Zoe is the editor and project manager at Thomson Reuters Foundation. She read what you had to say about the EU referendum and has written back to you.
Dear Burnet News Club,
I’ve been given the honour to discuss all things “Brexit” with you, and to give you my own opinion on the matter. In just over a month Britons will go to the polls and vote for Britain to either remain in the EU, or leave it.
As I write this, voting intentions for the “Remain” camp stand at just 1% above those for “Leave”. That means there’s a real chance (or risk, the way I see it) that Britain might leave the EU.
Why should you care? Because young people, a few years older than you, might determine the outcome of the referendum. Older people tend to vote more than younger people and older people are more likely to support Brexit. Pollsters predict that unless young people turn up to vote, the “Leave” camp will win.
I count myself on the “Remain” side. So far, arguments on this side have focused more on the economy and jobs. Britain benefits from the single market because we don’t have to pay tariffs on imports and exports between EU countries or on trade deals between the EU and other countries.
Familylovedlr, you say “being inside the EU makes it more convincing for companies to invest in [Britain]”. I agree with you and in fact, so does President Obama. On a recent visit to the UK, he warned that a Brexit would leave Britain “at the back of the queue” and behind the EU for trade deals.
The “Leave” camp’s mantra is more about autonomy and immigration. Fun Creativity says, “I think we should leave because we could pay less taxes – as some of the taxes we pay go to supporting other countries”. Elegant Elephant concurs, saying “we would have our own decisions as a country and (…) more autonomy”.
I take both of your points. The way the EU is set up isn’t as fair as it could or should be. Voters can’t get rid of the EU’s collective leadership, and decisions are often agreed on at the very top. That’s why I think the “Remain” camp and the UK government should argue for more say and more power for national parliaments.
Immigration is another hot potato. One example that made me smile was a cover by the Daily Express about a month ago that read “Migrant mothers cost NHS £1.3bn: Leaving EU would relieve strain on public services” – with just above it, a big advert with a happy couple inviting you to “Sail to France from just £1”.
It seems to me that supporters of the “Leave” camp want to leave the EU, while still enjoying its perks. They want to keep immigrants out of Britain, but still enjoy free movement within the EU for themselves. That doesn’t sound fair, and discounts the fact that many of the country’s firms and public services could not survive without recruiting workers from other parts of Europe.
I should probably have disclosed by now that I’m not even British – I’m French. I’ve lived and worked here for five years, never jump queues (anymore) and love a good Sunday Roast, but my passport still says I’m French. So why do I care?
Skully-Tition pretty much sums it up for me: “if we do leave the EU a lot of British people may lose their jobs and it will not be easy for other countries’ citizens to move into Britain easily”. That’s not an enticing prospect. The free movement of people is a cornerstone of the EU. However, a “Leave” victory would be unlikely to affect this for a few years even if it came to that.
Anyway, I’m not here to tell you what you think. Thank you for all your comments, and if you remember one thing from my blabbering, let it be that knowing about Brexit and news issues in general is important – it will allow you to decide your own future, rather than have people do it for you.