I believe that the United Kingdom is stronger as a member of the European Union.
But I’ll start explaining why with a few admissions:
- I do not think that the European Union is perfect;
- I think that the European Union is better as an economic community, rather than a political one;
- I think it was a mistake to allow the E10 countries into the European Union, it worked far better when all member states were of a similar economic standing.
However, we are not being asked whether or not we think the EU is perfect. We are being asked if we believe the United Kingdom is better off inside or outside the EU. I believe that we are stronger in.
This campaign has often appealed to emotion rather than logic or reason. But I am far more logical than emotive. I have not yet heard a convincing argument for leaving the EU and I believe that the evidence, on balance, suggests that it would be a disaster for the UK, the impact of which will be felt for a long time to come.
I’ll go through the key areas individually:
Safety and security
One hundred years ago, we were in the middle of World War One- the war to end all wars. Except it wasn’t- World War Two followed not long after. These wars were started by, and were primarily fought by countries that are today members of the European Union and it’s hard to imagine war on our doorstep in today’s world.
I’m not suggesting that the EU will declare war on the UK as soon as we vote to leave, but the EU has helped bring Europe together and has contributed to peace on the continent.
One of Vote Leave’s main arguments is that as a member of the EU we are more vulnerable to terrorist attack because of our inability to control our borders. I believe the opposite to be true.
The Schengen area does exist, you can move freely across Schengen countries without showing your passport at national borders. But the UK is not part of the Schengen area. You have to show your passport upon entering the United Kingdom if you’re coming in from Sweden or Somalia, Iraq or Italy. We do have control over who enters our country and that will not change if we vote to leave.
What would change, however, is where these checks take place. Currently, under the Le Touqet treaty, signed on the basis of our EU membership, border checks for those entering into the UK from Calais take place on the French side of the Channel. That means that a fence, a large stretch of water and another fence separates us from the Schengen zone and all the horrible evil people that the leave campaign claim roam freely across it. If we left, the border would move to Dover and all that would separate us would be one fence. I know which I deem to be safer.
We’d also lose cooperation with other EU police forces. We saw, after the Bataclan terror attacks, how the terrorists fled to another country- Belgium. We need to be able to work closely with other forces and share information if we are to keep our population as safe as possible and the European Arrest Warrant helps bring those who flee the UK to justice. The Leave campaign criticise the EAW but I fail to understand how you can; if you’ve committed a crime, you should be brought to justice, regardless of whether or not you have left the country.
In my view, the UK is safer as part of the European Union.
The honest truth on the economy is that we do not know what will happen. Both sides can only predict but based on what is already happening with the possibility of Vote Leave winning suggests to me that a Brexit would not be good news for the economy.
I know very little about economics. The economics involved with the EU is incredibly complicated and I’m not even going to pretend to understand most of it. But 90% of those that do understand it consider that theBritish economy would suffer as a result of leaving the EU and I’m inclined toagree with them.
What I do know, however, is that once we vote to leave, a two year negotiation period beings and that means two years of not knowing what will happen, or “economic uncertainty.”
That in itself will damage our economy significantly. Investors will be wary of investing in the UK, meaning they’ll invest elsewhere. That means jobs will go elsewhere. That means income for the Government will go elsewhere. I’ll give an example. Major international companies invest in the UK, for example Toyota, who have a plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire. Let’s assume that they haven’t yet built that plant and are considering where to build a new European factory. Would you build that plant in France, where you know you will be able to trade freely and easily with the rest of Europe, or in the UK where there is a possibility that you’ll only be able to trade tariff free to inside the UK? Any sensible business would go for the safe option and invest in France. That’s potentially thousands of skilled jobs going elsewhere.
That might sound like scaremongering but it’s already happening. Sky News recently reported that investors are pulling money away from the UK at the fastest rate since the economic collapse of 2008. Property lawyers are seeing ‘Brexit clauses’ being added into contracts that would see the contract rescinded and deposit returned if Vote Leave wins.
That’s at least two years of non-confidence in Britain’s economy, quite possibly longer. Our economy is still fragile from the last economic collapse, falling two years behind our EU counterparts could be disastrous and it could take us a long time to recover.
Most laws passed by the European Union are passed via the ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure.’ Laws have to be passed by two bodies:
- The European Parliament, made up of 751 MEPs, 73 of which are from the United Kingdom;
- Council of the European Union, made of one minster per state. The minister is the relevant person for each piece of legislation, so Patrick McLoughlin would represent us for transport legislation, Jeremy Hunt for health legislation etc.
To me, this is no less democratic than the UK’s system. In the UK, we have no say over who our ministers are. The Prime Minister can reshuffle his cabinet at any time without any public involvement. They are generally elected MPs however, and form part of the majority government, even if the Westminster process for voting is not particularly democratic. They are, however, experts in the field having worked in the areas on a domestic basis so are best placed to deliberate policy in that area.
We also only have the power to elect one MP to represent the views of our constituency. Even if that MP does not get 50% of the local vote, if they receive the most votes they represent you. If you live in Derbyshire Dales, you have no say over the MP for Brighton Pavillion and they are not accountable to you. You cannot therefore rely on a different MP to represent your area’s views, particularly when the UK is so diverse- the interests of constituencies in Northern Scotland will be very different to those in East London.
It’s the same situation for MEPs. You elect MEPs to represent your area, whilst other MEPs represent the views of their area. It’s just on a larger scale. That’s just the way democracy works. MEPs are also elected via a proportional representation system, more democratic than the first past the post system used for Westminster.
Of course, the fact that the UK has 24 UKIP MEPs who havethe lowest voting record in the EU Parliament does not help the UK’s cause.
And that’s all before you consider that there’s no EU equivalent to the House of Lords.
The democracy argument is messy and complicated, but in my view the EU is just as, if not more democratic than the UK’s political system. Yes, we lose sovereignty to Brussels but the fact that this referendum is happening shows that we have the option to reclaim it when necessary. If you want to get legally technical, the Factortame case in the House of Lords (now Supreme Court) ruled that the UK is still sovereign as an EU member state on that basis. So is giving Brussels power a strong enough reason to leave the EU? As it currently stands, in my opinion, no.
Future trade agreements
According to the ONS, in 2014 trade within the EU accounted for 44.6% of exports and 53.2% of imports. That’s a significant amount and under the free movement of trade, no tariffs are placed on those goods and services. Unless an agreement is put in place, that stops after two years if we leave the EU.
The Leave Campaign seem to suggest that other countries will be chomping at the bit to reach an agreement with the UK. But I’m not so sure.
First of all, EU members, in particular France are going to be reluctant to reach a nice agreement with us. The UK is not the only country in the EU with Eurosceptic factions and there will be plenty watching what happens to the UK with interest. If we get a fantastic deal then there’ll potentially be a queue for the exit door and the people who will likely be negotiating a deal won’t want that to happen. So don’t expect us to get an easy ride.
The Norway solution seems to be frequently touted as the solution to all of our problems. Well, it isn’t. Norway is not a member state of the EU but is a member of the European Economic Area. This means they are able to trade with the EU in the same way that we are. However, in order for this to be facilitate, they are obliged to follow EU regulations and have to contribute financially to the EU but without having any influence over the making of regulations. The Norway solution would be leaving the EU for the sake of saying we’ve left- the main issues that Vote Leave have with the EU would continue to be issues for the UK but without us having any influence in Brussels at all. Even if it was an attractive option, Wolfgang Schauble, the German Finance Minister, likely to be involved in negotiations, has said that “if the majority in Britain opts for exit, that would be a decision against the single market. In is in. Out is out.” The Norway model might not even be on the table.
The other option is a trade deal similar to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU. But negotiations for this deal began in 2008 and the agreement is still awaiting ratification before coming into effect. That’s a long period of economic uncertainty. Plus there’s the cost- negotiations ran from 2008 to 2014. I don’t know how much a negotiator charges per hour, but I suspect that it’s a significant figure. Six years’ worth of fees and other costs will be a significant sum of money with no absolute guarantee of reaching an agreement any better than what we currently have as EU members. European citizens aren’t particularly keen on these types of deal either- 3 million of them have signeda petition against a similar arrangement currently being negotiated between the EU and USA.
So on that basis, a solution isn’t jumping out at me. Are we better in or out of the European Union? Based on our future trade prospects, in.
This is Vote Leave’s strongest argument for a number of reasons. Firstly, the free movement of workers (note- not free movement of people) is seen as one of the most controversial of the EU’s fundamental freedoms and one of the biggest indicators that the EU has gone beyond an economic union and become a political one. It’s also an emotive issue, people can see others coming from within the EU and might see them to be ‘stealing my job,’ whereas the investment from the EU in agriculture and investment is not so obvious to most people (of course that doesn’t mean that it’s not there and not indirectly benefiting them). This is why I believe that accepting countries with weaker economies was a mistake- it means that workers from those countries are able to come to the UK and get paid lower wages than their UK counterparts, but higher ones than if they were at home.
Leaving the EU will not solve all of our migration ‘problems’ (if you even see it as a problem). According to migration watch, last year, roughly 270,000 EU nationals migrated to the UK, with 277,000 non-EU nationals doing the same.
To me, that shows two things. Firstly, if we left the EU and there was no migration from EU member states, we would still have net migration of roughly 277,000, well above the “tens of thousands” target aspired to.
Secondly, if 277,000 people are able to migrate to the UK as non-EU citizens, then EU citizens will be able to migrate to the UK if we were to leave.
So even if you do see migration as a problem, then will leaving the EU actually solve it? Is it worth the other negative impacts? To me, no.
£350 Million to spend on the NHS
What a load of rubbish. For so many reasons, as Sky's Faisal Islam reveals.
Firstly, a respected MP and doctor defected from Vote Leave over the claim which to me says a lot about its legitimacy.
Secondly of all, £74 million a week forms a rebate that never leaves Britain.
Thridly, other money returns in the forms of subsidies and investment from the EU. If we left the EU, it’s quite likely that the responsibility for these payments will fall on the UK Government to protect these areas.
Then there’s the costs of any negotiations for any deal that we might have to make. As I’ve already said, that could be a significant cost.
Then there’s the likely reduction in Government income due to a potential economic decline.
There’s not a huge amount left after all that really and history shows us that when the economy is in bad shape, the NHS budget suffers. Not to mention that as it currently stands, no player in the Leave campaign has any real influence as to where the budget goes.
Project fear and project hope. To me, it’s more like project realism and project nativity.
We’re being asked whether we want to keep things the same or do something different. The Remain campaign needs to convince us that change is bad, the Leave campaign that change is good. Of course the Remain campaign will be more negative. If we were voting whether or not to join the EU the opposite would be the case.
My issue with the Leave campaign is that they have thus far largely just dismissed what the Remain campaign have been saying, often without evidence for their dismissal. They’ve been unable to tell us, with evidence or support, what the UK would look like outside of the EU. They are not responding to the army of experts telling us how disastrous Brexit would be. Leaving would be a jump into the dark and Vote Leave seem to be naively ignoring the possible consequences.
Vote Remain may be painting a miserable picture of a post-Brexit UK, but they have much better evidence backing up this image.
Leaving the EU may solve some issues, but it would be the equivalent of setting the house on fire to kill a spider. The EU is not perfect but neither is the UK and we will not be stronger as a nation, or as an economy outside of the EU, if we even are able to remain the UK with the threat of Scotland wanting independence. Britain has historically punched above its weight on the world stage but in the past century, we have only been able to maintain this position as an EU member state.
I doubt that my voting intention alone will sway your vote. But I do ask this- make an informed decision. This will shape the future of our country for a long time to come. Don’t make an emotive decision, don’t make an ill-informed decision. Look at the facts and not the rhetoric.
Britain is stronger in Europe, Britain is better in Europe and Britain should remain in Europe. Please vote to remain in the European Union on Thursday 23rd June.