Monday, 29 February 2016

A Need for an Honest Open EU Debate

Politicians are trusted less than Estate Agents, in fact in a recent Ipsos-Mori Poll just 21% of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth.
People see politicians as self-serving people who are more interested in their own well-being, or that of their party, rather than the well-being of the constituents they are elected to serve. Yet whatever the inherent character flaws of those who seek elected office and while sometimes they lack common sense and a grasp of the reality facing their constituents, their overall level of education and intelligence is undoubtedly good.
Given that why is there such a divide amongst politicians over whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU?
The answer must be that the difference between remaining or leaving is a fine one.
After all if there were a really strong argument for one or the other the vast majority of Conservative Politicians (the Labour Party has yet to truly show its splits!) would be firmly in the one camp. Yet we have heard tales of Cabinet members soul-searching in deciding which side of the line to support, something that would be unnecessary if there were a truly clear argument for in or out.
If the benefits of being in or out of the EU is such a fine line then the debate needs to reflect the reality of that fine difference, the people of the UK need to be informed accurately and given real facts.
However, politicians have quickly reverted to type, pumping out spin and scare-mongering.
For example, the IN camp, “If we leave the EU we will be heading into the unknown” not quite true, we know how the EFTA countries operate with the EU, we know how countries outside the Economic Free Trade Area operate with the EU, studies have been conducted to see how the UK can operate outside the EU. It is no more a leap into the unknown than staying within the EU where changes by other members can impact on the UK. “UK security will be threatened” again scare-mongering, all Nations benefit from cooperating whether or not they are members of the EU, as a nation we cooperate with others outside the EU and even if the people choose to leave the EU we will still be members of NATO where much of the security cooperation takes place.
On the other hand the OUT camp will tell us “leaving the EU will help us control our borders”, the problem there is that any free trade agreement with the EU will inevitably include a requirement to accept the free movement of people and it does not address the issue of illegal immigration. The “jungle” outside Calais will not disappear because Britain has left the EU. Or “Britain will save “£55 million a day by leaving the EU” now while that may be the amount of the UK’s contribution claiming that would be the saving is pure bunkum, firstly there would need to be an army of bureaucrats employed to negotiate/re-negotiate and maintain the number of global trade agreements that the UK would need to operate outside the EU, then there are the subsidies by the EU which Britain will need to continue independently in order to ensure the competitiveness of British businesses.

As a nation we need to make an informed decision which means we need those campaigning on both sides to drop the spin, the scare-mongering and the self-serving desire to be on the winning side. The choice between IN or OUT is a fine one and it is those fine details that need to be debated, openly and honestly, those elected to serve us need to start winning back our trust and that can only be achieved by making this debate one which truly informs the electorate who will be making this decision.

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