Brexit – should we stay in the European Union or go?

Before you read on, this is not an endorsement, recommendation or anything else but my thoughts and requirements for the forthcoming referendum on our future in the European Union. If you are not interested then I will spare you now from reading on.

The countdown to the EU referendum has begun. On the 23rd we will be asked: ‘Should the United Kingdon remain a member of the European Union’On the ballot form, you will need to tick one of two answers: ‘Remain a member of the European Union’ or ‘Leave the European Union’. Once the votes have been counter we will know if we belong in the Europe Union, set out on the course for leaving.

The first thing I will say whether we stay or go, the EU needs to be reformed. The current monster that is the EU is not accountable and it is definitely not democratic. Ask yourself without refering to a search engine who are your MEP’s? I bet you will be hard pressed to actually name your MEP’s. And yes we have more than one in the South West.

I have wanted a referendum on in/out for many years. This referendum has been a long time coming and in my view could have been asked years ago. Yet previous Governments were too scared to ask the question for fear of the answer. Even the current Government probably did not think this referendum would happen; as they were not expecting to actually win the General Election outright.

In fact the ideal time for a referendum would have been when John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Yet the public was not given a say unlike other European citizens. The Danish took two attempts to be convinced, and surprisingly, the French narrowly passed this treaty.

My aim for the referendum will be to finally decide once and for all to either accept the EU for its good and bad points, or do something about it and leave. We really cannot continue to have this halfway house of standing in both camps.

Since the announcement was made, the referendum debate has been centering of who is in the in or out camp. Instead of looking at the merits of belonging in or out of the EU, the ‘debate’ has been along the lines on the personalities in each camp. I have to say who really cares. I am really not interested in hearing about the continuation of a rivalry started at Eton between a senior boy and his fag.

No doubt it will get worse when the A to Z list of celebs start to endorse the different camps. Seeing Farage and Galloway sharing a stage brought home the reality this vote could turn in to a circus. This vote is too important to be decided on personalities. If it is, then God – or any other deity – help us. We are lost. We might as well get Simon Cowell to run some sort of X-factor/Talent show to decide our future…

I will be straight; I am truly in the undecided camp. I like Europe; I have lived there, visited most of the EU member states and was even born in West Germany. Yet I really struggle withs the current monster that is the EU and is a far cry from the noble aims of the European Economic Community formed in 1957. The EU needs to be reformed. Plain and simple.

However, before I vote, I want to understand all the positives and negatives for both leaving and staying. For that to happen, each side in this argument will need to rise above the fear factor, mud-slinging and cheap shots to give a clear, thought-out reasoning to their cases. I an affraid to say, this has yet to happen…

I have already heard some of the arguments of being in the EU have prevented war in Europe. Eh… What about the Balkans. There was a brutal war there. I have the campaign medal. And Leaving the EU would be the end of the world and the U.K would end up in some post-apocalyptic wilderness. The world is not flat and if we sail off on our own we will not fall off the edge.

I want to move past the cheap shot of immigration and being fearful of ‘Johnny Foreigner.’ There are an estimated 2.2 million Brits living in Europe, with near half living in Iberia. Immigration works both ways.

I also want to move on from, or better, ignore Cameron’s deal and his ‘Munich agreement’ which I believe is nothing more than a sop to stop Cameron actively campaigning against leaving. His comment of I don’t love Brussels (actually a lovely city), I love Britain was cringe-worthy.

What I want to hear about is the economic, social and environmental reasons to remain or leave the EU based on fact. After all we joined the EEC in 1973 for economic reasons. If we vote to leave, it has to be in the best interests of the U.K. and not for some jingoistic reason.

Whilst the referendum is a national issue, I want to know how leaving could affect Cornwall with it grant funding from Europe. I am no fan of Gove, but it did resonate with me in his words of saying we pay so much in, get some back, but told how we should spend it.

If by chance the referendum returns a vote of wanting to leave as the result are just too close to call, do you really think the other European member states will allow us to leave?

Even with a ‘yes to leave’ vote the negotiations to leave will take up to two years. In that time Germany as the largest contributor will do everything to keep us in. This means in their desperation, we might actually get the reform the EU so desperately needs, but as yet is unwilling.

If we go, who else will follow us out of the door? Do you really think Germany wants to be left as the main contributor to the EU budget? Its own nationals might start to start question about the merits about staying in the EU.

From this we might very well end up with what I call the Irish question. Keep asking until you get the answer you want as was the case of Ireland joining the single currency.

There is a lot to play for in the coming few months. However, I beg the campaigners of each camp, keep to the facts, help us understand, as from this allow us to vote with a clear understanding of what are voting for. As whatever the outcome of the vote, will have far reaching consequences on all our lives.






  • Gilly Zella Martin

    I think it would have been better if just councillors had the in or out of the EU vote, after all, we elect them to make decisions on our behalf. It is the council that holds the purse strings for services and it is councillors that are cognizant of local needs. Besides which, if it transpired to be the wrong decision then we could blame the councillors 🙂

  • Susan Jacquemier

    In terms of the effects of leaving the EU on Cornwall, it concerns me greatly that EU funding for Cornwall (for 2014-2020) would be lost and this amounts to a whopping £500m over 6years. I cannot see an austerity-led UK government replacing this.

    This figure, by the way, does not include the EU-funded farm payments. Since most Cornish farmers are small-scale operations, the CAP payments are important. Again, how can we be sure that the UK government would replace this funding?

    My biggest concern for the national economy, because replacing the automatic free access to such a huge market would take years.

    I hope everyone who is undecided about the referendum vote will fully consider the facts and figures before making a decision, and not be moved solely by emotion, ‘passion’, fear or a general feeling of fed-upness with the system. No system is perfect, and there is much to be done in terms of making the EU more democratic, but I think we need to be pragmatic, and not shoot ourselves in the foot for the sake of pride or nationalism, neither of which pays the bills.

  • James Tyas

    Also undecided but would like a few more hard facts. Watching Question Time tonight where on panellist quoted the annual cost of belonging to the EU and he was quickly corrected by another panellist. I fear that most of what we are told is exaggerated and emotional.

    Looking at the Cornish farmers having CAP payments on the one hand but on the other hand what about the fishermen having quotas cut and sharing the catch with foreign trawlers? I am sure there are many pros and cons.

    Recently rolling stock was ordered for the London Underground. There was a bid from Bombardier (Canadian company) who would have done the construction here in the UK. But the contract went to an EU firm. Was this some EU competition ruling?

    I have the feeling we do a lot of things because the EU tells us but not in our own interest. Yet I can’t pin-point these things.

    But what about history and a wider context? It was quoted the other day that we have had peace for 70 years, yet as you have reminded us there was Bosnia. So that isn’t true either.

    I also worry about being swamped by all the refugees. The government representatives will tell us that the UK is the second largest contributor to running refugee camps in Turkey and that area. It is better to stop the influx at its source if we can. But with Putin putting his boot in when will it ever end? I’m sure he is gleefully watching the EU bicker about where to put all these poor people. It truly is a mess but as a member of the EU we will be powerless to stop Syrian or Afgani refugees from being accepted in the EU, given paper-work an then turning up in Penzance.

    There are so many factors to consider. If we could be assured that the economy wouldn’t suffer too much I would vote to leave.

    Then I would vote to work with the EU, NATO, the US and the UN to solve the problems in Syria. We can’t abandon all those people. Can somebody remind me how it was handled after WWII. There were thousands of refugees then too.

  • Anne Smith

    I’m an undecided too, have just watched Michael Howard on t.v. Give a very informative and passionate view on leaving. I really want someone to tell me HONESTLY how much we put in to the EEC and what we get back!
    Will it really have such a massive impact on farming and fishing ?

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