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April 15, 2016 6:45 PM
By Cllr John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham

European flagsWell, the 'official' EU referendum campaign has finally begun. Funny, it appears to have been going on for months already.

I was interested to see the images of the two official campaigns juxtaposed today in the BBC report on my TV screen. The 'Leave' campaign was illustrated by old footage of Tories Grayling, Gove and Whittingdale etc. manning the phone lines, whereas the 'In' footage showed Tory, Labour and Lib Dem politicians, including the Prime Minister, doing the same thing. For an organisation that has tried so far to be unfailingly impartial in its reporting of the campaign in its 'phoney war' stage, I have a feeling that the BBC has possibly given the 'In' campaign a visual leg up, by showing its multi party nature. Now, whether we get politicians of different parties actually sharing a platform as we did in 1975 is a different matter.

So far, the arguments for and against have been pretty well rehearsed. We should park immigration for a moment, which could be the deciding factor, but which will still pose problems for us whether or not we stay in the EU. As an EU pragmatist, who thinks that, on balance, leaving the EU now would be a massive gamble, I do have to say that some of the arguments being put forward repeatedly by the Brexiters need challenging.
Let's start with sovereignty. I tend to take the Johnsonian view of patriotism. For me, what is more important is to work with my neighbours. If compromise is required in a few specific areas I can live with that. I just wish that people would stop saying that we are ruled by Brussels. If you want an honest answer, many of us up here in Lincolnshire are fed up with being ruled by London! Oh, and I shall be roaring England on in the upcoming European Football championships. As far as sport is concerned, I think I could pass the Tebbit test.
"The UK is the world's fifth largest economy". That appears to be the economic mantra coming from the Brexit side. So, how did we get to this exalted position? It wasn't surely from making things. We stopped doing that on a large scale decades ago, thanks mainly to stroppy unions, weak management and Mrs T. In fact, the same arrogant attitude that the world owes us a living that pervaded in the 1950s, 60s and 70s appears to be alive and well and living in the Brexit camp today. No, we are probably where we are today largely because of our ability to shuffle money around in the City and elsewhere, which, together with our easy access to Europe's single market has proved very attractive to major firms across the world.
According to today's Guardian 100,000 financial services jobs could be lost if we vote to leave. It would seem pretty easy to transfer that desk and computer to Paris or Frankfurt compared with building a new car factory in the Czech Republic and there surely goes your fifth position in the world economic rankings.
"We don't want to be part of a European Super State". Neither do I and I have a sneaking suspicion that neither do the citizens of most of the other member states of the EU either. I reckon that the EU in ten years time will be a very different animal from what it is today. Are you listening, Nick Clegg? Indeed, are you listening Mr Juncker? It might not quite be the 'Common Market' that I and millions of my fellow citizens voted to stay in 41 years ago; but it will still be a place in which I hope that my children and grandchildren will thrive long after I have gone.
John Marriott