In his letter Matthew Hobson asks Star readers to “use your vote wisely” in the upcoming European referendum. We all need to twhink very carefully about the following issues.
1. After centuries of destructive wars every few decades Europe has now enjoyed over seventy years of peace, with countries that suffered both right and left wing dictatorships joining a community of democratic countries committed to working together for the wellbeing of all.
At a time of global economic instability, Russia showing expansionary tendencies towards countries recently released from Soviet domination, the Middle East suffering dreadful civil wars on the borders of Europe, and literally millions driven from their homes and living in refugee camps or desperately trying to seek safety in Europe, this is surely not the time to destabilise Europe and refuse to work together.
2. The European Union is far from perfect, but it is neither “corrupt” nor undemocratic. The European Commission does not dictate legislation: it has to be agreed by the elected Prime Ministers or Presidents of the member states, and also by MEPs.
3. Global issues, particularly environmental protection and addressing climate change, cannot be solved by individual countries alone.
4. Under EU legislation employees have greater protection at work against being forced to work excessive, dangerously long hours, and part-time workers, predominantly women, have a right to the same pension provision and holiday entitlement as full-time workers. The EU is NOT structured purely for big business, as Mr Hobson claims.
Many who oppose British membership are very wealthy individuals and multi-national companies who fear measures to stop their various tax avoidance schemes, and do not want their workers to have strong protection.
5. European regulations are designed to ensure that the single market works fairly, with companies in all the member states observing the same standards of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and consumer rights. Most UK legislation is decided in the House of Commons.
6. If we wish to continue trading on the same terms with the EU as at present, we would, like Norway, continue to have to obey the rules and pay a financial contribution – with no say in the rules!
7. Every EU country makes its case for its own interests within the European institutions. The EU is not a monolithic block constantly trying to do down the UK. We are a valued partner and should be playing our part as a leading member to tackle the problems mentioned above.
Working constructively with colleagues in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, rather than being offensive like Mr Farage, is a far better way of ensuring UK interests are furthered.
8. It is perfectly possible to be both a patriotic Brit and pro European. In the twenty-first century world, Britain can be most influential in the world as a leading member of the biggest democratic partnership in the world.
Do we really just want to opt out and be sidelined?