I have deliberated long and hard and spoken to many people and businesses in Taunton Deane as well as with Michael Gove and David Cameron, but deep down my gut feeling is that whatever the misgivings of the EU and I certainly don’t believe it is perfect, I am convinced that we are better off in. Especially with the special status negotiated by the PM to keep us out of the ‘ever closer union’.
Firstly, we’ve had 40 years of peace and relative posterity so why rock the boat and opt for an unpredictable future? In an ever changing and uncertain world, with fractured systems dominated by countries such as China and Russia, I believe we are more secure and influential linked with our European partners than alone.
Importantly, with Europe being our largest trading partner, representing 52% of all our trade, it seems naïve to jeopardise this. Certainly we must continue to pursue trade with the rest of the world, but being part of the EU helps to underpin rather than undermine our global trade presence.
In our beautiful corner of Somerset it’s easy to forget how connected our local economy is to Europe. For example, the impact of a Brexit on the food and drink sector, a massive employer in the region, could be catastrophic. With legislation having to be redrafted and renegotiated with 27 different countries which could take an age.
The agricultural industry could be adversely affected as it’s unlikely that the UK Government could match the current funding arrangements. Our environmental legislation is also inextricably intertwined with Europe. Water and air do not work in isolation and our birds don’t register boundaries so we must deal with these internationally.
And what of the red tape and bureaucracy? Contrary to popular belief only 7% of our primary legislation makes reference to Europe and 55,000 people run the EU, a population of 500 million, compared to an extraordinary 96,000 who run our Department for Work and Pensions.
I like everyone else, only have one vote and for the reasons outline I shall be voting to stay in. For a fuller account please see my website.