All For One Or None For All? The UK and the EU
Another year, another referendum and this June it’s time for the people of Britain to choose whether or not they wish to stay in the European Union. But things are quite unclear about the UK and the EU, with politicians from many parties saying lots of different things, especially regarding how much power the EU has over the UK and how much money the UK pays. Hopefully this article will help clear a little of that mess up, whilst also removing the bias and blinkers.
First up, the blinkers and why I’m feeling a little suspicious. First it is believed that the government and the prime minister are spending taxpayer’s money on a pro-euro campaign. Now regardless of what anyone’s view is I believe that this isn’t fair. Taxpayer’s money on a referendum for the people should receive equal pay regardless of opinion, that’s just not fair. An online petition has over 220,000 signatures and even if you are for staying in the EU I believe it is right and just to agree that money on campaigns should be spent equally.
Something else that has bothered me is who is pro and against the UK in the EU and the points they are making. Brexit, the people who want the UK to leave the EU, seem to have idiots in control of their propaganda. Trump is for it, Boris Johnson is for it and some of the rubbish they’ve released, including how our NHS will fail if we remain in the EU and how our economy will be greater, despite showing zero proof. There are some meaningful and thoughtful reasons as to why we should leave the EU, but the people in charge of Brexit are looking incompetent and useless.
That isn’t to say the pro EU campaigners are innocent. Over 300 actors, actresses and other performing arts personnel including Jude Law, Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch, have declared their support as leaving the EU would cause creative damage due to vital EU funding. Bollocks. ‘Britain is more imaginative and more creative’ by staying in the EU. Come on guys. You’re better than this. Again, there are plenty of good reasons to stay in the EU, but I truly believe that people are confused because there is so much nonsense coming from both sides without anyone actually just directly saying what the hell is going on, why we should actually stay or go and how does the EU affect the UK. Only 1 in 3 people even bother to vote for their members of European parliament and it’s probably because they never see them or know what they’re doing anyway!
So what are the key points?
The things people seem to be worried about are the economy, immigration and how much power the EU has over our rules and laws.
Well, first we should remember that the EU was created initially as an economic trade zone, where countries freely trade with one another.
So what makes me cautious is looking at the progression of that, to what it has changed and is changing in to. Today we have a parliament, freedom of movement and sentiments leaning towards a European super country and it is highly understandable as to why people in the UK feel uncomfortable with this. Even the majority of our 73 MEPs are against the EU and some either spend their time in the UK campaigning for us to leave and when they do sit there they have signs posted in front of them saying how they wish for the UK to leave. It is easy to understand and possibly see why the UK is seen as the black sheep within the European flock. But how much does the EU control the UK?
Well, that depends. Brexit people quote 70%, pro EU people quote 7%. That’s quite the difference but it depends on what you count as control. Laws, regulations or both. Law wise around 9% looks accurate but I would also count regulations too, as they control what or how we sell or do things. They may not be laws but they are things we are forced to abide by, and that figure lands around the 55% mark, which is quite a high figure when thinking about your own country and how over half of it is being told what to do by foreign politicians.
As for the rule making there is a grey area surrounding that also. Apparently all MEPs do vote on matters altogether, yet it is an unelected council of representatives sent by all participating countries who create and put forward laws. I’m not saying only elected officials should be able to put forward laws or regulations but when things go wrong there is no accountability. These people are not chosen by the people but sent their by governments and that is another reason why people feel cautious about the EU. Growing powers and unelected representatives spells danger at times. What started out as a trade agreement has evolved into a law making, country binding and partially unelected group of people from all over Europe who are deciding things for you in the UK, including the taste of your chocolate and the shapes of your fruit and vegetables. And if it’s within the EU laws and regulations they can over rule the UK government.
But it’s not all doom and gloom following David Cameron’s EU deal in February 2016. He pledged "We will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years."
This was regarded as his biggest victory from the deal and something which should perhaps calm down the right wingers. The deal also leaves more power in the UK’s hands when dealing with EU financial bailouts and having the EU agreeing to not be prejudice to the UK for not being a part of the EU, as well as making a statement that the UK will not, nor ever will be, willing to join any form of European super country.
All in all it is a tough choice and age seems to popping up in polls, with most Brexit people being of an older generation whilst the young votes are pro EU. What makes the choice more difficult is the blurring of lines and facts from both sides of the argument, which is no surprise as both teams consist of politicians.
Nevertheless it is a big decision and looks quite well matched. I personally would look to stay but with more changes, particularly EU laws and regulations, however I wouldn’t look to actively leave. There aren’t enough facts about being out of the EU that fill me with confidence and I don’t want to be hit with the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ argument when actually you end up jumping over the fence to see it’s Astroturf with dog shit all over it. The EU has brought some intrusive things that penetrate the UK government and its powers, but sometimes for a good cause like more rights for workers, such as equality and health and safety.
The French have already said there would be consequences if Britain left the EU, but that’s the worst thing the French could say because all that does is raise the stubborn Englishman in me and force me to think harder about whether we should stay or go purely to annoy the French. But that’s just my pettiness.
I completely understand people’s reservations about the EU and its growing power, and maybe things have to change. All I would ask is for people to at least vote and have their say whilst doing some real research into the pros and cons of the EU. Don’t sit back and listen to mainstream media and politicians. Get stuck in and have your vote. It’s your right, and something your grandparents and further ancestors fought, died and survived fighting for.
It is more and more looking like a stay or go deal and if it comes down to that you could be looking at a coin toss come June, unless Trump talks more about being for a Brexit, then it will be a sure fire stay win.