Politically Correct by Kevan Benfold

Well as predicted the Referendum campaign has become a series of claims and counter claims with one side making broad statements and the other rubbishing them.

Wednesday, 8th June 2016, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2016, 11:54 am
Kevan Benfold (Liberal Democrat).

The simple fact is if we leave the EU we do not know what will happen as any renegotiations have not started yet, let alone been completed.

The one thing I have noticed talking to people about the Referendum is they may be staunchly for REMAIN or BREXIT, but have absolutely no idea how the EU works.

Ask how EU policy is made or mention the Council of Ministers and all I get back is a shrug of the shoulders.

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If we are to make a reasoned decision on whether to vote for REMAIN or LEAVE then surely we must have at least some idea of how the EU sets objectives and goals, forms policy and makes decisions.

What is also vital is to know what the EU can do and just as important what it can’t.

The EU has four major institutions which govern the EU. The first and most powerful is the European Council.

Our representative on this body is our Prime Minister David Cameron.

The European Council which comprises of the democratically elected leaders of the member nations of the EU set policy on what should become European law.

They instruct the European Commission to write and enforce European directives.

The European Commission, who are in reality civil servants, then write the directives and pass them to the European Parliament who are directly elected by us the people using a system of proportional representation.

The European Parliament then discusses the proposals and amends as they see fit.

Final recommendations are then passed on to the Council of Ministers.

The Council of Ministers is the only body which can enact legislation.

This council changes depending on what is being discussed, for example if a proposal on environmental protection is on the agenda then the Environment Minister from each member nation would attend and make their views known.

If agreement is reached then this would become European law.

I do not pretend that the above is anything more than the basics of how European law is made, but it does give anyone reading this some idea of how the laws are made.

We are often told from the leave campaign that the EU is totally undemocratic which the above I would argue that this is not the case.

Reading the letters page in the Gazette the Remain activists have accused us of being traitors to the British people by wanting to stay in the EU.

Well, if trying to protect British industry and jobs from the perils of uncertainty which would result from us leaving the EU, then I must be a traitor.

Using such emotive language is I would argue not helpful and shows pure desperation. The Single European Market is the largest free trade area on earth and we are being told that if we vote to leave, the EU will bend over backwards to give us the best deal ever to give us full access, why the hell should they if we have just voted to leave.

If we get a really good deal then all other countries outside the EU will want the same and that the EU will never agree to that.

Immigration is cited as the reason many feel we should leave, well without immigrant labour our National Health Service would collapse overnight.

Not just from inside the EU.

I now find I have a dentist who is Spanish. The simple fact is that many companies would not survive without immigrant labour.

Our education system is now totally geared to getting as many school leavers as possible into university, this sounds great until we find out that many graduates are now working as shop assistants or bar staff as there not the jobs out there for graduates, yet the electricians, plumbers and joiners etc, we do need are coming in from Poland and other EU countries.

This is our fault, not theirs. We do not train enough of our own young people in the skills that we need.

Finally if we leave the EU we are told that we can easily have free trade agreements with many other countries worldwide, the fact is that many countries do not want free trade as they want to protect their own industries.

If they sign up to a free trade agreement with the UK then their own industries would suffer as better quality products would be available without an import tariff.

A number of large companies have publicly stated that they would have to seriously review their position in the UK if we voted to leave the EU.

This would be disastrous to the UK economy, if you do not believe me then listen to the CBI, the IMF, Mark Carney (Governor of the Bank of England), Richard Branson and so many more.

Why stay in? Well, the reasons I would argue are many, but economics is the main one.

Many international companies have invested heavily in the UK.

Using the car industry as an example, both Honda and Nissan have built huge assembly plants in the UK which have created many thousands of well-paid jobs.

The reasons they came here were a skilled and available workforce (due to the collapse of other industries), and guaranteed access to the Single European Market due to our membership of the European Union.

Would these and hundreds of other Companies have invested here in the UK if had not been a member of the EU? I would argue not.

As someone who has spent almost their working life working in manufacturing (aircraft) I have say that we as a nation do no longer produce enough manufactured goods, and rely heavily on our financial sector: leaving the EU will make this worse as inward investment will dry up.

If we vote to leave the EU the pound sterling will fall in value on the international markets. This will mean our foreign holidays will cost us more and our imports will also be more expensive.

There are many myths surrounding EU regulations, the classic being “Bendy Bananas”.

This is from an EU rule to attempt to try and prevent crop diseases spreading in to the EU.

The rule simple states that “diseased and malformed Fruit cannot imported in the EU.

The latest is reducing the power consumption of vacuum cleaners.

This is true, but the reasons behind it seem to have passed people by.

Our parliament has agreed to international environmental protection measures using the argument that pollution does not respect borders. The EU has a basic philosophy that rules are for all members so that no member state has an advantage over another.

So a directive has been passed that for environmental reasons vacuum cleaners should consume less power.

The simple fact is that modern vacuum cleaners are a lot more efficient than they were and do not need to use same amount of power. It’s good for the environment and should be applauded.