There’s plenty wrong with the EU. The economic collapse of Greece was not just a consequence of a country partying out on debt. Merkel’s Germany was happy to be complicit in financing that debt in the good times, happy to wash her hands of responsibility in the bad; and leaving Greece crushed. Then there’s the Euro bureaucracy and distortion of democracy. The EU is hard to love.
Whether to be ‘Labour-in’ or ‘Labour-leave’ was never going to be an auto-response for me; the EU is just so hard to endorse.
There’s a reason the extreme wing of the Conservatives are aligned with UKIP in this. There’s a reason they hate the EU and believe me, it’s not ‘straight bananas’ or even immigration – it’s Rights! Whether it’s limits on the working week, equality under the law, or protections from arbitrary dismissal, there’s a shopping list of rights and obligations they’d love to see withdrawn . There’s no secrecy about this, and they’ll say the UK is quite capable of deciding these things on its own.
The trouble is, for all its faults, the genius of the ‘Common Market’ is that whilst allowing all member countries to compete equally within the EU borders it has set standards of freedoms and rights that have to be bestowed on the people of its member states. These right wingers want free access but they don’t want the obligations. And they say the EU will happily give the UK access to its market once we’ve left. They’re lying.
There’s every reason to think the EU backed by its own citizens would set far more demanding restrictions than has ever applied to Norway or the US. Giving the UK access to the EU markets without the same working time directives etc. and obligations would be seen as a threat to the EU itself. I don’t believe the rhetoric of the right wing.
I don’t want us to lose our rights; and I don’t want us to lose access to European markets. These aren’t glib slogans. There’s real and present dangers from voting leave. I’ll be voting to remain.
I might not love the EU, but it’s essential we stay.