I am not educated enough to form a proper opinion on whether or not we should leave the EU.
Nor are you.
I’m sorry, but you’re not, and I don’t really think anybody is. Not Boris Johnson, trumpeting around like an overexcited head boy, not David Cameron, squeaking on about the economy with sweaty palms and a crap suit, not Nigel Farrage doctoring posters of refugees like a rubbish Frankenstein. None of them know. In a way, I think that’s why instead of sensibly voting on it in Parliament, they’ve turned it over to us – helplessly raising their palms, like, ‘We’ll ask you, and if you can’t decide, we’ll just flip a coin.’
So if I don’t know, why am I writing about it? Because you should vote to remain in the EU.
There are two sensible reasons why you should do this:
1. If you vote out, it will damage the British economy. ‘Leave’ supporters say this damage will be ‘short term’ but unfortunately, when economists say ‘short term’, they don’t mean half an hour, they mean ten years. If you’re in your twenties, ten years is a long and really inconvenient time for the economy to go to shit.
2. It isn’t the best way to control immigration. Non-EU immigration is higher than EU immigration. The government can already control that with VISA restrictions. They don’t. The reason they don’t is that immigration boosts the economy. So what makes you think that if we left the EU, giving the government the OPTION to control immigration, that they actually would?
So. Those are the sensible reasons. But it’s not my reason. Here’s my reason.
There are pros and cons to being in the EU like there are pros and cons to literally everything. But these are things that were weighed up back in 1975 and we made the decision and that's that. It’s like getting married, and buying a house, and having children with someone, and then thinking ‘erm, I’m a bit unhappy.’ What do you do? Abandon the kids, burn the house, get a divorce? Maybe, maybe in certain situations you would – but you would also appreciate how difficult that is, how it isn’t a simple decision, it won’t be clean, it won’t be neat. I’m not saying it’s too late – I’m just saying that to do that, you need to be really, really sure that the EU is a bad thing. I don’t think we are that sure. As I said above – I don’t think we know at all.
And even beyond that – I hate the picture of Britain that is currently being painted in the media. Britain as a twisted, angry old man, xenophobic and raging, prepared to accept a cake from their neighbours but slamming the door in their face should they dare to ask for help in return. A Britain obsessed with a rose-tinted past, with homogeneity and a misplaced pride; a bitter, delusional Britain, standing alone in the corner at a party, refusing to share, refusing to play.
That’s not the country I want to live in. My Britain is multi-cultural and full of life. It’s patriotic and proud of being welcoming, come in, have a cup of tea, shall we all go down the pub? No racism, no eugenics, but quiet and unassuming and obsessed with the weather. Does anybody really think that Britain, that being British, has been diluted? Has it not just taken on a new form? We are modern, we are forward thinking, we carry the past with us as a beautiful backdrop but we do not live in it. I want so desperately for Britain to vote Remain on Friday because I want to be proud of my country. I want to know there are more good people, more caring, sensible, intelligent people, who want to belong and take part and give back – than there are greedy, selfish, bigoted people. I want you to vote Remain in effect because I think it’s the loving, kind thing to do. I want my country to be that sort of place.
E.B. White once wrote a letter to a man who had lost all hope in the world, and over the last couple of weeks his words keep coming back to me in waves. He wrote:
‘As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate.... It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.'
I hope that on Thursday the contagion spreads, that compassion and kindness win out. And as E.B White finishes his letter, so I shall finish.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.