EU: I’m voting to Remain, but not for those reasons
In case it escaped your notice, there’s a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union on 23rd June.
It’s true that the EU is a mess. The multiple interlocking levels of government are confusing even to the people who work there. Many of the power and decision-making is made by unelected or indirectly elected bodies. And there’s a huge transparency crisis where secret negotiation of treaties like TTIP threatens public services in every member state without accountability to their populations. Awful.
Here’s the thing about the Leave campaign: if we left the EU, we’d still have all of that. Why? Because we are the EU bureaucrats. The UK is one of the loudest voices in the EU already. Lots of the decisions made are made because we insist. Even the referendum itself was a way for David Cameron to secure an even louder voice within the EU and various special privileges in the event of a Remain vote. Don’t think that TTIP goes away if we leave the EU – we just hand it to our current Tory government to decide all the terms by themselves.
But I also have a problem with the Stronger In campaign. It talks very heavily about how much better off the UK and British people are by being members of the EU. That may be true, but it’s beside the point. Even if the UK were “weaker in”, I’d still want to stay. That’s the point of a union. We’re all human beings. We’re all citizens of this planet. If one country is doing better than another, it’s our duty to help the other out, not to whinge about how we’re not getting our fair share. Any politics that promotes “our nation is stronger” mentality is promoting jingoism – the idea that you need to protect your own interests and screw everyone else’s.
As lefties, we should be working towards a world where national borders are meaningless – a world which is economically balanced enough that people can live wherever they like. I know we’re centuries away, but any step that strengthens borders or promotes nationalism is a step in the wrong direction.
People keep talking about the EU as though it’s purely about economics. It’s not. From the very beginning it’s been about preventing war in Western Europe. By forcing countries to rely on each other, they cannot go to war with each other. This is a really good thing, and it’s worked. The EU has successfully achieved its primary aim – countries that were warring with each other for centuries beforehand have never gone to war against each other again.
Yes, the EU is a broken mess. But we’re a part of that broken mess, and by staying in we can help to fix it. If we leave, we’re admitting that we think our interests and our humanity are more important – more valuable – than the interests and humanity of those we share this planet with. Is that the kind of country you want to live in?
- The hilariousness of their site using a top-level domain that, according to its owners, “tells your customers that you are […] subject to EU law and other relevant trading standards” has not gone unnoticed [↩]