What kind of political blog would this be with the absence of anything EU-related, considering the referendum will be one of the biggest questions of our lives? It is an opportunity for everyone to vote on the future of the UK without being able to change the decision after 5 years….
Except not everyone can vote. If one is a citizen of another EU country or under 18, there is no voting slip available… despite this decision being of vital importance for the UK’s place in the world. Therefore I will not have the opportunity to vote, an unfortunate circumstance bearing in mind I am 17. Nonetheless, politics is available for all to participate in, regardless of ability to vote: I have campaigned in Daventry town centre with Emma Reynolds MP and Abigail Campbell (2015 Labour Candidate for Daventry parliamentary constituency) on behalf of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. Although this campaign has seen me veering towards contemporary politics over political theory, it has certainly given me practical experience in everyday-politics, invaluable for PPE which I intend to read at university.
How else have I shown an interest in politics? Today, three days before the referendum debate, I (alongside Richard Marshall-Lee) represented the Remain campaign in a school debate. After giving speeches, the floor was opened up for questions from the audience. The voting showed an overwhelming victory for Remain (83 votes to 40) but the demographic suggested that this was to be expected (studies have shown repeatedly that under 25s are one of the most likely groups to vote Remain).
Here is the speech I prepared (please bear in mind that the audience was a Grammar School Sixth Form):
“Mr Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Floor.
In essence, the question of European Union membership is about how we maximise the United Kingdom’s prosperity, security and influence in the world.
Firstly, our economy is stronger inside the European Union (EU). EU membership ensures that we are members of the single market, which strengthens the UK economy because British businesses can trade in Europe without tariffs. British businesses have access to this market of 508 million people, significantly more than the 64 million population of the UK. To withdraw from this threatens to damage the UK’s economy. 90% of economists and research undertaken by the International Monetary Fund, the Office for National Statistics, Oxford Economics, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the OECD, and the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney have all forecast a fall in GDP in the event of a British withdrawal. The IMF has warned of a 5.6% decrease in potential GDP if we leave. Bear in mind that only a 1% fall in GDP would offset the saved £8 (raw) billion membership fees – we will actually have less money because there will be less jobs and less investment – the UK will simply not be as attractive for investors. I believe in a strong economy that facilitates social mobility, increased employment and increased tax revenues. These institutions I mentioned are not EU-funded puppets – these are expert, world-leading economists and when they predict 800,000 job losses in the event of a BREXIT, I say it is NOT worth it. It will not be executives losing their jobs – it will be the ordinary workers on the lowest incomes.
Healthier public finances ensure Government funding for the National Health Service and other vital departments, therefore remaining in the European Union is crucial for the UK and prevents the need for Osborne’s ’emergency budget’ which will become necessary considering the £20-40 billion black hole in the public finances that the IFS predicts.
Throughout the course of history, no empire or country has ever been completely sovereign or had total control of its own destiny. The Roman Empire, Imperial China and the British Empire were not always able to get their own way, even at the height of their empires. Economic crises, military rivals, competing philosophies and emerging technologies have all inflicted hardships and defeats, requiring compromises even for states as powerful as these.
Yes, we pool some sovereignty in a controlled manner, to gain greater influence in shaping the Europe of the future. The European Union has seen economic integration as integral to peace and stability and I believe as a proud; outward-looking nation we should remain in it. While the Leave side cry “we have surrendered sovereignty”, they fail to learn lessons from the international relations – we don’t ensure long term influence by retreating into isolation – we compromise. Anyway, the UK really does have the best of both worlds inside the EU – we have opt outs of the single currency, we are not part of Schengen so do not have complete free movement of people yet we are a member of the single market, with a seat and a voice influencing the terms and conditions on which we trade. That would disappear in the event of a Brexit, so in fact as the negotiators and many arguing for Brexit want tariff-free trade, because EU trade is vital for British business, we would still pay fees to the EU but would have no say over these laws. A Brexit, I believe would therefore lead to an erosion of influence.
The EU is a powerful community of democracies that promotes ethical business, human rights and co-operation – so what kind of message would the UK, great by history and values alike, be sending in the event of a vote to leave, an isolationist anti-business move that would also jeopardise our future, our opportunities and our political and economic clout?
I am not pretending that the EU is a perfect institution by any means – indeed many inside agree that reform is needed but whatever grumbles and frustrations we may have, I believe we are ultimately far better off staying within it and working to improve it, especially considering we reap so many benefits from EU membership. Frankly to exit it I believe would not be worth it.
The EU has transformed from a Europe for Big Businesses, into a Europe for People, a Europe for Aspiration, a Europe for Workers and a Europe for everyone.
Finally, I urge you to put aside the arguments put forward by the Leave campaign of division, isolationism and self-inflicted economic prohibition and instead vote for a future of security, opportunity and prosperity by voting to remain.”
One can only lay hope in the British electorate that they will make the right decision – that is for me a vote to remain within the European Union. I apologise for not having earlier declared my position on this issue but active engagement with the campaign takes priority over publications on this blog, no?
Thank you and remember to #VoteRemain on Thursday 23 June (if you are eligible, of course!)