It is estimated that almost 46,500,000 people could be set to descend upon the polling stations today, in what is only the third nationwide referendum ever in the history of the United Kingdom. In case you have been sitting under a rock for the past four months, the question being asked of the citizens of the U.K. on this historic day is “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
Today I am listening to my heart and my head.
I am listening to my heart because apart from anything else, a vote to leave is fundamentally selfish. A vote to leave would leave a hole in the EU far larger than it would seem our little country is capable of. Ongoing peace in Europe is surely more important than any pursuit of personal power – and in any case I believe we can be more powerful from within the EU than without. If we left, Europe would be unmistakably weaker, and leaving the EU does not mean we would leave Europe. We are eternally geographically shackled to the rest of Europe; our close proximity and deeply embedded links means that we will always be effected by events in the region.
What I am not listening to is manipulated (or quite frankly made up) statistics; I am also refusing to be swayed by any attempts to blame any and all of our country’s problems on immigration; or indeed being scared by threats of an invasion by thousands of dangerous Turks. To be honest the entire campaign in the run-up to this referendum has left me feeling somewhat disheartened at the state of politics and modern culture in general, and the pettiness of some of the public figures involved has only served to distract from the sincere importance of this vote. This could very well have a long-lasting and detrimental effect on our country.
I am listening to my head because countless economists, businesspeople and experts, from both within the UK and from other countries; people from far and wide, all of whom know far more than I do; have said we would be significantly worse off on all accounts if we left. This is both in terms of the short-term and the long-term. I will not go into all of the ins and outs of the arguments for or against leaving or staying, because by this point if you haven’t heard all of these arguments then it is a bit too late.
All I will say is that I really hope people don’t vote leave simply because they are disatisfied with British politics and want something to change. If you are still undecided then surely you should just vote to remain because a vote to leave is final, a vote to remain is not. If we are unhappy with the current arrangement, it is far easier to change and reform the EU when we have a seat at the table, rather than to sit on the outside whilst continuing to be effected by an EU that we dislike, without being able to wield any influence over it.
It is no secret that the EU is far from perfect, but I strongly believe, in both my heart and in my head, that to leave would be the wrong decision. To leave would diminish us as a country and Europe as a whole.
Image courtesy of Descrier (website: descrier.co.uk) via Flickr