Many people will know that Electro Velvet had the honour of representing the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 in Vienna on Saturday, and came in the lower rankings with just 5 points. This may sound bad, but just bear in mind Austria, the host country, earned itself ‘nil points’. Personally, I really enjoyed Eurovision, my favourite entries being Australia (Guy Sebastian’s ‘Tonight Again’), Belgium (Loïc Nottet’s ‘Rhythm Inside’) and the winning Swedish entry (Måns Zelmerlöw’s ‘Heroes’).

Spare a thought for the fact that the last time the UK hosted the competition was in 1998, in Birmingham. That means it’s been 18 years (to host the country must have won the contest the year before hosting it, so we won in 1997) since the last UK Eurovision win. And surely, if we’re leaving it for that long, what’s the point in us competing anymore?

Same question can be asked of the European Union, the group responsible (kind of, see the end!) for the Eurovision Song Contest. What’s the point in us being part of it anymore?

The Conservatives getting back into power in the recent General Election means that you get a decision in 2017 at the latest over whether or not to stay in the European Union. The very probable case of a ‘Brexit’ is on the horizon, but this decision will affect many people, including young people. Would a Brexit really provide the answer to our problems though?

Let’s look at housing. In the General Election debates, Nigel Farage made no secret of the fact he decided that migrants, largely from Eastern Europe, were responsible for one house being built every seven minutes just to cope with demands. This is quite significant, especially since the Halifax found that most young people don’t believe they will ever own their own home, and that we’re the first generation who are going to be worse off than our parents. But are immigrants, especially EU immigrants, to blame for our housing crisis?

In their quarterly report published May 2015, the Office Of National Statistics said that 67,000 more EU immigrants immigrated to the UK in 2014 compared with 2013, making the number 268,000 for last year. 46,000 Romanians and Bulgarians immigrated into the UK in 2014, up 23,000 from 2013. This may sound like a problem, but what does it have to do with housing? Not much at all.

Shelter reports the average home is now seven times higher than people’s incomes, and if salaries rose at the same rates as house prices over the last decade, you’d be earning about £29,000 more in England! Can immigrants be blamed for an economic dip?

One argument you could bring up in that respect is the benefits argument. You’ve all heard it, that one guy on the street who’ll proclaim, ‘the damn immigrants coming over here and taking our benefits and not working!’ You might even be that guy, and whilst stereotypical, it’s a widespread belief. And let’s be real and honest here: many people think leaving the EU will save on our welfare budget. Well, take a look at these statistics from the Department for Work And Pensions:

  • 5,309,580 people of working age claimed benefits in the UK in 2014.
  • 4,914,460 of those are British nationals.
  • 264,430 of those are Non-EU immigrants.
  • Just 130,990 of those are EU immigrants.

Eliminate the EU, and this won’t eliminate EU immigrants full stop, mind you, and even if no EU immigrants claim benefits, they only make up 2.5 per cent of the total claimants for benefits in the UK. Is this really a significant difference? I think not. Combine this with the fact that not once since 2008 has the number of EU migrants claiming benefits gone over 150,000 (the highest number was in fact that one in 2014: 130,990) and it really becomes clear that benefits is by no means a viable argument for leaving the EU.

Let’s talk taxes. The EU already has very little power over taxation, the only tax it does have control over is VAT. If we left the EU, we could have more flexibility over taxation. This is by no means an argument from me here, but in an editorial from the Observer, they claim: ‘Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy’. Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it?

None of that means much to young people though. What do young people care about and will a Brexit benefit them? That’s really what I want to look at though. BBC Newsbeat asked over 6,000 18-24 year-olds what their key issues were. The NHS came top of the list of issues, with 42 per cent saying it’s a key priority, comparable with the 50 per cent of the general population.

UKIP claimed that reducing the amount of immigrants, especially health tourists, would relieve some of the strain on the NHS. But Natalie Bennett then claimed that 40 per cent of NHS staff and 1 in 4 NHS doctors are foreign-born, so eliminate immigrants and the NHS collapses overnight. Neither of these responses answer the questions very well though, so what is the actual answer? Would the NHS benefit or be hindered by a Brexit?

The only plausible claims I could find with regards to the NHS were that if we left, the NHS could then design its own working hours when it’s freed from the EU Working Time Directive. Nigel Farage promised to put the money we saved on EU contributions towards the NHS as well. Other than that, it doesn’t look like the NHS would take a blow from a Brexit at all, nor would it particularly benefit from one. So you’re OK there.

Young people said keeping the price of everyday items down was a necessity too. Again, not much at all to do with that. But jobs have always been an issue, haven’t they? Would the job market be improved or hurt by a Brexit?

This is a topic, one of the only topics, that has both an up and a down side to leaving. If we left the EU, it’s thought there would be a jobs boom. The rumoured 3-4 million job losses if we left are thought to be a myth, according to the Institute for Economic Affairs. They claim that jobs happen because of trade, not political unions. They claim: ‘The UK labour market is incredibly dynamic, and would adapt quickly to changed relationships with the EU’. The biggest benefit would be felt by small and middle businesses who don’t do trade with the EU as they are relieved of rules and regulations.

But are these rumours actually false? Millions of jobs could be lost as global manufacturers move out and head to other, cheaper, areas of the EU. KPMG argue that the car industry is under threat, and it’s well known that the financial services sector could be at risk as well. Just recently, Deutsche Bank and Hyundai have said they will seek to leave the UK if a Brexit happens. Could this cost you your future job? It may well do.

Unfortunately, 16 and 17 year-olds, at the moment, won’t be given a say in the EU referendum. Personally, I believe that’s pretty backwards, and a petition has already been started to get that decision reversed, which you can find here. But if you could vote, would you vote to leave the EU or stay in the EU?

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