Hi guys. Sorry to do this to you. I know everyone is sick to death of this debate, but I set myself a challenge to outline my reasons for Remaining without resorting to quips about Boris, etc. Especially since I just met his dad, Stanley, at a book launch the other week. Let’s keep the personalities out of this, I thought. And let’s not just be reacting to the Brexiteers. Let’s find strong, positive, proactive reasons for wanting to Remain, reasons that are my own genuine reasons.
I started out wanting to find five reasons. I’ve ended up with ten, plus a bonus.
1. The EU is the result of a determination among states to join together in co-operation. This determination was gained at incalculable cost, within the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents. Voting to leave it without stating a determination to achieve the postwar aim is both shortsighted and disrespectful. It looks to this old mum like childish selfishness.
2. Currently, half our trade – the greatest amount by a factor of four – is with the EU. After EU comes the US with 12%, and the US has already said that it could take a decade to reach a trade deal. Do we have a Plan B for selling our stuff? I don’t see one. So maybe not sensible to quit the day job just yet.
It’s also hard to imagine how long we would remain the ‘fifth largest economy in the world’ if our main market dried up. Even our status as a financial centre, I mean tax haven, could be compromised if the drug barons and oligarchs needed a visa to get here.
3. I think it is a very good thing to be able to travel freely throughout the EU. And to live in other countries. Why on earth would anyone would vote against that? It’s fun, it adds to cultural exchange and understanding, it enables duty-free wine, it expands options. I vote for broadening our horizons and travelling and living elsewhere.
4. I also think it is a good thing to enable Europeans to come live in the UK. It makes our cities more diverse, as doctors and lawyers and businessmen and writers and artists and historians and lots of other European people come to live here. It makes us more cosmopolitan. With growing populations all over the world – not just here, natch – it’s MORE important to be able to get along with others, not less. I vote for having lots of different people.
5. Er, aside from that, the practicalities. It would really cause a ruckus if all those British pensioners abroad suddenly came back here and needed housing and health care and so on – right?? They’ve largely gone there because their pensions go further elsewhere – there’s no reason to think they can all manage in the 2016 housing market, especially with a new slump… and how would we cope in the chaos of the sudden departure of all the Europeans? Nobody has a plan. Nobody has even given a rough idea of how this might work. It’s too much pointless disruption. I’m not voting for that.
6. We also like buying things from Europe, let’s not forget. I mean, we really like it. On a basic level, why would I vote to make that harder and more expensive?
7. There are lots of rights we all take for granted that come from the EU. These include maternity pay, maximum working weeks (& thus overtime), statutory holiday pay, equal pay for women, no discrimination, etc. Do we really WANT to lose our holidays, our maternity pay, our sickness entitlement, our automatic right to fair treatment? This doesn’t make sense to me. We have a government in power who are actively trying to strip our rights. Why would I help them do that? Once they’re gone we won’t easily get them back.
8. The EU has much a stronger environmental record than the UK does on its own. It was the EU that cleaned up our beaches, lowered our sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions, took the lead out of our petrol, and it’s the EU that is driving the fight against destroying the planet. Our government wants to privatise the Lake District. They want to see fracking in Sussex and Yorkshire. Why would we vote to remove checks on this behaviour? We in Britain LOVE our countryside and nature. Let’s not endanger it – let’s let Europe help us protect it.
I vowed not to let this be reactionary, but that James Delingpole complains about how ridiculous it is, not being able to use any weedkiller we want. Er, yeah. The one under discussion is killing the bees and destroying the planet and is also carcinogenic. It’s owned by a company that is aggressively trying to COPYRIGHT SEEDS. Why would we actually vote for that?
9. The UK was a leader in the drafting of the EU Convention on Human Rights. It was a crucial part of the recovery of Europe from the war, following the Nuremberg Trials (on which the same UK delegate had also sat). This document spells out our highest hopes for our country, and other countries. I think that we should honour that, stand by it, be proud of our achievement and contribution. It was a fine moment, that post-War moment. And the UK fielded a world-class diplomat who had the chops to lead a united effort to make the world better. Our current political rhetoric right now is not, frankly, of a calibre that supercedes this. Our current government is trying to chip away at our rights, even the rights that WE led in drafting. So no, I would not vote to leave and give them the power to dismantle our best heritage.
10. If you’ve ever dropped a cigarette end on your couch and you didn’t go up in flames, or your kid played with matches in their pyjamas and didn’t go up in flames, it was because of the EU. Because the UK government left to itself didn’t insist on that. Maybe not such a terrible thing after all.
11. On a very basic level, we have to look at the long term, the big picture. No, we don’t like everything about the EU. Yes it can be pettifogging and yes it can be bureaucratic. But it also gives us a great deal. It’s like complaining about your partner. Do you break up every time you think your partner is pettifogging and process-driven? Or do you accept that relationships are give and take and sometimes need some work? Leaving seems to me like a panic move. The house isn’t valuable enough to sell and buy two new houses.
12. And here is the crux. This vote. It’s not an abstract thing. It’s not a Survey Monkey thing going what do you think of the EU. The government in power, right now, is trying to strip us of our rights. If you watch a film of Tony Benn saying he distrusts the EU and wants more democracy, ask yourself this: is anyone who wants to leave the EU likely to inject more democracy into our system? If you read an article about the SWP wanting to Brexit so we can be free of the IMF and start the Revolution, do you think that is actually likely to happen? We have to vote in relation to where we’re at NOW. Right now. With all the shit that’s flying around. We have to listen to arguments, which are the manifestos, of the people who want to leave. We have to look at their track records. In the absence of the benefits we gain in the form of EU regulations and rights, can we trust these leaders we have? Or is it pie in the sky?
Think very carefully, people, about what you want. Listen to the stuff people are saying. Do you want to enable more of that? Because no matter what you think of the EU, that is what we’ll be getting a lot more of if we leave.
And 13 for luck. Putin would love us to leave. Let’s not do what Putin wants.
I’m sure there are other and better, and better substantiated, reasons framed elsewhere. These are mine and, I feel, already long enough…