Over the last few months it has been hard to ignore all the hype about what people are calling the biggest vote in British history: Brexit, England’s potential leaving of the European Union. Until yesterday, people all around Britain had been hitting the polling stations, casting their vote on whether or not Britain would leave the EU. Everyone was talking about it—from the rich and powerful right down to hard-working normal people. This means a lot to us all. For months now, the newspapers and news channels have been broadcasting this hype like clockwork. To give you guys some perspective on how big this really is, Boris Johnston, former mayor of London, said, “The Americans have their independence day tomorrow; if we leave, Britain will have its independence day!” That was enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I don’t think I am the only one in the crowd who went wild after hearing that.
David Cameron, the recently resigned PM, was heading the stay campaign, saying, “Britain is stronger in Europe,” alongside 28 other members. One of those members is Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party and possibly the biggest danger to Britain. Now the stay party has been accused of using scaremongering tactics like, “If we leave, people will lose their jobs,” and, “It could be economic and political chaos.” Untested people are always afraid of change no matter what it is. A lot of people are afraid that if we leave, it could turn into financial disaster. It could affect a lot of big international companies that have business deals because of the EU deal. But I want to say this on that subject: 40 years ago we voted to be a part of the EU, and the main reason behind that was the trade deals. Now we are still trading with them, just outside of the EU’s greedy mitts. Take Switzerland: They’re not a part of the EU, but they still trade with them. Of course, at the start there will be chaos because a lot of people will have to renegotiate deals. It’s not like the remaining members are going to say, “OK, you left the EU, now we’re not going to do business with you.” People on the other side still need UK business just as much as we need them.
Now here is why I voted to leave: I am British and very proud. At 16 years old, I joined the British Army because I love my country. In fact, I love everything about England. I like the queen. I think she is cool. I like the pound. I love my flag. I like the shit weather and bad food. Nothing better than a cup of tea and a smoke on a cold morning. If we stay in the EU, we are no longer British. If we use the euro, forget Parliament because what would be the need for them? It’s not like they can decide what happens here. That will happen in Brussels by people who don’t live here or have never been here! So there goes democracy. The British Army, once the greatest army in world, is hanging on a thread as the EU wants an EU army and all those in the EU will be integrated. That’s hundreds of years of heritage lost! If someone had said to me at 16, “Join the EU army or the British Army,” I know what I would have said. Forget border control; I mean, look at Brussels and France. I was there in those places, and they are far from safe. In fact, I would say I was safer in Somalia.
How can someone dictate who and how many refugees we should take in? I think they need to take a walk around the streets after daylight and see just how many homeless people we have sleeping there, or how many veterans are sleeping in the dirt. How many single moms can’t get houses because there aren’t enough? Why? Because refugees are given priority! How can someone from another country be given more priority than one of our own? We can’t even deport known terrorists because it breaches their human rights! Instead, they take them to the European courts. We have to fight with them to protect our own lives. How can a country that once ruled most of world become so pathetic and bow down to just about anyone? I mean, not to hit out at you yanks, but Barack Obama even said that England should stay in the EU. How the hell does he know what is good for Britain? He has his own problems to deal with without telling us what to do.
From where I am sitting, the message is clear: We want out. Despite this, I was convinced that the PM would address the nation this morning and say, “It’s with pleasure that I announce the British public has voted to stay in the EU.” I was sure this would break some people, as I know a lot of hard-working folks out there want to leave. I was speaking with one local business owner who had this to say: “I have waited 40 years for this. I’m voting out.” My whole family works for the NHS, and they have all voted out. Why? Because one of the things that the EU will push for in time is privatization of the NHS. That would mean a lot of people like my family members will be out of a job.
The stay party were out telling people the NHS could not continue without the migrants, as they give people in the NHS work. Well I don’t believe that for one moment. If we leave, we are not saying nobody gets in. Of course we are going to do our part and help these people out and take in refugees! We just want the option to say how many and who! And let us not forget that we pay the EU something to the tune of £350 million a week, and we get something like £60 million back. That is one hell of a defect. I mean, imagine if you ran a business like that. Something tells me you would be out of business soon! So why the hell do we continue to do this?
Here are some quick facts:
- Over a quarter of a million people come to the UK from the EU every year. More than a quarter of a million people came to the UK from the EU in the 12 months leading up to September 2015—the equivalent of a city the size of Plymouth or Newcastle in a year. If this rate were to continue for a decade, there would be more than two million extra people. EU law means all members must accept “free movement of people.” Many immigrants contribute to our society. They also affect public services. Experts disagree on the overall effect.
- The EU is growing. When we joined, there were just nine member states. Now there are 28, the most recent being Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. Five more countries are being considered for membership: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. When they join, they will have the same rights as other member states.
- The UK’s official EU budget is about £350 million a week. That’s about the same as the cost of building a new NHS hospital every week. We get less than half of this money back, and we have no control over how it’s spent—that’s decided by politicians and officials in Brussels, not the people we elect here.
- EU law overrules UK law. If there is a conflict between an EU member’s national law and EU law, then EU law trumps the national law. This is a basic principle of EU membership like “free movement.” This means the British public cannot vote out the politicians who make our laws. EU judges have already overruled British laws on issues like counterterrorism powers, immigration, VAT, and prisoner voting. The government’s recent new deal can be overturned by the European Court after the referendum: It is not legally binding.
- In the EU, the UK isn’t allowed to negotiate our own trade deals. This means we currently have no trade deal with key allies such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or the USA, nor do we have access to growing economies like India, China, or Brazil. Instead of making a deal that is best for the UK, we have to wait for 27 other countries to agree to it. Outside the EU, Britain will have an independent voice in the World Trade Organization.
- You don’t have to be a member of the EU to trade with it. Countries around the world trade with the EU without being members of the EU. Switzerland is not in the EU and exports even more to the EU than we do. Some big banks and multinationals think the EU is strongly in their interests. Small- and medium-size businesses think differently. Only six percent of UK firms export to the EU, yet all have to abide by EU regulations in their business. Most small businesses say that Britain should take back the power to negotiate our own trade deals, which we cannot do inside the EU.
- The European Union has changed enormously since the UK joined in 1973. Back then, it was called the Common Market. But over the past 43 years, the EU has grown to take control over more and more areas that have nothing to do with trade, such as our borders, our public services, and whether prisoners should have the right to vote. The euro means that more and more decisions are being made in Brussels.
- There were risks in voting either way. Experts, politicians, and businesses were divided. People had to weigh the risks and potential benefits of each course of action for themselves.