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Europe

EU enthusiasm prevails among pollsters

media One of the 56 polling stations in Edinburgh, Scotland. Jan Van der Made

This morning, 56 polling stations opened in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh alone, and voters flocked to the ballot boxes for a period of 15 hours, from 7am to 10pm. Campaigning officially stopped, but both the pro- and anti Brexit campaigns had put posters in front of polling stations. First official results are expected on Friday morning.

The polling station of the Nelson Hall Community Center on 5, Spittalfield Crescent in the Scottish capital enjoys a bright sunshine and a steady trickle of voters.

Some of them with voting passes in their hands, are going in and out. The atmosphere is relaxed but befools the serious issue at hand, as the future of those who vote may be affected directly.

“I think the EU brings benefits,” says Liam Fargall, a 30-year-old man with a trimmed beard. “I think a lot of people see immigration as negative, but I see it as kind of positive.”

He thinks travel between the EU member states is advantageous. “If you want to leave the UK, you can get yourself established in France or in Germany, wherever you want to go to.”

Fargall, who is from Northern Ireland, but now lives in Edinburgh, notes that Northern Ireland is the place in the UK that benefitted most from EU membership.

He flatly rejects suggestions by the Leave Campaign that the EU costs too much and that Brussels takes political control. “I don’t think the EU is perfect at the moment, but if we stay inside we will be able to do something about it,” he says.

“What will be the point of leaving if you can help things to change? Leaving is not the answer. If you stay inside you can try and streamline things.”

Other voters join in. “I believe in Europe. Because I am a European, I feel European,” says Phil Quinn, who says he feels much more at home in Europe than in the US, even if both countries share the same language.

But he is not certain about the outcome. “I was quite surprised at the strength of the Leave vote. I thought we would win quite easily. But now I’m not so sure. I think it would be a sad day if the Leave vote wins.”

Not everyone at the Nelson Hall Community Center Polling station agrees. EU

A Leave campaigner in Edinburgh, Scotland. Jan Van der Made

membership “has not been very satisfactory,” says an elderly voter who refused to give his name. “It is now too big in my view, and it is causing problems. We need more strength.”

Dorothy Bennett, in her eighties, doesn’t agree. She remembers the first referendum on British EU membership in 1975 very well.

“In 1975, I had just come through a world war,” she says. “And no way, I wanted to come through another one. Europe joining together is a good idea. And it seems to have kept the peace.”

The argument for peace in Europe seems to be forgotten by the younger generation, but many are concerned about the increasing economic power of China, India and Brazil.

“I think it is absolutely quite ridiculous to expect in a modern world for Britain to try and go it alone,” says Stuart.

“We are much stronger having allies and neighbours who we trade fully with and where we can move freely between the countries.”

Arguments that the EU costs too much are nonsense, he says. “I think that for political reasons we have conveniently forgotten to say that most of that money comes back to us, via various funding projects and I’m afraid to say that most of the people appear to be doing it on the grounds of racism.”

But the outcome is far from sure, and although Scotland may massively vote to remain in the EU, voters in the rest of the UK may think otherwise.

“I would not be surprised to find that Scotland will vote to stay in,” says Quinn. “And I think that could have an implication of a second referendum of our independence for Scotland. I can see England voting Leave and Scotland voting Remain. And I think if that happens there is another problem that will have to be addressed,” he says.
 

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