With the EU referendum just a matter of weeks away, the British people must answer the greatest question: Should Britain stay or leave the European Union? Ben Ffrench takes on William Stewart
Tell us what you think in the poll at the bottom.
Ben Ffrench: We’re citizens of the world.
It is times like these that shape our world, for better or for worse. In the time of Islamic State, the refugee crisis and countless other problems, Britain has never needed the European Union more than this. For all its flaws and controversies, the EU provides an invaluable platform for countries to work together for global peace and stability. Anti-EU clamour about immigration, muslims and terrorism only helps fuel hatred, doing Islamic State’s job. This is why it is doubly vital that we triumph over fear, and vote to remain.
Times of great upheaval can bring out the best (and worst) in us. In 1945, in the shadow of the Second World War, great politicians like Winston Churchill fought for a closer union between the countries of Europe. What Churchill proposed as a ‘United States of Europe’ would bring our great continent together, and prevent Nazi tyrants like Hitler ever getting into power again. Ingenious initiatives like a joint French-German coal and steel industry worked wonders for international cooperation and had a fantastic effect. Great men like Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet worked tirelessly for this. Their great vision of Economic cooperation was a bold but inspiring step, and we must keep these things, against all odds. We must not give in to fear and divisive hatred. If we stand strong, and vote to remain in the EU, we will be stronger, and much more potent against the forces of fear and terror which seek to destroy us.
Quoting Jeremy Corbyn, we have to remain, ‘warts and all’. I am not a blind Europhile, nor do I disregard the flaws and problems which have befallen it. I do, however, strongly believe that the EU brings enormous benefits to us, which would be sorely missed if we voted to leave. Worker’s rights, the European Court of Human rights, European Court of Justice, and many more great things will be lost. Buffoons like Boris Johnson moan about the ‘red tape’ and give laughable examples of EU bureaucracy, involving a limit on marmalade pips in a jar. We all know what they mean. ‘Red tape’ is simply a codeword for ‘worker’s rights’ which men of the city like Nigel Farage and Johnson want to erase.
David Cameron’s usual fear politics are incredibly unhelpful in this debate, swinging many undecided voters to the door of the ‘Leave’ camp. Unhelpful fear-mongering about British growth distract from the main message. And a £9 million pro-EU leaflet, whilst well-intended, can be counter-productive. There are other ways of getting across information. Cameron is ill-equipped to lead the IN camp. But that doesn’t mean we should cut off our nose to spite our face. Don’t listen to Cameron and his government stooges. Listen to men like Jeremy Corbyn, and Alan Johnson. Listen to countless other Labour MPs. Listen to Caroline Lucas. These people know the truth: we are stronger together.
How much does Britain get from the EU? The answer is priceless.
Among the Brexiteers, concerns over sovereignty are of utmost importance. Nigel Lawson, the chairman of Vote Leave, the official campaign group for Brexit, cites this as the greatest and strongest argument for leaving the EU. Does this really disrespect our sovereignty? I believe it actually enhances it. Many cite restrictions and demands that the EU has made of Britain, seemingly turning it into a laughing stock for some. This is wrong. Being in the EU means that Britain plays an even more important role than it would otherwise. Without the EU membership, for example, how would David Cameron have cynically placed more compromises on freedom of movement, blocking immigration? They wouldn’t have given him the time of day if he wasn’t an EU member. This isn’t to say that Britain couldn’t stand on its own two feet outside the EU- many Brexiteers say In voters belittle Britain. It’s quite the opposite. But Britain would be much stronger, and have an even greater voice if they were to remain.
How much money does Britain pay the EU? The answer is a lot. According to Full Fact, it is $13 billion. But how much does it get in return? The answer is priceless: health coverage, faster travel, and much more. The EU citizen passport counter is also invaluable. ‘Free Trade Deals’ give an untold amount to Britain. Because of the EU, ⅓ of the world’s markets by wealth are available to the UK, according to CBI, a business website- more than North American Canada, which Brexiteers tout as a model for Brexit. Could we get ‘free trade deals’ outside the EU? We just can’t turn our back on what we’ve got- it’s too good!
We are stronger together. Stronger against terror, stronger against fear, and stronger against whatever the world throws at us. We’re citizens of the world. We just can’t be inward looking. We’d be letting down our fellow human beings. Refugees and those fleeing conflict need us in the EU. Vote remain, vote for humanity.
Will Stewart: Leaving the EU is in the best interests of our nation.
This is the biggest decision our country has had to make in a long time. We either vote to stay in or leave. I believe we should vote to leave the EU on Thursday 23rd June. It is not an easy decision to make and nobody really knows what will happen either way. However, my gut feeling tells me that we should leave the EU.
There are four main reasons why I believe we should leave the EU. Firstly, is the issue of sovereignty. At the moment EU Law is supreme and they have considerable power. The EU leaders are only elected by members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The election of MEPs lacks a uniform voting system because each member state is free to choose its own system, subject to certain restrictions. I believe that we deserve more power and influence over our own country given that the United Kingdom has such a proud history. The debate over sovereignty is at the heart of this referendum and is one of the key reasons why I think we would better off out of the European Union.
The second reason why I believe we should leave the EU is to do with immigration. We cannot control our own borders because the EU believes in the right of free movement. Although we did not agree to be part of the 1985 Schengen Agreement, an agreement proposing the gradual abolition of border checks, our borders are still very much at risk in this uncertain period in world history. The EU has supreme control over the EU members and the fact that we cannot control our borders means that our national security is under threat. Therefore, by leaving the EU we will regain the control over our borders and our country will be safer than it is currently.
The EU has supreme control over the EU members.
Thirdly, a key reason for my belief in Britain being better off away from the EU is economics. We can trade with EU at the moment, and that is good for our economy, but the EU is on the down and it is time to leave. Emerging economies such as the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the MINT economies (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) are very much on the up. Now is the time to leave the EU and use our Commonwealth and USA links to good effect. Leaving the EU would encourage international trading and whilst this may take a few years to come to fruition, the benefits in the medium and longer terms are definitely worth taking.
My final reason for leaving the EU is about culture. The European Union is all about ever closer union and basically becoming one big country, with the UK being just a small state within it. This is something that does not appeal to me and I feel that maintaining my British identity will only be possible through leaving the EU. This decision is as much a cultural one as it is economic and political.
In conclusion, whilst I understand it will not be easy and that there is much uncertainty, I believe leaving the EU is in the best interests of our nation. To quote Boris Johnson on 15th April, staying in the EU is “like being locked in the back of a minicab driven by someone with a wonky satnav”. I am hopeful that the correct decision for the United Kingdom will be made on the 23rd June.