That large banner might have given a clue as to how I will be voting today!
Please, if you are eligible to vote in the UK, make sure you use your vote today, especially if you are female. British women have only had voting rights for less than a century. Respect the women who fought and died for this right and
Use Your Vote Today!
Yes, even if you are voting the Other Way, I'd rather you used your vote 'against' me than didn't bother to vote at all. I really don't want this vital referendum to be decided by such a low proportion of us as turned out for the General Election.
Of course, if you are still undecided, I can wax lyrical about why I believe remaining in the EU is best for Britain.
Are you sitting comfortably?
My personal priority is freedom of travel. I like being able to travel in and between EU countries without restriction. I like that I often get free entry to museums and important historic sites because I am an EU citizen. I like the reassurance of my EHIC card and I like feeling European as well as British. My family history was traced back through many generations and it's highly likely I'm part Norman on one side, part Viking on the other and goodness knows what else in between. Everyone on this island is an immigrant if we look back far enough! Where would the line be drawn? And thousands of us Brits take advantage of our right to live, work and study in other EU countries. If we swing towards isolationism and send their people back home, they will send ours home too. It will still feel as crowded here and we haven't even addressed non-EU migration yet OVER WHICH WE ALREADY HAVE FULL CONTROL.
As workers, many of our current rights are due to EU laws, not UK laws. Priti Patel, a Brexit advocate, told the Institute of Directors: “If we could just halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.” That's great, but NOT when the 'burden' includes workers' rights to a maximum 48 hour working week, the right to be paid for Bank Holidays and a minimum number of holiday days, parental leave and equal opportunities legislation. Snigdha Nag, a Barrister and Senior Lecturer at The City Law School has written a great article about this. Please read it.
I could also tell you that after rebates, reductions and monies received, it actually costs us about £89 per person to be in the EU and that's actual cash without considering trade benefits etc. For contrast, Norway, a non-EU country, pays the equivalent of about £134 per person for EU trading rights, but they don't get any say in the decision making process. We do.
Then I could point out that the Leave campaign's 'We could spend that on the NHS' statements tend to only use the word COULD. Not WILL. COULD. If Johnson, Farage and Gove are on the winning side, you just know they very probably WON'T.
The EU isn't the whole answer and no one is pretending it's a perfect system, but it has brought Europe together. These days countries talk instead of physically attacking each other - most of the time. British charities benefit from EU funding, our nature benefits from EU protection and our lungs benefit from EU air quality targets. We could do these things independently, but look at who is driving the Leave bandwagon. Do you really think they would?
Are you still here?
The polls opened at 7am and will be open until 10pm tonight. Don't leave it until the last minute. If you're late, you won't be allowed to vote. Go and vote now. Vote in your lunch break. Vote before you go home or to the pub.
Please do vote today!