Should we stay or should we go? By Angela Caldin
A strange thing is happening here in the UK – on one vital issue, politicians are not toeing any party line in the usual way. This is because on 23 June the nation faces the momentous choice of whether we should leave the EU or remain in it and because politicians have been given free rein to campaign for whichever side they support.
As a result, we have seen Jeremy Corbyn, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson and Paddy Ashdown lining up with David Cameron, George Osborne and Nicola Sturgeon to support the remain camp, while Boris Johnson, Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and Frank Field find themselves in the leave camp with Nigel Farage and the whole of UKIP.
Take back contol
Leavers believe that quitting the EU would give us more control of our own laws and regulations, restoring our sovereignty which they perceive to have been lost. It would give the UK more global influence not less, and would give us the freedom to make our own global trade deals. Most importantly, leaving the EU would give us back control of our borders and stem the tide of immigration which in their opinion threatens to overwhelm our public services. We would no longer have to pay a hefty subscription to the EU which would mean more money to spend on the NHS and other public services. They believe that leaving the EU is a less risky option than staying in and would give us more money in our pockets.
Stronger and safer
Remainers believe that the economy would shrink into recession, jobs would be lost and prices would be higher if we left the EU. There would be cuts in investment, hitting the NHS hard. Funding for scientific and medical research would be lost. Workers’ rights, which are now protected by the EU as are women’s rights in the workplace, would be under threat if we left. They contend that being in the EU strengthens our defence position and strengthens UK counter-terrorism through intelligence sharing. A large majority of businesses say that we are in a stronger position inside the EU.
What are we to make of it all? It’s very hard to say. It seems that the country is split down the middle and there is no clear consensus across industries or socio-economic groups. I heard people working in the fishing industry being interviewed and it was clear that some had decided to vote ‘no’ while others would be voting ‘yes’ and it seems that there is a similar divergence of views in the farming sector.
I agree with Richard Dawkins’ view (in an interview in The Times on Monday 23 May) that this is far too important an issue to be decided by means of a referendum. Dawkins says that the question should be decided in parliament by our elected representatives because we are a parliamentary democracy not a plebiscite democracy. It does seem to me that people are much more likely to vote according to instinct or gut feeling rather than a careful consideration of the facts which are very complicated, involving economics, politics and history. In any case, the facts are hard to come by: we are faced with claim, counter claim and a large amount of mud-slinging.
The BBC news site has a useful EU Referendum Reality Check:
Here, many of the claims of each side (outlandish and otherwise) are dissected and are sometimes discounted, sometimes upheld.
Even if we believe that this is the wrong way to make such a historic decision, the referendum will soon be upon us. For myself, I’ll be voting to stay in the EU. I like the words of Jeremy Corbyn who, although it is claimed that he is lukewarm about Europe, said this:
“You cannot build a better world, unless you engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The European Union, many warts and all, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that. That’s why we are backing the Britain to remain in Europe campaign and I hope you will too.”