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We in the EST UK team are pleased to announce the winning entries to our 2017 Student Politics Competition!

Carles Garcia-Suari of Dallam School is highly commended for his entry entitled ‘Europe Nowadays’, and Janahan Suthakar of Ilford County High School receives the title of winning response to our competition. Thank you to all who entered, and we hope you have been encouraged to read more about and participate more when it comes to the issues that matter to you.

Winning response, by Janahan Suthakar of Ilford County High School

While the article “By our English ambassador: Are we the bad guys?” seemingly tries to vilify the UK in random ways, no one can deny that, while Britain isn’t the powerful empire it once was, we are a small nation still having a degree of influence over other countries with membership to not only the G7 and G20 but also the Commonwealth, the UN Security Council, NATO, OECD, and IMF. Britain is one of the oldest and greatest promoters of democracy in the world. Its involvement in bringing peace to the states of former Yugoslavia is clear proof of this.

Although the article suggests Britain wants all the benefits the EU provides without any negatives, the referendum results state otherwise. The UK isn’t interested in EU laws, development funds or bureaucracy. Britain is only interested in trading freely and fairly, not just with the EU but with the rest of the world. This is shown by Britain’s strong support for Fairtrade’s efforts to help farmers and workers in the developing world. As a democracy, we should accept the majority of Britons’ wishes for controlled migrations to preserve our already-stretched resources like education, health, welfare, housing and transport. Furthermore, many Britons believe the EU is an undemocratic establishment, run by unelected European bureaucrats. Are we villains for wanting to leave the EU which has constantly threatened us with fines while their auditors refused to provide a clean bill of health to billions of Brussels’ spending?

While preserving human rights is clearly important, it’s unacceptable that the ‘most serious cases’ involve criminals and terrorists abusing and hiding behind the Human Rights Act. Two examples are Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza al-Masri, both hate preachers threatening the lives of civilians with terrorism and taking years to extradite. This only proves to be a waste of time and taxpayers’ money but with the bill of rights, this allows for change, to extradite highly dangerous criminals quickly and ensuring the safety of Britons. Are we villains for changing a system in order to ensure the protection of our citizens?

Britain sells arms under the Arms Trade Treaty, regulated by the UN. The view that Britain’s arms ‘fuel conflicts in the Middle East’ is absurd. If we do stop selling arms to countries in the Middle East, they would simply resume buying arms from countries like China or Russia who have appalling records of human rights violations. We can’t fully change or interfere in the affairs of other sovereign countries but we could influence their foreign policies and improve their standing on human rights while preserving a relationship with these countries.

Many outside of the UK may criticise Britain in many ways, personal or otherwise. However, I need to highlight how thousands of refugees in France try to find a way to the UK and settle. When asked about seeking asylum in Europe, their answer was: ‘They do not treat us like humans, they treat us like animals’. While some accuse the UK for economic greed, our commitment to international development remained unchanged, even while Britain is going through austerity and budgets cuts. Britain has always sought for the right policies to preserve their democracy while having good relationships with the outside world. In my opinion, these are anything but the actions of villains.

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