I haven't interacted much with the European Referendum campaign much. Perhaps it's because I'm too much of a political nerd and would love to see people debating the policies of the European Parliament rather than various name calling and scare mongering but anyway...
There's a great deal to not like about the European Union. I'm not a defender of everything it does and the way it conducts itself. But I can say the same about a whole host of institutions and authorities. Which is why this post focuses on a few of the things I think are important.
I think the European Union is fundamentally a good idea. For 2 principle reasons, 1 the formation of the EU and greater European cooperation and understanding has led to the longest period of European peace in recorded history. If the history of Europe tells us anything then we are better off working with each other than we are fighting each other. I know that the EU will continue to exist if the UK votes to leave on thursday and I know that this peace will remain either way. Nevertheless the UK is better putting its weight behind the EU and not turning our backs on it and its members.
Secondly one of the driving force behind the formation of the EU was to work together and have a bigger voice in the world. The context decades ago was the Cold War and the desire to not be underlings of the 2 superpowers. But it still has great relevance today. As the course of history unfolds and we move further from the times in which European states held great empires and great influence over the world, it is clear that Europe is not the political powerhouse it once was. With the rise of places like China, India and Brazil it is clear to see that there is strength in numbers. That the EU is more influential in the world than the sum of its parts.
There is, perhaps predictably, a lot of uncertainty about the economic effects of leaving the EU. Like everyone else I don't have a crystal ball. I can't say for certain that the UK will be better of worse off with staying or leaving. However I do know that the economic benefits of the European Union, such as free trade and free movement of goods and services are a good thing. The fact is we trade most with our neighbours and doing so without the bureaucratic hindrances of import and export taxes, visas and work permits etc that the EU allows us, is good for business. One of the great uncertainties about leaving is how will international trade and its administration, look after Brexit?
For Cornwall though, the situation is very very clear, we will be worse off after Brexit. The fundamental nature of the UK is a centralised state and as such spending is prioritised from the centre and outwards. However EU funding has counteracted this pattern. Which is why it was the EU that stepped up and funded the Goss Moor A30 improvements, Superfast Broadband, the University and whole host of other spending items that elsewhere would naturally be seen as central government's duty to fund but aren't. I've read all sorts of promises that Cornwall's EU funding could be replaced by Westminster in the event of Brexit. Frankly I don't believe them for a minute and fear that like so much Cornwall's voice would be drowned out by everywhere else lobbying for crucial funding and the end to regional funding for Cornwall like Objective One and Convergence in the past.
I must confess that I get the concept of the EU, I understand the fundamental principles that underpin it. I do believe that Europe can work together and this is for the good of all. I'm proud to be voting in, not because I agree with everything the EU has ever done but because I believe in a better Europe and the UK leaving the EU will not help to make this happen.
Thanks for reading and please remember to vote on thursday.