* “Brexit” is horrible. I’m passionately against unnecessary portmanteaus and refuse to use it. Soz.
They say: “We need to control immigration!”
You say: You people may desperately try to argue this isn’t about asylum-seekers fleeing the Middle East, but we all know the truth. The reality is though that the so-called “migration crisis” really wouldn’t be affected by the UK leaving the EU. The reason Germany, Croatia and Austria are struggling with migration levels is because of the Schengen agreement, which allows free movement without the need for passports or visas within the EU.
The UK is not a part of Schengen, so we can refuse entry to migrants and asylum-seekers as it is – and this privilege would not be increased by leaving the EU. In fact, we would be more vulnerable: the Dublin convention of 2003 dictates that if a country in the EU processes an asylum application, they are responsible for the individual, and if they end up in a different country they can be sent back to their original point of entry. This means that if migrants try to cross the Calais border into the UK, French officials have to try and stop them. Were we to leave the EU, this would no longer be the case – we wouldn’t be able to count on the cooperation of the French authorities and we would lose the right to send migrants back.
They counter: “What about Turkey? If they join we’re screwed. I’m sure they want to work, but there are only so many jobs to go around!”
You respond: Nope. Actually that’s the exact opposite of how the economy works. More citizens create more demand for goods and services and hence, more jobs. It’s literally impossible for “them to come here and take our jobs”. And anyway, the UK has a veto which means Turkey will NOT join if we don’t want them to. Not to mention that making the drastic changes to even bother re-applying would take Turkey decades.
Finally, they throw out: “But at least we could make it fairer, have a points system like Australia.”
You explain: Well actually, Australia designed the points system to increase migration to the country – and it works. By most accounts, a points system based on Australia’s (which by the way would have zero effect on asylum seekers, refugees or students) would double the migration to Britain.
The majority of the visas doled out by Australia actually have nothing to do with the points system (which accounts for only 15% of migration), but are temporary student permits and private company sponsorship. As a result, the country has a huge problem with over overstayers. The main culprit? The Brits.
The final word: Don’t kid yourself. The ‘immigration’ argument comes straight from Farage and is thinly veiled racism and xenophobia. This is the man who said he’d feel ‘uncomfortable’ if a Romanian family moved in next door to him, that immigration would lead to sex assaults on women and who thought a good start to immigration reform would be to ban anyone who’s tested positive for HIV.
They say: “The EU is undemocratic!”
You reply: Sure, it’s true that the EU council and commission presidents are unelected, but they don’t get to vote either. You know who does get to vote? The members of the European Council, made up of elected national leaders whose vote is proportional to the population of the country they represent.
The European Parliament is also made up of elected officials, and while they have little legislative power, they are slowly gaining more, which is important as they are the people looking out for our interests within Europe. Even if you voted for David Cameron because you think he’s the best option for the country (this makes you deluded by the way, but whatevs – conversation for another time), that doesn’t mean he will necessarily represent your interests within the EU. And for all our talk of democracy, only 35% of Britain actually bothered to vote for their MEPs in 2014, so it seems like rather a convenient sudden outrage.
The final word: The people making this argument are often the same people in favour of keeping the House of Lords, as well as the £36m per year spent on the monarchy. Yep, that’s a head of state that has not only never been elected, but has the legal right to veto everything we vote for, by sheer force of being born into a family we’re stupid enough to believe has some magical power to run a country.
They say: “We shouldn’t be beholden to the EU, we should make our own laws!”
You say: What laws? No, really, what laws is it that you think the EU makes for us that we’d be better off making ourselves?
A huge proportion of EU law – such as the governing of the tobacco and olive oil industries for example – are completely irrelevant to the UK. A further proportion is simply a codification of UK law, meaning we would have introduced it anyway but saved British time and resources by having the EU enforce it instead.
The final word: Perhaps you’re referring to laws such as:
- Limiting the amount of pollution cars are allowed to create.
- Tackling green house gas emissions.
- Giving us the freedom to easily and affordably travel around Europe: there were 31 million trips from the UK to the rest of Europe in 2014 alone.
- Giving us the freedom to live and work anywhere in Europe: there are 1.2 million British citizens currently taking residing in an EU country (as an aside, there’s still no indication of what might happen to them if we leave).
- Creating 3.1 million jobs in the UK thanks to EU exports.
- Consumer protection rules, which mean you’re less likely to get ripped of in the UK, or in any other European country for that matter.
- Food labelling laws to ensure you know what you’re eating.
- Protecting children from the obscenely powerful and rich tobacco lobby.
- Reforming the financial sector to make sure we’re never again faced with an avoidable crisis created by greedy bankers with no foresight.
- Equal pay laws, meaning women can no longer be earn less for the same job than their male counterparts, nor be discriminated against due to being pregnant.
- Employment rights, including minimum wage, paid holiday and paid sick leave.
- Oh yeah, and that pesky little Human Rights Act, which protects us from torture, arbitrary incarceration, and persecution on the basis of religion, opinion or political affiliation, as well as giving us the right to speak freely and enjoy liberty, privacy and security in our day-to-day lives.
But, y’know. Bananas are what really matters, right?
They say: “We could save £350m a week and put it towards the NHS!”
You say: Oh come on. Everyone knows that figure is incredibly misleading. It’s true that this would be our full contribution, but every year the UK receives a £5bn ‘rebate’, plus around £6bn in the form of subsidies and grants. That puts our annual contribution last year at £6.5bn. A lot of money for sure, but a far cry from what Leave are claiming.
As for putting it towards the NHS – that would never happen. The sum we’re talking about represents only about 5% of NHS spend as is it, and really wouldn’t have much of an impact even if it were suddenly allocated to the health service. But while we’re on the topic of the NHS, there are currently 130,000 non-British EU citizens who work in health and social care, and we have no idea what would happen to them if we were to leave.
But most importantly, there would be no surplus to invest in the NHS or anywhere else, as leaving the EU would be catastrophic for the economy – one in 10 jobs in the UK are linked to British exports, which would be in serious jeopardy if we come out of the single market trade deal we’re currently a part of.
They object: “You’re just scaremongering! We can make Britain great again! People will be falling over themselves to make trade agreements with us.”
You respond: It’s true that it would be in the EU’s interest to strike a deal, but do you really think it’ll be easy after we screw them over? Think of how long it would take for the EU to even come up with a clear agenda, let alone to negotiate it and put it into practice. In the meantime the UK is completely alienated from the rest of the continent, whilst also scrambling to make trade agreements with the rest of the world, for whom we are not a priority as a tiny independent nation. Obama literally told us as much. That currency you so laud as superior to the euro would plummet.
The final word: The future will look back at the fact that this was even a question as an embarrassment to our generation. Don’t make it worse than it already is. Be on the right side of history.