The question on everyone’s lips, if the media are to be believed, is whether Britain should stay in the European Union or to leave it. We (Joe and Josephine Public) will be asked our opinion on 23rd June this year as to whether we want to stay part of a ‘reformed’ Europe or whether we want to strike out on our own and trust in our history and heritage to carry us forward as world leaders still.
Now I don’t consider myself particularly political, but I do like to keep up with what’s happening broadly with our government and I am keen to see how this will all play out. I was too young in 1975 to even dream about ‘Europe’ let alone understand the implications of being in any sort of trade agreement but I gather things have changed substantially since that first entry into the EEC.
But I don’t know what I think about the whole staying or leaving question, and here’s why.
- Nobody seems to be able to tell us what the benefits of staying are or the benefits of leaving are in a straightforward, untwisted way. Every time there is a debate about it, it seems to degenerate into a row about age-old policies and behind-closed-doors animosity between politicians rather than hard facts and implications about the decision.
- There’s more to it than meets the eye, and like my point above nobody can give us a straightforward clue about the things that are not being said. For example, on the news today, we are told that if Britain votes to leave, then Scotland will become independent because they want to stay. Now hang on a minute – first of all, since when is “Britain” different from “Scotland”? Scotland surely is PART of Britain (and it’s Great Britain by the way) so if BRITAIN makes a decision then SCOTLAND has to abide by it too?
- And while we’re on about Scotland, where does it leave Wales and Northern Ireland too? Will they want to be part of Europe but not Great Britain if we vote to leave Europe? Will leaving Europe see the end of the United Kingdom?
- Why are other countries in Europe not having this anxiety attack about being in or out? We don’t hear the Germans banging their “we want out” drum do we? Is that because they know something we don’t?
- I don’t understand why we can’t have a trade agreement with the rest of Europe but be allowed to make our own laws. I would love to be able to sell a couple of hundred yards of cloth to a trader in Holland and I don’t see why we can’t do that. Why can’t we trade with them, but be allowed to make our own laws about how we manage our own culture, society, law and punishment, greengrocery, speed measurement, jail sentences, vegetable and fruit straightness, deportation and immigration, transport, fishing limits, pollution control etc?
- I don’t trust David Cameron to be putting the country’s best interests above his own. It feels very much like a personality contest between him and Boris Johnson, or that they are battling out some early rounds of a “Who is going to be next Prime Minister” contest, or a “Who is going to go down in history as the greatest Britain after Winston Churchill” contest. (And by ‘personality’ I mean it in the sense of “They are having a personality contest and seeing who can get it highest up the wall”).
- If we as a country do vote to stay in, and Cameron manages to negotiate our “special” place at the table and all that, how long will it be before they start tinkering around and trying to get us to accept the Euro as our currency? How long will it be before we have to conform to even more European laws to boost the already daft ones we have to contend with now? Will we be able to look to Europe to help us fight things like the growing use of Sharia law in Great Britain? It seems like the rules all flow out but not none flow back and it worries me that it will get worse if we stay. Or that it will get even more bureaucratic from our own government if we leave.
It’s a big worry and I can see that it is not going to get any easier or any less complicated between now and the end of June. Will we see clashes between people that the Scottish people saw when they were leading up to their Independence Referendum a couple of years ago? Will families and neighbourhoods draw up battle lines with the “ins” on one side and the “outs” on the other? Or do people not care that much anyway and feel we ought to leave it to the politicians to decide? After all, isn’t that what we elected them to do?
No doubt this will rumble on for months yet, but now that the politicians have all decided on who is in which camp I feel it will quieten down until a couple of weeks before the referendum when it will all heat up again.
I would welcome your thoughts if you are a UK citizen and I would welcome your views if you are from elsewhere in the world too. I am interested to see how the rest of the world sees this issue and whether it is not that big a deal to you. I am equally interested to see how big a deal it is for people of the UK too. Are you flummoxed like me, or do you have a strong opinion one way or the other and would like to share it with me? Please leave a comment and let’s see what thoughts are out there.