Boris Johnson was talking wildly about Project Hope. I see little hope in Brexit and I am fed up to the eyeteeth in doom, gloom, prophecies of disaster and misinformation. I am however very hopeful about the possibilities for remaining in the EU, however flawed it may be.
- We win in the EU Parliament – a lot!
In various interviews people are outraged that the UK has been outvoted in the European parliament 72 times. So what? According to Full Fact:
“Official EU voting records* show that the British government has voted ‘No’ to laws passed at EU level on 56 occasions, abstained 70 times, and voted ‘Yes’ 2,466 times since 1999, according to UK in a Changing Europe Fellows Sara Hagemann and Simon Hix. In other words, UK ministers were on the “winning side” 95% of the time, abstained 3% of the time, and were on the losing side 2%.”
By any stretch of the imagination, that’s a pretty good hit rate. What on earth are we complaining about?
- We can live and work in the sunshine
This one is pretty well known by now – we have around 3 million EU immigrants in the UK at the moment. Most of them are young, fit, healthy and working (50,000 or so actually working in the NHS). They contribute over £20 billion to our economy. At the same time, around 2.2 million Brits are living abroad within Europe, a significant number of whom are probably retired, elderly and rather less healthy. But they enjoy the relaxed lifestyle, the sunshine is good for their health and their presence contributes to the economies of some less thriving regions of Europe. Just imagine, for a moment, the effects of a population exchange… I love being surrounded by bright young people eager to learn and work. I also love the idea of being able to travel, live and work in any of 28 countries should I wish to do so. It offers all of us amazing possibilities beyond our own borders. Hooray!
- We could study free if we wanted to
Speaking of living and working all over Europe… I’ve gone back to university in my 50s and am partway through a PhD which I’m self-funding with great difficulty. I don’t regret a single second or penny of it although I would love mature students (and PhD students) to have the same access to cheap student loans as others. However the point is this. The university is stuffed with students from all over the world, including other parts of Europe, making my learning experience, my social life (and the university coffers) immeasurably richer. From the other perspective, at the moment, as members of the EU, students from the UK have a right to study in any country within the Union and pay the same fees as the citizens of that country. In many cases, tuition fees are still free or minimal – and many of those countries also have courses taught in English! That’s right, slash your student debt and have a foreign adventure all in one. Have a look at this website for a comparison chart: http://www.studyineurope.eu/tuition-fees
Isn’t that a really, really good reason to stay in?
- We’re saving the bees
Over the last couple of years, a separate war has been waging between social media, corporate lobbyists and the European parliament over bee-killing pesticides. Bees are really important to the survival of the food chain and their numbers are plummeting. The weight of scientific evidence is growing by the day that chemical pesticides are heavily, if not totally responsible, and there is a battle to try and get them banned. This can only work on a continental basis, like so much other legislation to do with the environment. Countries have to work together and getting 28 individual agreements while big business sues 28 individual countries would take decades which we simply don’t have. The European parliament is making the right decisions this time, on all our behalves, the collective might of 28 nations acting in concert to save our bees and stand up to the corporations. Hooray for them.
If you want to know more about this, follow the links below this petition: https://actions.sumofus.org/a/bayer-bees-lawsuit
This is only one of many great environmental actions the EU is taking on our behalf. Thank you.
- I’m not going to disappear without trial
I grew up in a country with a pretty dodgy regime and have spent much of my life travelling in others with highly questionable human rights. I don’t buy into the idea that you only need to worry if you’ve done something wrong. I’ve seen far too many rogue governments to know that the good guys often end up in prison, being tortured and disappearing. I’m not naïve and know that the terrorist threat is very real, but we have to ensure that everyone’s human rights are respected. I was appalled when our government decided to try and introduce the idea of detention without legal representation, even for a few days, and relieved that it was rightly overturned by the European Court of Human Rights. And while I do believe we should be allowed to export unwanted people, I would much rather live in a country that would spend £12 million ensuring the human rights of someone they didn’t want were respected than live in a country where my rights were not. I like being opinionated, I don’t want to be locked up for it and I want to be sure someone is watching my back and ensuring I will always be able to speak my mind. Rights are fragile things and we need to protect them fiercely. I am hugely proud of the fact that the British wrote the founding principles of the European Court of Human Rights and our Human Rights Act. I am hugely proud of the fact that the Magna Carta, flawed as it is, is the corner stone of modern democracy. We need to remain proud defenders of the organisations we created and the rights we have always espoused.
And that is quite enough. EU Remain. Take back the true meaning of #Project Hope.