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Monday, May 18, 2015

In or Out, It's a Referendum They Shout!

In my last post Rosaria Williams asked in her comment, what the disadvantages were for Britain not being in the EU. That is a question that will be dominating UK politics from now until the promised referendum is held -- by 2017 at the latest.

I fervently hope that this country decides to stay part of the European Union. But I can understand why more and more people now have a negative attitude to our membership. First there were the annoying rules from Brussels that seem to most of us to be ridiculous -- from the curves in bananas and cucumbers to how food must be labelled. Why were certain countries allowed to become members when they did not meet the financial criteria that were supposedly required for membership. (France did not meet the financial criteria and it was one of the original members!)

When a country joins the EU they join as an equal member -- with the same rights and privileges as every other member state. And part of the equality is that its citizens are allowed to travel and settle in any other member state. Many people in Britain and in other of the wealthier countries are very unhappy with number of immigrants that are now here quite legally -- because there is work and because there have been very generous benefits given by the State.

The Man and I have several Polish friends who have very freely admitted that the reason they have come to Britain is because "of the benefits"! But now that they are losing many of those benefits, they are busy getting themselves second and third jobs -- jobs that are all low paying -- wives are no longer staying at home, teenagers are finding work after school and on weekends. Every foreign worker that I have met is contributing to the economy, many with jobs that no Brit can be found to do.

Two of my sons have had jobs in the EU -- one now in Italy and the other a few summers ago, in France. The Man and I can visit our vacation home in France as often and for as long as we like. We can travel throughout the EU freely, buy goods and bring them home pretty much without restriction. We even have a medical card which gives us the right to receive the same care as each state provides its own citizens.

But the most important disadvantage to Britain not being in the EU is 'commitment' to Europe. By being part of the Union we are giving substance to the belief that we are part of Europe and that we can find ways of working together to solve problems and find solutions -- both economic and social. Seventy years ago we began the process of ending our mutual history of being one of many warring European nations. The EU has been part of that process and Britain was slow to become part of it. To quit now seems to me a backward step and one made out of fear -- to the detriment not only to Europe, but especially to this country.

17 comments:

  1. The problem with the UK is that they never accepted what the foundations of the EC/EU was all about and so they never fully integrated with its principles and merely cherry picked that which gave sole benefit to their commercial interests.
    Which is why they clung steadfastly to Sterling and still use miles per hour rather than km/h for example.

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    1. This is all too true. It's never been about the 'sense of belonging'...

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  2. Very apropos to me. I have just finished two books: Franklin and Churchill, and Franklin and Eleanor (whose actual title I cannot recall). Roosevelt's slow and steady insertion into the minds of Americans that we must be one with England was an impressive achievement. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the world is a worthy goal, as is social justice. Being a work in process can be painful, as your Polish friends realized.

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    1. Indeed, the relationships between FDR and Churchill, as will as between FDR and Eleanor were fraught with difficulties. There has just been a very interesting documentary on television here -- called something like "Franklin Roosevelt, the Wheelchair President". I think you would find it very interesting should it ever be shown on PBS.

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    2. Indeed, the relationships between FDR and Churchill, as will as between FDR and Eleanor were fraught with difficulties. There has just been a very interesting documentary on television here -- called something like "Franklin Roosevelt, the Wheelchair President". I think you would find it very interesting should it ever be shown on PBS.

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  3. Thank you for bringing this up. As an American, it is hard to understand the whole EU experience. I hope you stay in. But what do I know? Only what I learn from friends like you. :-)

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    1. Thanks for that DJan! The UK's membership benefits not only this country, but the rest of the EU, as well. I hope wisdom prevails...

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  4. Well I have gone from knowing absolutely nothing about the EU to knowing at least a little. Thank you.

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  5. Interesting post, and well said. I like being European rather than labelling myself as an English woman living abroad.

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    1. Indeed, Vera. It gives one a sense of belonging -- and that is never a bad thing. It's an important reason why I want to have British citizenship.

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  6. I hate to say it
    But heron is right

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    1. I thought he put it rather well, myself, John!

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  7. Most interesting! Thanks for answering my question.

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  8. Part of the problem is that laws are made in Brussels by unelected officials, sometimes laws that actually contravene our long-established common law. And another example is that food, by law, must be sold in metric weight units whereas many people still think in terms of imperial weights. There was at first (though I believe there might now be) no dispensation for people to use their initiative.

    Now I'll climb down from my soapbox!

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  9. Silly laws and rules come from both sides of the English Channel.
    But the dafter ones come from Brussels!
    Speaking selfishly I wouldn't wish to come out of Europe as I love being able to live in France. Many of the reasons people want out are to do with immigration and the very issue of benefits, which we could fix ourselves and ease the problem greatly.
    We wouldn't need so much cheap foreign labour if our benefit system was geared more towards supporting people in work rather than keeping them out of work and on benefits.

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  10. A very good summing up, Broad. I too very much hope we stay within the EU as i feel a system of mutual co-operation has to be better than isolationalism. I also think our economy benefits from the influx of young, hard-working and often very talented immigrants, willing to do work too many native-born Britons think themselves too good to do.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!