The Brexit Speech

In the words of The Observer, Brexit is shaping up to be a dreadful deal for Britain …

Be in no doubt. Theresa May’s watershed Brexit speech on Friday was a sobering defeat for the United Kingdom.

It was a defeat for the Leavers’ vision of a sovereign country freed from the constraints imposed by European politicians, laws and regulations … and a defeat for those who voted Remain and hoped against hope that Britain would, at the last moment, draw back from this gross act of national self-harm.

May’s speech, signalling a fundamental parting of the ways, was a defeat for the business people, trade unionists and community leaders who rightly fear for the country’s future prosperity, cohesion and jobs. It was a defeat for young people, British and European, who, more so than older generations, will perforce inhabit an ugly new world of harder borders, work permits, bureaucracy and pervasive state intrusion.

In a wider context, May’s speech marked a moment of British retreat from the shared ideals and principles of collaborative internationalism that have guided the western democracies since 1945. It presaged an historic abdication of leadership that many in Europe and beyond will neither understand nor quickly forgive.

The gaunt post-Brexit future towards which May is stubbornly leading us will make Britain a poorer, meaner, lonelier and shabbier place, hostile to immigrants yet badly in need of their skills, struggling to maintain its trade across the barriers we ourselves erected, and exploited by the world’s big economies whose governments and multinationals, imposing unequal trade treaties, will take what they want and leave the rest.

May’s speech was welcomed by hard Tory Brexiters, who imagine that quitting the EU single market and customs union, whatever the consequences, is a sufficient victory for their blinkered, jingoistic cause. It was seen by Tory Remainers as recognition of the need for compromise.

And this blurry reconciliation of her party’s schismatic factions, albeit probably temporary, was May’s main achievement. It may be a good deal for the Tories, but is a bad deal for Britain. Bad because, in overall terms, the proposed settlement is neither one thing nor the other. Britain will not have its cake and eat it, in Boris Johnson’s preposterous parlance. It will simply have less cake.

May rejected the single market largely because of its freedom-of-movement provisions. Even though employers have been telling her for months that Britain relies on EU workers, the PM remains foolishly frit of Daily Mail spectres of invading foreign hordes. Yet even as she rejected it, May recognised the benefits of the single market, sought continued, frictionless, access to it, and lamely admitted that we will all be the poorer for being outside it. What kind of leadership is this?

Such self-contradictory thinking would give Descartes a headache. The same applies to her Through the Looking Glass “customs partnership” wheeze that, she said, would “mirror EU requirements”. If she means future customs arrangements will be reversed, back to front and inside out, she may well be right.

In prospect now is a nightmare of red tape from those who promised a liberating bonfire on the cliffs of Dover and will create, instead, a giant lorry park.

© The Guardian

• This extract from The Observer’s article is reproduced here courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd under their Open Licence agreement.

• You can read The Observer’s full editorial here:

http://theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/04/the-observer-view-on-theresa-mays-brexit-speech

#StopBrexit

Advertisements

The Farce Of Brexit

It’s now twenty months since the advisory UK referendum advocating Brexit …

Since that disastrous day in June 2016 when only about 34% of the total electorate voted in favour of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, little forward progress appears to have been made. Whilst a small majority of those who cast a vote were in favour of leaving, nothing has been done to address the issue of thousands of people living abroad who were denied a vote for one reason or another. Many of these people actually reside within the EU bloc of countries and are the most likely to be affected by the ultimate terms of the UK withdrawal. In many respects, proposals and decisions made to date are largely regressive and emphasis has been placed on trivial matters such as the colour of passports . The UK has declared its intention to revert to blue passports despite the fact that prior to EU membership, they were black! Furthermore, there is no EU legislation stating that member states should each have a burgundy passport, although this colour has been voluntarily adopted by most countries. So far, political discussions reveal that the UK wants to cherry-pick aspects of the EU, something that is rightly being denied by Brussels. Should the UK leave the single market and customs union, which are major benefits of membership, the country is seeking an exception with regard to the Republic of Ireland as they do not wish to re-instate a hard border with that country. If this is allowed, then one rule will apply to a single part of the United Kingdom, namely Northern Ireland, with the rest of the country adopting different practices. Seeing as both Northern Ireland and Scotland were heavily in favour of remaining in the EU, it could be argued that Scotland should be awarded similar privileges. All in all, the whole débâcle is little more than a farce to date.

Irrespective of the arguments being put forward to leave the EU, the ratification of Brexit will undoubtedly isolate the country and turn back the clock decades. If one looks at the percentage vote by age, there was a majority of people under the age of 50 who wished to remain in the Union. Primarily, it’s voters over 60 who voted to leave, and ironically, few will live long enough to experience the full effects. Through their selfishness, prejudice and ignorance, these voters have deprived a future generation of greater opportunities and options.

There is another major issue … namely the dogmatic and arrogant approach being taken by Prime Minister Theresa May. Whilst she is the elected leader of her party, first and foremost she is a constituency Member of Parliament, and as such, should be representing the views of her constituents who voted for her in the last General Election. Seeing as over 90% of her constituents voted in favour of remaining in the EU, the PM is ignoring their wishes and merely sailing along on an ego trip. Even she is on record as stating that the country is better off within the EU so her stance to leave is nothing but hypocritical and illustrates perfectly that she, and the majority of politicians, cannot be trusted. The current UK government is quick to highlight and criticise corrupt administrations elsewhere in the world but fails to admit that it is equally corrupt and, undoubtedly, one of the worst governments in decades.

For anyone reading this who supports Brexit, I would suggest you consider everything that the EU has done to improve standards and conditions for everyone over the last forty years or so.

Above all else, the EU has been the mainstay of peace across much of the continent of Europe following centuries of conflict. Rather than instigate new political warfare, the UK should remember the sacrifices made by people from many countries to achieve peace and live together in harmony. It is ironic that a Conservative government is removing us from the EU when it was their predecessors who, long ago, advocated membership of what started out as the Common Market. Many continue to argue that membership costs the country far too much money but statistics from HM Revenue & Customs puts this matter neatly into perspective.

It’s too early to predict the final outcome of Brexit or even if the present government will survive to deliver the result. I remain a staunch European and am very thankful that I’m able to live freely in another member state. With so much antipathy towards Brexit now emerging, I believe that a further referendum should be offered to the British electorate, devoid of blatant lies and deception. I am sure that the earlier result would be overturned and would save the country billions of pounds that Brexit negotiations and procedural changes will ultimately cost. Theresa May is adamant that no second referendum will take place, no doubt because she fears losing face and being toppled from her extremely precarious seat of power. However, it would be very rewarding to witness a little honesty on the part of a leading politician that could, ironically, work in her favour.

We shall just have to wait and see!

The Majority Is The Minority

I recently saw this on social media and thought I’d share a slightly edited version it as it sums up the result of the EU Referendum perfectly …

On 23 June 2016, 52% of people who could be bothered or were eligible to vote, elected to leave the European Union. At about 6am on 24 June, Britain began a steep decline into the sort of stupidity not seen since L. Ron Hubbard decided we were descended from space lizards.

In the ensuing months since that national brainfart, the country has lost grip on its language, grace, wit and decency. Marmite has survived by the skin of its teeth and seeing as it tastes like sheep droppings that wasn’t exactly a win.

The problem with all of this began when people tried to interpret what Brexit meant. The unelected Prime Minister, Theresa May quipped “Well, why ask me?” and “Brexit means Brexit” heralding the nation’s slide into mental incompetence in defining a word by itself. So what? Teabags means teabags. It still doesn’t tell us what the tea, or the bag, consists of or its relationship with the rest of the world. Of course, May became PM after Cameron threw his toys out of his pram and had supported the Remain campaign, meaning she had no involvement with the Brexit of which she’s now in charge. This coup d’état was greeted by the public with total apathy, which is not surprising when you consider that they’ve also swallowed the claim 52% of Britain voted to leave the EU.

They didn’t! Only 71.8% of voters took part, which means the nation is amputating its EU membership on the basis of a 37% mandate. In simple terms, 17m people decided what the remaining 47m citizens were going to have to put up with for the forseeable future. It can be called a lot of things, even democracy, but it can’t be called 52% of the UK electorate. In the new post-Brexit era of being considered virtually brain dead, the British people are told that they voted for less migration, more migration, greater parliamentary sovereignty than the one we’ve already got which allows MPs to block Brexit, hard Brexit, a Royal yacht, soft Brexit, a proper job for Boris Johnson, trade deals with China, staying in the single market and leaving the single market. This is despite the fact that most can remember what the ballot paper looked like and that it didn’t have that many words on it. 

The question posed was to leave or remain. The consequences were unknown, both sides warned of fire and brimstone if we got it wrong, and in the end many voters who were badly off felt things couldn’t possibly get any worse, so decided to smack David Cameron in the face by voting against his recommendation. The upshot of this decision, so far, is that the badly off are now worse off and Cameron is about to embark upon a multi-million pound money-spinning career that may, or may not, involve Panamanian bank accounts.Quite simply, the referendum question posed was, in hindsight, the wrong one. The ballot paper should have said: “Would you like Britain to be remain as stupid as it is now? Or would you like it to be more stupid?” Once the obnoxious Michael Gove had pushed all the experts over a metaphorical cliff of ignorance, the voters were left, by definition, with people who are not experts. Now, the buffoons running the show are driving the masses over the same cliff, insisting all the while that life will be better once they’re over the scary bit at the edge. Better? So inflation is taking off, 10,000 more people are unemployed, the price of fuel,is spiralling and the value of the pound has slumped by 15%, compared with a mere 4% during Black Wednesday in 1992. On top of all that, there are already warnings of price rises in food and clothes, meaning the less well off will be hit disproportionately hard.

Prior to the referendum, City experts bet heavily on a drop in the pound, whilst non-experts said they were “talking the country down” as opposed to knowing exactly what they were doing. In the days after the vote politicians said migration won’t be any different, the NHS is still screwed and that people shouldn’t believe what is written on the sides of buses! Unsurprisingly, a study has found 6% of Leave voters now think that was stupid, which is greater than the 4% margin of victory, whilst non-experts in favour of Brexit say people shouldn’t pay any attention to this because it’s stupid. It seems everyone concerned with Brexit should be ignored as they’re all clueless! On top of all this, the English language has been mangled to introduce a ridiculous number of clumsy lexical portmanteaux, starting with Brexit and mutating into Bremainers, Bremoaners, Brexiters and Brexiteers. It can only be a matter of time before some poor sub-editor has to squeeze BRE-HA-HA into a headline.

As a nation we decry the barrel bombing of Aleppo, and don’t stop to notice these are the people who were too sick or slow to leave, or who could not afford to pay the people traffickers. In juxtaposition, we complain about the dreadful migrant hordes who were the wealthiest, quickest and cleverest people in Aleppo who managed to get out, and say we don’t want their sort here. This makes no sense. If you insist on controlled migration of people we need and can use their skills, then it’s the people who escaped Syria that should be welcomed by the most hardened UKIPper. There are now non-dental expert MPs telling dentists to check migrants’ ages, despite dentists saying teeth don’t work like that. Also, in the past few weeks, every child of nursery school level has been asked what country they were born in. One of the nicest men in football, Gary Lineker, has been subjected to a torrent of abuse for pointing out we’re not being very nice. To compound the nastiness, George Osborne is making a mint as “a renowned economics expert” and Nigel Farage has been exported to make Donald Trump even worse.

Who benefits from a fall in the pound? Only people paid in foreign currencies such as Fromage, and certainly not the 17m who voted for Brexit. Who benefits from a slump in the City? Only mega rich traders, not those who support Brexit. Who benefits from a lack of simple mathematics and experts? People who want the majority to remain ignorant and stupid. Who benefits from Britain behaving like ignorant racists? Only ignorant racists, who think it confirms they were right all along.

Brexit was about giving the wealthy élite one in the eye, and it’s failed miserably. If only the right question had been printed on that ballot paper … things could all have been very different. This majority is most certainly the minority!

Britain In Reverse

After candidates were reduced to two contenders in the Conservative Party leadership race, the underdog Andrea Leadsom suddenly pulls out, leaving just one person to inherit the reins and become Prime Minister by default.

It was generally assumed that no successor to Prime Minister David Cameron would be in place before September 2016 at the earliest but now everything has changed and Theresa May has moved into 10 Downing Street as the country’s second female premier. It is far too early to comment upon what she may or may not achieve in the coming months, but her track record is not encouraging and she comes across in a similar dogmatic fashion to the late Margaret Thatcher. Some people will remember that Thatcher ‘was not for turning’ when it came to policy decisions although she is famous for doing a complete u-turn on the issue of the Community Charge or Poll Tax as it was more readily known. In the same vein, May has already stated that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ so it would appear that she is determined to bring the UK out of the European Union despite having campaigned for the country to remain a member.

There is little doubt that Theresa May is a strong character, and in that respect, may be beneficial to the party that she leads. One cannot help drawing comparisons with Thatcher despite the fact that it’s 26 years since she was toppled from her position. May comes across as very determined, at times fixated, on the issues at hand. She has spent the last six years as Home Secretary with a focus on immigration and the controversial streamlining of the country’s police forces. Now, as unelected leader, she has rejected an early election, despite being extremely vociferous in demanding one when Gordon Brown took over from his predecessor, Tony Blair. The last three weeks since the referendum have been a rollercoaster and the electorate seem more divided than ever so it remains to be seen how accepting they will be of a new Prime Minister who was not only on the losing side in the referendum, but won the job without a contest to validate her ascent.

So what can the country expect from Theresa May? She has promised to build a “better Britain” and to make the UK’s exit from the EU a “success” whatever that means in common parlance. Her leadership bid was based on the need for “strong, proven leadership”, a “positive vision” for the country’s future, and the ability to unite both her party and the country. She has stated that she has a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but for everyone, and people are going to be given more control over their lives, thereby building a better Britain. It’s rather ironic, then, that once Brexit is all done and dusted, an important control of one’s life will have been removed … namely the ability to live and work almost anywhere within Europe!

 

The daughter of a priest, May is driven by high moral standards as evidenced by her attacks on police corruption, demanding an inquiry into institutional child abuse, and overruling civil service advice. In her leadership campaign speeches, she implied a moralistic approach to economic policy, outlining plans to curb executive pay and put consumers and workers on corporate boards. Given the reputation of the Tory party to line the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor in society, this approach remains to be seen. As the well known proverb states, a leopard can’t change its spots.

Irrespective of what she may or may not achieve, it seems highly likely that the UK will be under Tory rule for the next four years under the terms of the Fixed Period governments. With so much uncertainty and doubt following the referendum result, it is inconceivable that the country will make much progress but more likely be in reverse. For all its faults, the EU is forward-thinking, progressive and beneficial to its members, albeit more favourable to some than others, but that is the nature of different economies. The UK has been a strong player within the EU in over 40 years of membership, and so much has been achieved through active participation and dialogue with neighbouring countries. It now faces considerable isolation and an economic battle to try and regain favour in the wider world. This is likely to take many years, way beyond the foreseeable tenure of Therea May. How much she can achieve in the next four years remains to be seen.

Political Turmoil

Following Brexit, the United Kingdom is now in crisis …

It has taken but a few days for political turmoil to erupt within the UK following the referendum decision to leave the European Union. Formal arrangements to quit under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty have not yet begun but the political and financial implications of the vote are already being felt. The Prime Minister has effectively abdicated from any responsibility to move things forward by stating that the procedure should be undertaken by his successor, who won’t be in place until early September 2016. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who had vehemently stated that an emergency budget would be needed in the event of a vote to leave, has also backtracked and is leaving any decision to a potential new Chancellor.

On the other side of the political fence, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is facing a mass revolt within his ranks. Unprecedented numbers have resigned their shadow cabinet posts in protest at the way Corbyn conducted his campaign to remain in the EU. It is claimed that insufficient party supporters were rallied and that he took a soft approach to EU membership, emphasising the need for change rather than the existing accrued benefits. Now the deputy leader of the party is calling for his resignation.

Once a new leader of the Conservative Party is elected, the country will, once again, be led by an unelected Prime Minister. This could easily lead to an impromptu general election later in the year, undoubtedly resulting in yet more political instability and uncertainty. To say the least, the referendum has opened a huge can of worms!

With regards to the referendum result, only 71.8% of the eligible voting population cast their vote. This means that Brexit with 52% of the vote actually only have the support of 37.34% of the people which is hardly a resounding mandate to leave. The largest demographic of the population supporting the leave campaign were over fifty years of age and many will have twenty years or less to endure the aftermath. At the opposite end of the demographic spectrum, the younger generation had a high majority vote to remain in the EU, seeing it as their future but that direction has now been paved by their elders.

The financial markets have tumbled with billions of pounds wiped off the value of blue chip companies. The pound sterling has lost value against leading currencies such as the US dollar and the Euro and trading in the shares of two leading banks was suspended on 27 June following heavy losses on the London Stock Exchange. Some companies are already announcing reductions in staff and the possible relocation of operations to other European countries. So much for the Brexit claim that the UK can stand alone. It is blatantly obvious why so many people are blatantly angry at the referendum result. After all, why should an aging population effectively decide the future of their country?

Whilst the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing, much of what has happened since last Thursday’s devastating result was predicted by the former deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, when addressing his Liberal Democrats Party Conference in October 2014 …

“What are we fighting against? Imagine again what it will be like in 2020, but this time with the Conservatives in government on their own. Britain, diminished and divided after a botched attempt to renegotiate our relationship with Europe and a vote to withdraw from the European Union. Companies pulling out of the UK, left, right and centre, the markets losing confidence, hiking up our borrowing costs and halting the recovery in its tracks. Workers fearing for their jobs, not just because the companies they work for are plunged into uncertainty but because their bosses can fire them at will, no questions asked. The young and the working poor hit time and time again as George Osborne takes his axe to the welfare budget with no regard for the impact on people’s lives. Schools run in the interests of profit for shareholders rather than the life chances of their pupils. A Home Oofice state snooping on your emails and social media. Opportunity reserved for a few at the top and everyone else told to make do with what they’ve got. A Tory party leadership in hock to their right wing, desperately running after and pandering to UKIP’s ugly nationalism. A Prime Minister trapped between being a poor man’s Margaret Thatcher and a rich man’s Nigel Farage. “Compassionate Conservatism” just a sound bite from a bygone age.”

It is eerie that so much of this has come true and long before the year 2020. About the only thing Nick Clegg didn’t foresee was the unexpected resignation of David Cameron and the likelihood that Osborne won’t be Chancellor for much longer! He was right about overseas investors taking fright, money flowing out of the country, the credit rating being slashed, and that the Brexit team have no plans as to how to resolve any of the issues on which they campaigned.

Some people are calling for calm and reconciliation amidst the warring factions but with political turmoil at the helm, this is unlikely to happen any time soon. What we do need is respect for other people’s views but reconciliation will only happen when everyone is seen as equal and can enter into free dialogue about their fears, hopes and aspirations. At the moment, British society appears more divided than I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. Racism is sadly resurrecting itself and there is the ever-increasing danger of right wing extremism dominating our political map. I’m one of very many people who hope that the referendum result will be annulled and that the voices of many who voted Leave, and now regret that decision, will be heard. Whatever happens in the near future, there is little doubt that United Kingdom society is dangerously fragmented and on the precipice of a very high mountain so one can only pray for a peaceful solution.

The Deed Is Done

A majority of British people have voted for the UK to leave the European Union …

In what had become a very close fought battle of claims and counter claims, the potential result on the day of voting was anyone’s guess. Several polls had put the Leave or Brexit campaign ahead but on the eve of the referendum, another poll had stated that the Remain camp was a few percentage points ahead. For me, waking up on Friday morning to the news that Brexit had won, was both sad and disconcerting.

When I say that the British have vetoed the EU, I’m not being entirely correct. Almost all of England and Wales, excluding London, declared a majority exit vote, but the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland supported remaining in the EU. The country may be known as the United Kingdom but, in reality, it is more divided than ever. Not so long ago, Scotland held a referendum on independence but this was narrowly defeated by its population on the basis of unity. However, now that the same voters have endorsed membership of the EU, it has been announced that a second referendum on possible independence could be held in an attempt for Scotland to rejoin the EU as a separate country. As people will know, Northern Ireland comprises six annexed counties bordering the Republic of Ireland which is, itself, a member of the European Union. With a history of political unrest over the last hundred years, there is a distinct possibility that the two parts of Ireland could once again become one, particularly if being part of the EU is more important to Northern Ireland than to a fragmented United Kingdom.

Previous blogs on the subject have mentioned how the campaign was based largely upon lies and deceit, neither of which are surprising given that it was a political infight. However, whilst claims made by the Remain side were largely endorsed by facts and figures, the Brexit side made sweeping statements, some of which were emblazoned on a campaign bus. One such statement referred to the assumed amount that EU membership cost with a promise that those funds would be redirected to National Health care. It comes as no surprise that such claims are now being vehemently denied by the Brexit victors, clearly illustrating that they have achieved victory by prominent deceit.

Judging by the comments on news and social media, I think the ramifications of the referendum result will be in the headlines for some time to come. The UK has already faced two casualties … the stock market has made unprecedented losses, wiping out billions of pounds in a day and far exceeding EU membership costs, and prime minister David Cameron has resigned, although he will stay in his position until this October. In the event of a Brexit victory, it was almost certain that Cameron would stand down as he put his political career on the line by holding the referendum. He used the promise of the referendum to curry votes in the 2015 General Election and now everything has backfired!

Here are a few of the Brexit claims that won over many voters and the reality of the situation.

  • Nigel Farage effectively promised £350m for the NHS but after the result, appeared on national television countering the claim.
  • Immigration from across the EU was apparently getting out of hand, notably from former Eastern bloc countries. Actually, the crisis stems from war-torn Syria in the Middle East.
  • Foreigners have apparently stolen British jobs. However, without the presence of foreign companies like BMW and Toyota, there would be no jobs. This could soon be the reality as these companies only set up operations in the UK because it was part of the EU. Also, the NHS would be grossly understaffed were it not for immigrants.
  • The Single Market will continue. This is highly unlikely in the long term unless the UK makes a considerable financial contribution. It has been stated that the UK is 60% self sufficient in respect of food requirements. That’s all very well but the remaining 40% will have to be imported, almost certainly at greater cost than currently.
  • People will still enjoy freedom of movement. That is one of the major benefits of EU integration so it’s likely to be withdrawn once the EU exit is finalised. This could have a serious impact upon young people wanting to study in mainland Europe as well as restrict their future employment prospects.

To the diehard supporters of greater Union within Europe, the impending withdrawal by the UK is akin to a divorce or death of a loved one. The country in which I was born is fast becoming unrecognisable with an influx of right wing extremism, increased racism despite more recent levels of acceptance, more xenophobia and division, and power-hungry, super-rich politicians only out for themselves. In truth, I’m no longer proud to say that I’m British and would be quite happy to divorce myself from the country. As an immigrant in another country, I appreciate the acceptance and warmth offered to me, and the attempts local people make to make one feel at home within the community.

By all accounts, the ‘vision’ of the Brexit team is to restore Britain to its old colonial powers, going it alone and swallowing up anything that gets in its way. The likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Fromage are sadly delusional as the world has moved on. Through the unity of Europe, people have not only enjoyed seventy years of peace but also helped free former oppressed Eastern bloc countries so that their people can now enjoy a life of freedom. The UK will be stepping back at least fifty years in terms of trade once the exit takes effect and the population will undoubtedly face higher costs of living and taxation. The final referendum result was 51.9% in favour of leaving and 48.1% to remain. Demographic statistics show that the vast majority of people under the age of fifty opted to remain but it was the older voters in majority who supported Brexit. This in itself is tragic as they won’t really experience the long term effects that being outside the EU will bring. It’s the younger generation who will pay the price for what I consider has been a selfish vote.

Long live Europe!

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