22/06/2016 13:15 BST | Updated 23/06/2017 06:12 BST

Why I Hope It's the Young Who Vote This Thursday


I'm happily retired and I understand why it's easy for people my age to yearn with rose tinted spectacles for a Britain which once was. To be completely honest, two months ago i didn't think IN or OUT mattered much. Then the campaign started and it all got a bit emotional. I was frustrated seeing endless propaganda, and knowing how often the media can twist things to suit their own agenda I decided to go to the source documents themselves and to do a lot of research into FACTS.

What I learnt, after endless hours pouring over original documents, was that the central fact is that the UK has an amazing deal with the EU, a deal which no other country has. We have permanent opt-out of the eurozone, of Schengen, of political integration. We have the ability to restrict benefits to job-seekers, to ask them to leave if they haven't found work, to keep out undesirables from other EU states, even if they have no criminal records, to control borders... and still have full access to the Common Market of free trade that my generation voted for in 1975. It's all in a 37-page legally binding document signed by the 28 Heads of Government in February, and yes I have read it all.

Sadly the Leave campaign and some newspapers propagate myths and untruths - well, lies.

The EU is not" run by unelected bureaucrats", as I have myself learnt and condensed into my Democracy for Dummies diagram.


We don't lose £350million a week by being a member. It costs £120million or so, much of which goes to build better infrastructure in those very countries whose citizens come to work here (maybe after a few years of the inevitable austerity post-Brexit, unemployed British workers will be seeking work in a modernised and thriving Romania or Croatia. It's not inconceivable.) That £120million which Leave claim could go the NHS is 0.4% of our GDP. If we leave, that £120million loss is predicted by the vast consensus of economists to become more like £1,200million loss per week. Where is the extra £1,000m or so to to come from? From the NHS?

Turkey wont be eligible to join the EU in my lifetime; even then any one state can veto its entry, such as Cyprus or the UK - if we are still a member.

We retain our much lamented "sovereignty", because that is precisely what allows us to leave the EU if we want to. If we leave, no army is going to march in to restore EU supremacy.

The EU forms 50% of our trade, our biggest market. We trivialise that at at our own risk.

I could go on, but the core message is: the UK has an amazing deal, If we leave, it may never be available again. If Brexit is not the dream that is promised we would be cap in hand, accepting whatever is offered. We have a respected and powerful voice, and a vital part to play in a much bigger world stage than that of Little Britain - or Little England when Scotland leaves the UK to join the EU. We need a stronger Europe, not a weaker one. Putin would be happy to see a weakened Europe, thereby allowing Russian influence to move back into the eastern states - especially in the Baltic.

The European dream and the EU, however imperfect, has kept the peace for many decades. Peace is a very precious and fragile thing as any refugee will tell you. As in any organisation, constant reform is needed in the EU. We should be in there, working for it, looking out for British interests but at the same time working for a Europe which will be a shining example and a beacon of peace, stability and democracy for the rest of the world. The future belongs to the young and they should be out there voting on Thursday, not old fogies like me.