Europe. Eurgh. You’re all going to be sick of the topic before long. By the end of this article for definite. But you asked for it, so here it goes…
I was trying to think how I might tackle it.
Maybe I’d look at the irony that Conservative ministers are decrying the lack of democracy in the EU. Ministers, who are appointed to the position by their party leader, rather than an election. A leader who himself only received 35,201 votes, and yet speaks for the country. Whose party received less than a quarter of the votes in the general election yet somehow gets a majority. And who is actively attempting to move constituency boundaries, reorganise the electoral registers to disproportionately remove young and poorer people less likely to vote for them and cosying up to the unelected head of media for the nation, an Australian-born billionaire. A prime minister who is officially appointed by the Queen, an unelected position who also happens to be head of the Armed Forces. But, y’know, there aren’t enough elections in the EU or something.
Or maybe the sovereignty argument – that we lose control by being in the EU, which a real problem. But apparently not the power we lose by being in the UN, or NATO, or the hundreds of other treaties, deals, agreements and conventions which limit our power. They’re different. Somehow.
Then I thought maybe I’d argue from a practical point of view. How the 60 million people living in the UK are a far less attractive potential market than the 450 million or so that would be left in the EU, or the 319 million in the US, or the 1.3 billion in China.
But instead, I wanted to argue it from a different angle. One I’ve not heard covered as much.
There are two facts which I believe to be true. I believe Britain is great. And I believe the EU is not perfect. But I can hold both these views, and still whole-heartedly say that I believe we should be in the EU. It’s not illogical. It’s not because of “scaremongering” and the worry of what might happen. It’s because I believe in the ideas upon which the EU was built.
Firstly, Britain is awesome. We are lucky to live in this country, at this time. I would argue there has never been a better time to be alive here, and we seem to be forgetting that.
I say this not from a jingoistic point of view, but from a practical one. I was educated for free until I was 18. When my parents were ill they had free treatment from the NHS, and support they needed to look after two kids so we didn’t live on the streets. I can walk those streets without fearing for my life, and if I do get into trouble I genuinely feel I could trust the police to help me. These things are not true for everyone in the world, and they’ve not all been true in Britain for very long in the grand scheme of things.
The Right forget how great we are with a rose-tinted nostalgia for the sun never setting on the British Empire. We’ve given up the glory of our proud nation to be in the EU, turning our backs on the days when the British stood shoulder-to-shoulder and defeated Napoleon, or the Nazis, or those other wars that they never really make films about BUT SHOW HOW GREAT BRITAIN WAS!!!
The Left seem to forget how great we are with an odd double-think cynical-optimism of saying everything is shit and could be so much better, but we’ll focus on it being shit rather than the making it better. Europe isn’t perfect, so BURN IT TO THE GROUND!!!
Britain, as I love it, is slowly being killed. Everything that makes it great is being destroyed – tuition fees are shooting up, the NHS is under threat, privatisation is creeping into every aspect of life where it doesn’t belong. And instead of having things to love about our country, we’re being told to simply have an unquestioning love for our country, without question. The things worth loving are being torn down, with a sense of jingoism put in their place. That we’re great because WE’RE BRITAIN DAMMIT! Anything less than whole-hearted endorsement of this proud nation and screaming the national anthem at the top of your lungs means you hate your country, and therefore everyone in it. To question decisions that are being taken, to suggest that we could be better, to suggest that with work and effort we could become more than we are is to accept that we aren’t perfect already – WHY DO YOU HATE BRITAIN?!
But here’s the funny thing. Many of the bits I love are still present on the mainland. University is often still free. Working conditions are often better. The EU has given us so much. And I feel much of it is things that our own Parliament would love to take from us. Things like workers’ rights, paid holiday and sick leave, and maximum working hours are all very inconvenient to rich people who want to make more money. And if you doubt that this includes our Government, just remember that they voted down a bill saying that rented properties had to be fit for human habitation. I don’t want to live in a country ruled by a Government that see me as cattle, and have the power to treat me so.
The EU is indeed a threat to our national power. It keeps our Government in check. And I, for one, am far more scared of what might happen without it.