I Am IN – Here Is Why

Today is the morning after a wonderful evening spent with IT peers listening to what senior IT leaders think about business and IT. The subject of the Brexit came up – mainly because I raised the issue in conversation and I am passionate that the UK should remain in the EU.

I am worried that will vote leave the EU.

In a similar event a few years ago I listened to Digby Jones explain how “China was coming”. And that we in Britain had to believe in ourselves more, in short “Buy British”. Examples of trains for the UK railways built in France, buying cars manufactured in Germany rather than a car made in Britain. I actually had a lot of respect for this, and indeed it helped focus my mind that we should be spending our money (business, personal, or government) improving the British economy over and above others were there was viable financial value. As an IT leader I have always struggled to understand the value in a UK only business outsourcing development or services to another country (but of course this makes more sense with a global organisation and shared services). I am very pro-British and British (multi)culture.

Sadly, Digby is supporting a Brexit, where I simply do not.

So far I can see only TWO valid argument for leaving the EU. The emotional and the entrepreneur. I can even say I quite like them myself, but I have discounted them on the balance for all the positives staying in the EU gives us. I might even go so far as I find them quite flawed and selfish.

The Emotional – the emotional response is a pro-British stance. Words like Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Fairness, Finances and Immigration – they are truly inspiring. One caveat for me here, not the immigration one, anyone who argues that this about immigration is simply a closest racist. But of course I want Freedom and Equality (just look at me I am a trans-woman) and I want Democracy and Fairness (we have the oldest in the world). They are not perfect, but leaving the EU is NOT going to make them better it is going to make them worse as the checks and balances the EU provides will be gone. Britain is not less British inside or outside the EU.

The Entrepreneur – risk takers who want to take chances. These people are privileged, with agile brains, sometimes wealth (acquired from those risks). Think Farage (think Trump!). They have nothing to lose, because the next time or the time after they will win. Sadly, this is a delusional thought. It is much easier to pick yourself up from a fall, but has anyone tried to pick up 64M people. How many of these ‘entrepreneurs’ who want to risk the country I love have or wanted to work and motivate the young, the homeless, the weak, the desperate, the mentally ill, the disabled, the simply ordinary person in the street to create wealth (as that is what entrepreneurship is about?). The UK needs everyone to be an “entrepreneur”, and just watching Dragons Den is not a qualification. A true entrepreneur uses what they have to make goodness in the world, to benefit many people – and I feel that many of the Brexit entrepreneur are using the excuse of being in the EU for their own previous failures. This is the EU that gives and promotes workers’ rights, equality and diversity, health and safety. The things that protect the people of the UK from exploitation. A great entrepreneur is not just successful for themselves, they are successful for everyone (including other member states!).

So why am I voting to stay in?

The Brexit Leaders – the first thing you need to know is I am conservative (having lived in Manchester for two years I can assure this does not go down well), but I am also a liberal, a liberal-conservative. I see freedom and equality going “hand in hand” with great businesses, commerce and wealth. Without ‘wealth’ you cannot support the poor (be that financially, health/mental health, family, friends, ambition). Farage, Johnson, Gove and Duncan-smith do not represent my brand of conservativism. They are selfish opportunists with enough private wealth for this decision not to affect them too greatly.

Collaboration – I know from many years of experience that to change something, to make a difference you need to work with people. It is called collaboration. We cannot collaborate with the EU as much when we are not a part of it. The UK Is a world leader – the UK is amazing. It’s people are educated, talented and creative. The UK might only be small, but we have a presence. We are also part of Europe, so we are also European leaders. Being part of the EU we have more influence, not less. And when we need to fight our corner we still can (and do). By leaving the EU we will need to fight our corner EVERYTIME (and I can assure that is simply exhausting).

Finances – I was told last week to read more about the Finances of the EU in detail. How much we put in versus how much we get back. It came from a tight-fisted, self-made “entrepreneur” – you know the type “What’s in it for me?” (see previous notes – and not all entrepreneur are like that I know, I have many as friends that are not). The EU is a bureaucracy. Like any organisation of size it needs bureaucracy to make sure it works. There are over 500M people in the EU – of course it is going to be expensive overall (but virtually nothing individually). Like any organisation it needs this administration to stop it going into madness – for traceability and auditability. But it also needs this money to ensure that the EU member states play fairly, negotiate global trade deals and treaties together so every can benefit. It needs this money to ensure we have fairness and equality, challenge hatred, promote diversity. So we spent money to support the people in Greece to recover and modernise – so what. It was the right thing to do. But to pay Farage as an MEP? The Finances of the EU are massive – but the rewards of it far outweigh the negatives. It is an investment. Supporting deprived areas of the UK, supporting culture and art, youth projects, science and research were previously there was no funding or simply impossible on a large scale. If we didn’t spend the money in the EU we would have to spend it on these very same things anyway (or simply not afford them) and I suspect with the same or much more bureaucracy of our own to replace it. Would it be really spent on the poor and needy, or NHS?

Immigration – I might just leave this blank. For me this is the argument that is simply about race and racism. But I will say this without immigration how can the country get fresh ideas, how can the country find workers to do much needed jobs. The idea that Britain will grow outside the EU and also reduce immigration at the same time? Without people, you have no growth.

Finally, I will leave you with this – regardless of if you support my views and the UK is better inside the EU, or not.

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”

We live in the half of the world where have a free vote, if you have a vote, whatever you vote – please use it.

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