I suspect most of the UK will be glad when the campaigning for the EU referendum is over. It has been one of the most ignominious experiences of UK politics I have experienced.
No matter the outcome of the vote, the fratricidal behaviour of our government augurs for an unpleasant post election season.
I have cast my vote by post and voted to stay - so no turning back now for me.
What I have written here is not as pastor expressing God's view nor is it a way to tell others how to vote. It is rather my reflections on something that is rather monuments in my life time, for myself and my country and documents how I have voted and why.
Some of my friends reading this, will have decided to vote to leave. I do respect their decision, and that reminds me that we live in a democracy - something I am very grateful for.
As I posted my vote, I found myself convinced of the following:
1. Economic Risk: The sheer volume of world renowned financial experts on the likely economic shock to the UK if we exit Europe. There is a paucity of alternative economic responses to support Brexit, in terms of volume, and quality. I can't bring myself to take any comfort from leading politicians - claiming they know better than some of the most well known financial experts in the world - that if we leave Europe there will be no major economic downside in the short term at least.
2. Savings from EU costs: The £350 million claim of cost of being in the EU remains a major untruth aka a lie. The real figure after our rebate is half that, evidenced again and again by all financial institutions that calculate and know the real costs. The promised savings of Brexit from Europe would be completely eradicated by the costs of a recession and economic loss from exiting Europe. Also the claims that savings from EU fees will go direct to the NHS, or that subsidies from the EU will be protected on exit, seem to be extreme special pleading.
3. Competence: Leaving Europe requires the complex and complicated re-arrangement of trade deals, border controls, and laws, amongst other things. Given the general lack of competence of our government on any major items it has to overhaul, I have no confidence that our government in the state is currently in, can possibly navigate those items without causing collateral damage to much of our society. The conditions of behaviour by our government in how it has conducted the referendum seem proof to me that they are not competent to attempt the changes required in the event of a leave vote.
4. Character: The numbers and character of many of those supporting a vote to remain in Europe is compelling for me. The nature of some supporting a leave vote, and who would be more involved in governing concerns me.
5. Benefits of being part of Europe: I enjoy and like the benefits of bring part of the EU. These include European harmony post world war II, and legal and human rights. Claims that Turkey are about to join the EU are spurious and ignore the veto position of all EU members.
6. Immigration: Some of the leave campaigning seems to have demonised EU immigrants and so has some of the remain campaigning. I'm repulsed by any demonisation of EU citizens moving to the UK. So I've looked where I can at statistics on EU migrants - the European Economic Area - and it seems most accredited statistical sources show that the UK is a net beneficiary from this migration where tax receipts outweigh cost and benefits to migrants. It seems what our government has failed to do, is use the increased tax receipts from population growth from migration to develop schools, and healthcare provision to keep pace.
7. Sovereignty: I do believe we'd gain some obvious extra sovereignty from leaving the EU, for our laws, border controls etc. But we'd have to have the competence to make use of that. No.3 above means I'd prefer the arrangements we currently have.
8. European: I find myself liking being part of Europe, being a member of the biggest project of collaboration since the second world war. I am not embarrassed at our EU membership.
9. What would have convinced me to vote leave: I went into this campaign inclined to vote leave and wanting to be convinced of that. I wanted our conservative government presenting together instead of destroying each other as they appeal to some of the worst of human instincts. I wanted those campaigning for leave to admit that leaving will likely cause short term economics losses, but appeal to me for how things might be better in the long run. I wanted a vision for leaving the EU that did not require demonising immigrants, and special pleading for the complex changes leaving will lead to. I'd rather hear, it will be an immense challenge, it will be complex, it will take many years, but here is why it is worth it. One metaphor I found compelling, to sum up the whole process, was how some want to claim this divorce from a 40 year relationship, will not be painful, not cost us anything, and the other party will be ready to give us everything we want.
10. Summary: So I am convinced that UK membership of the EU is valuable and beneficial to us, despite some of the problems. I think it is better to be part of the EU from the inside.