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I will be voting "remain" on Thursday 23rd June
It is my strong view that nations and regions should be working together to tackle issues of Europe-wide and global significance. This includes confronting climate change, dealing with pollution – which has no respect for state borders – and together combating the worrying rise in political violence across the world.
For me, it is also telling that this vote is taking place at the same time as we mark the centenary of the First World War, because for me the existence of the EU has helped to underpin a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity across Europe over the last seventy years.

I agree with Scotland’s Alex Salmond who, last week, said it is “inconceivable that a conflict could break out between two democracies within the EU” and “that argument in itself dwarfs every other argument – and it’s entirely positive.”

I am therefore somewhat disappointed at how the European Union continues to be blamed for all manner of issues which are the responsibility of domestic politicians, and I find myself saddened at how some campaigners and tabloid newspapers have resorted to blatant scaremongering.

This has particularly been the case around the issue of immigration, with new arrivals in the UK being blamed for problems with public services – rather than those Westminster politicians who have promoted a damaging austerity agenda.

As a consequence, elements of the debate have been corrosive and this has done great damage to public life across the United Kingdom, distorting the very basis of political discourse.

I also struggle to believe how leading right-wing Tory Brexiters could be so shameless as to link their Leave campaign to the future of the NHS, and it was reassuring that the former Prime Minister John Major did make it clear that the health service was “about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”

Personally, I welcome many of the positive initiatives that have come out of the European Union such as – to quote a prominent journalist – the “hard-won employment, anti-discrimination, safety and social rights that millions of people rely on.”

But I am very worried about how prominent advocates of Brexit see such rights as just “red tape” and – to quote another journalist – would seek a “bonfire” of these protections for the environment and working people, taking away “rights for agency workers” and removing legislation covering “waste management, water quality, sex discrimination, nitrate pollution, air quality, asbestos, pesticides, road vehicle testing, food flavouring, farm animal welfare and more.”

I have also found the economic arguments for leaving the EU to be less than persuasive. The vast majority of economists consider that it would be bad for the British economy and, as pointed out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, there is “virtual unanimity” that the “negative economic effects of leaving the EU” would be much greater than any perceived savings – leaving less to be spent on public services.

Taking this into account, I cannot give any credence to the claims that, in the event of Brexit, Cornwall would be fully compensated for the loss of EU structural funding. These claims are a fantasy, and I have seen no evidence that the UK Government would prioritise the needs of Cornwall in any new post-referendum world.

Taken together, these are the reasons why I will be voting to stay in the European Union.
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Published on 22nd June 2016.

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