In this time of British anxiety and debate over our future as part of the European Union, I think it was about time that I pitched in.
For those of you who are a) not in Europe or b) really don’t care about our silly little island politics, here is an overview of what has been happening.
In the general election last May, the United Kingdom Independence Party (also known as UKIP, or as the ‘racist sexist idiot party’) started gaining a lot of support – far too much for the establishment parties to handle. UKIP’s
main only policy that was getting voters was for Britain to leave the European Union. So the Conservative Party (also known as the Tories, or the ‘mildly less racist, sexist and idiotic party’), in a bid to win potential UKIP voters, made a ‘promise’ (politician’s promise, or ‘outright lie’) to hold an In/Out referendum on the EU if they got into power.
Long story short, the Tories win and suddenly all of the less-than-mild racist and sexist MPs start to actually pressure for a referendum. That, plus far too much public support for my liking, pushed the Tories into actually enacting an election promise. And thus we have the most stupid media-invented word of 2015. Brexit. British exit from the European Union. Hit me.
And now there is a hideous debate about whether the EU is worth it for the UK. And my God, every single dispute that the public has had with the system for the last 15 years is being piled onto it. Immigration fears? Blame the EU. Failing NHS? EU. Bad weather? Of course the weather is run out of Brussels.
And to make it worse (in the short run, I’ll get to it), the ‘Leave’ camp has split into 2 challengers. Leave.EU, and Britain First. Leave is a fairly balanced, economically minded argument. And Britain First has literally been denounced by every single major religious group in the UK for being ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic and generally awful people’. They are a great bunch of people.
In the long run, the split in the ‘Out’ camp might actually be a good thing. If the ‘stay’ people can get a good strategy, they might be able to play the two sides against each other. That said, that would require a smart, charismatic leader who was willing to stand up for what he believes in. And this is British politics we’re talking about. So realistically, that might not be an option.
Now, having presented an entirely neutral view of the situation, I will now proceed to express my actual opinion.
I think that the EU is the greatest thing that has happened to Britain since the Second World War – socially, politically and economically.
Sure, the EU may have its flaws – it is biased towards more power to rich countries, it has a bloated bureaucracy and it is probably too expensive. But it is still an overwhelming force for good in Europe.
Imagine a Europe without the EU. The vast majority of the 27 member states would have effectively zero power on the international stage. Britain, Germany and France might have a supporting role, but not exactly superpower material. America, Russia and China would be the main act on the world stage, with even the most powerful European states confined to merely support.
Without support from their fellow EU members. Many of the eastern European and Baltic states may well have dissolved into tyranny or anarchy, after the collapse of Communism left them without functioning economies or political systems. The EU has been a beacon of light in guiding these countries towards democracy and stabilising their economies.
And sure, these things will continue if Britain leaves the EU. But we will not be able to say that we are part of something awesome. We have to hang our heads in shame, and say ‘yes. We left that amazing project, because we were too selfish to see the greater good’.
Yes, I do think that the issue of Brexit (euch, that word) is partly about selfishness. Sure, there are some social and economic reasons for us to leave the EU. But it is also partly about us being able to say ‘we are better than them. They shouldn’t be able to piggyback off of our economic prosperity. They shouldn’t be able to get a free deal because we are in the same club. That isn’t their right.’
To the people who think that, all I have to say is: remember the lessons that history has taught you. After the Second World War, the USA took the leap. They invested billions in funding the European rebuilding. Sure, that was tied up in a whole web of political/economic agendas, but the point remains. America took the decision to invest in us, because they believed that we were worth investing in, even if it meant a short-term loss of capita.
I think that the EU is worth investing in.