Why I'm Voting In The EU Referendum

I wouldn't normally write about politics on the blog (although I am trying to get away from being too 'fluffy'. But I digress), but frankly the EU referendum is too big of an issue not to talk about. So today I wanted to talk about the importance of voting in the referendum and why, even if you're not normally that interested in politics, you should go out and vote on the 23rd June.

I'm trying to keep this as neutral as possible so I'm not going to tell you how you should vote, although I apologise in advance if my own views come through too strongly. (I personally have voted to remain - I have a postal vote which I sent off last week - but I'm not going to criticise people voting to leave and would appreciate it if any comments could do the same.) Rather, I wanted to set out why I'm voting the way I am and to try and encourage people to go out and vote even if you wildly disagree with me!

What has the EU ever done for us?

To put it bluntly, membership of the EU determines an awful lot of things that go on in the UK. For example, selling to other EU countries makes up 44% of all UK trade due to the single market, which allows EU countries to buy and sell each others' goods without restrictions. If we were to leave, it's likely we'd have to renegotiate those trade agreements with each country, which would be expensive and could cause delays to trading between the UK and other countries. Leaving the EU could also impact on employment here; three million jobs in the UK rely on trade with the EU, and being an EU member also impacts things like regulated working hours, paid maternity leave and anti-discrimination laws.

Also, unlike many other EU countries, we are not in the Schengen Agreement, which means we still have control of our borders. Everyone coming into the UK, EU passport or not, has to be checked when they enter the country, and the European Arrest Warrant means we can easily share police intelligence with other EU countries to bring wrongdoers to justice. Again, if we leave the EU, we might have to negotiate the sharing of this information on an individual basis, which could be time-consuming and potentially limit our effectiveness in catching criminals.

Finally, there are all the things going on in the background that the EU does. Did you know, for example, that the EU recently passed legislation which has cut the price of mobile charges when using your phone abroad? In fact, being a member of the EU could make your summer holidays this year much easier - UK citizens are able to travel freely to other EU countries and if you have a EHIC card you can get free healthcare in EU countries (although you should still have travel insurance!).

There are those who say that we spend too much money on membership of the EU, which could be put to better use funding the NHS or schools here, and that there are too many people coming here from Europe, taking jobs away from British workers or claiming benefits. Personally, I think the financial benefits we get from EU membership outweigh any drawbacks, and there is also the risk that were we to leave the EU and suddenly close our borders, people from the UK living in EU countries may no longer be allowed to stay in those countries either.

I hope that's helped to explain some of my reasons for voting to stay in and to encourage you to cast your ballot in the referendum. This is likely the biggest vote many of us will ever have to undertake, and as such I believe strongly that if we're going to exercise our democratic rights, this is the time to do. So whichever way you choose to go, please do vote on 23rd June.

If you'd like more information, the BBC News website is a great source, and there are also some excellent blog posts out there which help to explain the arguments for staying or going much better than I can - such as Kellie's, Sarah's and Becky's.

Also a reminder that you need to register to vote by 7th June (that's this Tuesday) to take part in the referendum if you're not already. All the information on how to register is at aboutmyvote.co.uk

As I said, if you'd like to comment on this post, please do share your opinion but don't be rude or disrespectful of others' views.

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