By: Lauren E. White, Student Voices Magazine Editor (@lxurenwhite)
With less than three weeks to go until the people of Britain head to the polls, it’s time that I personally addressed the European Union referendum.
It’s not often that I agree with David Cameron, but this time I do. I also agree with Stephen Hawking, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel to name a few. I believe that Britain is better off staying in the EU.
The economy will deteriorate if we vote to leave – there is no denying that. After the financial crisis in 2008-9, Britain is still recovering. Our economy has not yet healed enough to fully support a Brexit. It is a fact that since 2010, the Chancellor George Osborne has in fact increased our deficit by £555 billion. The London School of Economics has also said that if we leave the European Union, there could be a 6.3-9.5% deduction in GDP. This would be similar to the financial crisis I mentioned earlier. There is no way that we can risk putting Britain into such financial turmoil again.
Of course Vote Leave would argue that we send the EU £350 million each week. This figure has been widely reported on and discredited as it does not take into account what we get back from the EU. According to FullFact – an independent fact-checking charity – the actual figure is under £250 million. On an annual basis, taking into account the rebate of £5 billion Margaret Thatcher secured in 1984 (which never actually goes to the EU as it is taken off before any money is handed over), the UK pays £13 billion into the EU. However, this does not include EU spending, which came to £4 billion in 2015.
Some would then argue that handing money over to the European Union is wrong anyway. However, this is where they are blatantly ignoring the facts. For the past 41 years, the EU has given us protection at work as every worker is entitled to a minimum of rights like paid holidays, equal pay for equal work, paternal and maternal leave as well as others. Furthermore, if the company you work for is sold, new owners have to pay you the same wage and give you the same conditions that you previously agreed thanks to the European Union. Leaving the EU could risk these rights as the government is already looking to introduce a new Human Rights Bill.
I believe that the EU is also worth the money because of trade. The EU is the largest economy in the world, beating both China and America. We sell our goods into the EU and many companies choose to set up their businesses here in Britain because of our membership. For example, the Chief Executive of Nissan (which employs 6,500 people at its Sunderland plant alone) said that the company would have to “reconsider its strategy” if we voted for Brexit. Trade within the EU is vital for our economy, our businesses and our jobs. Negotiating a trade deal if we left would be a lengthy process. We would also have to obey EU trading standards if we wanted their trade, meaning leaving wouldn’t necessarily give us any additional freedom.
Moving on from this, an issue which pushes many people to the Leave side of the argument is immigration. One thing must be clear with everyone before we discuss immigration: our borders are not bursting at the seam. The headlines concocted by The Daily Mail will tell you that over half a million migrants enter our country each year. They will not tell you that 325,000 people leave the UK. They will not tell you that 26% of NHS staff is non-British. Without them, the NHS would collapse overnight.
Now onto benefits: migrants come to this country and they cannot receive benefits until they have started working and cannot even apply to claim until they have lived here for three months. And, under the new deal secured by David Cameron with the EU, migrants will have to wait four years until they can claim any benefits. So let me be crystal clear about this: it is not migrants who are the reason for unemployment in Britain. It is not the fault of a migrant that our deficit has increased by £555 billion since 2010. The blame should be placed at the door of reckless bankers (which rhymes with something else...), the failure of politicians and the tax-dodgers who keep £25 billion per year out of our economy.
On 23rd June, you will have a choice. You are privileged enough to have a choice that I am not allowed to make because I have been deemed too young. So, when you go to vote, think of the future of your children. Leaving the European Union puts us at risk. This is not scaremongering: it is fact. We must remain in the EU if we want better opportunities. We must remain in the EU if we want to prosper. We must remain in the EU if we care about our rights, about our public services and about our future.
EU Referendum: The Argument For Voting Remain Reviewed by Student Voices on 21:11 Rating: