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Analysis

Quitting EU will make us less free – so vote on May 23

by Luke Lythgoe | 13.05.2019

Freedom is at the heart of the EU. It means every one of us has the right to live, love, work, do business, travel and retire in 28 different countries. Millions of Brits have seized these opportunities over the last four decades. If we don’t stop Brexit, we’ll lose those freedoms.

Thanks to free movement, a British kid fresh out of college with poor grades has the same right to seek a job in Madrid or Milan as a Premier League superstar. Far from being the elite project Brexiters would have us believe, the EU is a social leveller that boosts freedom for everyone without discriminating.

Look at the European Health Insurance Card, which lets us access medical treatment in other European countries almost as if we were in the UK. That’s especially important for people with chronic conditions, such as the UK’s 29,000 dialysis patients. They are free to travel around the EU and receive treatment – something they probably couldn’t afford if the UK leaves the EU as the cost of health insurance would be prohibitively expensive for most.

Or look at the freedom to use your mobile phone minutes and data anywhere in the EU without pricey roaming charges. Or the freedom to take your pets with you without putting them through a lengthy quarantine process. Or the freedom to drive your own vehicle without applying for an international licence.

Or consider mutual recognition of professional qualifications. That means nurses, vets, auditors, lawyers and many others can ply their trade unhindered across the bloc.

Meanwhile, free movement of capital makes it easy to move money around the EU. That helps expat retirees withdraw their pensions or people wanting to buy a property on the continent.

Even those who don’t want to leave the UK can benefit from the freedoms the EU brings. For example, free movement of goods makes it easier for companies to start exporting to a market of half a billion potential customers.

But just because the EU promotes freedom doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Free movement of labour – also termed “free movement of people” – was weaponised as an anti-immigration issue by the Leave campaign in 2016. Yet there is no automatic right for people to move wherever they want unless they are able to support themselves – either in work or by other means.

If you care about protecting these freedoms, get out and vote in the European Parliament elections on May 23. And put your cross by a party that is determined to fight for us to stay in the EU – Lib Dems, Green, Change UK, SNP or Plaid Cymru.

This is the second in a series of articles on reasons to stay in the EU in the run-up to the European elections. The first one argued that staying in the EU is our best shot at stopping climate disaster.

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This article has been corrected since publication. The original stated that free movement of labour was “often incorrectly” labelled free movement of people. Both terms are used legitimately.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Quitting EU will make us less free – so vote on May 23”

  • I keep wondering if any Brexiteer ever sees any of this? This is preaching to the long-time converted. The abject ignorance about the Continent and the EU in 52% of the British population that voted leave is what must be addressed!

  • Hear hear. This is one of the really big problems pro-Europeans face in the UK. Most of the media are hostile to Europe. Abuse of freedom of the press by the press has been going on for such a long time that it seems to pass unnoticed. This has become glaringly obvious with the ongoing Brexit debate.

  • My partner and I have just had our postal votes this morning and the Liberal Democrats have just got two more votes. Bollocks to Brexit!