There are only nine days remaining until the UK referendum on EU membership and if you are interested in gaining a better understanding of the issues being debated there is still time to find out more information. For example, what will the impact of leaving the European Union mean not only for the UK economy but culture? And what will ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ actually look like? Whilst older voters do not shy away from giving their viewpoint, it is younger voters who need an informed voice because it is your future that people are gambling. In my opinion, you represent a weighty but somewhat dormant voting bloc. The voices of young voters could redefine the future of the UK in Europe as they did in the case of the Scottish referendum. However, if you decide to stay at home not only is UK democracy weakened, but of equal concern is the future of the European project itself. This vote is not about party politics, it is not about personalities nor nostalgia of Britain’s past, the vote it is about all our futures, particularly the young.
What is absolutely clear to me is that there are ‘no’ certainties or absolutes I can give you to reassure you of the outcome to remain or leave. My intention is not to influence how you vote but simply to encourage you to make an informed decision and go out to vote. The crucial question is whether Britain outside or inside a more unified EU will survive and thrive? Both scenarios carry their own set of risk and challenges argued sometimes eloquently but more often than not forcefully by the remain and leave campaigns. Although the debate to date has been presented as a set of coherent choices, in reality on the 23rd June voters will be casting their ballet based on an emotional decision – supported by the facts and figures they’ve been exposed too. So look at the figures and facts but do not look for any truths in them. You will have to make-up your own mind about the pros and cons of the UK being in or out of the EU.
For instance, the European Union – also known as the ‘European project’ by its insiders – is itself an entity dreamt up following the end of world war two to help unify, and create a more prosperous and secure Europe. Arguably, the EU succeeded in its initial mission. This dream was made real through core agreements such as the Common Market (1973) and Lisbon Treaty (2007), which embody the vision of free movement of people, goods and services across EU states. Today, it is the implementation of these three core principles that challenges our sense of sovereignty and personhood in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent and turbulent world.
Commentators and politicians have tended to reduce these principles down to ‘immigration’ and the ‘economy’ but there are lots of other points to be considered.
- EU research funding to the UK
- The EU job market and employment rights
- Training and education in the EU
- Rapid migration growth to the UK from the EU
- Peace and stability in Europe
- On-going Union of England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland if we vote to leave
- Eurozone crisis
- European security and sustainability challenges
- Travel costs to Europe
- Renegotiation of trade deals in EU and the rest of the world
- The knock-on effect to the EU project if Britain was to leave
- Promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law across Europe
- Leading Europe
- Taking back British Sovereignty
Getting an understanding of these topic isn’t too hard but you need to do your own research as it is easy to get caught up with headlines without considering the impact it will have on your dreams and aspirations. Many of the issues mentioned above may not affect you immediately but could affect you later in life. A vote either way will change the nature of UK’s relationship with Europe so it is important to consider the impact both ways before making a decision. A divorced household will never resembled a happy family home.
To help understand the issues we have developed an accessible website on the UK EU referendum, following research which shows some 81 per cent of 12-to-24 year olds feel that they don’t know enough about the EU and how it affects their everyday lives. The easy-to-understand tools break down some of the complexities involved with the referendum, colourfully presenting information on a range of topics, including security; the environment and sustainable energy; income and economic justice; education; travel and transport.
You can also join our debate which takes place on Thursday 16 June in Stratford at the University of East London supported by the Institute of Ideas’ Debating Matters Competition.
To conclude, it is important to get informed and vote as every ballet counts and will shape the future course of the UK. Do not be a by-stander to history and take control of your own future.