Having had experience of Conservative policy towards the disabled (which is basically to engineer their deaths), This Writer usually has grave doubts about anything disability-related that has their names attached.
In this case, the Tories who have signed the following letter are saying the UK should remain in the EU because of the protections provided for the disabled – against their own party’s policies, it would seem.
That is welcome.
Some critics will continue to claim that the disabled don’t have enough protection and the EU should have done more, but this seems to be a ‘straw man’ argument; if the EU had imposed stronger rules on the treatment of the disabled, those same people would be arguing that we should ‘Leave’ because of “too much red tape”.
If you’re disabled, the facts are clear: a ‘Leave’ vote means the current government will be free to increase its persecution of the vulnerable. Voting ‘Remain’ allows you to continuing benefiting from the protections provided – such as they are.
Viewed that way, it isn’t even a choice.
The rights and opportunities of disabled people are best protected and advanced by the UK’s continued membership of the European Union.
All of our governments have striven to close the disability employment gap. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 inspired the European Union to adopt EU-wide measures to tackle workplace discrimination against disabled people. In turn, the EU has helped improve our law, ensuring that it covers all employers irrespective of size and offers protection to those associated with a disabled person, particularly helping Britain’s 6 million carers. Between 2010 and 2014 EU money also supported over 430,000 disabled people – 235 disabled people every day – to take steps to move towards paid work.
The single market continues to play a vital role in opening up the world to disabled people, building on the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 by pushing the frontiers of accessible travel, products, services and the internet. It doesn’t make financial or practical sense for the UK to progress these areas in isolation. For example, there would have been little advantage in the UK legislating to demand assistance for disabled people when travelling by air, if this meant people being able to board a plane in Manchester, yet unable to disembark in Malaga. EU-wide measures enable disabled people to travel on business or holiday with much greater confidence.
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”.
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