Are you registered to vote in the upcoming EU referendum? If you aren’t registered or don’t know if you are, you can register here. If you don’t register than you can’t vote and with those <55 years old much more likely to vote In on June 23rd, the Remain campaign needs you to vote. This video from channel 4 sums up the way key demographics are likely to vote in the referendum, and while Remain has a narrow lead we still have 1 month to go and I don’t feel comfortable taking any risk with our future in the EU. I strongly believe, as many young people do, that we should stay in the EU, and I write this from exactly that viewpoint. I am Pro-EU, as is this blog post.
I think I’m in a fairly unique position when it comes to the EU referendum as I’m a British citizen who does not have the right to live and work anywhere in the EU. This is because I was born and raised in Jersey, which is not part of the EU. Now before you assume anything about me because I’m born in what is considered a tax haven think about whether you think everyone from London is a rich banker. Got your answer? I rest my case. Being born in Jersey, to Jersey parents means I have a little statement inside my British passport that tells anyone who’d care to look that this passport does not entitle the holder to live or work anywhere in the EU. You’d think then that I view EU migration negatively, that I don’t get any of the benefits and only the downsides. You’d be wrong. Firstly, that’s an incredibly selfish way to consider the situation, secondly I don’t think EU migration is a bad thing, regardless of what Mr Farage might tell you. EU migration is hugely beneficial to this country. We can take my supervisor as a wonderful example. He moved here from Italy to take up his current post in the Summer of 2013, just before I started my PhD with him. Two PhD students came with him, one of whom is now back working in Italy and the other is successfully employed here in the UK. Since I started our lab has steadily grown, my supervisor has won two substantial grants and as a result now employs 4 Post-Docs (2 British, 2 Non-British EU nationals) and 2 PhD students (me and one International student), with 2 more (British) PhD students due to start next academic year. So come October this year that’s 5 British people employed or working for (with a PhD stipend) my supervisor. Can anyone tell me the negative in the situation, because I honestly can’t see one.
I wanted to go through a few common things that come up in the EU debate:
- It has been consistently shown that EU migrants pay more into the system than they take out, so the idea that many EU nationals move here to claim benefits is just untrue. To see for yourself where these figures are from you can find the HMRC report here.
- While we are net contributors (paying in more than we get back) the figure quoted by “Brexiters” that we pay £350million per week into the EU is wildly inaccurate and has been discredited multiple times. This doesn’t include the rebate the UK receives, this figure being wrong isn’t a subjective measure, it is a cold, hard fact that in 1984 Margaret Thatcher’s government negotiated a rebate. This rebate needs to be included when working out how much we pay into the EU. If I can do nothing else with this post I’d love to convince you to read this FactCheck from Channel 4 which I think lays out everything out in a balanced way.
- Speaking more specifically about Universities there is the Horizon 2020 project. This is a research and innovation fund that’s awarding €80Billion over 7 years, this fund is open to researchers at British universities and brings in a substantial amount of grant money to institutions. Contrary to what you might think, the majority of University funding comes from research grants, and not from student tuition (despite the new higher fees). In addition to grant funding, collaborations between Universities are much easier within the EU.
- There are so many other points I can make in favour of the EU, but I’d like to finish by saying the idea that we don’t have control over our borders is, in my opinion, just wrong. We do have control, we are not part of the Schengen agreement (that allows the free movement of people across borders), yes EU citizens have the right to come and work here in the UK, but you have the exact same right to go and work in any EU country you choose. Currently there are estimated to be 1.2 million British born people living in another EU country.
Britain in the EU isn’t any less British, just like France in the EU isn’t any less French. It may not be a perfect system but how can we improve it if we aren’t part of it? Please remember to register to vote, even if after reading this you still want to vote out, you can’t have your say if you don’t register by the 7th June.