Saturday, 20 February 2016

A reminder: What has the EU done for us?

So now we know that the EU referendum will take place on Thursday 23 June 2016 and the battle-real has commenced. Unlike in a General Election, every single vote in the referendum will count. Nobody can claim that it’s not worth participating. Every vote will be equal. 

For the next four months the country will be split in argument and debate: are you in or out? Hopefully we’ll all still be friends after it’s all over. What on earth will we talk about then?

In the meantime, there’s work to do. For one thing, we need a good turn-out. In European Parliament elections only a third of the electorate bothers to vote. That won’t be good enough at all in the referendum. We need the majority of people who can vote to actually vote.

Then we need not just a decision, but a decisive one. Without that, the arguments will never end (well they probably will never end anyway, but still, we don’t want to have to go through this again for at least a generation).

From my point of view, the reasons for Britain to stay in the EU are the same today as they were before the EU leaders went through breakfast, lunch and dinner to eventually agree a deal the British Prime Minister could fly home with.

It’s clear now that Prime Minister David Cameron has always been pro-EU – you can tell that from his rhetoric today. At last, his message is on-message – he is saying the same as the pro-EU campaigners and groups have been saying all along. 

He never really wanted a referendum, did he? He only offered one to satisfy the fierce Eurosceptic wing of his party, and the (wrongly) perceived threat of anti-EU party, UKIP, in the run-up to the General Election.

Whilst Europe is struggling with the worst refugee crisis the world has ever known, Mr Cameron has been tirelessly going back and forth between European capitals, trying to persuade 27 other EU leaders to agree to issues that must have seemed oddly irrelevant and procrastinatory by comparison.

But some have called Mr Cameron’s success as momentous, and a done deal is surely better than no deal. I just wished he could have put his energy and formidable negotiating skills to bigger and more important issues both at home and abroad. 

In the meantime, here’s a ready reminder of some of the benefits of our EU membership, courtesy of The Independent newspaper of two years ago (see graphic). Maybe most of you already know all this. But it’s quite possible that many of your friends, family and colleagues don’t.

One good thing about EU referenda is that they help people to understand more about the workings and benefits of the European Union. That’s what’s happened with most other referenda that have previously taken place in other European countries: they have generally increased peoples knowledge, and consequently resulted in the populace becoming much more pro EU. 

So, that’s what I hope will be the result of this referendum. It’s a chance to educate the nation about the European Union; why it was set-up, what it’s for, how it makes decisions, how we take part and what it does to benefit us all. 

Now at last most people in the nation will be interested to know. This is the opportunity for Britain to understand about the EU – something many Britons are hopelessly ill-informed about.

Of course the REMAIN vote is going to win – as the bookies are emphatically predicting. The task ahead is to ensure it’s a thunderous win – just like the last referendum, when the result was two-to-one in favour of Britain’s continued membership.

Other articles by Jon Danzig:

 Readers comments are very welcome, including opinions that oppose mine. Comments need to be on-topic and personal attacks will not be allowed. To read more about the style of debating that I encourage on all my blogs, please read my article: 'Debate, don't hate'

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Posted by Jon Danzig on Saturday, 20 February 2016

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