So the moment of truth has finally arrived and I have decided to vote REMAIN. Here is why.
First and almost last is simply because the UK cannot go it alone. It doesn't mean the country will break down or fall apart (though with Scotland that too could happen) but simply that the UK that emerges after exit is complete will not be the same country it is now. It will not be as strong economically, financially, culturally and in so many other areas where we make a difference in the world by what is known as soft power.
In today's world it is the very largest countries and trading blocks that matter. In a world of the USA, China and the EU (without us) the UK stands not a chance. It may be the 5th largest economy in the world but that is precisely because it is a member of the EU and the rest of the world can buy its products and services and deal with it under the EU framework.
I could go on to quote economists, scientists, politicians and business leaders the world over who've been popping up in droves but there is hardly a need. If there is a choice between joining neighbouring countries in trying together to improve all our lives and make the world a better place or standing aside and withdraw into ourselves the answer, to me at least, is self-evident.
But we want our country back, say the Brexiters. The sovereignty of this country is being lost to Brussels, they complain. We are a plucky little country and we can go it alone. It was our finest moment in the 1941 and we can do it again.
But for the sake of what? For the right to decide our light bulbs, the suction of our vacuum cleaners and the speed of a cupa? Is that what was at stake in World War II and for which we fought? And who is to guarantee that it won't happen anyway if they become international standards (in which we have little say) or if it is introduced by a future Labour, or indeed, Conservative government? There are far more important things at stake than the regulations which exist in every country to some degree and much of which will have to be reinvented if Brexit was to win.
But, they say, Norway and Switzerland manage so why can't we? Well, there is a simple answer. Norway has a population of 5m and Switzerland 8m whereas Britain has 64m people. So what are we comparing here? Britain has a permanent seat on the Security Council, is a member of the G7, a nuclear power and her language is the international lingua franca. We may not lose all this overnight but our influence will wane and are we to risk giving it up for the sake of turning ourselves into Zurich gnomes? Zurich and Oslo may be pleasant enough places but only London is one of the greatest metropolis in the world for tourism, art, culture and of course finance. Show anyone outside Britain a map and ask them to point to Norway, Switzerland and the UK and which are they most likely to get right?
It is this soft power as well as the financial muscle which is at stake. Losers quit and quitting in this case can lead to national decline, economic strife and social unrest. And all for the sake of what? We begged Europe in the 1970s to be accepted, we got our way on the Euro, on the social charter and other issues. Even on immigration, just look at the barriers as you enter the tunnel in Calais to see that immigrants from outside the EU cannot come in easily. And as for people from EU countries, let them come.
When I ask Brexiters whether they prefer Poles, Romanians or people from other continents I don't need to tell you what the reply is. We are surrounded by immigrants running convenience stores, cleaning our homes and offices, builders, plumbers, mechanics and the like. If Brits wanted to do these jobs the Europeans wouldn't come. My father and grandparents were once immigrants from Europe and so is most of our community. I like the ease with which I can travel throughout the continent and I am happy to share that comfort with people from neighbouring countries. When the US introduced draconian new visa rules in the aftermath of 9/11 it was the EU that could object whereas Britain on its own would be laughed out of court. Just see how we capitulated to the US on the Iraq war where Britain had full sovereignty.
It is always easier to wage war than to broker peace and peace is rarely perfect. Europe was twice at war in the last century and on each occasion it dragged with it the entire world. If you asked a soldier in the trenches or a passenger on a cattle truck what they thought of a Europe at peace for more than 80 years in return for some powers transferred to a central body in which we all have a say, what would their response have been? Where is the sense in going it alone in a fast changing world where Russia is resurgent, China is belligerent and the USA pivots to Asia. Who will care for a tiny island singing Land of Hope and Glory and harking back to its heyday of empire and literary giants if it refuses to join in with its neighbours in embracing the future?
And as for the supposed benefits of £350m a week, even if we assume it is true it will never reach us. The government is not run from a single cash register from which you draw set amounts. At the end of the cold war we were promised a peace dividend, yet I do not recall a hospital, school or other project which was built because the cold war had come to an end. Government is a vast pit and by digging up one part you do not fill another. The money, whatever it amounts to, is swallowed up somewhere else and in this case much of it will be spent replicating what we already have from Brussels.
So I come to my last point which is the very crude question, is it good for the Jews? While the question can be a legitimate and important one it is also often raised by those who cannot think beyond Jewish interests. Europe has, for better and very much for worse, been a home to Jews for 2000 years and perhaps more. We have seen the best and the worst of Europe though our history in the UK has not always been rosy either.
However, as a project the EU has been at worst Jew-neutral and at best a very positive development. True there have been calls from Europe on Shechitah but then so have there been calls in the UK. There are indeed very nasty and virulently antisemitic political parties in Europe but they have no sway over EU politics or policy. From the UK to the Baltics it is the neo-nazi parties who are bitterly opposed to EU membership. It is tyrants like Putin and dangerous nutters like Trump who hate the EU and look what they’re doing or propose to do to their own countries and to their neighbours.
The EU has the protection of minorities at its heart and from which we as a people benefit. We more than anyone else know the consequences of a divided Europe and we should be happy that Europe with the UK in its midst is a stable, prosperous and vibrant place.
For these reasons I am IN.