If you haven't realised there's a very important election coming up I don't know where you've been but you need to take me there. The news and the media and people's brains are fried and saturated with the upcoming referendum on whether or not we leave the EU.
I myself think I have made up my mind but I certainly needed to do a lot of research into it. At the moment it feels a bit like here in Britain it's Boris vs Dave and it's hard to tell what's the truth and what's not amid all the scaremongering and fear. What exactly is going to happen if we leave Europe? Idk and I don't think many people can say for sure.
I think as a generation of twenty somethings or younger, it is our vote that counts the most in this election as it is our future we are deciding on, yet I don't think we are being targeted enough as voters. I don't know what it's like where you live but for me in bonny South Wales, I've had the official Government Remain pamphlet and well....nothing else. All my information is coming from the media and from talking to people and I don't think that helps us when we come to vote in a few weeks.
Therefore I thought as part of my own research into how I wanted to vote, I'd do a little bit on the EU, how you can vote, why you should vote and try and find some truth in amongst all the fear.
How Can I Vote?
As part of his election campaign in 2015, David Cameron promised he'd give us a referendum for an In/Out vote on being a member of the EU and it's one promise he did actually stick to.
We are going to the polls on Thursday June 23rd and if you are aged 18 and above before that date you are eligible to vote (for this one I think it should be 16 and over but hey, different story).
If you are overseas you can vote by proxy and nominate someone to vote for you, the deadline of which is June 15th so you've still got plenty of time for that!
If you are going to be away or don't think you can make it to the polling station on the day you can also vote by post which I did for the general elections in May 2015 and it was super easy. You just fill in a form and send it back to your local electoral registration office and they'll send you the polling cards on time. The deadline for this is June 8th and if you're in Glastonbury this year which coincides with the referendum, I'd urge you to vote by post so you can still make your opinion count.
What Is The EU?
The EU is a group of 28 countries, including Britain, which exists to operate as one cohesive unit for several different individual countries. It works as a single, free trading market which means there are no customs duties between borders and allows all citizens of the countries included to travel, work and live in any of the other countries. The single market comprises 500 million customers representing an economy five times bigger than the UK.
The 28 EU countries/states are supported by EU institutions including the EU council which is made up of EU presidents and prime ministers, the EU Parliament, the Court of Justice and the European Commission. Most laws that affect all 28 countries including us in Britain, by the European Commission and then debated and amended by the Parliament and Council.
What's Our Relationship With The EU In Britain?
So a few months back David Cameron did a heck of a lot of negotiating with the EU Council in Brussels about the relationship the UK has with the EU. Cameron secured a 'special status' between us and the other EU member states which will come into affect immediately after the referendum if we choose to stay and it will help out some of the biggest issues to UK public have with the EU. This special status includes keeping the pound whilst several of the other countries all have the Euro, keeping the pound is very important to the British people and any money spent bailing out eurozone nations will be reimbursed. It also included protection for London which you might not care about but basically means it safeguards for our financial services and he also secured a clear status on our commitment with the EU. One of the core things about the EU is the idea of an 'even closer union' and Britain ain't keen on that so Dave has apparently negotiated a deal that means we can back away from that slightly.
However it's worth noting what he didn't do. Cameron wanted to secure a deal to stop migrant workers in Britain sending child benefit back to their children in other countries but he didn't manage to get it although it was amended to reflect the cost of living in their home country not in the UK. He also wanted an all encompassing ban on migrants getting access to British welfare, a concern of a LOT of people in the UK and one thing people thinks makes Britain an attractive prospect for the movement of people through Europe. He didn't secure it and whilst migrants cannot access tax credits and other welfare straight away, they will be able to access them gradually at a rate undecided yet.
Why Does The Government Want Us To Stay?
British people are pretty undecided. Polls suggest we are evenly split basically 50/50 and wahooo the Conservative government is too. The current cabinet (Dave and his crew, George and the like) are for the argument to STAY in the EU. The cabinet (and Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems too FYI) are in favour of staying in, especially with the new deals secured by the Prime Minister because of the ease of trade we have with the other members of Europe. The remain campaign say that the movement of migrants and EU citizens boosts the economy and helps pay for our public services and that the rate of movement into the UK and the amount of money we pay out to the EU are less than the amount of movement in other countries and less than we get back in EU benefits. The biggest card in the Remain pack is the fear mongering over 'World War 3' but if you cut through the bull shit, effectively being in the EU means we have access to information on criminals and intelligence in all 28 of the countries and we are 'safer and stronger together.'
Other people of note who are firmly part of the IN campaign are JK Rowling and Obama who popped over to say that if we do leave, people like the USA and China will be less likely to want to trade with us/see us as less of a power.
Why Does Brexit Want Us To Leave?
The biggest political figure in the Leave tent is former London mayor and people's favourites; Boris Johnson. UKIPs official stance is also to leave along with a handful of Labour peers. The reason the Brexit campaign want to go is they think we are being held back by the EU and we should have the right to decided EVERYTHING for our country, not have another power available to veto our decisions. They say that we do pay out more in fees and bills to the EU than the benefits and funding we reap in return. They're biggest card is regaining control over our own borders as a lot of people in the UK are concerned about the migrant crisis in Europe and consider Britain a weak target because of our welfare system.
Fun fact, Donald Trump waded into the argument saying we should leave and he's hopping over from the States the day after polling which I'm sure everyone is thrilled about.
So What Do I Vote?
Well unsurprisingly this is up to you! It's pretty much impossible for anyone to categorically say what will DEFINITELY happen if we stay or if we leave and it is up to you, the voter to decide which side of the fence you fall. It is hard to wade through the scare mongering and the bullshit and find out what is true but I urge you to try. Reading the different arguments, reading about how the EU works in Brussels and what powers they do and don't have over us made my decision for me; because I got wise to it.
The worst thing you can do on June 23rd is not vote. It is one of THE most important votes in British history and most likely one of the most important in our lifetimes and it is up to us, especially the younger generation who it will impact most, to make a decision for our future and for future generations.
If you aren't planning on voting in a few weeks because you don't care or don't know enough about it - that is not an excuse! It is SO easy to just have a quick Google and get more information and make an INFORMED decision.
Some of the articles I read and the websites I visited were really helpful and I'll link at the bottom but possibly the best, most relatable post I've read was Sarah's which you can read over here.
Don't forget to add the voting and registering deadlines to your calendars and diaries and reminders on your phones!
Let me know what you think about the referendum in the comments!
eureferendum.gov.uk - the official Government website on the referendum.
Aboutmyvote.co.uk - How to vote and who can vote.
gov.uk - Where to register to vote by June 7th.
bbc.co.uk - what you need to know about the referendum (this was the most helpful article for me!)
theguardian.com - current news on the referendum campaign.
If you liked this you might also like 'Why You Should Be Voting Tomorrow.'