Like most people, the question of how to vote in the EU Referendum on Thursday has been weighing heavily on my mind.
It’s a question of such profound enormity that I have spent a long time reviewing, re-reviewing and questioning both sides.
And like most people I have found myself pulled one way and then the other.
One day I’m in and the next day I’m out.
It seems extraordinary to me that we have asked the population to vote on something so complex. Something that even the most hard-core politicos with extensive knowledge of EU matters find complex and without a universal panacea.
Trying to unravel the last 40 years of history since we first joined the Common Market (EEC) in 1973 and then the subsequent manipulation of countries into the European project is a Herculean task.
I’m 47 and I was way too young to remember the last time we had a vote on anything to do with Europe. I was only four years old when we voted to join the Common Market.
As far as I understand, the UK populous was asked if they wanted to join a single common market, the premise of which was that there would be no barriers to trade and it would allow European countries to trade easily with each other without the imposition of tariffs. And that was all the vote was about.
So how on earth have we been subsumed into this European superstate? We have never been asked if we want closer fiscal and political integration. We have never voted on whether we should set up a European Parliament and never voted to allow the EU to have primacy over our own Parliament. And yet that appears to have happened.
But now, for better or worse, we finally have a say.
I was, until now, persuaded that the best course of action for the UK was to stay in the EU.
I even wrote an article in the Daily Mail explaining why I thought the NHS needed the EU. There are certainly arguments that go in favour of this premise. Not least that the NHS relies on 130,000 EU workers to keep it ticking over. Drugs are also licensed on a pan-European basis which should mean it’s quicker to bring them to market. We also have access to research funding and of course access to healthcare abroad. But the inescapable fact is that the NHS is collapsing around us. It is under extraordinary pressure from the huge surge in migration. It simply cannot continue to exist in its current form unless billions of pounds are pumped in or we start to ration services. Or privatise the whole lot. Something I do not believe in.
Even having said all that, this referendum isn’t just about the NHS. It’s about everything we do – how we legislate, what we have control over and how we protect and look after our country.
Last week the penny dropped for me.
Even though we are not in Schengen and don’t have fiscal uniformity with the rest of the EU, we are inextricably linked.
If you take a step back, and look at the bigger picture, it is clear to me what the European project is really about.
The self-aggrandisement of the EU leaders mean that they are trying to push 500million people from 27 disparate countries into a single Federal Entity. They are trying to create the United States of Europe.
That’s fine if you believe that we should replace our National Governments with a central Pan-European one but I don’t.
These bureaucrats that run it are unelected, unaccountable and can’t even get their act together to publish their accounts.
I hate the scare mongering that has been going on. If leaving is really so dreadful, if it would render us financially bereft and bankrupt the country, then why on earth did the Prime Minister offer the Referendum? Surely the role of an elected Government is to take decisions on behalf of the electorate. It shouldn’t have to have referenda on every nuance.
But we have been given the vote.
I’ve been totally torn. My heart says that we need to leave, stand on our own feet, broker our own trade deals and free ourselves from the shackles of a failing European superstate.
But my business head says personally I would be better off if we stayed.
As a TV host, I work for many European companies, can work in any country in the EU without a visa and travel extensively with my work. I am also a landlord and rent many of my properties to EU nationals who have come to the UK to study or work. I also own two properties in Spain. I live in Canary Wharf which is the financial capital of Europe and expanding rapidly. Apartments are being snapped up at extraordinary prices as EU nationals and non-EU nationals fight to own property in the epicentre of the fifth largest economy in the World.
As a doctor, I like facts. I like evidence based medicine. And here is the evidence.
Last year 270,000 EU nationals came to the UK, not the tens of thousands that we were promised. Whilst many are working, they have still put enormous pressure on our infrastructure.
We simply don’t have enough schools, hospitals, our transport network is over capacity and creaking and it’s set to get worse.
How can the notion of the freedom of movement ever work? Essentially 500million people could chose to come and live in the UK even though we are a tiny landmass.
Yes of course, the counter argument is that we could live elsewhere in Europe but since we are the second strongest economy in the EU, it is more likely that people will come here than settle in Spain where youth unemployment is around 50%
60% of our laws come from Brussels. We cannot repeal them. Our Parliament no longer has primacy. This has to be wrong
Yes if we vote to leave, there is no doubt that there will be some correction. House prices will drop temporarily but will then recover. The pound will fall but then regain ground as we emerge as a proud, confident nation,
The Bank of England forecasts are wildly off and the talk of the Emergency Budget from George Osborne is boogey man tactics in the extreme. Two former Chancellors and two former Conservative Party leaders have called it nonsense.
We are the fifth largest economy in the World and the second largest in the EU. Our GDP is two trillion pounds.
Over the last three years, we have been the fastest growing economy in the G7 and most globalised. 70% of our GDP comes from exports. Surprisingly I found that only 6% of UK businesses export to the EU, but every single business, even those that don’t trade with Europe, are hamstrung by EU bureaucracy making business more expensive and increasing the cost base.
Interestingly the FTSE is higher now than when Cameron called the Referendum even though the markets think we will leave. The pound is also stronger to the dollar. Leaving can’t be that bad. Uncertainty is horrendous for markets. As soon as the decision is made, things will stabilise.
Even though the Government won’t tell us this, we trade more with countries outside the EU than with those in it. In fact we trade more outside the EU than any other member state. Only 45% of our exports are to Europe (and this is due to fall further) and in the event of us leaving, they are hardly going to erect barriers to trade since we buy more from the EU than we sell. It would be sheer madness.
Currently we are not allowed to negotiate our own trade deals with non-EU countries as the EU has our seat at the table at the World Trade Organisation. And the EU’s record on brokering trade deals is shocking to say the least . Leaving means we can negotiate deals with Commonwealth countries, the US, China, Japan and India. And, of course, the EU itself.
Even if we leave the EU, we will still have access to the single market thanks to regulations which are already in place. Many other countries outside the EU benefit from this already such as Norway, Iceland, Lichenstein and Sweden. And from 1st January 2018, financial institutions outside the EU can provide cross border services into the EU. So we will not lose anything by leaving.
This is the most important aspect of the EU for the European leaders. And yes it is a total mess. Vast unemployment across Southern Europe, hyperinflation when currencies joined and a recession across most of Europe. They will do everything they can to prop up the single currency and we will have to bail it out yet again if we stay. Qualified Majority voting means the UK will be outvoted if we try and oppose bail outs. They will have to prop it up and since it shows no sign of resuscitating itself, we will have to pay for it.
And before I finish, it’s worth reiterating that all the rights that we enjoy in the UK today such as equal marriage, family law and protection from discrimination came from UK legislation not EU legislation. The new countries especially those Eastern European ones trying to join the EU are very socially conservative and have terrible homophobic cultures. Many ban same sex marriage and ban LGBT people from serving in the military. Do we really want to embrace that?
Having taken everything into consideration, I feel that the days of the European Project are numbered. It’s a fanciful power crazed ideology. How can such divergent economies of the 27 member states be squeezed into a one-size-fits-all shoehorn where we have to share common currency, interest rates, employment law, trade, freedom of movement, and foreign policy.
Each 27 member state is unique, all the economies are wildly different with the Northern European countries remaining the powerhouse and the Southern European countries needing continuing bail outs. The project is doomed to fail.
The only way that the EU can ever work is if there is full political and financial union. And the EU hierarchy knows it.
If we vote to remain in Europe, we are not voting for the status quo.
If we vote to remain, the EU masters will push us bit by bit into fiscal and political union. The European Court will be in charge of our borders, immigration, asylum, and intelligence services. I understand there are already plans for a single European Army which have been kept quiet until after the referendum.
I’ve thought of little else but this referendum for months and sought wise counsel from as wide a group as possible.
Some months ago, I was at a dinner party in LA where I was being entertained by a CEO of a FTSE 50 company and his wife. He asked me why I was having such a problem with how to vote in the UK referendum. I explained why I felt it was so complex.
His view was rather more simplistic. He explained that the vote was very simple.
His take on it was that if we want full fiscal and political union and want to create a Federal Europe then we should vote to remain.
And if we don’t believe in that sort of union then we should vote to Leave.
Short and succinct. And spot on.
The United Kingdom has never fully embraced the European project. We’ve negotiated all sorts of opt outs and we don’t even share the same currency as the Eurozone.
We are not part of the club as much as we would like to think we are.
It’s time that we made a decision to be fully in or fully out.
In my humble opinion, we need to get out and let Europe get on with it on its own.
We should Vote Leave and see if Europe can achieve its ambition of A Federal Superstate with total fiscal and political union. Or whether the entire project implodes and falls apart around itself.
I’m not a betting man but my money is on the latter