Hereford Times column: One week until polls open

It’s now less than one week till polls open for the EU Referendum.

There has been a lot to fault in both the IN and OUT campaigns.  Whatever the result, it is hard to see how the UK can readily rebuild its bilateral relationships with Germany, France and the leading countries of the continent.

But in the pubs, in the offices, around the kitchen tables of this country, the Referendum has been dominant, and that is no bad thing.

This is perhaps the most important single vote for a generation.  So it is essential that Herefordians vote and make their voices heard. 

For the uncommitted voter, it might be useful to summarise some key points.

The first is that it would not be a disaster for the UK either to Leave or to Remain.  The present scare stories are the result of unbalanced political campaigning.  If leaving were disastrous, then the Prime Minister would not have held a referendum.  If remaining were, that would be unlikely for some time.

If we leave the EU, we will save approximately £6-8 billion a year in payments, which could be used for other purposes.  But there would be an economic shock from leaving, which might last some time and reduce revenue to fund public services.  There might be retaliation from the EU, especially if it wanted to discourage other countries from leaving.  We would be able to expand trade elsewhere, but that would take time.

The Government has declared for IN, and attempted to influence voters with its EU leaflet, using public money.  Many national and international institutions have argued that the UK would do better to Remain. But some, like the Treasury and the Bank of England, are parts of, or affiliated to or influenced by, the UK Government. 

Immigration is economically a net benefit for the UK, and essential for some industries such as horticulture, although it has negative effects in other areas.  Leaving would give greater control over immigration, especially if the UK was not part of the Single Market.  But it would not affect non-EU migration, or illegal immigration.

Constitutionally, as matters stand the UK will be pulled further into EU law and practice over time.  But it will remain a sovereign state, whatever the result on June 23rd.

The EU Referendum page on my website is packed with useful articles and videos.  Please visit it.  Then Vote!