Decision Time

The date of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom dawns. If you’re reading this after 23 June 2016, then it’s all over …

The last few weeks have been awash with claims and counter claims on both sides of the argument. It must be said that scaremongering tactics have been employed by both camps, although most claims made by the Brexit group cannot be substantiated. At least the Remain group have statistics at their fingertips, even if these are sometimes manipulated in order to get their point across.

On Thursday 16 June, the country was shocked almost to the core by the assassination of a Member of Parliament representing a constituency in the north of England. Jo Cox had only been elected in May 2015, but from the outset, she campaigned tirelessly for tolerance and acceptance. In particular, she had strong views regarding immigration and made the astute point that, within her constituency at least, immigrants shared far more in common with the British than they were different. It also appears that people from many different races and backgrounds lived very much in harmony within her constituency as testimonials following her tragic death have illustrated. As a matter of respect at this very sad time, all campaigning in relation to the referendum was cancelled for three days.

Whilst facts have yet to be proven, there is evidence that the person now arrested for the atrocity voiced extreme right wing, nationalist views. In many respects, this is similar to the way the campaign has emerged as it has divided the country with statements of racism and hatred. In the event of a Brexit victory, the UK will undoubtedly see the far right secure more authority and power with a possible upsurgence of racism and fascism. These are underlying traits of the main players in the Leave camp. Only a few short years ago, Boris Johnson was singing the praises of a single market and the benefits that EU membership has brought to the UK. Now he is the lead campaigner for Brexit, so why?

The cynical side of me would say the short answer is power! Despite his weak denials, it is well documented that he is a Conservative Party leader in waiting, and it may be that his patience is running out. He is very much a control freak, ably demonstrated by his tenure as mayor of London. He is bereft of compassion towards immigrants, irrespective of circumstance, despite the fact that he, himself, is a direct descendant of an immigrant. Most of the Brexit argument centres on immigration and EU funding, and the overall attitude is one of selfishness and blame … the country’s problems are the result of immigrants, refugees and anyone but themselves. The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of immigrants set up their own businesses and are a far less burden on the state than many native Brits who try and claim as much as possible without wanting to work. I actually know people who possess far more expensive electronic gadgets than me as their benefits manage to provide ‘surplus’ income, which should never be the case.

Another concern by Brexit is the drain on our National Health Service. This is basically a ‘free-to-all’ facility meaning that anyone who moves to the country can reap the benefits. That open access really does need to change and people entering the country need to contribute to the system for a minimum period of time prior to receiving free health care. However, people supporting Brexit need to look very closely at the NHS. Without immigrants, staff would be drastically reduced, meaning a rapid decline in the quality of care received. The root cause of the problems in the NHS is bureaucracy and top-heavy, highly paid administrators. I’ve lost count of how many times the NHS has reinvented itself in recent years. All this costs money … funds that could be directed to healthcare. Also, unless it’s a critical requirement, NHS resources should not be used for cosmetic surgery and people who make themselves ill through drug abuse, smoking and alcoholism should have to pay a premium for their respite care.

The country has been a member of the EU for well over forty years which, for the majority of people, is half a lifetime. If one tries to look back to the time before we joined the EU, we were anything but a ‘great’ nation. Our motor industry was in rapid decline, costly imports were often exceeding exports, industrial pollution was high, and it was the time of the Cold War and the iron curtain. Fast forward a few decades and we enjoy some of the cleanest beaches in Europe, drive low pollution, fuel-efficient motor vehicles, have restricted working hours, enjoy longer paid holidays, and are free to travel throughout most of Europe without visas and currency restrictions. Above all else, we enjoy peace and cooperation between other European nations instead of the warmongering of yesteryear. These things have only been achieved because of greater unity and dialogue.

Readers will already know my views and why Brexit is not the solution to the problems within the EU. Whilst EU immigration might reduce, it is a fair assumption that there will be an influx of immigrants from other countries as intimated by Brexit. Currently, there are many Eastern European migrants in the country doing work that no British person is prepared to do, so only the British are to blame. Ultimately, migration does need to be curbed but this can only be achieved from within the EU. The Prime Minister has already secured agreement that EU migrants will not qualify for any state benefits upon immediate arrival. This means that they will either have to be self sufficient or have sponsors to fund them in the qualifying period. Official figures show that EU migrants have contributed £20bn more to the UK economy since 2001 than they have received in benefits.

Without entering into a long endorsement, it is difficult to précis the numerous benefits of EU membership. From virtually across the globe, the overall consensus of opinion is that the UK is far better in the EU. Prominent businessmen, financial experts and foreign state leaders all highlight the potential downfall of the country in the event of a Leave vote. The economy would be in tatters and recession would hit hard, probably far worse than the recent period of austerity. Change can only come from within, and as the Prime Minister has stated, “we are stronger, safer, and better off in”. If you’re an undecided voter, I urge you to think twice before voting for Brexit and the unknown; look at all the benefits you’ve enjoyed over the years as part of the EU … economic stability, human rights, clean air, the greater safety of being part of a union, and above all, peace!

Please vote to Remain in the European Union

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