Ignore anti-immigration hysteria……vote Remain to keep Britain great
Tomorrow’s referendum to decide whether Britain remains a member of the European Union is likely to be the most important election any of us ever takes part in.
And unlike General Elections, every vote is going to count.
No one needs to feel disenfranchised because they live in an area that always returns a Labour or a Conservative MP. On this occasion it is worth voting. In fact, since the very future of Britain is at stake, it is the duty of every adult to participate in the referendum.
More than 46 million people in the UK are registered to vote, potentially making this the biggest plebiscite the country has ever held. The turnout could be high, putting paid to the claim that most people aren’t interested in politics. They are interested, but only when they think their vote can make a difference.
The question is simple, should we remain in or leave the European Union?
Sadly, there is no simple answer to an issue of great complexity that embraces economics, politics and ultimately boils down to the type of country we would like our children to live in.
It was Clement Attlee, the great post-war Labour prime minister, who coined the phrase that referendums are the last resort of dictators and demagogues. And he had a point.
The second British referendum on our future in the EU, like the first one in 1975, was forced on the Government in order to hold a political party together. Forty-one years ago, Harold Wilson took the referendum route in an attempt to satisfy Labour’s pro and anti-Europe wings. David Cameron took a similar decision to stop the Conservative party imploding over Europe.
Single-issue referendums are not the wisest way to approach difficult decisions, smacking as they do of governments washing their hands of responsibility and passing the buck to the public.
One of the alarming aspects of this campaign has been the large number of people who say they just don’t know which way to vote. They are being asked a big question but do not necessarily have the information to give a reasoned answer.
The past two months have provided ample evidence of what happens when opposing sides of a political argument are unleashed – neither the remain or the leave camp have covered themselves in any glory, conducting campaigns which, at best, rely on stretching the truth to breaking point, or at worst amount to downright lies.
There are though a number of indisputable facts that bear repeating.
The vast majority of UK business leaders, economists and trade unions believe we should remain a member of the EU, and by doing so continue to help shape the European community as it evolves over the next few years.
Almost everyone, even the leave camp, is resigned to an economic firestorm should Britain vote to leave the EU. The only question is how long this will last and how much damage will be caused to our economy as a result.
It is inevitable in the event of a leave vote that sterling will flood out of the country, the pound will have to be propped up, interest rates will rise, and shares will crash, putting the jobs, homes and pensions of millions of Britons at risk.
George Osborne was accused of scaremongering when he threatened to deliver an emergency Brexit budget, imposing steep tax increases and cutting public spending. But the Chancellor was doing no more than telling the truth. Whether he remains at Number 11, or is replaced by someone else, the economic turmoil resulting from Brexit will have to be addressed by the Government, and it will not be a pretty sight.
Paradoxically, the vast army of leave voters, thought to live in poorer Labour-voting parts of the country, who have been persuaded that Britain will be a better place outside of Europe, will be the hardest hit by Brexit. If the loss of the Single Market is to be offset, the cost of doing business here has to be cut dramatically – and that means lower taxes, lower wages and, crucially, lower public spending than the rest of Europe.
The leave camp is pinning its hopes on the other EU member countries quickly offering Britain a deal on new trading and tariff arrangements on the grounds that we are too big an economic player to be outside of the EU tent. Is it really likely that Germany, France and the Benelux countries will be persuaded to broker a quick deal that satisfies both the EU member states and the British government?
The only certainty about a vote to leave is that it will lead to uncertainty. Agreeing new trading and border control arrangements will depend on the willingness of EU member countries to play ball and may take years to complete.
Here in Birmingham, an economic renaissance has already been put on hold with potential inward investors delaying relocation deals until the result of the referendum is known. There is a similar pattern in other large cities. Can anyone in their right mind really believe foreign investors are going to take a huge gamble on Brexit Britain?
Encompassing all of this are some vital questions about the type of Britain we wish to live in. Do we want to continue to be a welcoming nation, proud of its multi-cultural diversity, or do we want to adopt the type of faintly hysterical anti-immigration policy promoted by some leave campaigners that all to clearly appals to some pretty base instincts?
Chamberlain Files believes passionately in Birmingham, and is certain the city’s diverse communities bring great opportunities, not threats. We know that a vote to leave the EU will inevitably wreak unparalleled economic damage on this great city, as well as pose a threat to community harmony.
Vote for Britain to remain in the European Union on June 23.
The Chamberlain Files team will be observing results as they come in and will probably not be able to resist the urge to tweet and blog.
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