This week’s European Union membership referendum is of huge significance, and I urge everyone to recognise the benefits to us here on Anglesey from staying in.
The main sentiment I hear from those who remain undecided is one of confusion. “Should we stay or should we go? Who’s telling the truth?”
Let’s ask what we’re deciding on.
Do we want to remain in a free trading block of 500 million people? I would argue that this is an easy one. That’s why the vast majority of businesses want to stay in.
Do we want to assure the peace that cooperation has brought? Again, a straightforward one. We take 70 years of peaceful stability for granted at our peril.
Do we want Wales to be part of a EU-wide network of smaller nations and regions? This is a question you will not have heard being asked in this English-media-led debate. I have seen first hand the way cooperation works on a wide range of matters from economy to culture, language to university research, and I wouldn’t want to lose that.
Do we want to cut our farming industry adrift from EU aid? Remember that subsidies paid to farmers are spent within our rural economies. Would Westminster pay up in the way the EU does? I just don’t believe they would.
Do we want to take away the EU funding that Wales gets under regeneration programmes? This isn’t funding that we want – it comes due to our relative poverty – but with general recognition that Westminster is already underfunding Wales, I have no faith that this gap would be filled.
I could go on.
But what of the other side of the argument? The drip-drip warnings about “taking our country back” and immigration. We cannot pretend that immigration isn’t an issue. It is an issue, because of the perception about the threat it poses. All I ask is that you genuinely look around for the ‘threat’ posed by immigration from other EU states – is it the doctors at Ysbyty Gwynedd? the students at Bangor University? workers in the hospitality sector? – and ask yourself in the spirit of tolerance and respect, values that are dear to us all, what the threat is in reality.
The EU is far from perfect. We can and will help it to continue to evolve. We can only do that if we vote to remain.