EU Referendum

This is the second such referendum in my lifetime. The previous one was about our membership of the European Common Market, or EEC, as it then was. I voted against then, but this time for the EU I will vote to stay in.

I know the European Union is far from perfect, and it needs a lot of reform, such as only one Parliament site instead of both Brussels and Strasbourg, and much more democracy. I see it as a United States of Europe in formation, and many Europeans also want to move forward to ever-closer political union. Britain is holding out against this, but a federal EU is, in my opinion, the only way it can really work with a single currency, the Euro, which must have central control over the economy, including wages and prices. These must be uniform across the EU so there are not huge influxes from poorer to richer areas which impoverishes the poorer areas even further, and can cause problems when too many flood into the richer areas.

As for democracy, we only have to look at the United States of America to see how it might work in a federal EU. Each state of the USA has its own Capitol or legislature and its own local laws. There is therefore a great deal of autonomy. I would be in favor of breaking up the United Kingdom (I’m a republican and can see no place for monarchies in a federal EU) and for England, Scotland and Wales to join a federal EU as separate states with their own legislatures. Northern Ireland should be united with the Irish Republic and join as one state. Indeed if the UK votes to leave the EU it will pose particular problems for people living in the Irish border areas – some have homes which straddle the border, as an Irish friend pointed out to me. Part of their homes would be in the EU and part outside it!

At present the EU is a bit of a mess, but that is to be expected with any federation in the making. The predecessors to the EU were formed after World War II, and part of the motivation was to prevent more world wars starting on our continent. The EU, for all its faults, has introduced a lot of progressive measures such as workers’ rights and anti-discrimination legislation. Britain was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by the EU and its institutions. It is significant that on a visit to Australia in the 1990s I was told by a Sydney resident that Britain was the laughing stock of the civilized world because many of our laws dated back to the Victorian era. This was in particular reference to our laws on male homosexuality which, despite the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, was still only semi-legal with many restrictions. Under that Act males had to be over 21, not in the armed forces, and living in a separate domicile with no other person present overnight on the premises. All ways gay men could meet were still illegal – the charge was ‘importuning for an immoral purpose’ and ‘pretty policemen’ were sent out to entrap gay men and boost police prosecutions. All public displays of affection between two men were also illegal – ‘offending public decency’. This included such things as holding hands or kissing in public. The privacy stipulation of the 1967 Act meant that gay backroom clubs,  saunas, etc. prevalent all over Western Europe, Australia and North America were illegal in the UK and were quickly raided and closed down if they opened up, and the people in them arrested and charged. This drove gay men into dangerous cruising grounds where many muggings, queer-bashings and gay murders took place, or into public toilets where they were a nuisance to the general public and where minors could inadvertently stumble upon gay activity or even become involved. I wrote an article in the gay HIM magazine in 1991 saying that Britain needed safe space for gay men away from the general public, where minors would not be admitted, and during the 1990s the police started turning a blind eye to such gay clubs which opened up, a government review was launched on reforming the law and I contributed to that, and then the EU passed legislation which made any form of discrimination illegal, so our government had to fall in line. The gay age of consent was made equal with heterosexuals, as were the privacy laws. Following on from that we got civil partnerships then gay marriage and adoptions. Age discrimination was also made illegal, so the age of retirement for men and women was equalized. All thanks to the EU.

There have been problems with EU countries getting into debt and having to be bailed out, but this would not be a problem in a federal EU. Alabama doesn’t have to be bailed out by California because they have a more or less even playing field; one country with more or less equal prices and wages across the United States, and central control of the economy. We need to move forward to a United States of Europe, and I for one can’t wait to register as an EU citizen.

In any case there is nothing to stop any member state from leaving the EU at any time in the future, or a group of states could break away and form a new federation. For instance a group of  EU states, if they felt the EU wasn’t progressive enough, could join together in a new federation with a progressive Constitution.

If Britain votes ‘No’ and leaves the EU we would come even more under the influence of the USA. Already, as a NATO member along with much of the EU, we are dominated by U.S. foreign policy with its interventions in the Middle East, etc. However the EU is becoming more critical and independent of U.S. foreign policy. Outside the EU we are in real danger of becoming even more the de facto 51st state of America, with all that implies.

Our place is in Europe, and we need the EU to become a federation to compete with the United States, the Russian Federation, China, etc. Increasingly these super-states will come to dominate the world scene, and personally I hope one day a world confederation will develop under the auspices of the United Nations with a permanent UN security force to keep law and order and defend human rights everywhere. I see the EU as but the first step in that direction. So I look forward to the possibility of people becoming less nationalistic and eventually world citizens. That’s why I’ll  be voting ‘Yes’ in the forthcoming EU Referendum.

2 thoughts on “EU Referendum

  1. I am sorry but I will vote out. I don’t remember was wrong with the country before E.U.It has just got from bad to worse. It’s all the money they are raking in. Our country has got much poorer. I migrants come in and more money and housing given to them instead of own people. Resources have gone down. Too many corrupt in charge . I hear from my family how bad it is there. With all their curupt in parliament .The French speaking are trying to take over and the Flemish being pushed out.Their are even shops that won’t serve the Flemish speaking. They tell us we should get out . Everything is getting more complicated.
    Look what has happenned more of ourv people made homeless . Disabled benefits stopped. The elerly not getting proper care. Children being neglected. No mental health care. Therefore more suites. My granddaughter has suffered since she was a child she is now 21.The hospital keeps turning her away. There was never the appropriate help for children on the autism spectral. I could go on.
    Because the money is going to all those corrupt in Brussels and Cameron etc. Definately want out. Save our country and the other countries. Look at Sweden and Holland. They are best off.

    1. I wonder if you realise exactly what proportion of the UK’s annual Government spending goes on our EU membership?

      0.37%. That’s how much (Source: http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/11/04/the-personal-tax-statement-george-osborne-doesnt-want-you-to-see/).

      So, even if we don’t stay in the EU, and don’t have to pay the membership fee, then it’s only going to save us 37p in every £100.

      The Government spends more money on almost every other thing you can think of – for example, we spend almost twice as much on Overseas aid. Subsidising the Banks costs us over 11 times as much as our EU membership. Healthcare costs over 37 times as much as our EU membership.

      Why do you think that all of the Cuts that you mention to Disabled Benefits, Elderly Care, Mental Health Care, etc. would be any less if we weren’t in the EU? As shown above, the money going to the EU is tiny in proportion to the amount being spent on Health.

      If we vote to leave the EU, businesses face at least 2 years of uncertainty, while we try to negotiate our exit terms. At present, businesses have very favourable terms for doing business in Europe – no export duties. When we leave, that will change, to put us on a par with other non-EU countries – so Businesses will have to pay more to export their goods to Europe (and we, as consumers would potentially have to pay more to import), unless the UK government can negotiate preferential treatment. However, we only have 2 years in which to finalise such negotiations. After that, any single one of the EU member countries can vote against extending the deadline, and we will be kicked out, having to pay the same export taxes as other non-EU countries. If the deadline *is* extended, then the uncertainty continues – and the one thing that the Markets hate is uncertainty – you only have to look at how far the pound has devalued against other currencies since the referendum was announced to see that. Overseas investors will not want to invest money in the UK when our economic future is uncertain.

      As Tony says, the EU isn’t perfect by any means, but neither is our own Government. The problem I have with the #brexit group is that they have yet to demonstrate any concrete evidence that we will be better off outside the EU – all their propaganda is full of scare stories which are little more than supposition, designed to frighten people into leaving. No-one really knows how things would have been if we had not joined the EU, and likewise, no-one really knows how things will be if we leave.

      Until someone can give hard evidence to show that we’ll be better out than in, I’m voting to stay.

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