The EU Referendum – My thoughts; my vote

We are one day away from casting our votes in what for many, will count as one of the biggest decisions of their lifetime. I’ll try to keep it simple, but this is the story of how I intend to vote and how I came to that decision. My story starts in 1975, when as a 13-year-old kid with no outlook on the world, my Dad rounded up myself and a few of my friends, gave us a few bob to spend in the local sweetshop and told us to stand outside the Polling Station at the Church Hall, to ask people to vote No to staying in the European Economic Community (EEC). Upon asking why, he replied ‘They lied to take us in and they are lying to us now!’ It meant nothing to us at the time, but the promise of a few Blackjacks and a Jubbly sent us down there at a trot! We duly stayed for as long as we thought that we’d earned our sweets and left, thinking no more about it. ‘Stay’ won the day with 66% of the vote and we stayed in – who ever listens to kids? However, my Dad’s words never left me and as I grew up and took an interest in the world around me, I came to understand exactly what he was talking about…

Right from the very start of this Campaign, I urged people in my social network to do their own research; to eschew the Mainstream Media (MSM) and be pragmatic. The reason I made this plea was because many take as Gospel what they read in newspapers and see on television, not realising that many of these outlets follow an agenda set either by their owners and/or by the Government. One of the routes I took was somewhat different; I tried to take an outsider’s view by scouring the internet for stories written in other countries and seeing what they had to say. A lot of the articles I read made for some pretty uncomfortable reading; it is fair to say that the UK, and in particular, England, are not very well liked by the political elite in many of the countries that make up the European Union. We are difficult, they say; we create barriers where there should be none; we wish to choose from an a la carte menu of things we want and don’t want, which doesn’t fit in with the European dream of ever-closer union. What these countries won’t admit though, is that they also want what is best for them, and who in their right mind wouldn’t?

Our relationship with our European partners is like a polygamous marriage; there must be compromises on all sides. However, this approach means that negotiations are protracted; sometimes lasting several years, as in the case of the recently concluded, but still unratified, Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada which is viewed by many as a ‘dry-run’ of TTIP. The many differences between nation states within the EU means that there just cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ arrangement and little by little, sovereignty is being chipped away, very much like the ‘boiling frog’ anecdote; the premise being that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death!

The Veto

Yes, just like all the other 27 nation states, the UK has a veto! All well and good you may think – we just reject the laws we don’t want. However, this can only be used in certain areas, such as taxation, foreign affairs, justice and the EU budget. In other areas, majorities are enough. Under the new Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) system, a law has to pass two hurdles. First, 16 out of 28 member states have to vote for it. In special cases, it’s 21 out of 28. The UK naturally counts for only 1/28th from this point of view and the veto is voided. But there is a second condition: population matters. Member states representing 65% of all the people in the EU have to vote for a law before it passes. The ability of the UK to combine with a couple of other big countries to block a law it doesn’t like is made more difficult by a rider to this rule. You can get to 36% against a proposed law from just three countries, but they won’t be able to block it unless joined by at least one more. In other words, if fewer than four countries oppose or abstain on a law in the Council, it passes. Therefore the veto becomes null and void! Not good if you want to prevent the creation of an EU Army as specified in the Lisbon Treaty!

REMEMBER: In certain areas, THE VETO IS UNUSABLE!!

Turning to the Campaign, well it’s been disgusting, hasn’t it? False figures, predictions of doom and destruction – from both sides, I might add. The appalling murder of an MP, which may or may not be connected to the Campaign – hopefully the truth will out on that. With the constant petty arguing between MPs and not concentrating on the main issue, it’s no wonder that many people have ended up confused!

However for me, what it boils down to is our right, as a sovereign nation, to govern ourselves, make our own laws and decide our own future.

I believe in a controlled immigration policy which benefits our nation and gives access to the world’s brightest and best! I have compassion for the victims of war and believe that we should give aid to the people that need it. However, just lately, I have been (unfairly and wrongly) labelled as xenophobic and racist for holding those views, along with millions of my countrymen and women and this is an insult I will not accept!

I love Europe; I have been there many times and many of you know that I visit friends and family in Sweden on a regular basis. However, I do not want our country to be tied to an increasingly federal cabal of states with a failing economy and I am not alone in that view – many of my friends abroad also wish to be freed from the yoke of the EU!

Having listened to both sides of the argument, I ask myself who paints a more positive picture and I have to say that the Leave camp is ahead on that one. Okay, leaving the EU is a risk, but without risk, there would be no adventure; would Edmund Hillary (a New Zealander) have climbed Everest, paving the way for many Britons if he had sat at home and thought ‘Ooh! I can’t do that, I might fall!’? Similarly, would Britons Helen Sharman and Tim Peake have sat at the edge of space if the Russian, Yuri Gagarin, and Americans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had decided to bottle out of taking life by the horns and blasting their way into the history books? We are British, for God’s sake – we have adventure running through our veins! Let us embrace the world! For where we lead, others will follow!

So for me, the decision is simple. I will be voting to leave and hopefully I’ll feel a ghostly pat on the shoulder whilst I’m doing so.

They are still lying to us Dad, after all these years!

Björn Grillar ©