To me, voting to leave the European Union is not some reactionary backwards vote against immigrants, or a vote against the natural rotation of the world, or a vote against progress or… compassion, or, ugh, whatever. To me, a vote to leave is voting for the freedom to choose the future direction of our country and, in turn, all other countries of (what I hope will be) a defunct European Union. Voting to leave is the realisation that the regressive systems and institutions of the EU we have and are obligated to endure today is not promoting peace on our continent as it was founded to bring about, but in fact sowing and spreading the complete opposite.
The European Union should not be viewed as a blueprint for the future; it is a 1970s solution to a 1950s problem dressed up in the regalia of flashy glass modern buildings, pretending to be a political entity we Britons and Europeans somehow need and require to cooperate as friends on issues such as cross-border crime and the environment else we’d be sallying out to war with each other as if it were just another game of football. The rhetoric by some is unashamed of the opinion that we need to be part of the European Union to be compassionate, positive and inclusive. Such ridiculous scaremongering is the mantra of our Prime Minister, a stupid assertion far beneath his office.
I hope I’m not imparting a rare political insight in saying that you do not need the EU to fight cross-border crime, or to advance the cause of international renewable energy, or to promote peace and friendship and stability. It grinds my physically nonexistent metaphorical gears when middle class Brit Remain campaigners have the fucking audacity to say the EU has brought about peace and stability. For them to comfortably say so from the armchairs of first world Britain is an affront to those millions living in poverty in Greece, Spain and Italy. It is because of the regressive ideological nature of the EU, of its obsession with keeping its eye candy currency – the Euro – whatever the cost that millions have seen their livelihoods thrown away and their incomes disappear down the sink of redundancy as imposed through obscene austerity programmes. Greece is a shining example of this. The European Union has – over the course of the past half decade – forced her government to strip the livelihoods of its people away through harsh government cutbacks and tax rises dressed up as a ‘bailout package’ that have done nought but fan the flames of greater poverty, mass youth unemployment, pan-European animosity and neo-Nazis. So much for the promotion of peace and cooperation and progress, eh. It has consigned an entire generation of hopeful and aspirational young people of the same age as I to the dustbins of history. So obsessed with the Euro is the EU is that it is willing to overlook and willfully disregard the hardships and pains its policies are extracting on the many. It is because of the EU’s… frankly, inhumane obsession with the single currency that I must vote leave. I cannot support the destruction of the economies and livelihoods of so many for the sake of the status quo, nor, I hope, should you. It is by Britain staying in and financing future Euro bailouts that contributes to this shameful status quo.
The EU is not the friend of the working man and woman. Its construct today is one that regularly courts the interests of big business and lobbyists rather than working people, exemplified through the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal (TTIP) and Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). These schemes and trade deals merely satisfy the status quo of corporate dominance and deny the opportunity for the small business to thrive and have a chance. Yes, we can discuss the working rights implemented in Britain during our time as members of the EU, but it is frankly ludicrous to suggest they will be simply swept aside in the event of a Brexit, no matter how much you distrust the Tories. Paid holiday for instance – something expanded in Britain during our membership of the EU – is being claimed as one of the rights we’ll lose upon Brexit… it’s ridiculous, especially given the initial legislation on paid holiday in Britain came about in the 1930s, 40 years before we joined the then Common Market. It would be the decision of the next elected government of Britain to decide whether to fully renationalise our railways (do watch the full exchange on the issue) and decide whether or not to expand the rights of working people once we leave the EU. Yes, we’ll suddenly have the control to do away with a lot of rights, but is it not correct and proper for countries to govern themselves? If we really are going to ruin our country come what may, should it not be we who do it rather than someone else?
I am not voting to leave the EU to – as Nick Clegg loves to put it – ‘pull up the drawbridge at Dover’ and halt free movement. I am voting to leave so that our elected government can decide for itself what kind of migration system our country should have. Contrary to what is expected of most Brexit supporters I – whilst admittedly of a different opinion many years ago – think free movement with fellow countries that have wage rates and living standards not too dissimilar to our own would actually be quite beneficial. The similar living standards would see the net flow of people simply cancel each other out, allowing the wages and jobs of working people to not be undercut. It’s a, I confess, quite a simplistic argument, it’s not particularly fleshed out in my mind but I think it’s quite a good one. Don’t get me wrong, I value control, I value the ability for our government to decide, but in principle I support free movement and a Britain inclusive and welcoming to those who want to join and be part of our country; I only believe that free movement should be decided by the elected government of the United Kingdom. We should decide for ourselves who comes to live, work and settle in our country, and me personally? I’d – as explained above – quite like to open those borders just a bit more, and I’m not alone. Yes, some voting to leave may vote for reasons of xenophobia and racism, I am not denying the undeniable, but, really, if you’re going to make a decision on how to vote based on who else is also voting, then there really, I’m afraid, is not much hope for you in contemporary society, when the Labour Party has an anti-Semitism problem, the Tories a sexism problem and UKIP a racism problem. Like, just… don’t make that argument.
Some (uh, EU funded) think tanks and hedge funds say that a British withdrawal from the EU will severely damage our economy. I am no economist and nor will I rest atop the armchair of one to pontificate as one, but I’ll say this. Given an overwhelming majority of economists once upon a time said that were Britain not to join the single currency its economy would suffer, I am quite confident that British withdrawal from the EU would not see our economy plunge to its doom, instead we’d do okay.
The EU, whilst with very idealistic foundations, is in practice being counterproductive to harmony. It rips away sovereignty in favour of regressive undemocratic centralisation, thinking that by forcing a sense of European identity upon us we’ll acquiesce, alas mais non. No wonder so many people are apathetic and turning to the extremes. In Britain, powers should be handed down from Westminster to our cities, regions and local authorities rather than further away into the greedy clutches of Brussels. The loss of sovereignty has fueled the far-right, violence and growing inter-continental animosity, something we should be all concerned by.
I am voting to leave the European Union on June 23rd, not for reasons of prejudice, or for reasons of wanting to turn back the clock, but instead for the reason, and hope, that Britain and the whole of Europe can be better. I am voting to leave because I believe our country and our continent should not simply run down the track of managed decline but instead readjust its degree of cooperation to be something that does not set our streets alight with the fire of protest and poverty and violence, but the fires of an engaged electorate, growing economies, democracy, sovereignty and friendship. The argument to leave is not one of prejudice, or one devoid of compassion; it is one which recognises the status quo does not work for all and that by ploughing ahead with unwanted unconsented further European integration we risk the very things the EU was initially founded to tackle: extremism and division. It is a natural, healthy, just, democratic thing to do for the world’s fifth largest economy to govern its own country and legislate for its own people. By finding the correct balance between sovereign nations and shared responsibility and cooperation we can live in a Europe that does kick down families and livelihoods for the sake of blind zealous ideology, but preserves peace, human rights and the value of fair free trade for all concerned.
If the status quo works for you, if things as they are is what you’re content with, then sure, vote remain, but personally that’s not my jam.