The last time the public had a vote on our relationship with the rest of Europe was in 1975. At the time this was a vote simply over whether or not we should join a 'common market' which is quite difficult to vehemently oppose. However, not only has the EU evolved into a political federation, but no-one under the age of 58 has ever even had the chance to vote against this. In fact, those who voted in '75 were not aware of how the EU would subsequently dictate domestic government policy. With the likes of Turkey now set to join, I think it's right to hold a referendum on a question of monumental importance. Should we stay in the EU?
When it comes to the status of the UK in the European Union, the general consensus from the major parties is that we should remain in it. While the Conservative's harbour a notable number of MPs that are skeptical of remaining in the union, David Cameron has opted for re-negotiation rather than leaving outright. The only party of some significance which supports the UK leaving this economic, and now even political bloc is UKIP, a party heavily scrutinised by the media for the support it attracts from people who are racist. Because of this, various people have made an indistinct connection between Eurosceptics and Xenophobia, and one which I feel is unfounded and fails to recognise the broader issues at hand with our EU membership.
People laugh when they hear UKIP claim they have the 'least racist immigration policy', but upon further observation, it's true. As a first generation immigrant, I am aware of how sensitive subject can be, but that's no excuse to avoid talking about it. While David Cameron had promised to cut migration to the 'tens of thousands', what we've actually seen is an influx of migrants from poor European countries into the UK. Because of the EU, we have to discriminate against people who migrate from elsewhere. A European coming to the UK just to carry out a minimum wage job (which could easily be taken up by many people in our country seeking a job already) takes precedence over a highly skilled Indian or Nigerian worker with services that are more highly sought after and needed. Where's the justice in that?
That brings me up to my next point, the Commonwealth. These are a formal grouping of nations with social, cultural and linguistic ties to the UK, which largely consists of nations formerly from the colonises of the British Empire. Emerging commonwealth economies such as those of India and Nigeria mean that their collective share of the world economy is set to increase by 7.1% from 2012-2017. To further illustrate this staggering growth, let's compare that to EU, which as an economic bloc, has not being doing nearly as well. In 1980, the EU held 30% of the world's GDP. By 2025 this figure is set to decline to 22%. It makes more sense to be in closer union with countries that speak the same language as us and share the same values (common law rather than civil law) as we do. This, coupled with the vast, unlocked, potential of the commonwealth makes me query why we committed ourselves to a sinking ship that is losing economic influence on the world stage.
Another issue with the EU is lawmaking, and just how little people in the UK can do to stop it. While various wild figures have been thrown around, a House of Commons research paper concludes that some 20% of laws had a role in implementing EU obligations. I'm not going to further query legal aspects in which the UK and other European states differ; rather I'd like to point out how EU influence over laws and regulations inhibit our country and don't act in our best interest. Most of our exports go to countries outside of the EU and yet 100% of them our bound by its regulations. This uniformity means that certain regulations aren't tailored to the UK individually. Freedom from the EU would enable us to do this.
Leave.EU explains quite succinctly how little control we have over decisions that affect our own country below:
"EU decisions are made behind closed doors often with qualified majority voting. The UK's vote is worth only a 12% share of the EU's votes. The combined voting weight of the four largest Eurozone members is 49.96% (Germany, France Italy and Spain). The UK is routinely outvoted and in the last 72 times that the UK has challenged a new law at the Council of Ministers since 1996 it has lost each and every time. The UK's influence within the EU is at best minimal and has become weaker as more members joined and then Eurozone countries began to put themselves first."
The last time I checked, the EU wasn't a country. If it even wishes to be one, it should start by acknowledging the need for transparency. The mere thought of picturing backroom deals between the EU and USA over issues such as TTIP (which I have already taken the liberty of criticising) makes me shudder. And it should do the same to you.
An argument of cited by Europhiles is that the UK would lose influence globally should it decide to leave the EU. I'm not sure how this is the case. On the international stage, we hold a seat in the exclusive UN Security Council, the G8, G20 and we are the 6th largest economy in the EU. The claim that the UK would lose millions of jobs through leaving the EU can be flipped. There are millions of EU migrants working in the UK who could be fired in reaction to highly unlikely event. You really have to consider how on earth it would even be beneficial on either end for such a thing to happen.
I'm not saying that leaving will mean that the UK becomes some kind of utopian nation overnight. But as long as faceless foreign bureaucrats with their self-appointed six-figure salaries have a say in how our country is run, I cannot have confidence that we can achieve our full potential as a nation.
Agree? Disagree? Drop a comment below!
Originally posted at pertinentproblems.com, a website run by the youth, for everyone.