On Thursday 23rd June the people of Britain will vote on our membership of the European Union, an issue that will shape the future of our country more so than an any other issue. It has never been more important to make sure that you're registered to vote. I won't tell you how to vote but I will present the arguments to support staying in the European Union. I am of the opinion that the benefits far outweigh any perceived negatives.
The European Union has for years enshrined many rights that millions of workers take for granted on a daily basis. The right to annual paid leave, equal pay for agency staff, flexible working for part time staff have been endorsed by Brussels and are part of EU law. I'm not for one second saying the EU is perfect in every aspect but these rights could be easily threatened. Many out campaigners say we will create our own laws that protect these things but Prime Minister David Cameron began the EU re-negotiation by trying to exempt us from EU Employment Law. And that's the guy who is trying to keep us in the EU. When out campaigners claim that we will protect our own laws seriously look at the people who are calling for "Brexit" because they are a serious threat to the rights of millions of people.
Now I'm not going to pretend to be an economist or have a full understanding of the complexities of our trading agreements but it seems to me that we are putting are perfectly well established trading relationships under threat if we vote to leave. As a country we currently benefit from free trade with the other 27 member states of the EU. As a member of the EU we are part of a 500 million strong market that does business with China, America and India. The EU significantly increases trade and investment into Britain, it is an illusion to suggest that our membership decreases trade with other countries around the world. The EU remains the UK's biggest trading partner and currently 54% of our trade is conducted with other EU states. It makes sense for us to be a member of the EU which means we don't have to pay trading tariffs that countries outside the bloc have to pay. If we leave we will then have to re-negotiate our ability to trade with the EU as we do now and still have to sign up to EU regulation. Leaving the EU would be an utterly pointless exercise.
Let us not forget that President Obama recently said it would take 10 years for us to establish a new trading relationship with the United States. And if we pull away from the EU we will lose out on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is expected to bring in £100 billion to the UK over 10 years. The Brexit campaigners are completely happy for us to lose out on billions of investment and put huge numbers of jobs at risk.
Brexit campaigners such as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Iain Duncan Smith have suggested we could emulate that Iceland model, the Norwegian model or the Canadian model. It appears that none of the out campaign are on the same page. Using Iceland as the example, Iceland currently have a free trade agreement with China that many have suggested is something we could emulate. It seems foolish to compare the UK which is a country of 65 million people to a country of 323,000 people. The free trade agreement Iceland has with China was designed to open up the $61 million fishing markets that Iceland has. It is not a blue print for a wider trade agreement and we should not attempt to emulate a trading agreement which is only worth a few million when our economy generates billions.
As a gay man I think it is prudent for me to touch on what an impact leaving the EU could have the rights of LGBT people. The European Union has been essential in ensuring our rights are covered and protected. Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination against citizens on the grounds of sexual orientation. If we leave the EU gay people in the UK face the risk of our rights being trampled on by right wing Tory MPs and the United Kingdom Independence Party. Boris Johnson recently argued that gay people should vote for "Brexit" because our rights are under threat throughout wider parts of the EU but in reality EU law has been protecting our rights for far longer than Johnson has been a proponent of gay rights. UKIP currently have only one MP but the wider party's soul purpose is our exit from the European Union and its members have gone as far as to blame us for flooding and think that people should be able to deny us services based on their beliefs. These people are a serious threat to the fundamental rights we now take for granted.
As a lover of this country and a true patriot I would hate to see the damage an out vote could do. Scotland are disproportionately more pro-Europe than voters in England. A divorce from the European could be just the push that the Scottish National Party need to force another Independence Referendum that would lead to the break up of our great Union that has stood for hundreds of years. The Remain campaign according to YouGov has a 26 point lead in the Referendum debate which is huge.
These are just a couple of the reasons as to why I am such a staunch supporter of the Remain campaign. I cannot be more adamant about how important for everyone to get out and vote. This is going to effect all our futures and if you're a young person don't be apathetic when it comes to voting. Look up the facts and make up your minds but this is so essential to our future as a great nation. Whatever you decide please just make sure you go out and vote, these are our democratic rights that have been fought and died for so get out and use them.
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