I’ve been disappointed to see people almost guilt tripping undecided voters into voting Remain, because Leave is supported by people like Nigel Farage. I get no glee from being on the same side of the debate as this man, but let’s look at the maths – there are two sides to this debate, there will be unsavoury people on both sides. Indeed, in the past week, the Remain vote has been endorsed by the Government of Hungary – run by a party that has been widely criticised for eroding democratic checks and balances and concentrating power for themselves through constitutional reforms. The Fidesz Party in Hungary represent everything many of my Remain friends campaign against. But this doesn’t matter. There are good, honest, and honourable reasons to vote Remain – the actions of Hungarian President Victor Orbán don’t change this. I am proud to support a campaign bringing together people I respect from across the political spectrum – I won’t be shamed away from my choice by those who seek to paint all Leavers as members of UKIP.
One of my biggest surprises of the campaign has been the extent to which my scientific colleagues – usually silent on political issues – have got engaged. But more than this, it has been the extent of misinformation being used within the scientific community; a group of people meant to be dealing with facts. Erasmus studentships do not require EU membership. European Research Council (ERC) funding does not require EU membership: 16 non-EU countries take part in ERC funding, and countries like Switzerland and Israel are some of the most successful at receiving grants. The ERC tagline at the top of their website is “Supporting top researchers from anywhere in the world”. The scientists I know have been rightly skeptical about Government interference in research and Universities, whether it be the REF, TEF, or Impact reports. What I don’t understand is why this healthy skepticism disappears when it comes to politics at a European level? Fundamentally, I don’t think the exchange of ideas and collaboration that supports scientific research requires political union.
Our Place in the World
Many voting Remain have suggested that our influence and strength is magnified by being within the EU. That, within the EU, we are a big fish within a regional pond, and people listen to us. But this fails to recognise that whether we like it or not, we are part of a global ocean of businesses and ideas – and our regional ‘pond’ is only getting smaller. We can turn our back on the world, and remain with the illusion of being an influential big fish within the reality of an economic pond that is drying up, or we can leave and embrace the entire world, all its people, and every opportunity.
This is about more than opportunities for British people – it’s also about what we can offer to the rest of the world, especially the most forgotten. Immigration has been a key issue of the Referendum, and one that has not been conducted well. For me, I am in favour of immigration – it clearly benefits our economy and enriches our society. But limits are logical; only through controls can we ensure that enhanced public services match growing populations, that skills shortages are filled, and that public support is maintained. Moreover, by maintaining public support, strong public services, and a vibrant economy, our country is able to provide for a greater number of refugees from around the world. I want a level playing field, where the best, brightest, and most requiring of our help can come to the UK. If you want to control immigration, this level playing field can’t be built from within the EU.
There’s an entire wonderful world out there – only through voting Leave can we be a full part of its future.
For me this is the biggest question of the Referendum: What is the best way to govern our country in an ever changing world? While I don’t think I would now go so far as to call the EU undemocratic, it is certainly far from the system of Government I would like. I want power as close to the people as possible – and the EU has become the opposite of this. I want Government that can react quickly to issues as they arise and deliver solutions to genuine problems. Let’s looks at the problems surrounding the close of voter registration for this very referendum. Within a matter of days, Westminster had put forward, debated, and passed a new Statutory Instrument to extend the registration deadline – this simply wouldn’t happen at an EU level. With the necessity to get the agreement of 28 countries, the processes are long and laborious, preventing rapid response to pressing problems.
But more than this, I have deep issues with a body that calls itself the EU Parliament, but does not empowered those the people elect to be, what I would consider, Parliamentarians. For the EU Parliament can only approve, reject, or amend legislation. It cannot propose it. I want a democracy where the people’s representatives can propose change, and if the majority agree, bring it into effect. Where one individual, sent by their peers, can change the lives of many for the better. Great freedoms have been won through this process in Westminster, with individual Members of Parliament proposing a change to the law that makes a huge difference. The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965, the Abortion Act 1967, and the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 are just a few of the laws on the statute books today because our Members of Parliament don’t just vote on the law – they make it too. This can’t happen in the EU Parliament. We can’t send our representatives to change EU law – or repeal old laws. This is no way to govern.
Some have promised reform, but I can’t believe it will be forthcoming. If the Prime Minister wasn’t able to deliver reforms in the run up to Britain possible leaving, then I can’t see it happening after a vote to Remain.
I believe Britain will be better of economically, and be more global in its perspectives if we vote Leave on Thursday. But most importantly, I believe we will be more democratic, with power closer to the people, and with voters having more influence over the decisions that affect their lives. This is so important, that even if I thought Brexit would cause a recession, I would still vote for it, for I would rather be a poor yet powerful voter, than rich with little influence to create change.
For a greater democracy, and a country that embraces all the world, I would encourage you to vote Leave.