When I recently told a colleague that I want the UK to leave the EU, she expressed considerable dismay that someone of my background - mixed-race, working class, comprehensive education - was lining up with far-right racists. Such a misguided view of the people who support Brexit does a disservice to the millions of Britons up and down the UK, who are now in a majority that understands why it is morally, politically and economically essential for Britain to leave the EU.
Brand EU has established itself as unassailably virtuous - apparently to question it is to automatically declare oneself a small-minded bigot. We should all be very wary when any institution succeeds in putting itself beyond criticism. The EU has thrived as a result of its unassailable image and has operated in the shadows, beyond the light of scrutiny, creating an illusion of benevolence, while making itself incomprehensible and utterly unaccountable to the average European citizen. In such conditions, prejudice, myths and misinformation abound.
As a simple example, a commenter on one of my recent pieces stated that the EU Commission is elected. The EU Commission, the principal legislative body of the European Union is appointed, not elected. The UK's commissioner, Conservative peer, Baron Hill of Oareford, has never held elected office, and nobody in Britain voted for the man who is undoubtedly our most powerful lawmaker. Before voting in this referendum, I encourage everyone to find out exactly what the EU is and how it works. Don't be swayed by the EU's powerful brand image - rely instead on the facts.
In the meantime, here are the ten reasons I gave my colleague why I'll be voting to leave:
1. THE EU IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC
I've previously written about the importance of democracy and the reasons why the EU is anti-democratic. All I'll say here is that the ability to vote for our lawmakers is the only thing that protects us from tyranny.
2. THE UK'S CURRENT EU IMPOSED IMMIGRATION POLICY IS RACIST
We discriminate in favour of white Europeans at the expense of people from the rest of the world. Labour Leave General Secretary, Brendan Chilton, does a great job of explaining the issue in this speech:
3. THE EU'S TRADE POLICY TOWARDS THE NATIONS OF AFRICA IS REPREHENSIBLE
The EU actively harms the world's poorest people. I've previously written about the view from Gambia, a country that has lost trade, livelihoods, and its best and brightest people as a direct result of the EU.
4. THE EU DOES NOTHING TO CREATE JOBS OR OPPORTUNITY
There can be little doubt that the Eurozone is in dangerous decline. With unemployment rates of 24% in Greece, 20% in Spain, 12% in Italy, massive debt and stagnant economies across the continent, it is staggering that the EU has convinced a large section of the British public that it is good for the economy. The EU's economic track record will one day feature in history books as a case study of ineptitude and mismanagement.
5. THE EU IS A CORPORATIST CLUB
There can be little doubt that the EU favours big business. EU rules on tax domiciles enable global corporations to select the most favourable jurisdiction and minimise tax, giving them an unfair competitive advantage against local small businesses. Recent ECJ judgments have upheld the principle that an employer's right to do business trumps an employee's right to strike. Paul Mason outlines the many ways in which the EU reveals itself to be no friend of the working person.
6. WE ARE NOT VOTING FOR THE STATUS QUO
Whether it's the EU Army or full political union, the EU is on the march. We agreed to a trade deal in 1975 and ended up with a political union. Many people who vote to remain think they're voting for an economic club, but we're already in a political union and will end up with a single currency and government. Andrew Lilico explains why such a development is inevitable.
7. THE EU IS IRRELEVANT TO TRADE
Go into any high street shop and see how many goods have been made in China, a country that does not have a trade deal with the EU. America also lacks a trade deal with the EU. How many US companies sell goods, products and services in the UK? As someone who has advised corporations all over the world, I know that it is business people, not the EU, who decide where and with whom to trade.
8. THE EU IS A THROWBACK TO A BYGONE ERA
This excellent speech by Daniel Hannan sets out why the EU is no longer relevant in the modern world. If it ever had any relevance, that time has long since passed.
9. WE CAN SPEND OUR MONEY BETTER THAN THE EU
We currently hand £350 million per week to the EU. We receive approximately half back in the form of a rebate (an amount that will fall over time), but the EU directs where that rebate is spent, and gets the credit in the form of advertising that identifies the funds as having come from the EU. The EU has no funds - it spends our money and then brags about its generosity. Surely we are better judges of how to spend our money? And whether it's £350 million or £175 million per week, how can such an obscene sum be justified when we don't have the money to pay disability benefit?
10. POWER SHOULD BE FLOWING TOWARDS THE PEOPLE
Rather than transferring our democratic power to a huge, centralised, anti-democratic behemoth, we should be demanding more power for ourselves. We live in a world where tools and information that were previously only available to governments are now at our fingertips. We no longer need to abdicate responsibility for deciding what's best for us. We should be more, not less, involved in government decision and law making. With the rise in the individual's ability to access information, goods and services from anywhere in the world, voting to continue to be part of the EU makes no sense at all.