Dress it up as we may, in the main, the EU referendum will be on immigration. Tapping into a growing, irrational fear and a sometimes downright dislike of foreigners, the Tory right has given the people of the UK the chance to decide if they want to lift the drawbridge of humanity or offer the hand of friendship to people fleeing exploitation and war.
Personally, I think the people of Britain will vote to stay in the EU and the ‘In’ vote will swell now that Boris Johnson, an arch Tory and anti-EU campaigner, has thrown his woolly hat into the ring. To imagine this buffoon could be our next Prime Minister does not bear thinking about.
Although, when I heard David Cameron say that we could have the best of both worlds if we stayed in the EU because he would only accept what was good for Britain and reject the rest, I wondered, is he any different from his old chum and what kind of world do the privileged want to inhabit when the downtrodden must just be ignored in the interest of greed?
Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh
Membership crucial for future of business
Much of the debate on Britain’s EU membership has centred on the need to reduce the amount of immigration to the UK. However, for businesses reliant on recruiting from the EU talent pool, restricted access to potential employees could prove detrimental.
Latest figures show there are currently 2.1million EU immigrants working in the UK , many of whom are helping to fill the skills gaps in construction, engineering and IT. For many businesses, the need to recruit internationally stems from a short supply in skills among the indigenous workforce.
For example, our multilingual sales team, most of which come from European countries, help us communicate with customers in 118 countries and speak 21 languages in total. Their language skills and cultural intelligence allow us to communicate to more customers, close business deals and sell on an international scale, not just in Europe, but the world. Last year 81% of our sales came from exporting.
Inevitably, leaving the EU will create obstacles for businesses hoping to recruit multilingual talent, but for organisations reliant on importing and exporting goods even more issues will arise.
For this reason and many more, it is crucial for British businesses to speak up in the run-up to the EU referendum and clarify why the UK is stronger in the European Union than on the sidelines.
Mark Proctor, managing director
Tory party split puts our prosperity at risk
There are 3.5 million UK jobs dependent on the EU, 10% of our workforce. There is freedom for British citizens to travel, live, work, study and retire in any EU country.
There has been an unprecedented period of peace in Europe, there has been no need to send our young men and women to fight and to die. And a long time ago, the UK opted out of the Euro, EU Banking Union, Schengen agreement on borders, defence policy etc.
The EU is not perfect, it needs to be reformed, its immigration policies reviewed and there should be more focus on jobs and growth. But exiting would mean that in the things that matter, jobs, workers rights, growth, trade, security, we would be worse off.
All put at risk because the Conservative party of David Cameron and Ruth Davidson is split down the middle and is involved in a civil war. David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum to placate part of his party risks causing untold damage to our prosperity.
Eric Christison, Edinburgh
Nicola may have no choice over campaign
Nicola Sturgeon has said she will not campaign alongside David Cameron in the lead up to the referendum on Europe, but she may have no choice.
Polls across the UK have moved decisively in favour of exiting Europe, with more Scots wanting us to stay in than in other parts of the UK. The Conservative party is badly split.
With 60% of Scots in favour of staying in the EU, unless Nicola Sturgeon joins forces with David Cameron, votes in Scotland may not be secured, and the UK could well be on the way out of Europe.
Marjorie Mackenzie, Grange Loan, Edinburgh
Murray’s pro-Europe appeal is bogus
Small wonder that Labour in Scotland is in such disarray, judging by shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray’s claim that EU membership ‘is the best way to tackle climate change and security’.
Apparently, he considers opponents of the EU to be pretending that the way we deal with global challenges is to ‘isolate ourselves from the world’. Such woeful oratory should certainly ensure that Mr Murray will never advance beyond shadow status.
Even the most blinkered and biased politician must be aware that the EU is not the world, but merely a minor - and very inefficient - part of it.
Britain traded with the former European Economic Community before becoming a member and will certainly continue to do business with the EU in the event of resignation from formal membership.
Mr Murray appears to believe that the coming referendum could be won or lost “on the votes of Labour supporters”, a piece of spurious reasoning on a par with his vacuous call for UK campaigners for remaining in to focus their efforts on ‘the ordinary working people at the sharp end of globalisation’.
Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent