people, whilst taking benefits too. These are lies.
The EU has implemented important legislation which protects the environment, workers’ rights, consumers’ rights, animal rights and prevents discrimination in the workplace. Without the EU, workers across this country would not be guaranteed holiday entitlements, would not have safer workplace environments, and would not have protection from bosses forcing employees to work more than 48 hours a week. This legislation makes up only 13% of the total passed through Parliament in the UK.
In addition, the free movement of people has allowed for 3 million people to come to Britain and work here, contributing £20bn more in taxes than they take out in benefits, and are in fact less likely to claim benefits than the UK average. Claims that migrants are causing a drain on housing and our public services are a fiction – instead, the blame falls on successive governments who have failed to properly fund our NHS and to build social housing on a large enough scale to prevent the housing crisis we are now in. And, despite Leave’s claims, the NHS would not be safer if we quit the EU – Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are both proponents of privatising the health service and will be rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunity to carve it up if we leave the European Union.
This is not to mention the other benefits that EU membership gives Britain, including the freedom to study anywhere in the European Union, reduced charges when travelling abroad (including cheaper air fares and reduced roaming fees), funding to scientific research, universities, and for some of our most deprived regions (regions overlooked by our Government) and a community that works together to tackle the threats that face it, which has contributed to ending the bitter rivalry that dominated 20th century Europe.
The Leave campaign have no plans on how this would be replicated if we leave or how much we would still be a part of the community upon a Brexit. Why? Because by their own admission ‘they simply don’t know’. They don’t know what negotiation they are going to get from the EU, especially as France and Germany will go to the polls next year, and will be pandering to their own populations to protect their own interests over that of a Britain heading for the exit. They have covered their eyes and ignored the huge majority of experts who say that Britain would tip back into recession if we were to leave, with unemployment rising as businesses leave and prices rising in supermarkets as the pound falls on the money markets.
Asking what would happen to the economy, negotiations and the direction of the country as a whole upon a Brexit vote is not scaremongering; it is bringing up genuine concerns brought up by people across the country, who fear that their jobs and their futures are at stake in tomorrow’s vote.
Instead of answering these concerns, Vote Leave have trotted out the same line – that we’ll take back control and it’ll all be fine. But the truth is they have not offered any realistic plan and offered no information about how many jobs may be lost, how badly the economy will be hit, how many more immigrants may come to the country in the interim period, how long it might take to negotiate and what laws would and wouldn’t be axed. This, as Ruth Davidson put it in last night’s debate, is simply not good enough. Voting to leave with so much uncertainty is simply not worth the risk.
This campaign has been turned into a toxic referendum on immigration by the Leave side, with posters replicating the Nazi propaganda of the 1930s lowering the tone and creating a sense to those who have lived in this country for many years that they are not welcome here. If we vote to leave tomorrow, we will no longer be the progressive beacon we have been for many years; we would have caved in to the lies and deceit of the right and far-right of British politics and the country will lose out as a result. Of course the EU is not a perfect organisation, but it has provided Britain with so many benefits over the last 43 years and it is not worth putting all of that at risk.
For the sake of the future of this country and the benefits the EU brings to the citizens of the UK, please turn out to vote tomorrow and vote Remain.