This is the letter as Isabelle and Emilia O’Connor sent it to their parents – it is a mix of their own words, facts and figures and quotes from news articles and other sources
Thanks for sharing your views. Whilst we don’t agree with them, you are obviously entitled to your own opinion and it’s better to discuss these things and have a healthy debate than to not say anything at all. That said, we are both very concerned that you may not have sight of all the facts and truths with which to make a real educated choice on what is an incredibly important decision, with far greater impact on us and our children than on you.
The Leave campaign has been based on lies and misconceptions – this isn’t just our opinion, it’s well documented at this point – and we would really like you to consider our counter arguments below and info we have provided before you head to the polling station on Thursday. You’re both intelligent people but we’re worried that you may not be getting the full information and facts out there on which to base your decision.
I don’t want to be part of a federal super-state that behaves like a dictatorship and not like a democracy
This is a misconception. We are known as one of the ‘Big 3’ in the EU and, along with France and Germany, we have the most power and influence over decision making in the EU.
The Leave campaign wants to exempt us from the European Convention of Human Rights, membership of which is a precondition of EU membership. They would instead replace the Convention with a British version – called “rights and responsibilities” – which would defeat the entire principle of universal human rights that we the UK helped to forge. Namely, that regardless what the government of a particular country thinks at any given time you are entitled to be treated with dignity.
Why did we create this principle? Because about 65 years ago, one of our neighbour states changed its laws to allow itself to gas 6 million people within its territory. In doing so, they did nothing illegal but breached every standard of human decency.
Commissioners are appointed by member states governments, and the European Commission’s proposed laws are subject to ratification by the European Parliament, which is so democratic it actually gives anti-EU parties such as UKIP disproportionately more seats than their share of vote entitles them to.
The rules that the EU imposes actually bring about economic benefits to the UK, worth about £58.6bn a year, or £1.1bn a week: a net gain of about £487m a week. the overall saving that might be achieved by “politically feasible” cuts to red tape after leaving the EU might be only £8.5bn annually – against which would have to be offset all the unquantifiable costs of a Brexit.
There’s no transparency, no-one knows where the money goes (the accounts haven’t been signed off in over 20 years)
The European Union has now entered into a new budget framework for 2014-2020. This is accompanied by a new financial regulation, defining new funds and new transparency rules.
In 2014 the EU spent €143 billion, roughly €285 per citizen – or about £110 billion. That’s about what the UKspent on the NHS.
The EU’s Court of Auditors regularly signs off the reliability of the accounts and has given them a clean bill of health for the last eight years. The EU’s accounts in 2014: “present a true and fair view of the EU’s financial results for the year … We were therefore able to give a clean opinion on the reliability of the accounts (‘signed off’)”.
But it did find that 4.4% of EU spending was subject to error. As long as the estimated error is above a threshold of 2%, it’s considered “material”. This has been the case for several years.
A lot of lies and false figures have been spread around by the Leave campaign around spend, namely the £350 million we supposedly send each week, as seen on the buses. Not only is this figure wrong as it does not take into account significant rebates negotiated by Margaret Thatcher during her premiership, there is also no chance in hell that a Tory government will invest that kind of money in the NHS given that they are currently dismantling and privatising it. You have to ask yourself why they are using incorrect figures and making empty promises.
“Free movement of citizens” is very good on paper but extremely unrealistic . This is great for people like us who are in good standing and have no criminal past. Unfortunately it allows bcp criminals, for example (but not exclusively) from Eastern Europe to go everywhere in Europe. It has also greatly facilitated illegal immigration.
This sounds like pure conjecture (not to mention xenophobia) therefore does not constitute a valid argument. Where is your evidence for this claim? The idea that there are floods of illegal immigrants entering Britain is simply not true. We are not part of the Schengen zone and the Calais camps are testament to how hard it is for immigrants/refugees to enter our borders. With regards to terrorism, any jihadi attempting to enter the UK will be checked. Whether they will be apprehended is down to British border officials, not the EU. That would be true if we quit the EU too. The key to catching potential terrorists at the border is intelligence, and crucially the UK will find it easier to cooperate on EU-wide counter-intelligence by remaining in the EU.
On the subject of criminals, consider the actions of someone like Philip Green, who took out over £580 million in dividends from BHS before selling it for one pound, leaving BHS workers with a pension deficit of £300 million. Are people like Philip Green – who our government knighted – not more of a criminal threat than petty criminals and organised gangs coming from abroad?
Poverty and crime have a very “intimate” relationship that has been described by experts from all fields, from sociologists to economists. The top 3 EU budget contributors are Germany, France and Italy. By helping less wealthy countries the EU is levelling out the inequality, creating a stronger union.
Cameron tried to get some change , every time it was a no. Or he is really weak and needs to “ grow a pair” or Brussels doesn’t care. Both, I think. I do not want to be ruled by Brussels and Berlin ( we are no longer our own masters)
Which changes and how many times? There is a misconception that the EU is always rejecting our proposals, the actual figures show that since 1999 the UK has been outvoted 56 times and been on the ‘winning side’ 2,466 times
Also, EU legislation passes through several ‘readings’ in the Council and the European Parliament, so the fact that the UK might vote ‘No’ in one of the readings does not mean that the legislation was not subsequently amended enough for the UK to support it.
It is relatively common for a UK government minister to vote ‘no’ to a measure that many British MEPs support. In fact, on several occasions a minister has voted ‘No’ to a measure supported by a majority of British MEPs, including those from the minister’s own party. Who represents “the UK” on such occasions? The minister, or the MEPs?
There is talk that Albania and Turkey join the EU. It is madness for bcp reasons. Theoretically any member has the right of veto but I am sure that Brussels will lobby. See the Lisbon Treaty when Ireland had to vote three times because the first two times they did not have the “expected” result. It’s beautiful, democracy.
They can’t just join the EU, a country needs to tick 35 boxes to prove it is a modern European democracy and the 27 other member states can always say no. Currently Turkey only ticks 1 of the boxes. And if we leave the EU we have no power at all to say whether they should join or not
Also, Ireland voted twice on the treaty, the first time with a voter turnout of 53.1%. From Wikipedia: the government published the more in-depth research analysis on voters’ stated reasons for voting yes or no: this concluded that the primary reason for rejection was “lack of knowledge/information/ understanding”
Switzerland, which had made application to the European Union since 1992, withdrew their candidacy yesterday. So they can live very well without the EU.
What makes you think that just because Switzerland has done it, we would live perfectly well out of the EU? Without the rights and protections afforded to us by the EU and with an inevitable economic downturn and risk of recession I don’t believe we would be better off at all. Perhaps it’s not such a threat for home-owning pensioners such as yourselves but Isabelle and I are already suffering from the measures brought in by this government.In any case, it appears Switzerland is not so convinced following consequences of leaving the EU. Student exchanges and scientific research were barely mentioned during the campaign, but have since shot to the forefront of Swiss consciousness. As a world leader in research and innovation, expulsion from these programmes was a blow to Swiss pride.
It is true that Switzerland has a stable economy, but it also has high labour specialisation, which we do not have in the UK. After the recession, certain measures were introduced to improve the economy, including wage increases and an increase in government spending on infrastructure and education, the opposite of the austerity measures introduced by the current government.
Please read the articles linked in our responses above, attached and these below:
It’s my point of view. I’m afraid if we stay , it will not be the same but worse.
Worse? Worse than being governed by an un-elected Boris Johnson, with Michael Gove by his side and and an empowered Nigel Farage in the picture? Putting our human rights, healthcare system and economy at guaranteed risk?
In case it’s not clear yet – there is a link between the hate and division incited by racist far-right groups such as Britain First, exploited and encouraged by Leave campaigners, and MP Jo Cox’s brutal murder by a fascist terrorist (no, not just a mentally ill ‘lone wolf’) which cannot and must not be ignored or denied. What a frightening state of affairs.
We’re not fans of Margaret Thatcher but:
Margaret Thatcher once called referendums ‘a device of dictators and demagogues.’ She was quoting Clement Attlee as his mid-century generation had seen or remembered how Hitler and Napoleon III used plebiscites to get popular endorsement for their decisions. None of those calling for a referendum today are dictators – on the contrary, they see themselves as upholding the core of democracy’s duty to let the people decide.
But some are demagogues in the technical sense of appealing to people’s emotions and prejudices rather than the reasoned give-and-take of parliamentary debate and decisions.
Michael Dougan, a professor from University of Liverpool Law School who has spent his career studying EU law as it relates to the UK, calls the Leave campaign ‘dishonesty on an industrial scale.’ Please watch this video for more details:
Facts have been very, very thin on the ground in the Leave campaign, and as more people defect from the campaign – Baroness Warsi who has been documented as being pro-Leave since 2014, was the latest to defect, because of Farage’s hateful media campaign and the ‘lies’ spread by Michael Gove – it becomes clear that while there might be room for EU reform, a referendum campaign based on xenophobia, distorted figures and fear-mongering is not the best approach and is having a dangerous effect on the UK as a society and community.