Monday, 13 June 2016

Why I'm voting to Remain

Ok first off, I don’t think we should be even having a vote on EU membership. Why, well because an ordinary bloke like me can’t possibly have all of the information to hand to make an educated decision on whether it’s better to remain or leave. Too many people are likely to vote on petty prejudices or things that affect their own personal circumstances. You only have to watch ordinary folk being interviewed on the telly. Q: “Why are you going to vote to leave?” A: “err, well too many migrants taking our jobs” or that other favourite A: "We want to take back our country". Anybody know what that actually means? One woman when asked why she was going to vote to leave just shrugged her shoulders, struggled to answer and then just said “because we should, shouldn’t we?”. Should we? Have you really thought this through?

Frankly, I don’t trust the British public (including myself) to make the correct decision (whatever that may be). How can I possibly know what’s best for the UK as a whole, not only today but in the future as well? Perhaps naively, I vote for an MP to make these types of decisions on my behalf, in the hope that they are better informed than me. After all, my MP votes on lots of other important issues on my behalf and like it or not, that’s actually why we have MPs. So I don’t think that we should even be having a referendum.

However, given that we are having a referendum on EU membership, I’m voting remain. I said previously that I don’t have all of the information to hand to make an educated decision, which is true. However what I do know is that every living British Prime Minister past and present thinks that we should remain, the majority of economists think that we should remain, the majority of the present government thinks that we should remain, the labour party including the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and most other opposition parties such as the Scottish Nationalist Party think that we should remain and Barack Obama the US president thinks that we should remain.

I find it very bizarre that in the face of all of this advice from respected figures across the political spectrum, many ordinary working class people are preferring to take the advice of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Ian Duncan Smith and Michael Gove by standing shoulder to shoulder with them and voting to leave. How safe will workers rights be with these people? How safe will the environment be with these people? The "red tape" they're talking about getting rid of if we leave is workers rights and legislation which protects wildlife and the environment.

So why am I even talking about this on a wildlife blog? Well it's relevant because there will be important implications to wildlife if we decide to leave. Most of the UK's wildlife and environmental legislation is based on EU Directives and there is no certainty as to how these would be replaced if the UK were to leave the EU. None of us can understand all of the implications of our decision, whether it be remain or leave, but I suggest that everybody with a love of wildlife and the environment should read ‘The EU & Our Environment: What UK membership means for the environment, and potential consequences of a UK departure from the Union’, a joint publication from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The World Wildlife Fund and The Wildlife Trusts, which is available to download here. The environment has done pretty well out of the EU, through, for example, the Birds and Habitats Directives. There is a real risk to the environment if we vote to leave.

Furthermore, in a vote of members, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM, the professional body to which I belong), voted overwhelmingly (93%) in favour of remaining in the EU. You can read the full CIEEM statement here, but it concludes by saying “CIEEM is convinced that leaving the EU would have significant detrimental effects on the UK’s natural environment, on the economy, and on society. CIEEM encourages all who are concerned with the natural environment to vote to remain a member of the EU.

So I'm going to listen to the advice of prime ministers past and present, the US president, the majority of economists, the majority of UK opposition parties, the RSPB, the World Wildlife Fund, the Wildlife Trusts and CIEEM because I reckon that lot combined might have a pretty good understanding of what's best for the UK, and I’m going to ignore Boris, Nigel, Ian and Michael and vote to remain.

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