Europe / Politics

A Case for Europe: An opinion piece

Views are my own and do not represent any organisations I work for.

For the past few months I’ve been called a lot of thing for being pro-Europe. A Tory (which anyone who knows me will know I’m not), a socialist, I’ve been accused of wanting to make the rich richer and of not wanting Britain to be great. I have also seen a lot of misrepresentation of the truth (from both sides). This has been keeping me awake, going over the facts, thinking about how to individually respond to those of you who want to leave, so here’s my defence, here’s my opinion. I hope you read and I hope it, at the very least, makes you question one or two things. As I truly believe we are better off in the conversation.

Note: I have tried to use a variety of sources, but, they will obviously be biased due to my stance on the subject. Additionally, I have tried to avoid using the official Stronger In sources, however, in some cases; they have put in better and more concise than other sources.

Contents (Note: haven’t quite worked out how to do the content links yet)

  • Scaremongering
  • Boris Johnson, Arron Banks and Michael Gove
  • Workers’ rights
  • The Country that left
  • Travel – timeshare, visas, EHIC
  • Money in vs Money Out, The Single Market and Trade Deals
  • Small business
  • Immigration
  • Turkey
  • Brexit: the movie (added 9 June 2016)
  • In conclusion
  • And finally
  • Questions and answers (responses to comments)

Scaremongering

In this very heated debate I believe both sides of this argument are at fault of this, both campaigns scaremonger, both campaigns expand on the truth and both campaigns can be quite frankly nasty, with under research patronising articles/ videos etc.

Here are some links to some information videos and articles which try to look at the “facts” in quite a balanced way.

Organisation – 38 degrees 

Channel 4 Fact Check

Telegraph

BBC

Independent

Guardian (added 09 June 2016)

  • How can the stats read so differently? www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2016/jun/03/brexit-how-can-the-same-statistics-be-read-so-differently
  • The European union has changed our daily lives http://www.facebook.com/theguardian/videos/10154238156786323/
  • Is the leave campaign really telling six lies? www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/07/eu-referendum-fact-check-david-cameron-leave-campaign-claims
  • Find out how much you really know www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2016/jun/02/eu-referendum-find-out-how-much-you-really-know

Debating Europe

Alternatives to the official leave and stay campaigns

Brexit Beer Mats (added 06 June 2016)

EU Myth busting blogs (added 06 June 2016)

And here’s an article about the head over heart struggle which I found really useful:

Update (14/06/16) – on the subject of scaremongering. I would like to note that there is a difference between scaremongering and a scary scenario/ story. The word scaremongering is being used (again by both sides) to discredit the argument, whatever the other side says it is scaremongering.

What I would like to say is that some of these stories are researched, some of these stories look at the evidence we have at hand to make a reasonably informed decision. But, some of these stories are scary and have evidence and experts to back them up. They are by definition scary, the financial impact, the impact on our identity, the impact on our influence. But they are not scaremongering, they are a warning.

In truth we don’t know exactly what will happened but we can hazard a good guess based on the existing trade agreements of other countries. A lot of these arguments are made by experts, who, if you are fed up with the politicians are a good source of information. Why would so many come out as pro-EU if it wasn’t a good thing for trade and business? Would they really want their businesses to fail? Would they really want the hassle of moving their businesses abroad unless they felt it absolutely necessary?

Again, I can’t find sensible resources from leave that argue the case, everyone has different ideas of where we would sit, mainly posturing. Some say the WTO, some say the single market. I think one of the biggest problems with this is that leave should have a manifesto over which type of trade agreement we would pursue if we were to leave then we could have a proper discussion, not a existential conversation about it all.

How I see is it is it it too much of a risk. You wouldn’t get a loan or buy a house without knowing the terms, you wouldn’t take a job without knowing the hours, we could be getting an amazing rate or getting a payday loan. And this is much bigger, much more risky, it will cost jobs, how many we don’t know, it will cause uncertainty in the financial markets,  it will cause disruption, what is under question is how much. We just don’t know and the risk is too high. What happens if interest rates go up for my mortgage re-payment or we have a recession, what happens if my job looses it’s funding, what does this mean for me, what does it mean or my brother or my parents, what happens if the pound drops (good for exports but back for imports and the cost of living). Some friends of mine who contribute a lot to the economy are thinking of moving abroad to get away from us. We’d loose talent, amazing contributors to the economy. The risk is too high. And this is not scaremongering, this is scary.

It seems to me that most people want and expect things to stay the same with a few tweaks, so why leave? Things will change if we leave. I hear things like we’ll still be able to travel around the same, we’ll still be able to exchange information about terrorism in the same way, we’ll still have as strong a say in the world, we’ll still be able to trade in Europe and it won’t cost us any more. Now i’m not saying we will be excluded from all these things or all of them will change, but some things will have to change, that’s the point isn’t it? So if you want things to stay the same then the risk is too high.

I have spent hours researching, but most people won’t even read this far into this article. I hope people read, I hope people understand, I hope people vote remain.


Boris Johnson, Arron Banks and Michael Gove (Three of the key backers of leave campaigns.)

None of whom can agree what the UK will look like outside of the EU, one of whom is great friends with Murdoch and has a wife who writes quite frankly vile articles in the Daily Mail (Sarah Vine), one of whom wants to privatise the NHS (source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/anti-eu-leave-campaign-chief-arron-banks-nhs-privatised-a7022306.html), at least one (possibly two) was a members of the Bullingdon club. None of whom can be trusted.

Boris Boris Boris – Now in writing this I must confess that I am passionate in my dislike of this man. He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, an articulate fool and has many people, as far as I’m concerned, conned into thinking he is a lovable rogue.

Boris is an Oxford Graduate, he is articulate and clever, you can see that in the posts he puts on Facebook, which I have seen shared by friends. However, with regards to Europe it troubles me that his position on it has fluctuated over time.

Here’s a good article about he’s fluctuating view regarding Europe: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/02/21/boris-johnson-eu-brexit-supports_n_9286400.html

Some might say that he has the right to change his mind and that maybe he weighed up the pros and cons of Europe. The cynic in me, however, truly believes that this is for political gain.

Boris appeals to the emotive of us, but I urge you think with your head not your heart, to think about research statements, not just words, when it comes to him, just think of some of things he has said in the past about people. And he was also a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club which makes me question his moral fibre.

The Bullingdon Club:

Note: I am aware that David Cameron and George Osboune were in this club, I don’t like them either, I just happen to agree with their position on this (I am now going to lie down for a bit as saying that is painful)

Here are a few articles which I believe show Boris Johnson’s true colours.


Workers’ rights

Some of these would remain, I’m not expecting to lose them all, we would have to untangle them and put them into UK law. My point with this is that this probably wouldn’t have happened without the EU. As a woman, this is particularly poignant, my wages are equal to my male counterparts, I am able (if I so choose) to go on maternity leave and return to my job and my partner and I can split maternity/ paternity leave, I won’t be forced to work over 48 hours a week but can choose to if I want to. All this progress and we want to leave somewhere that has helped us reach a happier place to work.

1


The country that left the EU

The only comparison for a country that has left is Greenland. Here’s an article that summarises their experience – the long and short of it is, it was good, it benefited their economy, but now they want back in, to a certain extent, so that they can expand their trade routes.

How to make a Brexithttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35233683


Travel – timeshare, visas, EHIC

Leaving the EU could mean losing our access to free medical care in Europe (EHIC). It could mean higher fees for timeshares, higher flight costs and potentially on insurance costs, it could also mean having to apply for visas or entry into Europe. How many of us go for a week away in Spain, Greece, France, how many of us go to Amsterdam and Prague on stag do’s or a Romantic Weekend break to Paris or Barcelona? This could become prohibitive for people who want a cheap holiday or for those who work abroad. This could lead to less investment in business as we will not be able commute abroad as easily, to buy and sell, whether that be a printed circuit board, a car or some British produce.

How will this affect the 5.5million ex-pats in Spain, will they have the same access to medical care? How will it affect the taxes they pay? How will it affect the bars we visit run by Brits, who would probably be affected by higher taxes and visa restrictions (for those who have not become citizens)?

Now, obviously some of this is speculative and all depends on what deals we make and what our relationship with Europe looks like. However they are possibilities we need to consider.


Money in vs Money Out, The single market and Trade Deals

Single Market

There are many arguments about how we would look in and out of Europe and how it would affect trade. There has been extreme and irrational modelling on both sides and lots of assumptions made.

What is clear and what all side seem to broadly agree on is that we do need to be able to trade with the Single Market

Negotiating our own deals: this isn’t unachievable, but, the reality is that we no longer have people with the skills to do this on an international scale, they are all based in the EU, and so we might need to bring people out of retirement to train a new generation. This, at the very least will take time.

There are also multiple scenarios which would take years to sort out, leaving us and our economy in limbo, and none of which the leave campaigns can decide on. Here are some articles about the various scenarios we are facing:

Money in vs Money out

The figure of £350million that the leave campaign are saying that we pay out is not true, there are articles that explain it much better than myself, but this does not take in to account any rebates, subsidies or grants that feed into the UK, admittedly we don’t make back the full £350million, but we do benefit. The other advantage of this is that the money comes in, not centrally, but is targeted specifically industries, like farming, deprived area, skills and employment and so on. Money is also distributed through Local Enterprise Partnerships. I personally do not trust central government to distribute this fairly should it come back in. Here’s a list of (some of the) funding and grants we receive from the EU:

Economically speaking  

Multiple organisations support Remain, ranging from the Bank of England to the IMF to Friends of the Earth to G20 to Business Leaders to Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister and so on. You could say that some of them are bias, yes they probably are, but, on the other side of the coin, I have yet to see a robust, researched paper from the leave campaign. I have yet to see a financial institution support them. Even they can agree we will be in for some short term pain, as illustrated by Arron Banks in this article: Arron Banks – Short Term Pain http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/arron-banks-brexit-treasury-committee_uk_5720f57ee4b06bf544e1279dfor For some of you the short term pain may be negligible, you can’t afford a new car this year or you might have to delay buying a house by a year, think of the impact on those who could stand to lose their jobs (service industry and public sector receiving direct grants from the EU being  examples) as a result of the interim discussions, those who could lose their house. With almost a million people accessing food banks, now is not the time to economically rock the boat for these people or to add to the ques desperately trying to feed their families.

Here are some articles from and about organisations who are pro-IN or who have advised against Brexit.

The reality

Here’s a list of endorsements for both sides of the campaigns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsements_in_the_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016

One quote particularly struck me and that is one from a Mr Rupert Murdoch:

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”

(http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/anthony-hilton-stay-or-go-the-lack-of-solid-facts-means-it-s-all-a-leap-of-faith-a3189151.html)

Trade deals

There’s been a lot said about being able to trade externally to the EU, and no we cannot broker our own trade deals. However, this has its pros and cons.

We can’t broker trade deals as quickly – whilst this for some may seem to inhibit growth, we want to make sure we have the right trade deals, and having them slowed down a little through the EU makes them more susceptible to scrutiny. An example of this is trading with America. The TTIP trade deal is the proposed EU trade deal with America. Many politicians here are pro it and have vested interests in it and would do the deal in a heartbeat. The problem with this is that it may allow companies to sue the government if legislation passed discriminates their business, which means we would have little control over big corporations and would be at their mercy. This trade deal has been slowed down and put to scrutiny by the EU, now the EU isn’t so innocent in its dealings with it itself and has been criticised for how it has dealt with it. One of the reasons it has taken so long to broker a trade deal with America is because it hasn’t been viable up until this point.

TTIPhttps://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/01/leaked-ttip-documents-cast-doubt-on-eu-us-trade-deal

Alongside the 28 member states we have access to 50 other countries who have trade deals with Europe.

Here are the EU resources to view all ongoing and resolved trade deals including: Australia, Bangladesh, China and Africa.

tradoc_149622

Bearing in mind that these deals in Europe have taken, in some cases 8 years (Canada) do we have the resources and the skills to be doing the negotiating ourselves?

The Leave campaign keep saying that well have more freedom to trade with countries like America, China, Australia and New Zealand, who have all stated it would be better if we stayed in the EU, surely this implies they think that we would be stronger and more beneficial to trade with if we remain.


Undemocratic

I agree to some extent with this position, that we need a more transparent European Union and to make more clear the rules on who’s elected and how, and the remit of the elected people vs policy makers. How I understand it is that, In essence, it is like any government, but with elected representatives from each county, the PM and MEPs in our case, and then civil servants creating policy and legislation based on the parliament, though this is a very basic analysis and the EU is not as transparent as it could be, and members of the countries involved should hold votes in their own parliaments to make decisions based on the needs of their county. There needs to be clear lines of accountability.

For this to change we need to be involved rather than shying away. I keep hearing the mantra of “let’s make Britain Great again” and “shouldn’t we be able to stand on our own two feet, are our politician’s lazy?”, to this I’d say, yes let’s make Britain Greater, lets stand on our own to feet by holding our heads up in the EU parliament with strength, let’s guide the conversation, let’s be key players again, let’s be the rudder that guides this mammoth ship, by doing that we’d benefit ourselves by creating stronger trading partners, by encouraging investment and by being a force for change. Let’s become interested in Europe and not send politicians (MEPs) there who deliberately abstain to every vote, who turn their back when the European Union Anthem is played, who for want of a better word, rinse the expenses system for all it’s worth. Don’t we want to be part of the conversation?

We’re like toddlers in a playground saying, I don’t want to play with them, because we are trying to understand our relationship with other people. Instead of backing away, let’s play, let’s learn and grow and use our experiences to better others.

Discussion pieces:

And we mustn’t forget that even out of the EU this legislation may affect us. If we wish to trade with the EU we will have to meet their criteria and standards, while having no say in it.

Someone did say to me, that it could be got around, and you might be able to in some manners, but when dealing and trading in car manufacture, environmental and food industries, this will be met with close scrutiny and do we really want to “get around it”? Do we want to get away from our beaches and rivers being clean, from our air being less polluted, from our cars being safe and from our food being high quality?

Other people have said, that if we leave it will force change, isn’t this cutting off our nose to spite our face. It’ll change, for the better, and we won’t be part of it, we’ll be the ex-partner seeing how much better they are doing with little chance of reconciliation.

A bit more about the EU www.euintheus.org/what-we-do/infographic-get-to-know-the-eu/

INFOGRAPHIC_Banner_Stand_UPDATE_march_2015.jpg


Small business

Small businesses may suffer from some of the workers’ rights rules, such as maternity leave, however, these rules benefit everyone and the government should be supporting small businesses to ensure they aren’t too adversely effected by these rules, rather than punishing the masses by removing the rules. Small business benefit from the Single Market by being able to trade freely with multiple countries, and by wholesalers being able to import things more cost effectively which then gets passed down to smaller businesses as it makes it more affordable for them.

The European Investment banks provides funding and affordable loans which have helped many businesses get started and may businesses grow.

The EU has supported and encouraged apprenticeships which has provided opportunities for many people, it also provides funding for some of the associated qualifications, which makes them accessible.


Immigration

I’m not going to go into this too much. Immigration does benefit the country but I am also aware of some of the economic challenges it brings with it. Britain has a long history of accepting people in and thus we have an incredibly diverse society. Again, this is something where we need provisions in place to support immigration and its challenges, but most immigrants’ work, that’s what they are here for.

Here are a couple of articles/ documents about immigration for you:


Turkey

I wasn’t going to address this but I’m seen some scaremongering style videos and wanted to put some more factual articles here.

The reality is it could take 5-15 years for Turkey to join the EU and for free travel they need to meet 35 criteria which I believe they have only met a few of. It is good that they are fighting to change the flaws of Turkey to try and become a member, they are trying to improve themselves to become a member, and while they have a long way to go, surely it will eventually make it a better country, by improving their human rights record, by improving their GDP. They are also struggling at the moment, with over 2 million migrants, we should have some empathy as we get upset by the mention of 20 refugee families being settled in Exeter, imagine the turmoil of a county with 2 million, who all need support.


Brexit: The movie

I have to admit I only got through about 10 minutes of this before I was out. I thought I’ll make a concerted effort. But from the start with the dramatic music, condescending tone and pretty much all white, all wealthy, cast I was out. I have addressed most of he issues raised in the movie in this article, but my goodness, if I hadn’t known better I would have thought that this was a Charlie Brooker mickey taking video.

Now let’s have a look and the cast.

Note: I have mainly used wiki articles, which I know aren’t always accurate, but enough to give the general tone. Also; I could find an extensive list of who was in it, anywhere, not even the end credits, not even a wiki. Which I do note have a credit to actors used? Were the “people asked in the street” actors? So I had to watch as much as I could bear and take down their names.

James Delingpole – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Delingpole

Notables quotes/ points:

  • Delingpole has described himself “as a member of probably the most discriminated-against subsection in the whole of British society—the white, middle-aged, public-school-and-Oxbridge educated middle-class male.”[33]
  • In 2012 Delingpole wrote an article in The Australian, entitled “Wind Farm Scam a Huge Cover-Up,”[30][subscription] the tone and other content of which became controversial, and were ultimately censured. Three complaints were made, and the Australian Press Council upheld three aspects of the complaints, commenting on the “offensiveness” of the comment made by a New South Wales sheep farmer, which Delingpole quoted, that made an analogy between advocates of wind farms and paedophiles.[31]

Simon Heffer – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Heffer

Notable quotes/ points

Wrote the original draft of this about Hillsborough: https://soupyone.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/boris-johnson-and-hillsborough/

He supported the retention of Section 28, opposed the equalisation of the age of consent and the liberalisation of laws on abortion and divorce.[17] He opposed the removal of hereditary peers from the House of Lords in 1999,[18] and has also written about the decline of tie-wearing among British men. In August 2002, Heffer blamed “liberal society” for the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Mark Littlewood 

Nothing on him, it seems, apart from speaking out against tobacco regulation.

Martin Durkin (director)

Documentaries

  • Against Nature[edit] – In 1997, Channel 4 broadcast Durkin’s documentary series Against Nature, which criticized the environmental movement for being a threat to personal freedom and for crippling economic development.
  • The Great Global Warming Swindle[edit] – Main article: The Great Global Warming Swindle The Great Global Warming Swindle was a 2007 documentary film that premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on March 8, 2007 and was subsequently criticised by the British media regulator Ofcom. The film features scientists and others who are skeptical that global warming is caused by human activity.

Matt Ridley

Northern Rock – Ridley was chairman of Northern Rock from 2004 to 2007, having joined the board in 1994. His father had been chairman from 1987 to 1992 and sat on the board for 30 years.[37]

In September 2007 Northern Rock became the first British bank since 1878 to suffer a run on its finances at the start of the credit crunch. It was forced to apply to the Bank of England for emergency liquidity funding, following problems caused by the financial crisis of 2007–08.[38] The failure of the bank eventually led to the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Ridley went before a parliamentary committee which criticised him for not recognising the risks of the bank’s financial strategy and thereby “harming the reputation of theBritish banking industry.”[10] He resigned as chairman in October 2007.[10]

Kelvin Mackenzie – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_MacKenzie

So much scandal and controversy I think I’d have to copy virtually the whole wiki article!

Responsible for “that Hillsborough headline”, not being sorry for it and being closely aligned with Rupert Murdoch.

Kate Hoey – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_MacKenzie

Generally alright, although I don’t believe in her position on fox hunting.

David Davis – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Davis_(British_politician)

Normal conservative politician,  libertarian so I understand, but don’t agree with his stance.

 Janet Daley – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Daley

Nothing of note.

James Bartholomew

No wiki – suspicious

Claire Fox – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claire_Fox

Nothing of note

Peter Lilley – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lilley

Typical Tory MP – voted against climate change.

And those are all the people I could list before I got fed up. It is a little ironic, perhaps, that I had to look up most of these people – if you had completed the same exercise as in the movie then I wouldn’t of had a clue.

Incidentally, I have see this who’s this test done multiple times with regards to politicians, and to be fair this is all of our faults, we have become apathetic to politics, we probably don’t know what our local councillor looks like, let alone our  MEP or the European commissioner. And this is the politicians fault and the newspapers fault, lie after lie and spin after spin we’ve stopped trusting, stopped watching. I suppose part of the problem is knowing what questions to ask, but, if you want to know about Europe and how it works, it is spelt out on the EU website, debates are televised, information is available, Let me Google that for you . . . http://lmgtfy.com/ It is up to us to understand, re-engage and not be spoon-feed the information.

 


In conclusion

What we are saying is that we want all the benefits of being in the European Union, for example the trade links and holiday access to Europe, without having to pay for it and without being able to have a say on it. We’re the teenagers who want everything without the responsibility of the big decisions, saying “it’s so unfair” and “leave me alone” rather than engaging in the conversation

I’ve really struggled to find balanced arguments for the Leave campaign, most are impassioned, but almost all are missing substance, don’t have sources for their quote or even who’s saying it, and shout at people instead of conversing, calling people idiots and lefty loonies and being quite rude. I’m not saying this doesn’t exist of the other side, because it does, but during my research of this article I found that a lot of comment sections on article were like this and that has swayed my opinion even more.

I believe that Britain, even with its flaws, is already great, access to free health care, opportunity, access to schooling, an ever improving equal work environment, I believe we can be even Greater within Europe and by being the adult in the conversation advocating change.

And lastly I leave you with this (adapted) Monty Python sketch which illustrates it all very nicely.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to register to vote. Even if you go and spoil your ballot, people have fought hard for you right to vote. Women and men have died for your right to vote, so use it. https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

 


Questions and answers

This section details questions I have recieved via social media.

Q Isn’t a little ironic to say you should vote, people fought hard for that and in the same article admit the system your voting for is undemocratic? The EU system cannot change because to do so would prevent it from succeeding.

It’s the same old scare stories. Look at all we get, but then admit we pay for? Confuse trade agreements with joining the EU? And have the completely wrong notion that EU laws can be tamed or limited by being made a UK law; EU law takes precedence.

Please people, just open your eyes. You’re fighting to vote to destroy your right to vote for your own government because your afraid the UK will cease to exist if it isn’t part of a bigger club.

It’s not all about money. It’s about democracy, governance and control.

A

Thank you for your comments Andrew, it’s actually really useful to have these as it is always beneficial for me to continually re-evaluate my position. I have done a little more research this morning as a result of your comments. Here is my response to your questions.

1) Undemocratic

I think maybe I didn’t put my position on this clearly enough. I said I agreed with it to some extent, not that I fully agreed with it, as this isn’t black and white, there are lots of shades of grey, and in a way I was debating it with myself to come to a conclusion. Hence; the conflicting articles I added as I was trying to find my feet with it.

After further reading: Broadly speaking the EU is democratic. As a country, we vote our MPs and MEPs in. Law and policy is created in the EU by committees and policy makers, and then voted on by MEPs and voted on by the heads of each country based on what their parliaments say. Opt outs can be negotiated, but are difficult to do; a prime example is that we opt out of the Euro. To an extent this is a much bigger version of our parliament, but with people elected from other countries involved in the committees, who could be seen as unelected.

Where law / policy making process falls down for us is the lack of transparency and our lack of engagement in the process. For example, Nigel Farage attended something like 2 out of 43 Fishery Committees, and UKIP MEPs only attended something like 65% of votes and, I believe, their policy is to only abstain or vote no. How are we supposed to influence laws and policy if we don’t engage? No wonder we find it “undemocratic” when we aren’t engaged in the process. Additionally, we as the public can engage in public consultation to influence policy and change http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/consultations/index_en.htm

I understand the argument that other countries, where we have no say in who represents them are the “unelected bureaucrats” and there are two ways of looking at this, the question here is how do we make this more democratic and can we. Do we have a say in who represents other countries or do we trust that they are making decisions based on the good of their country or are they self interested? I have faith that it is the former, but do realise that, like ourselves, other countries will act with some self interest.

My personal view is that we should have more opt out options, more referendums in our country regarding EU law and policy and possibly the option to vote in who leads the European Council and the European Commission. I have faith that all of this, over time, is achievable, and I think that as we have started the conversation, we would be a key player in changing the EU. There has been some progress, in 2014 there were televised debate from those who were nominated to lead the European Commission, here’s an article about the ongoing democratic changes in the EU http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/democratic-change_en

I also think that committee meetings should be televised and that the papers should publish more about what’s going on in Europe rather than about celebrity injunctions. (I believe that this already happens in some of the more engaged countries)

Now where we may never agree is how far this takes us into federalisation and that is an opinion that you/I come to based on the evidence we have at hand.

My aim with my article, and this, is to maybe make people question a little how they think about it, as you did with me by posing these questions, or to try and give some resources to those who might want more information.

I’m sure you’re already aware of this but for the benefit of other readers, here’s some information about how EU law is made:

2) Scare stories

To be honest, I could say the same about the points made by leave, about the red tape, border control and the NHS. They are the same stories because they are what matter to people, and within my article I have tried as best I can to evidence it using a variety of sources, rather than using blanket statements with no context, which I have seen done on both sides of the argument. So let’s leave the scare story mantra at the door.

3) Look at all we get, but then admit we pay for?

We get a lot, and yes we pay for it. No admission, I said it outright. The point I was trying to make is that we could be paying a similar amount but not getting any of the benefits, the rebates, the grants and subsidies. There has been a lot of financial modelling done and none of them seem to work in our favour, at least not in the short term. A prime example, which I’m not sure if you saw in the article, is the example of how Norway trades, now it is an inflated example, because their GDP is lower, and it is only one example, but it illustrates that if we want to trade we have to pay. In the article itself are some links to financial modelling examples.

4) And have the completely wrong notion that EU laws can be tamed or limited by being made a UK law; EU law takes precedence.

I understand that EU law takes precedent, however, we can opt out of things (articles below) and if we have strong representation from our MEPs then I have faith that the laws will be robust from the start. As I said earlier, we need MEPs who are engaged in the process and who actually attend EU parliament, and press that factually report on what is happening. I also said I would like to see our ability to opt-out made easier. Additionally, we would have to abide by EU laws, how many depend on the trade model we undertake, so how is this any more democratic? Having to abide by laws that we have no say over at all.

This Telegraph article is a really good balanced article on our sovereignty , and looks at which laws we could relinquish and how this would affect us and how existing laws effect us, out of all the articles in this response, this one is most worth the read.

Information about UK (and European) opt-outs

5) It’s not all about money. It’s about democracy, governance and control.

Money matters to people, for people like myself, whose wages have not gone up with inflation for over 4 years, the risk, however small, of a recession scares me. I would survive, but, I am lucky, I have a partner and a house. It would be tough. I could lose my job, which is partially dependant on EU funding (it would possibly be ok until 2020, but who knows). My partner could potentially lose his night shift allowance and the factory he works at benefits from being in Europe to trade, and must adhere to some EU rules if it wishes to continue trading. All these things directly impact me and my quality of life and my work life balance. The democracy of Europe seems a long way down the list when the impact could mean losing your job. So when you say it’s not all about the money, it’s not, but it is a major consideration for myself and my future and my considerations is, is the short term pain worth it, and is the long term risk a gamble worth risking my job on?

I do completely agree with you that it’s not all about the money but it is a big part of this debate and intrinsically wrapped up with democracy, governance and control, as one influences the other. For example: Our trade with the EU is affected by EU law (in or out) so does our control over our borders outweigh our control over EU laws that affect trade? We could control our own trade deals but would they be as strong without the rest of the EU behind us?

We probably could go alone, but I suppose my point is do we want to? Personally, my positions is, and excuse the analogy, I want to be part of the big diverse, dysfunctional, extended family not the estranged uncle (or aunt) who still wants a say but doesn’t want to travel to see anyone or pay for his part of the family meal.

I will update my blog to reflect this conversation.

Thanks, Suzanne

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