Today I urge readers to do two things for me. You will no doubt be aware that there is to be a referendum on the UK remaining or leaving the European Union. This is such an important vote and I have some messages to help you make up your mind.
Firstly, please get registered to vote. If you are not registered you can’t vote. You must register by 7th June. Please go to Aboutmyvote.co.uk or GOV.UK/register-to-vote. Remember, if you don’t register, your voice and opinion will be ignored. Is that what you want? In particular I urge younger people to register and vote. This is about your future. Don’t let it be decided without you!
Secondly, I want you to vote to REMAIN in the EU. And here is why.
I can tell you all about the fact that 3 million jobs in the UK are linked to trade with the UK. Millions of people have a right to paid holidays and protections at work. I can remind you that the EU is the UKs biggest trading partner in what is the world’s biggest market that has no tariffs meaning lower costs for goods and services.
I could mention the UK gets £26.5bn of investment each year from other EU countries that could go elsewhere if we left.
And I might mention that a rise of just 0.5% in interest rates brought about by instability if the UK left would mean on average an extra £150 per month on the average mortgage repayment.
The economic case is made overwhelmingly to stay.
But I want to talk about what I believe this referendum is really about. I believe this referendum is giving a fig leaf of respectability to the issue that many that want to leave don’t want you to know about.
Their views on Race and Immigration. The two in their minds are linked.
You will always hear the leavers like Nigel Farage saying the UK needs control of its borders. Can I ask you: who controls the UK border now? The French? The Germans? The Italians? NO! It’s the UK!
Ah the leavers say. It’s these pesky Europeans getting in legally though. Particularly the Eastern Europeans. We don’t want them the leavers cry. Of course, all this conveniently ignores the fact that there are 4.5million Brits living abroad.
But don’t let facts get in the way of a good bit of xenophobia!
Anyone would think we have never had immigration in our country before listening to them. And in that lies a danger.
Beware of believing the rhetoric of the leave campaign. They use the same language that was used in the 1950’s and 1960’s as people from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean landed on our shores. The same rhetoric that led to hotels and guest houses putting up signs that said ‘No dogs, No blacks, No Irish.’ If the leavers like Farage have their way, you will see him turn on UK residents who are not like him. Be assured of that.
Any country that is sure about its place in the world can cope with all challenges that as an open and honest society we face. And with that, comes opportunities too. To travel, to trade, to broaden our minds and our horizons.
Finally, think on this.
In an uncertain world, why now would we fall out with our neighbours and retrench to a little England that in truth has never existed for most of us? And finally, tell me this: why are countries queuing up not to leave but to join the EU?
On June 23rd, vote to Remain.