Großbritannien und EU

21.6.2016 | Von:
William Cooper

Vote Leave: a self-serving and inward looking move

The European Union plays an important role in protecting workers' rights, says William Cooper. He calls on British people to rise up against the Leave campaign that is using the fear of immigration to try and win an election.

"Wir müssen ein Land sein, das mit den Europäern am selben Tisch sitzt, statt von draußen durch das Fenster hineinzurufen", sagt William Cooper über die Zukunft Großbritanniens. - Remain-Plakat zum Brexit-Referendum in einem Fenster in London."We need to be a country that is around the European table rather than sat outside shouting through the window", says William Cooper about the UK’s future. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Brexit for me is something that three years ago I couldn’t even imagine happening, but as we move closer to the 23rd June the result regarding our membership of the EU is on a knife edge and frankly it terrifies me.

I am a local campaigner for the Labour Party and have been running campaigns for the last eight years, but this is different, this election is the biggest political decision my generation and many generations above mine will make in their lifetime.

One of the biggest reasons that I want to stay within the EU is workers’ rights. The EU provides us with crucial safeguards regarding our rights at work, including maternity pay, paid holidays and improved health and safety. With a Conservative Government that is determined to repeal many of our rights at work, it leaves only the EU to protect many of the things that ensure we are treated fairly in the workplace.

As a gay man, a personal reason why I want to remain a member of the EU is because of the progressive social change that we have seen in nations that have become part of the European family.

The way in which gay rights have swept across Europe in the last 20 years is breath-taking and we cannot deny that that is down largely to the requirements of becoming a member of the European Union. If the UK leave we are turning our back on the progressive social nature of the European Union and all the lives that it can make better in places that have less freedoms and rights than us in the UK. It would be a self-serving and inward looking move.

The trouble is that nobody knows what is going to happen if, on the 24th June, we have decided to leave the EU. This is my main reason for voting to remain.

The one thing all economists seem to agree on is that there will be an economic crash. It will affect the working class people of the UK. They will lose their jobs and see wages plummet, all whilst being the ones least able to bear the brunt of more economic woes. To threaten working people with economic obscurity so soon after the crash of 2008 is irresponsible. I am not going to pretend that I think the EU is perfect, there are issues with democratic representation, people engaging with European elections and also people not knowing how the functions of Brussels work for them.

However, even if I was undecided in the EU Referendum, the narrative of the Leave campaign in the UK would make me vote to stay.

The Leave campaign is using the fear of immigration to try and win an election with blatant unease and xenophobia, and it is working. The debate has become so low that the benefits of leaving or remaining in the EU are rarely discussed. In the 21st Century we must rise up against fear mongering when it comes to immigration, as we recently did in London when we elected a Muslim Mayor.

It is mostly the older generations who are falling for this narrative. In the UK it is the young who have grown up with a more European mindset. Travel to Europe has never been easier, we have grown up with European friends and neighbours and the idea that we are a closed off nation that wants to go alone is not present in my generation. But if young people do not vote, it will be the older generations that decide our future and they will almost definitely vote to leave. We need to be a country that is around the European table rather than sat outside shouting through the window. For me the 23rd of June will prove to probably be the biggest political decision that many of us in the UK are ever likely to take. I just hope that British people choose the progressive security of the European Union rather than turning away from our neighbours into obscurity.

Click here to read this article in German. Hier geht es zum Beitrag auf Deutsch.

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The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb) is a federal public authority providing citizenship education and information on political issues for all people in Germany. The work done by the bpb centres on promoting awareness for democracy and participation in politics. Here you can find some information about the bpb in English.

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