After literally decades of putting it off, the Government has announced that on the 23rd of June a referendum will be held to determine whether the UK remains in the European Union. For all those people who are either confused by or struggle to care about such things, the BBC has published a handy guide to the vote and the issues surrounding it. Which would be fine if you could rely on the BBC to be accurate in anything they tell you, but alas most of the information they publish on their websites are at best only 60% accurate 75% of the time.
Fortunately, there are other websites which can offer a much more informative, relevant and precise look at issues such as the EU referendum. Like this one, for example.
WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION, AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The European Union is an alliance between 28 countries that covers most of the continent. It began life as an economic partnership set up to prevent another conflict like the Second World War, the idea being that if countries were dependent on each other financially they were less likely to bomb or invade their neighbours. The single market quickly gave the EU the authority to affect and create policies on everything from Human Rights to the Environment. Today, they have their own currency-the Euro-and the Lisbon Treaty, which legally binds all member countries to recognise and uphold the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights. They have also abolished border controls between member states, which makes it easier to travel and work around Europe, and are working hard to make all EU-affiliated institutions more transparent and democratic.
THAT DOESN’T SOUND TOO BAD. WHY DO WE WANT TO LEAVE?
Because it is believed that Britain puts too much in to the EU and gets too little back in return. The EU has the power to issue directives that all member countries are forced to obey, and many people think that is the reason why the UK has lost control of its borders.
Yes. Since the UK is in the EU it has to comply with the Union’s “Free Movement” policy. This means that anyone can come to Britain and take jobs and benefits and put strain on our precious resources.
I mean, sure, fine, migrants fuel public growth and actually end up paying for themselves, and yes, I grant you only a small percentage of the UK is actually inhabited so I suppose one might argue we could still take in thousands more immigrants and/or refugees, but that is completely beside the point.
I THOUGHT THE POINT WAS TO DECIDE WHETHER WE STAYED IN THE EU OR NOT, NOT THAT WE CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE IMMIGRANTS.
It is! So about three-quarters of the City of London would pack up and leave the country if people voted to leave the EU. So we would have to pay millions on tariffs if we wanted to trade with our former partners. So we would find ourselves becoming increasingly insignificant on the world stage without the backing of our European neighbours and any employment laws and social protections would vanish overnight. Wouldn’t it all be worth it to be our own country again?
ARE YOU TRYING TO SUGGEST THAT LOSING CIVIL RIGHTS AND RISKING YET ANOTHER ECONOMIC MELTDOWN IS A FAIR EXCHANGE FOR BEING ABLE TO REFUSE ENTRY TO ANYONE EAST OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT?
Most of the right-wing press and most of the politicians backing the Brexit seem to think so, yes. Make no mistake-this referendum is going to be about race. The No campaign will not waste time with things such as the economic or legal arguments. They don’t care about anything else. People like Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and the entire Daily Mail writing staff look across the Channel and see an army of scroungers coming to plunder the NHS, take our jobs, and then blow us up while praising Allah. And they will play on people’s basest insecurities to make them see things from their point of view.
SO IT IS UP TO US TO RESEARCH THIS, THEN?
Yes! Read the articles, watch the news reports, make up your own mind. But don’t make it about making it harder for immigrants to steal your job or because you are afraid one of them might try to kill you. Don’t make it about an idea of being a proud sovereign nation, because if we leave we will be anything but. Look at the issues. Not what seems frightening.
SO YOU ACTUALLY AGREE WITH DAVID CAMERON ON SOMETHING, THEN?
I’m not happy about it, either.