The past few weeks of news have bombarded people with information on the EU referendum with the hopes of prompting a decision – Leave or Remain?
The influx of information has not exactly been smooth sailing; it’s supposed to provide guidance on what to vote for – but instead the final weeks seem to have become increasingly more confusing.
The campaign has taken Britain by storm and shown off the bonkers side of British politics. Initially, the group of 20 Fishing for Leave boats had planned to sail up the Thames to demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions, but the protest soon turned into an aquatic show when Remain boats intercepted them.
The demonstration was headlined by political agendas, but these seemed to get lost in the madness that ensued on the Thames that day, and the same can be said of the campaign. People have been presented with facts, but also lies, and the word ‘scaremongering’ has been thrown around so much that no one seems to bat an eyelid: Who knows what to believe anymore? If there is one thing that can be said for sure it is that June 23rd is finally among us and the time to make a decision has come.
Yesterday’s final poll from Opinium settled the figures on Remain 44%, Leave 45%, with a firm 9% in the confused and politically-stressed Don’t Know pile. Arguments given on both sides are strong but can also be contradictory which doesn’t help to dissolve the confusion of those 9%.
Remain argue that Britain remaining within the EU will benefit the UK because:
- Over 3 million jobs in the UK are linked to the EU.
- EU membership means lower prices in our shops, which permits people to live on a budget they’re used to.
- Over 200,000 UK businesses trade with the EU creating jobs and opportunities.
- The UK receives £66 million of investment a day from EU countries.
- The European Arrest Warrant helps arrest criminals across the EU, including in the UK.
- For every £1 the UK puts into the EU it gets £10 back through trade, jobs, and investment.
Leave say that the UK invests £350 million per week in the EU, which is money that could be spent on priorities such as the NHS, schools, and housing. However, the validity of the figure has been called into question, being called ‘absurd’ by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.
One of the Leave campaigns main arguments is that leaving would mean that the UK can be in charge of its own borders, deciding who comes into the country, instead of being overruled by EU judges. They say controlling immigration would be easier, and allow for a fairer system which would judge people based on their skills and not their passport. Finally, Leave’s slogan “take back control” reels in the final point, that a Brexit would mean that the UK can decide its own laws, and these laws would be made by people who can be elected and kicked out, if need be, by the public.
Both sides make a strong point, but one factor that seems to have been glossed over is the human one. Take the 4.5 million British expats living abroad, 1.3 million of who live in the EU, according to the United Nations. What would leaving the EU mean for them? Sure, we’ve all heard of the Schengen agreement that gives us the freedom of movement to live and travel anywhere in the EU, but what would taking this privilege away mean? Would the lives of Britons abroad be uprooted, would they be forced to move back? It’s not just a matter of lives being interrupted but concerns over owning property, and working abroad that would also arise.
The same worry goes for the estimated 3.3 million EU citizens living in the UK, as of 2015, according to the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey. I am one such citizen, and it pains me that as an EU national I cannot vote to remain in the EU. It is a question that will effect my future as an EU national, and as a young person living in the UK directly, so I want to have a say, but that is out of my hands.
I have spent the majority of my life in Britain, and call the country home, so the fear that a Brexit could force me to move is very real. The fact that I am a student is also stressful; what will Brexit mean for EU students in the UK? Will fees be raised to match international students? Will visas be required? All these unanswered questions are worrisome; imagine not being able to do anything about them.
If there’s one thing you do today, not matter which side you’re on, VOTE!