My country will soon make a monumentus decision. I’m normally for referendums, in theory What purer instrument of democracy can citizens wield? But I don’t like this one. Not one bit. Not because because we shouldn’t ask the question – but because it wasn’t asked for the right reasons. It was offered as a concession to the right of the Conservative Party during an election that they never expected to win. It was a risky play that was lost. It is a sign of how dysfunctional our democracy is.
The ‘debate’ has been a farce. The Remain campaign is fragmented and lacks a strong voice. The leaders of Labour and the Conservatives share the same objective but will not share a stage and they bicker and snipe instead of standing united, still focused on political point scoring. Meanwhile the Leave campaign is headed my a man whose interests lie solely in the job he hopes to gain should he win. It’s a joke. One that would be funny if it wasn’t so fucking serious.
My city is one of the most euro-skeptic in the country. We have massive unemployment, failing schools, poor infrastructure and a high immigrant population. Every year we are beaten into submission by central government which reduces the funding available to us. The population is pissed off and they blame the council, the government, mass-immigration, and Europe. There is no no evidence to support the latter two stances. The actual reasons for our dismal local economy are complex, but Europe has brought our city numerous benefits. The European Regional Development Fund has poured hundreds of millions of pounds into projects in the Humber; regenerating deprived areas of the city, improving our creaking flood defenses and creating new employment opportunities. For years the population was in decline but the trend has now reversed and our population grows again; buoyed by immigrants who have made Hull their home. They have turned shops which stood derelict into thriving independent stores to serve the community. They pay business rates and tax. They employ local people. They’ve stopped us going under.
I struggle to understand the pleas of the nationalist and their claims that we need to ‘take our country back’ and regain our ‘sovereignty’. I’m tired of hearing about immigration. People should be free to move and work wherever they damn well please. This place that I live is just a big chunk of land, surrounded by more land, surrounded by sea, on a ball of rock floating in space. I’m not ignorant of the arguments, and I understand why people are dissatisfied. We live in an unfair world. People suffer. Leaving the EU won’t change that. It won’t stop immigration and it won’t stop terrorism. It won’t magically revive our economy and create millions of jobs. It just won’t. Together we are stronger.
It is almost unimaginable now to consider that there might be major war across Europe, but The EU was born out of the ashes of a series of conflicts which devastated the continent and lead to the loss of millions of lives. Europe’s strength is in the incredible changes that can be made when people work together towards a common goal. Britain leaving would be a selfish mistake of catastrophic proportions that would weaken the fabric of the EU irreversibly and leave the United Kingdom materially and socially poorer. We’re stronger IN.