Wednesday 16 March 2016

The EU Referendum: Are you in or out?

It's been a few weeks since the date of the EU referendum was announced. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will know that I've already made it clear which way I'll be voting and that's to stay in.

They might as well hold the referendum next week as I know my views aren't going to change but for the next 4 months we're all going to be subjected to endless debate on the merits of staying in or coming out.

Despite my initial feelings I've still been following the debate which I think is important as the public has a rare chance to think about and make a decision on the type of country we want to be in the 21st century.

So far we're being presented with two narratives on Europe to choose from. The first comes from the stay campaign led by the Prime Minister David Cameron and the Chancellor George Osborne. They're pushing forwards the fear and uncertainty argument. One that says it is too much of a risk for the UK to leave the European Union. They may not have great affection for the EU but the risks of coming out of the EU are to great to consider.

The argument put forward by the out campaign arguably presents a more positive message. One that says the UK can prosper and thrive by going it alone and leaving the EU; saying goodbye to its intrusive laws, regulations and struggling economy.

Personally I've always considered myself to generally be pro European and I instinctively feel that Britain should remain in the EU and be a prominent player inside it.

I certainly don't believe the EU is perfect. I'm all for closer political and economic ties with our European neighbours but there is a limit to how far you can go towards greater integration. I don't want to live in a centralised European super-state, I think it's incredibly undemocratic. You only have to look at the situation in Greece where despite the Greek people electing a government opposed to more austerity, they've ultimately had to follow the orders of Germany and the EU.

The European Union needs reforming but I'd rather try and reform it from the inside rather than leaving the EU altogether. Those who want to leave the EU will never truly convince me. I think in a globalised world I don't believe that Britain will maintain the same power and influence it has by leaving the EU.

The out campaign talk about how we are a country who can trade with the world, which is true but we are still geographically part of Europe, our history and future will always be tied to the Continent regardless of whether some people dislike that fact.

The debate so far is all about our role and future in the world which is understandable but there's the other side of the argument. What would a Brexit mean for Europe?

Europe needs and wants us to stay. It would be a complete disaster for the European project if Britain was to leave. It would potentially be the beginning of the end for the European Union. That might sound dramatic but it certainly conceivable. If one of the biggest countries decided to leave what would prevent other countries from deciding to do the same thing.

Europe is facing a number of difficult challenges at present: Slow economic growth, high youth unemployment, the increasing migrant crisis, and Islamic terrorism. Europe needs to be unified and strong to deal with these issues. A Europe without Britain will be weaker and one person you know wants to see a weakened, fragmented Europe is Russia's Vladimir Putin.

The EU will never be something that this country will truly love but the consequences of Brexit will have far reaching consequences across Europe and the world for years to come.

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