EU Referendum: Where Is My Vote?

As the days roll by, it seems increasingly unfair that someone in Rochester or Dundee has the right to, quite likely, make a choice that will affect my life much more than it will affect his or hers. The possibility of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership is looming around the corner, and, to make matters even worse, the whole debate is mainly based on xenophobic anecdotes and scaremongering half-truths.

The Horsemen of “British Values”

According to the Eurobarometer 82 from last autumn, only a mere half of British citizens felt comfortable enough to declare that they understand how the European Union works. This is not sufficient. The anti-EU tidal wave – promoted by the right wing, famously hostile media, and a red mug – has simply taken advantage of the public’s inadequate knowledge and lack of interest in the European affairs. In their own separate trenches the pro-reform and anti-EU sides are plotting attacks against one another united by a very narrow-minded message; that immigrants are all Satan’s spawn and ruin everything that’s British. Oh joy.

From the trench where India is still part of the Great British Empire, it is no surprise that the EU may appear as a life-threatening conqueror expanding to swallow British sovereignty. But, of course, times have changed, which is exactly why it seems so out of place that even the more sensible side of the argument also embraces the vision that somehow issues such as unemployment, tax avoidance, and the budget deficit (and, apparently, also HIV) would all be fixed by reducing immigration. Indeed, fear and deception appear to be the driving forces dictating the course of the British EU debate.

Ignorance Demands More Cake

The alarm bells have been ringing day and night since it was revealed that the migration numbers have only increased despite Tory pledges to cut the flow to below 100,000. However, a UCL study from last year revealed that between 2000-2011 the UK has actually benefited from EU migration by gaining a net contribution of around £20 billion (that’s £20,000,000,000, a rather large number) from EU migrants. Yeah, who’s providing to whom now? Against this background the EU migration doesn’t sound that bad after all, seen as the EU migrants have higher levels of education as well as employment rates than the native British population.

It has been demonstrated that the higher levels of objective knowledge of the EU correlate with more positive perception of the Union. The failure of consecutive governments to educate the population on the EU has enabled the populist fear mongering to blossom in the economically insecure times. Maybe if the Brussels wasn’t so easily portrayed as this Continental bogeyman coming to eat British babies, the public might finally realise how the UK is already having its cake and now only demanding another one to eat too. With the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984, the UK is nowhere near the top when it comes to the cost of EU per capita. Compared to Denmark’s €221.93 or Germany’s €115.32 per capita net contribution to the Union, Britain’s €71.55 (£51.90) per capita cost seems only reasonable.

These costs would just barely reduce if the “Brexit” were to happen. The popular “Norway option would still mean having a Minister of EU Affairs and having to comply with EU regulations without having any say in the making of them. But if that’s your image of Britain’s European relations then you’re more than welcome to promote that path. Under this “nearly but not quite an EU member” scenario, the UK would still have to conform to the EU trade rules and face nearly as high costs as it currently does. A complete secession, on the other hand, would have a major impact on UK exports of which 50.5% go to other EU states, according to UK-EU economic relations statistics released by the House of Commons.

Who Gets to Vote?

After bemoaning the current state of the debate, the important question surrounding a EU citizen living in the UK is then who gets to vote in the referendum. Estimated 2.34 million EU citizens live and work in the UK, all of who are waiting for some clarity and stability to be established in the current situation. Indeed, having other people to decide on your future can be nerve-racking, especially as the possible result would have a much stronger impact on the life of a democratically voiceless student from another EU country than it will have on the life of a pensioner from Clacton. There are ways to make my voice heard, but in the end I will have no say in the democratic process affecting my future – I will serve as a by-product of some xenophobe’s dislike of Romanians.

Worth a consideration would also be whether the 2.2 million British nationals currently living in other European Union countries should be given a vote in the referendum or not. Surely these people, who are facing the possibility of becoming illegal immigrants, would like to see some certainty to the continental hokey cokey as well. And possibly to have a voice of their own. After all, the bureaucratic hell that the possible ‘Brexit’ unveils will not be short and pleasant.

Interestingly, however, some of these UK immigrants to the continent seem to agree with the poll which concluded that UK passport holders think that they should have the right to freely live and work in other EU states while denying the same rights from other EU citizens in the UK – conveniently demonstrating the meaning of levels of knowledge and the “having one’s cake and eating it too” attitude which so heavily distort the referendum debate.

Whoever gets to vote in the referendum, it needs to be made sure that aspects such as colouring books are not considered in the decision-making. Arguments like ‘Brussels is brainwashing our kids‘ are only a sad reminder on how low the claims on the EU have sunk.

And as the debate keeps sliding further away from the reality, it becomes increasingly more difficult to watch from the sidelines.

By: Otto Ilveskero

EU Referendum: Where Is My Vote? EU Referendum: Where Is My Vote? Reviewed by Admin on 11:42 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou to all of the people who voted to leave the EU . I and many others are forever in your debt . Thanks to you we are all left in trepidation at the prospect of our futures because of your decision. The truth is the majority of people voting in Britain are just racist , careless , imbeciles who posses neither the reasoning or knowledge to be trusted to make a wise and judicious decision on whether we should leave the EU . In fact , most people's opinions are on the basis that "the migrants are going to come and take over Britain" which is based on nothing but loose estimates of migrant numbers from personal observation , not raw fact . It is frankly frightening that the future of many young people like me has been left in the hands of people who , clearly , from the very start lacked the information needed to come to a fair conclusion on whether or not we should remain in the EU . It baffles me , as a 15 year old , how even I can see that leaving such an important decision with a population where the majority know nothing about the EU or how it supports our country, if I can see this , why didn't David Cameron ? Instead they see leaving the EU as "a way to stop terrorism" or "a way to stop the migrants coming in" or " a way to stop Muslims coming in" which are all racist , pathetic reasons to leave the EU and then realise we are then left with much larger problems than mere immigration. I am enraged that people who are retired already and seem to have nothing better to do with their lives than complain about immigrants have voted to leave - when this decision may put my future in jeopardy. After all , I suppose that they won't have to find a job , they won't have to pay of the exorbitant mortgage , they won't have to pay off the extortionate student loan, they won't be here when we lose our jobs due to recession or when our currency becomes worthless. They won't be here when Britain falls apart . They have their pensions and their fancy holidays , but , thanks to them , I can't see future generation having a pension left by the time we can finally retire. How dare they take MY future from me without a second thought ? Because we will be the ones struggling through what they caused and they will be gone , having suffered none of it . We will work as hard as we can , and yet living costs will be so high even those of us with the highest paid jobs will not be that well off. Why didn't I get a say and others like me ? When this regards MY future and NOT theirs ? I am furious . I hope kalma comes back to bite them .


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