The EU Referendum: Why I’m voting to stay | The Friday Article

With Britain Stronger In Europe, Vote Leave and other groups beginning their campaigns from today, now is a good time to explain why I’ll be voting for Britain to remain in the European Union.

EU Building
Photo: ’50 European Union’ by annarouse on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

My reason for this comes down to a simple question:

At a time of a deficit and threats from numerous countries, is it really wise for us to leave a single market and risk damaging our union with other countries?

Granted, some voting to leave have argued that we could still access the single market through the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but the loss of EU’s single market would impact many jobs which rely on our relationship with the union.

It would also be a matter of negotiating with the EU and EFTA in order to still access this market. What is not to say that us leaving the EFTA in 1972 has tainted our relationships with the association? Similarly, leaving the EU would surely damage our ties with EU member states.

Whilst the UK will have to renegotiate certain laws and regulations regardless of June’s result, surely it’s best to renegotiate whilst we’re in the EU, rather than attempt to reach agreements on our own? What if we leave and don’t get everything we wanted? If we stay in the EU – even if we don’t achieve new deals – we still have this ‘special status’, the rebate, less issues with travel and many other benefits.

Another reason for voting to stay in is extra devolution of power that the EU brings us. The ‘leave’ campaign thinks this is restrictive, but that is the point – it holds our government to account. If you were unhappy with the government’s decision on a matter which affects you, you would want a body like the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to fight our corner. A recent example of this is the Investigatory Powers Bill, which the ECJ is looking into. If we leave the European Union, we are stuck with our country’s decisions – what if we don’t like that? We need that extra level which the ECJ provides. On top of that, the European Arrest Warrant has given us more police powers in the UK. The ECJ, EU rulings and laws all hold our country to account whilst also granting us the UK new freedoms in law enforcement.

Aside from law and the devolution of powers, unity is another issue. There’s no doubt that leaving the EU would taint relationships at a time where we must remain together in order to fight numerous world threats.

Speaking in February, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that a ‘leave’ vote could lead to another independence referendum. Is a vote to leave a great idea, when it can affect our unity not just in Europe, but the United Kingdom?

Lastly, I think the new EU agreement on immigration is fair, where EU migrants only gain access to specific benefits after 4 years. However, there have been talks that these reforms are not ‘legally binding’, but I can only hope that they do become bound by law once a remain vote is confirmed.

On a more general point about immigration, leaving the EU would mean the UK as a nation would have to deal with a European problem on its own. We need to work together to solve the refugee and migrant crises, not as one nation on our own.
For these reasons above and – admittedly – the opportunity to annoy UKIP leader Nigel Farage, I am voting for us to remain in the European Union on June 23.

How are you voting in June? Are you voting for us to remain in or leave the EU? What are your reasins? Comment below!

Liam

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20 thoughts on “The EU Referendum: Why I’m voting to stay | The Friday Article

  1. I completely agree with you! I think there’s going to be a very generation-specific split in votes, I’m definitely hoping we stay in the EU though.

    Kimberley // thecolourchronicles.com

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    • Absolutely. I remember talking to people at my university about it and some generations were able to vote in the 1975 European Economic Community Referendum. I think they’ll have a better insight now they know what a ‘stay’ vote can do to our country when it comes to all things EU-related. I think the tactic of getting older generations to vote is being employed by the Stronger In Britain campaign, who have launched a campaign called ‘Talk to Gran’. Perhaps this is them encouraging older generations to switch from ‘leave’ to ‘remain’?

      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. Anything to annoy Nigel Farage is a winner in my book. I’m still not quite sure why Britain decided to vote him in to represent the UK in the EU. (The logic?!) It’s like he doesn’t have any power to make us leave the EU, so why would we vote him in for that position when he’s obviously going to represent the UK in a terrible way.
    I’m voting in, simply because I think the refugee ‘crisis’ needs to be combatted with other countries. I just don’t think it’s the right time (or ever) to leave the EU with so many jobs depending on it.

    eleanor
    elleanorwears.com

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    • I feel the same way. I think it just goes to show that there’s a certain element of mystery around the EU. Only now are people starting to realise what the European Union can do for them – and this is after they realised that Nigel Farage would be unable to trigger an EU Referendum by being made an MEP.

      Very valid points. As I say in the post, not tackling the refugee crisis as a union means that we would be on our own, dealing with a European problem. Also, I agree – let’s not forget that many students and young people rely on the EU for training and educational programmes too. They are all made easier by being an EU member.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

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    • Interesting – I think there’s certainly a lot of misinformation on both sides of the campaign. Whilst some negations may not be concrete yet, I think it’s best that we negotiate from the inside, rather than try an ‘all or nothing’ deal in the 2 years after the referendum, before Article 50 kicks in.

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  3. I think it is first worth pointing out that I do not want us to leave the single market through, as you say, the EFTA and trading through the EEA agreement that 3 EFTA members, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, have already signed. The most relevant question you ask is then what you go on to ask; would we be able to rejoin EFTA and get the same agreement that the above countries did? I have seen no evidence any of the EFTA states would veto our joining, it in fact seems likely that they would desire a large player such as the UK, in order to balance their relationship with the EU. As for the EU, the Lisbon Treaty binds the organisation to seek a close trade relationship with leaving members, and article 128 of the EEA agreement states that:

    ‘Any European State becoming a member of the Community shall, and the Swiss Confederation or any European State becoming a member of EFTA may, apply to become a party to this Agreement. It shall address its application to the EEA Council.’

    So it is pretty clear the EEA route is open to us inside the EFTA. The real difficulty is in rejoining the EFTA, but that is not insurmountable.

    You mention that you ‘think the new EU deal on immigration is fair, where EU migrants only gain access to specific benefits after 4 years’. I have to first point out that is not the deal agreed. EU migrant only gain full access to specific benefits after 4 years; the access before then increases in line with an index to their home country. But more importantly, this deal is just that: a deal, in the words of the vice-president of the European Parliament, that ‘is in no way a document of the European Union, but a text of hybrid character, which is unspecified and not legally binding.’ Even staying, we have no guarantee this deal will be fulfilled, giving the truth to the government’s lie that we have secured ‘special status.’

    You mention your fear that a vote to leave will potentially trigger a second Scottish independence referendum. My answer to this is twofold. Firstly, the SNP have no legal authority to call a second referendum, the first only being granted by the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement. Secondly, if Nicola Sturgeon cannot deal with the democratic choice of the UK to leave the EU, if that happens, then I suggest she is the one who has a problem with democracy, and that is not our problem, but hers.

    It’s clear you worry that leaving the EU will damage our ties with member states. I suspect it will generate some bad blood. But that is not a reason to stay in. The choice is ours, and ours alone. Furthermore, by joining the EFTA/EEA states, we can continue to co-operate with the EU in many areas, from the Single European Sky, to Erasmus, to Horizon 2020, the list goes on. To leave the EU under these circumstances allows us to keep the single market, to continue cooperation on the grounds we choose, with a certain degree of compromise likely on free movement.

    It is profoundly ironic that David Cameron promotes our position as the ‘best of both worlds’, when in fact the EFTA/EEA states enjoy a far better relationship than us with the EU. They can and do choose to co-operate with many EU programs. They are not part of the CAP or CFP. They only have to adopt laws that are considered to be EEA relevant by the EEA Joint Committee, mostly technical regulations over which they have a significant say, both within the EU and, crucially, internationally.. They even enjoy a veto over EU laws as a last resort, nearly used in 2011 over the 3rd Postal Directive. The UK does not enjoy any one of these rights, yet we continually promote our situation as better than theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the detailed comment! I do admit that since writing this, some comments from those backing the ‘leave’ campaign have affected my stance on the referendum.

      That being said, my reason for voting to stay – as mentioned in the post – comes down to this: is it really wise for us to leave the EU at a time of a deficit and international threats?

      Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of leaving is an interesting one. Tony Benn’s comments about the EU creating an empire stood out for me, as I admire the MP. Bearing in mind after WW2, the EU was set up to create a single market, the expansion into other areas is worrying. But is it worth severing these ties at the current moment in time?

      I think there’s a lot of confusion about this deal on migrant benefits. But, after researching more, Tusk’s draft EU deal for Britain – only activated if we remain – shows that this benefits deal will be granted. I have updated the blog to show one website which suggests this, but the Telegraph are also saying a similar thing:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12135328/EU-referendum-draft-deal-revealed-by-Donald-Tusk-live.html

      You make a fair point on the grounds that Nicola Sturgeon cannot ‘force’ another independence vote – the UK parliament does. Martin Kettle wrote an interesting piece about this:

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/25/brexit-vote-scotland-out-uk-scottish-independence

      In terms of your point about democracy, though, I have always thought it to be unfair that Scotland – despite voting to remain – can be pulled out of the EU because of the UK’s collective ‘say’. It may not trigger another independence vote, but it may pose a problem in terms of devolution of powers. Scotland would definitely want a new system of voting where each country in the UK must agree (or perhaps there must be a majority) before that decision is made. Personally, I think that new style of voting would be fair, but it would still affect the UK bond.

      As said above, I’ll admit that the EFTA idea sounds promising, but is it the right time? Also, I think there are some other aspects of the EU which benefit us.

      I mention in the post about the power of the ECJ in its ruling over the UK in some areas. Whilst some see it as impacting our sovereignty, I think it’s another way to hold our government to account. If we don’t like what our own government is doing, it’s another layer in the legal system we can go to.

      Going back to the EFTA, that’s certainly a tangible option, but I think it needs to be at a time when the deficit is cleared or we are in better financial standing. But then again, as mentioned above, there are other benefits aside from the trade aspect which can benefit the UK.

      I think Cameron’s argument is that we can change EU rules on the UK to mirror what our membership with the EFTA would look like. Unlike the EFTA, however, these changes would not only affect the trade aspect, but policing (the European Arrest Warrant is hugely beneficial) and the ECJ (which, as mentioned above, is another way to hold our country to account).

      Since writing this post on Friday, I can’t help but feel as though the ‘leave’ argument only comes down to the trade and sovereignty aspects of the EU.

      Granted, these are, of course, massive sections of our membership, there are other benefits we have as an EU member. As well as that, let’s not forget that handing sovereignty over to the EU leads to more separation of powers, which is beneficial in terms of holding a body to account.

      Once again, I can’t help but ask that at a time of economic uncertainty, is it wise to leave? Trade is not the only part of the EU which is beneficial.

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts! It’s interesting to see the other side of the debate.

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      • I cannot see there ever being an ‘ideal’ time to leave. Moreover, we may never get this opportunity again. So it seems a real cop-out argument to say ‘is it a good time?’. There will never be a right time. The world will always be besot by crisis, we have nearly always had budget deficits. You simply have to take the opportunity when it’s there, and I see substantial economic benefits to leaving. For instance, Iceland was able to prevent capital flight in 2008 due to it’s EFTA/EEA membership, something impossible in the rigid confines of the European Union.

        And I don’t to be an anorak, but the EU was not set op in order to create a single market. It was set up to erode national sovereignty, Jean Monnet’s clear and explicit vision, which is why he despised the Council of Europe, a precursor to the EEC, for it’s intergovernmentalism, and always worked to make the European Commission, the executive of the Union, the most powerful body in the organisation. It is why the Council of Ministers and European Parliament’s powers are so restricted. The EU does not trust democracy. I cannot by it’s nature. It is why they disregard referendums, such as the recent Dutch one. It is why they make countries repeat referendums, such as the Irish over Lisbon and Nice. It is why they responded to the French and Dutch rejection of the European Constitution by thrusting the Lisbon Treaty on the EU, which bypassed the need for referendums in many countries.

        We have no guarantee this deal will be granted. For a very simple reason, well understood in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The deal places impossible obligations on third parties. So, for instance, this deal will require treaty change. Some countries, such as Ireland, may require referendums to pass that. In order for this deal to be legally binding, it would mean that the Irish people are legally obliged to vote to pass it in a referendum. It means the European parliament is legally obliged to pass it, which the vice-president has said he will not do and is not obliged to do, as well as, he suspects, his block in parliament. Based on this basic principle of international law, it simply cannot be a legally binding agreement. It is a promise not worth the paper it is written on, that we will soon lose interest in once the referendum is over, and that is what the Union is counting on.

        Martin Kettle is bang on right there. Nicola Sturgeon is talking rubbish, she has no ability to call a referendum.

        As for the ECJ point, it providing a place of recourse for our citizens if they are unhappy with this government, I struggle to credit that. I would rather fight to reform our government here along better lines, rather than outsourcing it to the ECJ. Especially when the implications of EU membership are so profound. Such as, for instance, not being able to nationalise our steal industry in a time of crisis. You may like ECJ rulings now, what about in 5 years when you do not, but when you cannot get another opportunity to leave?

        Cameron has spent most of his time insulting the arrangements of the EFTA/EEA countries, I cannot seriously imagine he secretly wants to mirror their arrangements. And that would be impossible in the EU anyway, since we do not adopt legislation that is only EEA relevant, which is the Thatcherite utopian dream.

        The regulations the EU is adopting in regards to the single market are increasingly not EU regulation anymore. They are international regulations, made by groups like the Basel Committee, the UNECE based in Geneva, the ISO, the WTO. The EU even ratified in 1994 the Technical Barriers to Trade agreement with the WTO, obliging them to adopt international regulations over their own. By leaving the EU, we regain the a independent voice at these forums. And that means we influence single market rules before they even reach the EU.

        This is the essence of my ‘Leave’ argument; that the EU is increasingly redundant in an age when it is not making the rules, while still useful in the areas where we want to still co-operate with it, as the EFTA/EEA states do. We do not lose by joining that, we keep up with a changing world, and leave a dishonest, rigid, supranational and unnecessary organisation.

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      • Oh my, I think I just be undecided now – haha!

        One last question, then. With regards to the refugee and migrant crisis, how can we deal with it outside the EU?

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  4. haha well it’s a big decision to make, listen to as many people as possible.

    On the Migrant Crisis, that is probably my weakest point. I quite honestly don’t know how Europe will deal with that anyway, and since the UK is not in the Common Asylum Policy, we are strictly speaking separate from it. Outside the EU, we could still decide to take in refugees from camps in the affected countries in whatever numbers we decided by national preference. Basically, as it is now, our membership of the EU doesn’t really affect this, because we not part of the EU policy on this anyway. Unless you are proposing to join the Common Asylum Policy, in which case my other question follows below.

    Let’s take for a second the hypothetical idea that a quota system fully works within Europe. Shengen is working exactly as intended, people are being assigned in there thousands to whatever country is picked for them, based on whatever criteria.
    I really cannot see how you can tell several thousands people who crossed the Mediterranean to get to Germany that they have been assigned to Italy. I do not see how you could force them there. And I do not see how you can keep them in Italy in a continent which has embraced a system of zero internal borders.

    So until Shengen is formally dropped, I cannot see how the CAP can even work as a quota system. That is the question I have always wanted EU proponents to answer.

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    • Admittedly, I have not heard of the CAP, but as far as I am aware, we have signed up to a law which states that if someone enters our country asking for asylum, we cannot refuse them, right?

      I’m just thinking that it would be better to resolve the crisis through the EU, rather than on our own – we need a meeting area with other countries to discuss this.

      Back to the EFTA, our possible membership would also mean that not only jobs but Erasmus, exchange programmes, the European Arrest Warrant and others are intact? Or is it just the trade aspect?

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      • We are signed up to 1952 UN Convention on Refugees, that is probably what you are thinking of. There are then bilateral arrangements with France, for instance, that allow our border staff to operate at Calais, and theirs at Dover. But that has nothing to do with the EU, and we would still be party to it after leaving. The Common Asylum Policy is a specifically EU policy. The EU-Turkey remains the EU’s biggest ‘achievement’ in this area.
        And again, our lack of involvement in the CAP means it doesn’t matter whether we are EU members on this question.

        On the EFTA, the European Arrest Warrant is not available. Erasmus is, as are many other projects. It is a case-by-case choices to be made in negotiations to leave. My personal feelings to the European Arrest Warrant are unsure. I dislike its legal principles. Depends how important you think it is in the grand scheme of the EU question.

        Hope that helps 🙂

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      • That’s really useful, thank you.

        I think the EAW definitely helped us in the past (in terms of July 2007).

        You’re right, I think I meant the UN convention – my apologies.

        You say that other aspects, if we leave, would have to be negotiated on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, but another concern of mine is what if we do not achieve them all? Will we want the EU to agree with all our demands in that two-year period, or some of them? Chances are that it would be an ‘all or nothing’ challenge, and with a reluctant EU, we may not get that. Then what?

        I have just been re-watching David Cameron’s explanations of the EU deal and it does sound promising. Another question is this: surely Article 50 allows us to leave the EU at any time?

        I should add that the PM, as our ‘Head of State’, could withdraw from the EU now without a referendum, so what’s not to say that if these reforms fall apart, then we could go ahead with leaving anyway?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll carry on here sorry, can’t seem to reply to you for some reason.

    We can obtain the EEA agreement, open to all EFTA members, and then decide how much co-operation we want with in the exit negotiations. That may involve certain compromises, it is possible that our financial savings will be minimal, though that wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. As ever with these things, we cannot say exactly how negotiations would go. We simply have to draw from the experience and laws we have. And to me, both of those things point positively overall.

    Your latter question on leaving is of course technically true. We could invoke article 50 at any time. But let’s be realistic, neither major party wants to leave. And the dominance of those parties means the opportunity to elect a government that wants to leave is virtually zero. Cameron, for instance, did not intend to hold a referendum, because he did not expect to win a majority. That majority has left him in the unfortunate position of having to hold a referendum, something I suspect he hoped to bargain away in a coalition with the Lib Dems. I can promise you, they will not make that mistake again. This genuinely is probably the only opportunity we will get.

    I think the idea Cameron would leave if these negotiations failed is rather far-fetched. He would need the support of the government, which he doesn’t have. And given his lack of defence of these reforms, I don’t think he actually cares. They were always a stunt, the same as Wilson’s ‘renegotiations’ in 1975. The issues have moved on, now all we hear is the economic risk, etc. No one is defending Cameron’s deal, and I imagine, as I said earlier, that he would be content for it to be forgotten about after this referendum.

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    • Again, it’s down to uncertainty either way. I have no doubt the vote will be close, and the question on the ballot paper is whether we want to remain in the EU, *but* with these reforms. If we can’t achieve them, then not only those who wanted to leave in the first place would want him to trigger article 50, but the general public on both sides of the equation.

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      • I guess we have to agree to disagree on this, but if the vote is a close in and the reforms do not happen, which I suspect is very possible, I do not think anything will come of it. Most remain campaigners will just ignore it, they have done in the past, they will do so again.

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      • Oh, of course! I shall agree to disagree – it’s just a hearty debate which I am always a fan of!

        As I said before, there’s a lot of uncertainty regardless of how it goes in June. There’s a lot to be learned – haha!

        Thanks so much for the discussion!

        Like

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