As you may have seen in my previous blog on why I am supporting Change UK… for now, I feel there is a real need for a change in UK Politics, the current system is fundamentally broken and we must find a new way forward.
The EU Elections are upon us and Change UK have candidates running in them up and down the country. I thought it might be of help to any floating voters/ undecideds out there to find out a bit more about some of the views of these candidates on two key areas that impact us all:
- Does EU membership our society
- Does EU membership help our entrepreneurs, small, medium and large businesses compete and grow and how could Brexit impact this
In the last 48hours I reached out to 12 candidates from the East Midlands to the South West and London to Yorkshire and Humber and they all got back to me. A huge thanks firstly to them all for taking the time to answer my random tweets/ DMs when i know how busy they must be.
In this blog I am focusing on the society element of EU membership and my second blog will focus on the business aspect of EU membership.
Although I am supporting Change UK, I have fact checked everything that has been said in this blog on the next one to ensure I am not posting anything that isn’t 100% correct. But you are also most welcome to check as well.
Does EU membership benefit our society?
Lets start with Jessica Simor, MEP Candidate London for Change UK who takes us back and set the scene to why the EU came about. “Europe’s history is one of nations competing against each other, dividing families and leaving nationalities marooned in ‘other countries’. The EU ends competition between nation states, replacing it with competition between businesses and people – holding Europe together in peace. The aspirations are greater though; democratic values and socio-economic goals; a social market economy that protects individual workers, the environment, consumers, our data privacy.”
Annabel Mullin is Leader of the Renew Party and is MEP Candidate for London for Change UK, focused in on the importance of being united not divided: ‘The issues that matter, such as climate change, tax evasion by global tech giants or the threats from “systematic rivals” such as China, cannot be dealt with in isolation. United with our European partners, we have the ability to counteract these global threats. Divided, we start from a position of weakness.
The EU elections are a chance for our country to shout out that the impossible vision of Nigel Farage is not the one we want. Renew and Change UK believe in a future of collaboration with our neighbours, open to innovation, international cooperation and a sustainable future. This is a fight for the soul of our country and all 3.9 million EU citizens living here can have their say on it. If ever there was a time to make a stand, this is it.’
Joan Pons Laplana, East Midlands MEP Candidate for Change UK, focused on Freedom of movement (FOM) and gave a great personal example: ‘FOM means that families can travel together to make their livings and homes elsewhere. I am a clear example. I couldn’t find a job in Spain & I decide to take advantage of FOM & come to work in UK, paying my taxes here, spending my salary here. A win win situation for everyone.’
Narinder Sharma, East Midlands, MEP Candidate for Change UK focused on the FOM side as well, specifically highlighting the ‘positive impact FOM this has had to the NHS to ensure we have the right skills in place to ensure it can run effectively.’ He also highlighted ‘University collaborations across the EU and how this drives R&D across many sectors in medicines, aerospace and AI.’
Jim Godfrey, MEP candidate in South West for Change UK mentioned the Universities side as well, ‘Universities have benefited from hundreds of millions of pounds of investment for crucial research. He went to mention ‘Our workplaces are fairer with EU rights to paid holidays, and time off with children. Our beaches are cleaner and our air less polluted. And we enjoy stress-free travel to Europe with the ability to live and work in whichever country we choose.’
Richard Ashworth, MEP for the South-East of England for Change UK, covered the excellent common values: ‘Ask anyone from the EU-27 what being a member of the EU means and they will talk about “common values”, about ideas, about common interests rather than fighting over differences. It is about the solidarity of 500 million people looking at their past and saying “never again” and 500 million people looking at their future – how they will tackle climate change, migration – and realising they are stronger together. The EU has provided a forum for European nations and peoples to understand one another and to learn from each other. War in Europe is not so ancient history. The remarkable achievement of the EU is to make it seem so.’
Ollie Middleton, MEP Candidate the South West for Change UK bought in collective impact: ‘We benefit enormously through from our EU membership. Whether its though collective action on global challenges like climate change or digital taxation or the ability to live, love and work across 28 nations, leaving the EU would make us all poorer.’
Dr Emma Taylor, MEP Candidate for East of England for Change UK focused on how the European Union advances the causes of peace and prosperity: ‘We often forget that the project itself was a peaceful one that grew out of a continent ravaged by war. Since its establishment it has maintained peace for over 70 years It has protected workers rights, fought for consumers and has made huge strides towards solving the perils of climate change. It is vital that will build on what we have already achieved. We live in an increasingly global society, where the challenges we face are no longer confined to national boundaries. Now more than ever, it is vital that we must stand together to solve global challenges.’
Dan Price, MEP Candidate for the North West for Change UK highlighted an excellent site in his answer: ‘The EU isn’t just an economic project, it’s also about peace. We live in the best continent on earth. I want people to explore it, learn from what others do best and bring those learnings to the UK. It’s one of the reasons I support youdiscover.eu. I want all those who turn 18 to get a month long free interrail pass so they can explore Europe and benefit from the opportunities this brings.’
Andrea Cooper, MEP candidate for Change UK in the North West, focused on the hugely important issue of the next generation: ‘My primary motivation is to support our young people, who stand to suffer the most from the economic decline that will be caused by leaving the EU – in terms of finding a job, building a career, buying a house, and getting on in life. The vast majority of young people want to stay in the EU, and since the referendum in 2013 a further 2 million young people are now eligible to vote. We need to support our young people and remain in the EU.’
Joanna McKenna, MEP Candidate for the West Midlands for Change UK focused on the hugely positive impact the EU has had on the NHS and what we stand to loose: ‘Our healthcare advances depend on collaborative research from Europe. Our radiotherapy treatments depend on isotopes, from Euratom. Our NHS depends on staff and medicines, many of which come from Europe. Any form of Brexit will destroy the NHS and it will be our patients that suffer.’
Sophia Bow, MEP Candidate for Yorkshire and Humber for Change UK also mentioned the NHS: ‘Our membership of the EU ensures that the procurement of NHS dental services in the UK is based on parity, fair play and with strictly no ‘favours for friends’’
To sum up I will go back to Joan, ‘EU has given us consumer rights, free roaming charges, no credit cards charges, free health treatment abroad. All that for just £5 a month. It’s cheaper that Netflix, your gym membership or the TV license. Also maternity rights, working hours directorate…’
So in answer to my question, does EU membership benefit society? Yes, the benefits are huge, it is amazing value for money, to be blunt, all our lives are better for it.
The question should be, why in gods name are we thinking of leaving? We gain so much being in the EU – and have so much to lose by leaving.
If you have a vote please use it. You might want to consider to vote tactically, a good website is Remain United.