‘Brexit’: Britain’s exit from the EU, or the catchy name of a new breakfast cereal?
Ok but seriously, you can’t read the news lately without seeing something about the upcoming referendum, it’s the word on everybody’s lips (and social media pages)! I’m not going to pretend to know much about politics but I do hope to offer my point of view as someone who is currently benefitting greatly from Britain’s membership of the EU.
First off, I would like to say that, if you haven’t already guessed it, I am 100% supporting the IN-campaign, it isn’t very often that I find myself agreeing with David Cameron but in this case I think he makes some good points. No, the EU isn’t perfect, but neither are the alternatives.
You only have to look at supporters of the OUT-campaign to see why leaving the EU might be ill advised; Mayor of London and aspiring prime minister- Boris Johnson, former Education Secretary and current Justice Secretary- Michael Gove, and, of course, UKIP party leader- Nigel Farage. No, it’s not a very sophisticated argument, but these are not people I would take advice from.
While its nice to see David Cameron make good on his promise of an EU referendum, it’s a shame that his coalition government wasn’t able to keep their promise to not raise tuition fees in 2012 (although the resulting musical success of Nick Clegg was pretty hilarious). This was a promise, which had they stuck to, could have hampered my interest in studying abroad and could have stopped me from leaving the country. The current situation is far from a ‘brain-drain’ but if the trend of more and more students rejecting a lifetime of debt and deciding to study abroad continues, it could become a real problem.
As a female aged 18-29, with a university education (getting there) I am statistically very likely to vote IN, but it’s more than just statistics. I have felt the benefits of Britain’s EU status first hand. It’s because of the EU that I can live in the wonderful Netherlands without the hassle and cost of getting a visa, it’s because of the EU that I pay the same fees as Dutch students (as opposed to significantly higher non-EU fees), it’s because of the EU that I can use my time off to travel around Europe freely, and it’s because of the EU that I can consider staying here to work once I’ve finished my degree.
Obviously, expats aren’t the only consideration (although there is a huge number of Brits living and working outside of the UK (1.26 million!) and that’s before you even start to consider the number of Brits traveling to the EU for their holidays). Without the EU, the UK would cease to benefit from free trade within the single market and would be forced to make new agreements through the WTO, a process which would be costly and take up a lot of time that politicians might be better off directing at legislation within the EU. Some have suggested striking similar deals to that of Norway or Switzerland but the problem with that seems to be that they are still subject to some EU legislation, but because they do not have full membership they are denied voting rights, even though they do pay some contributions. Paying into the EU should not been seen as money down the drain, but rather as an investment in a strong relationship that has many benefits. As with any alliance there are issues that have to be ironed out and sometimes decisions are made that wouldn’t necessarily be our first choice, but by no means should we fear the loss of our sovereignty as a nation to such a degree that we leave a relationship that has been so positive to date. The UK has made it this far remaining outside of the Euro Zone and avoiding the single currency, there is no reason why this cannot continue.
The real question seems to me; are we going to make our decision- IN or OUT- based on opportunities and what is best for the UK, or are we going to make our decision based on fear? I’m convinced that Nigel Farage would have us all deciding to leave based on the fear of immigration, the fear of terrorism, the fear of unknown future possibilities. Are we going to be a fearful people or are we going to remain united with our fellow member states? United in trade, united in democracy, united in justice, united in human rights, united in peace, united in foreign aid, and united in freedom.
I think it would be such a big mistake for the UK to leave the EU that I would threaten to leave the country, but it’s a bit late for that now.
Finally, if you’re reading this and are able to vote on June 23rd as the postman delivers my vote, then please, VOTE! IN or OUT, but make sure you have your say!