With the EU referendum period officially starting this week (April 15) — though it seems to have been going on for months already — it is a good time to remind ourselves what the question is and is not about.
A number of issues have already arisen and become entangled with the referendum, including disability benefits, the future leadership of the Conservative Party and, most recently, the Prime Minister’s tax affairs.
No doubt there will be more.
All these are important matters in their own right, but they are not what the referendum is about.
When thinking about how to vote on June 23, I would urge people (as I have been doing since the referendum was called) to focus on three issues.
One is the economic effects of Brexit, and in particular the trade relationship we can realistically hope to have with the EU if we foolishly forfeit our current free access to its market of 500 million people.
This is particularly important in a region so strong in the export market.
The second is our national security and role in a dangerous world.
Do we think we will be safer and more effective in promoting our values by standing aside from our EU partners, or by co-operating with them?
The third issue is a matter of national identity, the sort of country and people we think we are.
Are we inward looking, focused solely on our own problems; or do we want to take a leading role alongside our European neighbours in overcoming undoubted challenges and building a better shared future for all?
Secretary (North East)
European Movement UK