In all this debate about Britain staying in or leaving the EU, much focuses on preventing immigration. You know all those eastern Europeans coming to take those jobs that the existing British population don’t want or are useless at, and trying to grab those mighty generous benefits we dole out. And all those engineers, doctors, surgeons, scientists, academics, technicians – we can do without their sort in Blighty, too.
But what about emigration? If we exit the EU completely and some how negotiate a free trade deal that puts us on a par with great trading nations such as Peru and Albania, then sure we will reduce immigration from within EU. But we will also halt the freedom of UK citizens to move freely within the EU.
What does this mean? It means that if you can’t stomach the UK any longer (and believe me it’s going to get worse), can’t find suitable work, then you are stuck with that unless you go through a complex visa process based on career points, age, parents, job offers, your industry (is it currently in demand?), criminal record, your health, your kids’ health (if you have a disabled kid forget emigrating to our Commonwealth friends New Zealand and Australia). Right now there is nothing stopping you hopping over to almost any country in Europe including many countries far richer than the UK. Or with better weather. No visa, no job offer, nope you just get on a train, plane, bus, car, bike and go.
I did this 14 years ago and moved to Holland. I just moved to a town and signed in with my British EU passport at the council. Then went next door and opened a bank account. I travel on business all over northern Europe. In an hour I can be Germany or Belgium meeting clients. If I blink I miss the border crossing. No need to change cash or pack a passport. 320,000 people left the UK last year. Of that number 180,000 were not British. The whole UKIP / right-wing crap is based on the notion that Britain is somehow the be all and end all. No it’s not. Compared to many other countries it is a disgrace with its massive inequality, poverty, crime.
Removing the ability of UK citizens to move freely around Europe is a major reduction in their liberty. But truth be told, your human rights, your liberty, your freedom is the last thing on the mind of any UKIP, Labour, Lib-Dem, Conservative politician. Think about this before casting your vote this week.