Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

DEBATE: A view on how to vote in the EU referendum

In M. Davies on May 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

A viewpoint piece by Mat Davies.

There are many reasons to stay in or to leave the European Union. Economic arguments from both camps provide valid and inconclusive evidence. The truth is that either outcome is a gamble. It is equally true that migration could be more carefully regulated. However, there is evidence that suggests that migration adds to our tax intake. The same contradictions permeate most policy areas from health and safety, to security. Nonetheless, I have been engaged in EU politics since my teens. The core concerns of the “leave” campaigners is old hat.


“If we leave the EU won’t we be able to make our own laws” ? Not really. Yet that is the overwhelming argument sprinkled with words like “sovereignty”. Externally, we will still be bound by the trade regulations decided at the World Trade Organisation, and our banking standards will be set through the Bank of International Settlements. There are scores of institutions and treaties that limit our “sovereignty” including laws regarding torture, safeguarding refugees, and engaging in military action. The “out” campaign effectively argues against them all.

Moreover, the limits to the “state” of the UK are internal and external. There are three relatively recently devolved nations that have law-making powers. Plaid Cymru in Wales and SNP in Scotland, among local governments, all point to the negative outcomes of centralised power in Westminster. Supra-nationality and devolution has clearly undermined the role of a “centralised state”. Indeed, governance, rather than governing has become the norm, not the exception.


The European Union has enshrined democratic principles into the Treaty of Lisbon, and more power has been granted to national parliaments. Moreover, subsidiarity is solidified through the Committee of the Regions that responds to regional interests within member states. Power is fragmented across across political and legal institutions in a federal manner. What is all the fuss about?

It is true that the EU is obscure, complicated, and requires education at all levels. Instead, many politicians have outsourced policy failure and invoked innate nationalism during many domestic hurdles. The only news programme on the BBC that shared what happens in Strasbourg and Brussels was cancelled a few years ago. Nonetheless, negative stories have tended to make the headlines, and the lack of EU information has added to EU misunderstanding and scepticism.

Furthermore, a broad turn towards nationalism is a partial consequence of the undermining of international law, noticeably during the Bush/Blair administrations. That was extremely harmful policy hypocrisy. For example regarding torture and environmental agreements. The post-war consensus effectively lost its legitimacy in the eyes of many . Internationalism appeared as a tool to colonise by exporting policies that benefited the US and UK.


At the precipice of the referendum, we should reflect on the following. The undermining of the Concert of Europe ushered in World War 1. The dissolution of the League of Nations witnessed the rise of fascism and World War 2. The arguments presented by the “leave” campaign, although often valid, fail to present a vision for the future. I believe that even with its shortcomings, we are better in the EU . History has proved internationalism as wise and nationalism vile.

Mat Davies.


1951: France and West Germany formed the European Coal and Steel Community.

MARCH 1957: France, West Germany, Italy,Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg sign the Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC formally came into being in January 1958.

JANUARY 1973: Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined the European Community.

1993: The European Community (EC) becomes the European Union (EU).

By 2007 there were 27 member states in the European Union.



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