Brexit vs Bremain? It’s all about identity.

Brexit vs Bremain? It’s all about identity.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 08.24.41It might not be until 23 June but campaigning for the in/out EU referendum is well and truly underway.

Every news bulletin and newspaper is full of it.

The pundits say the campaign is about two things: the economy and immigration.

Brexit argue we’re the fifth largest economy in the world and so more than strong enough to stand aside from an ailing Europe. Bremain meanwhile say leaving would create an economic tsunami as we face years of uncertainty negotiating new trade agreements.

When it comes to immigration, Brexit say we can’t cope with the numbers (they’re stealing our jobs and taking our benefits) but Bremain say we need the workers.

The noise will only get louder as we get closer to 23 June. The two sides will trade statistics; they’ll wheel out business leaders who’ll espouse opposing views; get experts to tell us everything is black or white, depending on their perspective. They’ll try to engender fear amongst us, whichever way we go.

But when we’re in the quiet of the ballot box, with our pen poised ready to mark a cross, what will really make the difference? What will tip us one way or the other? At our hearts I don’t think it will be immigration or the economy; they will only be a manifestation of what really matters.

The deal struck by David Cameron impacts both. Last week I spoke to a German national who has lived in the UK for the past 30 years, married to a British citizen. She said in Germany Cameron is seen as incredibly brave and having delivered something of real value. But over here we don’t seem to care. Beyond Parliament it’s barely talked about.   The Brexit campaigns dismiss it and the Bremain side isn’t arguing the case.

I think it’s because it all really comes down to identity.

So, in that ballot box I’ll be asking myself ‘is my identity enhanced or compromised by being in Europe?’ Am I British or a European? If the former, does being in Europe make me more or less British?

In my opinion the referendum winners will be the side that paints a picture of an identity the majority of us want to be part of.

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