UK referendum: Vote to protect those with disabiities

rerferendum flagsWith the biggest decision in a generation set to be decided by the people of the UK, it’s time to protect everyone with a disability in tomorrow’s referendum on the country’s future. A future that is balanced on the proverbial knife’s edge.

Yes, tomorrow is the big day, referendum day, and the opinion polls have been swinging about all over the place. That’s when all good Brits should go to the polls to vote whether the nation should Remain the European Union or to Leave it.

Many arguments have been voiced by people on both sides of the debate but only one interests me. How will those of us with disabilities get on if a Brexit takes place?

Unfortunately, a vote to Leave looks to be about the worst we could do. Whatever complaints we have about the benefit system now, and there are plenty, it is set to get worse if the UK leaves the European Union.

Politicians from both the country’s major political parties agree that the EU has helped improve British disability discrimination law. It has made sure that it covers all employers, no matter what size and gives protection to anyone associated with any person with a disability. This has really helped the country’s six million carers.

The European single market helps to open the world to disabled people, building on the Disability Discrimination Act 2005. This it does by pushing the frontiers of accessible travel, products, services and the internet.

I just cannot make any sense of the Leave campaign’s determination for the UK to go it alone in these areas. It wouldn’t mean that we’d be free, just isolated.

A joint letter to the Guardian newspaper, signed by Lord Hague and five MPs, said “Our parties will continue to take different approaches and will sometimes disagree.

“We share the belief, however, that more progress on disabled people’s freedom and opportunities will happen if we remain in the EU. As the veteran disability rights campaigner John Evans recently said of the EU referendum, ‘we want to pull down barriers, not erect them’.

As former ministers for disabled people, we are united in our view that the rights and opportunities of disabled people are best protected and advanced by the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.

The MPs who signed the letter along with Lord (William) Hague (Conservative) were: Margaret Hodge (Labour), Maria Miller (Con), Maria Eagle (Lab), Alistair Burt (Con) and Anne McGuire (Lab).

So, if you have a vote in the UK and have a disability, or care for someone who has, be sure to vote ‘Remain’ in tomorrow’s referendum. Vote ‘Remain’ to protect all of us who have disabilities.


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