Five Positive Reasons to Remain
I've heard a lot of comments that there are no positive arguments for remaining in Europe.
So here's my top five. In keeping with the original article, I think at least #3 is not obvious to most people and #2 is not in many people's radar, either.
Europe is run by a parliament of 28 countries - including the UK, at the moment - which has an averaging effect on the policies approved, meaning they are in general well balanced and not too far from the centre ground - despite the claims of some of the press.
This means that Europe, and the European Court of Justice, can curb the excesses of political parties of any colour - I don't want to live in Boris and Theresa May's capitalist police state, and nor do I want to live in Jeremy Corbyn's communist fantasy land - and as long as we have human rights, privacy laws and economic partnership with Europe, neither outcome is truly possible.
Europe keeps our politics from going off the rails even when a weak opposition cannot. And political stability is a Good Thing. It enables long term investment, the growth of pension funds, the ability to plan for life.
So please, keep our safety net intact.
2. Great Things
No country in Europe could afford to build the Large Hadron Collider alone. No one country has the talent needed to build the Joint European Torus fusion research project. The UK could not replicate the workings of the European Space Agency. We need to pool together to achieve great things.
And it's not just at the intergovernmental level. World class companies need world class talent - and they can find it here in Europe - but they find it across Europe. Look in the top businesses and universities of the UK and you will find that a significant proportion of the talent is from other countries, because excellence needs to draw from a large talent pool.
Stopping that talent, or making it feel unwelcome in the UK, will not result in those businesses just fishing in the UK. It will result in them moving to where it can find the people they need - and ironically, our best and brightest might follow them in a new Brain Drain.
So please, help us do more great things together.
3. Free People!
I hear how economic migrants come here to sponge off benefits, and no doubt there are a few people whose life ambition is to leave their families, native language, culture and home to come and live in a council flat surrounded by disapproving strangers, but I think most come to work, even if they initially need a few months of aid to find their feet.
Any you know what? They are a total bargain. We are getting working age, educated taxpayers from Europe for free. We haven't had to pay for their lifetime of education, healthcare or child benefit - they just turn up, ready to work and pay taxes. If we stop them doing so it's our own stupid fault.
Quite a few of them eventually return home too, meaning we don't have to support them in old age. We get a sweet deal from inward migration, getting people in their productive years without the associated costs at either end. Meanwhile those who stay have children, who watch Peppa Pig and Blue Peter, learn to queue properly, and end up as British as any other kid.
Don't confuse European migrants with refugees or other migrants who often do need a lot of state aid - they come from the rest of the world, so leaving Europe solves nothing. Thanks to a peaceful Europe, no European needs to claim asylum in the UK.
So please - recognise European workers for the net benefit to our country that they are.
Britain is (currently) the 5th largest economy in the world and the second largest economy in Europe - largely because it is the English Speaking Doorway into Europe. Pretty much every aspect of our economy benefits massively from the fact that English is the first or second language of almost everyone else, and is the language of business and science.
We hardly make anything anymore - and Brexit won't suddenly make us competitive with Chinese labour (unless the economy totally tanks). Our strength lies in the services we provide, and so many of those relate to us serving up Europe to the rest of the world. We are a doorway into business for so many international firms who have headquarters or specialist units here to facilitate business with Europe - the third largest block of people on Earth after China and India.
If we then turn our back on Europe, we will lose our relevance in the eyes of so much of the rest of the world. And Brexit is not a one-way phenomenon - the day after a Brexit vote, the airports of Europe will be thronged with business people flying to every corner of the world to tell our customers - in perfectly adequate English - that we are no longer relevant, no longer reliable, no longer a safe place to put bricks and mortar and money - and a lot of our customers will believe them, whether it's true or not. No accountant ever got promoted for being brave.
So please, help to keep us relevant on the world stage, and run our businesses at the doorway to Europe.
Let's end with the big picture - the history of Europe is a history of war. However the last 70 years have bucked that trend and are the longest period of general peace in European history. Why? Because the people we bombed are now the people we do business with. Countries we invaded using swords, and then guns, we now invade with suntan lotion and cameras. A co-operative Europe is a peaceful one.
But peace is not guaranteed. The rise of the far-right in many countries shows tensions with Europe (which ironically will probably result in some restrictions on immigration Europe-wide, if only we are patient); meanwhile Russia and the Middle East put pressure on Eastern Europe, and a recession caused by unregulated US banks has weakened Europe's economic fabric. This is a time to pull together, not walk away like quitters and cowards.
In the longer term of our children's lifetimes, there are bigger challenges. The demographic shift to a smaller working population supporting an ever more elderly population in some countries will create tensions. Oil will inevitably become scarce or expensive to obtain, and create economic upheavals. There will be other recessions, some severe. Any of these could easily cause a nation in a weakened Europe to crack, break ranks, call in debts, call on demagogues, and call out soldiers.
Please don't damage the peace created by Europe.
There. Five positive reasons to Remain.