The political arena have shaken off their cobwebs after the May 2015 elections, to indicate to voters which way they will be voting in the EU referendum vote, in June 2016.
Below is a statement from the Chair of Andover and North West Hampshire Labour party, Cllr Andy Fitchet, on why he is voting to stay IN the EU.
‘Why I am voting to stay in the EU.
It will be of no shock to people that I am voting to stay in the European Union. I will endeavour to explain clearly and simply why I am doing so. For me this debate is about what sort of country we want to be. Open and inclusive or closed and shut off?
Most people I have spoken to about this have shown a view to me that this is ‘very important but a bit boring’ and when debating the technicalities of both side of the argument I can sympathise with their view, even being a political nerd myself.
Therefore I will try to explain in the simplest way I can why I think we should stay in. I have 5 reasons why I will be voting to stay in the EU:
1. Shared History
1. Shared History. Often in this debate people look back to a golden era when Britain was ‘going it alone’ and doing fine. I want to question the very basis of this argument. We have an undebatable shared history with our European Neighbors. All of our Monarchs from 1066 have not been ‘British’ but of French, Spanish and, most recently, German decent. Our gene-pool as Brits is made up of Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans, all who came from the continent. The question then arises how different are we? I would argue we aren’t really. All nations within Europe have their own history and culture and traditions, none of which have been eroded by belonging in the EU. At no time have I been in Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Hungry or Spain and wondered what nation I was in, as if they had become a non-explicit EU state. All these countries still hold to their national identity and in the last 40 years of the UK being in the EU, so have we. This will not change if we continue in the EU.
2. Peace. The shared European project was set up in the aftermath of World War Two as a way of trying to bring peace and stability to a region that has a history of fighting each other. The EU has helped to form democracy in Spain, Portugal, Greece and former Soviet countries. It has helped to keep peace in the Balkans and now continues to be a strong force in the world to create peace deals with many nations. I do not believe that UK and other EU nations will be going to war in the event we leave the EU. However I am firmly convinced that we are safer and more secure joining together than we are on our own. Out biggest threat in Europe at the moment is Russia. We are stronger together in facing this and other threats.
3. Jobs. You will hear many statistics over the next 121 days about this issue. Best guesses are that roughly 1 in 10 jobs in the UK are linked to trade and our involvement with the EU. Will all of these disappear? No. Will some? Yes. Between 2007 and 2013 the UK received £6,000,000,000 in research funding from the EU. 1,400,000 UK nationals live and work in the EU, friends and Colleagues of mine. Their move to the EU was smooth and easy, because we are able to live and work anywhere we would like across the 28 nations of the EU. This will all disappear if we leave the EU. I also believe that people have a false understanding of what would happen if we left the EU. No-one who is here legally in the UK now would be or are able to be forced to leave.
4 Glocalisation. A wonderful word which speaks of our ever closer globally local world – the global village as it has also been called. We live in a world that is closer than ever, I can access the entire world (almost) from a 5” phone in my hand. This shows no sign of changing any time soon. The world we live in in truly Glocal. I grew up in very modest circumstances on a council estate in the south of England and yet even I have been to 8 EU countries. This is something that would have been impossible for people even a generation before me. Why? Because of the ease and price or travel in the EU. I can cross borders with no hassle, visit 28 nations with no visa and phone home on the same rate it will cost in the UK. I can drive on a UK license which is accepted in all the EU nations and if I get sick, know I will get care free at the point of need. Our world is getting closer, now is not the time to pull up the shutters and pretend it is not happening. If we move to a model like Switzerland or Norway, who are not in the EU, like them we would have to abide by all EU rules to trade with them yet with absolutely no say over what rules are implemented. It is also my firm belief that leaving the EU will see the loss of the UK also. Scotland overwhelmingly wants to remain in the EU, if we vote to leave this could trigger another referendum and see not only our security of being in the EU disappear but also our security of being a United Kingdom.
5. Money. The biggest question of all. UKIP claims that we spend £55m a day on the EU and if you break down our budget contribution to the EU then yes we do. However, this does not take into account the various benefits we get back out of the EU. UK farmers receive about £3,000,000,000 a year in subsidies from the EU. Per year Universities and scientific bodies receive £1,000,000,000 in research grants. Wales and NI are net gainers from the EU and their farming and rural communities would be impacted on a massive scale if we left the EU. In 2013 the UK trade with the EU was £364bn compared to its trade with China which was £43bn. Not all of that trade would be lost but it would be hit by tariffs and costs that are not there now. As the Centre of European reform puts it: ‘The alternatives to EU membership are unsatisfactory: they either give Britain less control over regulation than it currently enjoys, or they offer more control but less market access…while membership of the EU is as much about broader, political questions as economics, the economic case for staying in the Union is strong.’
For all these reasons, and many more, I am voting to Remain in the EU.