As the global economy tentatively awaits the results of Britain’s EU Referendum, Martina Anderson says her message to voters in Derry is clear.
Those who value their human rights, workers’ rights and the benefits of European funding, she claims, should opt for Britain to remain in Europe.
The Sinn Féin MEP said it was impossible to overstate the significance of the upcoming referendum.
“It’s up there with the partition of our country. If Britain leaves, you’re talking about a border being hardened and partition being reinforced.”
While most ‘Brexit’ talk in Ireland has been in terms of the border, the Sinn Fein MEP argues that people here need to be made aware of the implications in relation to the rights they currently have,
Without Europe, she insists, there is no doubt that many of these rights will be eroded.
“Could you imagine a society that had no statutory rights for holiday pay or where employees didn’t have the right to have a break? The air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the standard of food that we eat, employment rights, consumer rights, human rights, all of those protections Europe has brought to us that member states could not have brought to people on their own.
“When I hear about the leave campaign, a lot of those involved are big businesses who want the Working Time Directive diluted. They want agency workers not to have the same kind of protection. All of that is what Europe brings to us. Outside of the border, what’s important is for all of us, collectively,to imagine a society without those rights.”
The Derry politician is adamant that the ‘stay’ campaign is based on solid facts and what she sees as the catastrophic damage which will be done if Britain votes to leave the European Union.
“This isn’t the politics of fear - this is the reality,” she maintained.
“2.5 billion is what farmers will lose as a result of a Brexit.
Could Britain replace that money? The Secretary of State has waffled on but I have no faith that the British Government would transfer funds given that they’ve already taken £2 billion out of the Executive Block Grant in cuts.”
The Sinn Fein MEP is highlighting the difficulty in ‘selling’ Northern Ireland to businesses and tourists in the wake of a Brexit.
“We are trying to sell the North as a gateway to Europe. We have access to 500 million customers.
“They’re trying to close that gate and we cannot let that happen.”
Ahead of June 23rd, she says it’s vital that people use their vote to avoid being in a situation where it will be too late to go back.
“What kind of society and protection do we want? People have elected people like me and others to protect them. It will be too late when people are going through border checkpoints and when we don’t have standards in food, when workers start to realise that working time directive has been diluted.
“We will go into a world of not just uncertainty but danger and I intend to do all that I can to avoid that.”