Ah, the referendum. It’s one of those things I hesitate to comment on a lot of the time, because I don’t feel qualified.
But, you know, I live in the EU. And in Britain. I am a British Citizen, according to my passport, but coming from a French family and being raised in Scotland, I see myself much more as a European than a Brit.
I’m voting Remain, not just for that reason but several more. Here are some of them.
1. I like the EU
There’s a load of rhetoric in the ‘Leave’ camp about how Brussels is “run by unelected bureaucrats (um, not quite) and how we shouldn’t let people outside the UK, who weren’t elected by people who live in the UK, decide how the country is run.
I get this. I can understand the concept. I find it mildly ironic that a lot of the people complaining about these “unelected bureaucrats” seem to be fans of the royal family, but to each their own.
It’s similar to the Scottish referendum complaint that a lot of decisions are made from Westminster and aren’t helpful to Scottish people (something I understand, having grown up in Scotland).
But I think the whole Brussels thing is a different story.
For one thing, the EU doesn’t run the country. It just provides certain guidelines and agreements – ones I generally quite like. The idea of leaving the EU, and not having an overarching body to essentially help us get along with our neighbours, concerns me.
Remember when Cameron won the election (and my friend and I, who’d spent the night watching the results coming in, cracked open the amaretto and got drunk and took the day off work, because life seemed bleak), and he wanted to scrap the Human Rights Act? He wanted to replace it with a “British Bill of Rights”, even the name of which terrifies me. It’s like it’s saying “We want British people to have rights. Fuck the other humans.”
Which brings me to my next point.
2. Racist rhetoric
The only other argument I’ve heard from the Leave campaign, apart from the “unelected bureaucrats” one, is about immigration. And it’s unpleasant and dehumanising and often downright racist.
I’ve had conversations with Leavers who gradually stopped going “No no, I’m not racist, it’s just that…” and then ended up silenced when I stripped away their excuses and got down to the bottom of what they were saying.
Recent studies from independent research body Full Fact and the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory show that EU migrants aren’t actually putting a significant strain on the economy, and also that we’d be frankly a bit fucked if we tightened immigration laws, because we need migrant medical professionals due to a lack of British ones.
3. I actually like immigration
Why wouldn’t you? I don’t get it.
I love the idea that at some point in my life, I can go and live in France for a bit. I like that I can hop on a plane and go visit my friend who lives in Spain without having to go through a lengthy visa process.
At an even more basic level, I like that I have friends. A lot of mine are from countries other than Britain. And they contribute much more to the economy than I currently do, because most of them moved here to study and ended up staying, working in well-paid jobs that mean they also pay pretty high taxes.
I like meeting people from other countries. I like learning about them and where they’re from, gaining different perspectives on the world. I like knowing that if they ever decide to leave the UK and move back to their original country, I can go and visit them. I like that there’s a bit of a culture of moving around the world frequently in my friendship group. It means I can go for a long weekend to Barcelona, or Zadar, or Paris or Geneva or Vienna or Adelaide or Athens and have someone to stay with and show me around.
The world is becoming smaller, and in my view that’s a good thing. There was a poll recently of US citizens that showed that young people were increasingly seeing themselves as citizens of the world rather than of their own country, and that’s something I can understand. Sure, I live in the UK. Sure, I like it here. But I see myself as a human being, a person who happens to live in a specific place, rather than a Brit for whom the rest of the world is irrelevant.
4. You don’t fix problems by running away
I’m sure there are things that need to be worked on concerning Britain’s place in the EU. However, I’m equally sure that the very fact we’re having a referendum will spark some important conversations on the subject.
And I don’t think you fix problems by running away from them.
I know that’s much easier to do. I know it feels nicer to put your problems in a box in your mind and bury them somewhere and forget they were ever there. I know it’s more straightforward to just take yourself out of a situation and leg it half way across the country in the hope of not having to deal with anything.
But growing up (and, if I’m honest, going through years of therapy) has taught me that it’s important to hit your problems face-on. To have the difficult conversations, to work through the confusing and scary parts of life, and to come out all the better for it.
Leaving the EU because there are some problems with how things are done feels a lot to me like putting our hands over our ears and racing away at full speed, yelling “NONONONOTLISTENING”.
5. Can we not fuck the economy again please?
We’ve only just recovered from the previous recession, for fuck’s sake. The last thing we need to do is to throw the economy into a state of flux and confusion. The pound will be sad if we leave, and so will my wallet, and frankly I could do without that. So could you, probably, unless you’re a rich white person who hates foreigners and only cares about their closest friends.
And a quick note to the protest voters…
I was having dinner with a couple of friends a few weeks ago, and one of them said she’s voting Leave as a protest vote. “I want to remain,” she told me, as I sat stunned with my wine glass in midair, “but I want the vote to be as close as possible, so I’m voting to leave.”
I tweeted this statement because I found it so confusing, and then I discovered that a load of other people were doing the same thing.
For fuck’s sake, guys, vote for what you actually want.
Look, if you want to vote Leave, I disagree with you, but at least you’re voting for something you believe in.
But if you want to vote one way and then actually vote another, that’s just insane.
Don’t do that.
Don’t be a douchebag.
Anyway, in summary:
- Please vote.
- Please vote the way you actually want the vote to go. That’s kind of the point of voting.
- Remember that you’re not just voting for yourself, but for future generations too.
- Remember that “human being” doesn’t mean “rich white person from Britain”.
- Vote Remain. 😉