So today Britain goes to vote on whether or not to remain part of the EU, in a referendum based on a mass of misleading propaganda, lies and political opportunism, along with xenophobic scaremongering, from the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.
Not that I think my opinion here will really change anyone’s mind – but the fact that so many actually believe the lies from the Brexit camp is profoundly depressing. I don’t want my country to sleepwalk out of the EU, to become a more inward-looking little island with a weaker economy, a more xenophobic divided outlook, a lack of influence at the EU negotiating table, less security, a more polluted environment – and all based on false premises. In a post-Brexit world, Britain still would after all have the same, unelected House of Lords; immigration wouldn’t be reduced by Brexit as Boris and others have made clear by refusing to say otherwise – if it was the NHS and other services would be completely understaffed; that much-quoted (and false) 350million figure wouldn’t get pumped into the NHS and other services; we would still want to trade with Europe but there would be more red tape/tariffs; we would no longer automatically have the right to live, work and study in other EU countries; the Govt wouldn’t miraculously do everything/anything people wanted them to (anyone out there remember how many people came out and marched against going to war in Iraq…?).
And for what? We’re already outside the euro and the Schengen Zone, and like all other EU member states have the power to veto things like Turkey maybe-one-day-in-the-far-distant-future qualifying to join the EU (if that bothers people). The state of the NHS was not caused by immigration, it is dependent on immigration. It was an international NHS staff which delivered my daughter at Whipps Cross, and I will never forget their kindness and support. The fact that the NHS is struggling and there is a lack of school places and affordable housing has less or nothing to do with the EU and immigration, and more to do with underfunding in a post-recession UK caused by the financial crash. And we don’t have an ‘open border’ with mainland Europe, we have the English Channel between us FFS.
And as for that absurd Brexit mantra of ‘Take Back Control’…? As Boris/Farage are well aware, the UK is a sovereign nation, we are not ‘ruled’ by Brussels, we make our own laws. Yes some UK laws are driven by the EU, but the figure is somewhere between 14% and 50% depending on which laws are included in the estimate, and many of these are laws that anyone in their right mind would want anyway – employment rights for equal pay, parental leave, a cleaner environment (our seas and beaches are much cleaner than they were 30 years ago thanks to the EU). There is a big fat zero evidence that a post-Brexit UK government would somehow make ‘better’ laws. For example: the UK already has levels of air pollution above legal EU limits in many cities, resulting in ~40,000 early deaths a year. What does the UK government do about this of its own accord (it doesn’t need permission from Brussels to clean up its own environmental laws)? Bugger all. Instead, UK ministers actually lobby in Brussels against proposed EU laws aimed at introducing lower air pollution limits and halving the number of deaths from air pollution within 15 years. Nice.
So, in any case, I’ve voted for the UK to remain part of the EU. If you haven’t already voted, or are undecided – please don’t not vote, or be misled into voting to leave the EU by the myths peddled by the Brexit campaign, only for us all to wake up in a Britain that is all the poorer, in every sense.
And in case you just need a good laugh: