The debate forming between the two sides of the EU referendum is beginning to define itself. We find ourselves bombarded daily by the drip, drip of negative EU stories from the Leave campaign; while warnings of job losses and companies leaving the UK if we were to exit, is a main feature and very serious concern of the IN campaign.
We cannot allow negative stories to dominate the discussion. We, on the IN campaign, do have positive messages that highlight the benefits of our EU membership, which should be heard.
My views on why we must stay within the EU can be summarised through three words: Principle, Pragmatism and Patriotism. The principles on which the EU was founded – internationalism, fraternity and solidarity with others – mirror those with which I want our society to be based around. We all benefit as a society when we come together and work towards our shared goals.
A pragmatic view must be taken to our membership. Do the benefits outnumber the costs? Now, if something is done better at a national or local level then that is where the decisions must be made but there are issues we all face, whether you are in Malmesbury or Munich, which are better tackled through the EU. Climate change doesn’t respect international borders and our response can’t either. Only by working with other countries can we attempt to get global warming under control. The EU is uniquely placed to take a leading role in the world on this issue and will be doing so at the UN climate change conference in Paris.
The benefits of the EU cannot be seen as just monetary transactions. The EHIC cards means no need for health insurance when traveling in the EU while the European Arrest Warrant means its easier to bring criminals to justice wherever they are in Europe - we saw this in operation in London when Hussain Osman was involved in an attempted bomb attack in July after the 7/7 bombings - he was brought back to the UK within weeks and is now serving a 40 year jail sentence These are benefits that are brought about by working together at a European level to make citizens lives simpler and safer.
My patriotic argument starts with the fact that we are a proud island nation with the 5th largest economy in the world and as such we should have the confidence in our values and ourselves. We belong at the top table in the EU, we are better off campaigning for change to the way the EU works from within, rather than watching from the side-lines or listening at the keyhole while European leaders make decisions that impact on our lives. Reform is essential, without which the EU and its member states will not be able to cope with the coming challenges. But reform isn't a one off event, it's a continuing process. The EU has reformed over it's existence and will continue to reform into the future, with or without David Cameron's negotiations. This is not the time to turn our back on our neighbours we would be cutting off our noses to spite our face if we do
The Referendum will be the most important vote for a generation and regardless of the result will have profound consequences for the next generation. We should vote to remain in the EU, not just because of concerns about what we will lose but because we're strong enough and proud enough to continue to lead in our own neighbourhood. We should have the confidence to embrace a future leading in the EU.