>> Tuesday, 21 June 2016
No prizes for guessing this fact, but I'm voting Remain in Thursday's referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
It seems like common sense to me to do that, but just in case it doesn't to you, I'm going to tell you what's led me to make this decision.
I suspect that, like me, you've felt bombarded by the figures and the stats that both sides of the debate have been throwing out in the last few weeks, so I'm not even going to start with the financial benefits or otherwise (although what are we, Area 51 Conspiracy Theorists? The 'Leave' camp seems to expect us to join them in ignoring the advice to Remain flooding out from an overwhelming majority of highly trained and respected organisations and individuals, just because it doesn't fit their Brexit agenda,)
And in any case, financial reasons aside, there are plenty of other reasons why I think it's important for Britain to stay a part of the EU.
- Europe does not have a stellar history of peaceful internal negotiation. One or other - or more - of it's nation states were either at outright war with each other, or planning to be so, for about 1000 years before the end of World War II, so 70 years of peace in Europe is not to be taken lightly. The nations in the EU bloc - including the UK - are stronger together than they are apart; anything else is crazy. And if you think that a repeat of World Wars I and II just 'couldn't happen again', take note: that's exactly - EXACTLY - what the population of Europe thought the last two times around.
- Putin thinks we should vote 'Leave'. He's rubbing his hands at the prospect, in fact. If that doesn't give you pause, I don't know what would. The analogy of a predator separating the weakest animal from it's herd is not irrelevant here, I think. And I don't want to be that weakened animal, forced to make trade and visa agreements (because don't think for a moment that the two would be separate in negotiations with Mother Russia) that are not to our advantage.
- I've lived in a country where citizens do not have the right to visa-free travel to Europe. Lucky enough to be exempt from that, I still saw how difficult it was for Russians to work in or to travel to EU countries, and the hoops they had to jump through. Mind you, if we're going to get friendly with the Russians if we leave the EU, there's always the Crimea for two weeks every summer if we can't get to France, Spain or Italy, I suppose...
Now I come to think of it, I have yet to meet a returned expat in the UK who wants to vote anything other than 'Remain'. Perhaps that's because we've seen the alternatives to living outside Europe firsthand, and don't rate them very highly. Ultimately it comes down to this, for me at least: we can stay in the EU and work towards making life better for all 500 million of it's citizens - starting with you, and your family - or we can Leave. Quit. Run away. Pull up the drawbridge. Take our ball and go home to play alone, like the sulky child who doesn't want to share their cake at the birthday party. Behave like Little Englanders.
Personally, I think we're better than that. Personally, I prefer to behave like a Great Briton.
Every vote counts in this referendum. If you're planning on putting a cross in the 'Remain' box, please make sure you get down to the polling to do so on Thursday.