IN for Britain, if you ever doubted otherwise

I believe that everyone should have the right to vote how they want at elections, but a) this is not an election, it's a referendum) I honestly believe that the stakes are too high for me not to get involved here. If I can influence even one person with this post, then I'll feel like I've done something important. As a result, feel free to share this far and wide as I've done a lot of research and I don't want all my hard work going to waste.

So, I'll put my cards on the table: I believe, very very strongly, that we need to stay in the EU. I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with David Cameron, but in this unfortunate case I am, and here's why.

We stand to gain SO MUCH from staying in the EU. "How much", you're (probably not) asking? Well, I made a convenient list for your perusal, WITH sources, so you can't be an idiot and say 'you're making that up!' and froth at the mouth.

So here are "14 Reasons Why We Shouldn't Leave The EU That Everyone Should Know! You Won't Believe #8!":

  1. The EU provides easy access to 1/3 of the world's markets by value (in other words, the EU's combined market value is 1/3 of the entire world's, and we can tap into it whenever we want). [1] It also gives UK businesses preferential market access to over 50 countries OUTSIDE the EU, including some of the fastest-growing economies in the world like South Korea and South Africa. [2]

  2. The EU gives us better product safety. You know, so your toddler doesn't impale him/herself on a badly designed toy, or swallow a load of poisonous plastic. [3]

  3. The EU gives structural funding to areas hit by industrial  decline (hello, Cornwall). [4]

  4. The EU gave us lead-free petrol. [5]

  5. The EU gives us cheaper mobile charges. [6] It also gives us cheaper air travel. [7] Oh yeah, cheap things.

  6. The EU gives us cleaner beaches, rivers and air (hello again, Cornwall). [8]

  7. The EU gives us improved consumer protection and food labelling, so you actually know what it's in your Chicken McNuggets (hint: it's chicken. It wasn't always chicken, though). [9]

  8. The EU has helped break up monopolies. [10] If you don't know why monopolies are a Very Bad Thing, try playing the popular board game 'Monopoly' and see how many friends you have left when you win.

  9. The EU gives us cross-border policing to combat human trafficking, arms and drug smuggling, and terrorism. [11]

  10. Being a member of the EU means no paperwork or customs for exports throughout the single market, as well as the freedom to travel, live and work across Europe. This one is particularly important for me as someone who likes to live, work and travel abroad. Do you have ANY IDEA how great it is to be able to travel and work visa-free?! Having to a get a visa for every single country you enter is a nightmare, believe me. If you've ever tried to travel around Asia, Africa or South America, you'll understand what I'm saying.

  11. The EU creates and helps uphold all kinds of outstanding human rights, such as equal pay legislation, holiday entitlement, and the right not to work more than a 48-hour week without overtime. I'd also like to point out that it's some of these same human rights that David Cameron tried to erode back in 2014, with the EU playing a major role in stopping him. [14]

  12. The EU creates and upholds all kinds of great animal welfare legislation; it has the strongest wildlife protection laws in the world and contributes to improved animal welfare in food production. [15]

  13. The EU funds incredible scientific research and industrial collaboration (including, most recently, a project that may be the catalyst for a cure for breast cancer being found in the next few years, I kid you not). [16]

  14. Finally, and arguably most importantly, the EU has for 60 years been the foundation of peace between European neighbours after many years of bloodshed. [17] It has also assisted in the extraordinary social, political and economic transformation of 13 former dictatorships, now EU members, since 1980. [18]

SOURCES:

[1]   CBI - UK and the European Union

[2]   European Commission 

[3]   European Commission - Consumers

[4]   Cornwall Council - European Structural and Investment Fund

[5]   European Commission - Environment Life Project

       LEADFREE Layman's Report

[6]   Guardian - Europe finally abolishes mobile phone roaming charges

[7]   europa.eu - Your Europe

[8]   Guardian - England's beaches clean up their act to meet tougher EU standards

[9]   European Commission - Food  

[10] Wikipedia - European Union competition law

[11] HEINONLINE - EU Cross-Border policing Provisions, the view from one of the Shengen Opt-out states

[12] European Commission - Migration and Home Affairs

[13] Wikipedia - European Convention on Human Rights

[14] The Telegraph - David Cameron's plan to scrap the Human Right's Act delayed until 2016

[15] European Commission - Animals 

[16] European Commission - Community Research and Development Information Service 

[17] The Second World War

[18] The Cold War

And now, let's take a moment to address some of the arguments for leaving the EU. Apart from the fact that I can't find a single reputable study that suggests we'd be any better off outside of the EU (and believe me, I've looked; I want to research my counterarguments as thoroughly as my arguments), the most persuasive arguments I've found are what I'm going to term 'the trade argument' and 'the immigration argument'.

The trade argument goes as follows: if we left the EU, we could negotiate a sort of 'amicable divorce' where we somehow retain strong trading links with the EU while not being subject to its laws. Many people point to Canada as a good example of this model, which recently negotiated a CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with the EU. I have two retorts to this argument. My first retort: Canada was never a part of the EU in the first place. To return to the divorce analogy outlined above - whereby the EU and the UK are a sort of 'married couple' and trade is their kids - the UK seeking a CETA after leaving the EU would be like a nasty, messy divorce where one parent uses the kids as a weapon against the other, threatening to take them away whenever their demands aren't met.

Canada's CETA, meanwhile, is like a married couple approaching someone else to have a threesome at a swinger's party, which sounds a lot more fun and exciting, I'm sure you'll agree. My second retort to the above argument is simple: why even take the risk? If we stay in the EU, our trade with them will continue to be prosperous and full of great. If we leave, however, there's a chance any trade agreement could fail catastrophically and leave our economy in a major slide. In fact, I would argue the likes of Germany, France and other leading EU nations would not simply let us pick and choose what rules and trade agreements we adhere to, so the likelihood of us being absolutely fine, trade-wise, after leaving the EU seems overly optimistic. Plus negotiating a CETA of any kind could take years and have a completely uncertain outcome.

Again, why take the risk? An additional point: arguments no. 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, and 12 above are examples of really great laws and regulations the EU has introduced. If you say you want to leave the EU so we have autonomy over our own laws, you know that you're effectively handing control of our country over to David Cameron, don't you? In terms of making laws that benefit all of us, I trust the EU way more than that guy.

The immigration argument tends to centre around the whole 'visa-free work and travel' thing, and is generally espoused by people terrified of, 'dem immigantz stealin are jobz'. Alternatively it's espoused by people afraid of terrorists being able to come here more easily, but for that I'd refer you to point no. 9 above; we're safer from terrorism in the EU because we can share intelligence and resources with other countries more easily. But back to the 'stealing our jobs' fear; while it's true that technically speaking there could be an influx of foreigners coming to claim your particular job at any moment, just remember, we've been part of the EU for 43 years now and it hasn't happened yet, despite what the mainstream media may tell you (and you DEFINITELY shouldn't trust those guys; more on that later). Seriously, do you know ANYONE, personally, that has had their job stolen by a foreigner? Be honest now. I'd be willing to wager that you don't,  and I'll explain why that is too: the immigrants that are coming here are not stealing YOUR jobs, specifically. They're either starting their own businesses (in which case they're actually creating jobs), or they're skilled workers taking jobs there just aren't enough trained British people to take (such as doctors or surgeons), or they're unskilled labourers taking the jobs that you don't want (like toilet cleaning or washing dishes). Incidentally, about a year ago I taught English to some Eastern European immigrants who worked in a salad-packing factory in Lichfield. One Latvian girl was actually a teacher back home, but she was making more money as a salad-packer here than she was as a teacher en Latvia(!) - the point being that unskilled immigrant workers are generally happy to work shitty menial jobs that no British person wants, and your cushy 9-to-5 office. Yes I think job is not under threat. Not even a little bit. Oh, and one last thing on this subject, to paraphrase Louis CK: maybe, if an immigrant with no contacts, no skills and no local knowledge of the language and/or culture can steal your job, maybe, just maybe, you're bad at your own job.

If you've made it thus far through this absolute essay of a post, congratulations! You're nearly at the end! But before I go, I just
want to hit you with one final thought. Over 80% of UK newspapers are owned by five right-wing media billionaires: Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail), Rupert Murdoch (Sun/Times), Richard Desmond (Express), and the Barclay Brothers (Telegraph). Murdoch is an     Australian living in New York and Rothermere lives in France, while the Barclay Brothers live in the tax havens of Monaco and     Guernsey. All of them use tax haven entities to avoid UK taxes. 

And guess who wants to stop billionaires using tax havens to avoid paying their taxes? That's right, the EU. So of COURSE the British newspapers are trying to persuade you to leave the EU; it benefits their owners personally. The moral of the story is, don't gather your views from newspapers. Do some research like I have with this post.

In conclusion: we're in a really great position right now. We're part of the EU with all the benefits that entails, but without being tied to their notoriously unstable currency. Leaving the EU would not only be hypocritical since we spent so much time telling Scotland they shouldn't leave the UK this time last year with all that lovely 'better together' rhetoric, it might also be downright stupid and harmful to our economy.

By George Bevan and Sub edited by Brod Ross

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