As the debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) reaches its final week, I would like to share some critical points.
Many ‘leave’ voters seem to be choosing to vote the way they do because of immigration. Are they aware that both Norway and Switzerland (both outside the EU) have trading agreements with the EU that require them to admit migrants from the 28 European nations on the same terms as the UK?
What makes the ‘leave’ campaign leadership think they can do better? In 2015, the United States had a Gross Domestic Product (total national spend) of US$18 trillion. This compared with the EU’s US$16 trillion and the United Kingdom with under US$3 trillion. We are not an economic superpower and would have much reduced influence on our own.
The ‘leave’ campaign also argue that the EU is undemocratic. Yet its decisions are taken by the EU Council of Ministers. Our Prime Minister, or the appropriate senior British Government Minister, is present at each of these meetings and has been on the winning side over 90 per cent of the time over the past 20 years. Then decisions need to be ratified by the directly elected European Parliament in which the UK is well represented.
The third major objection of the ‘leave’ campaign is the cost of the EU. I calculate the net cost to the average UK resident to be just £1.70 per person per week. In exchange for this modest tax, we receive a massive range of benefits including ten times our weekly spend gained in inward investment into the UK, a single market of 500 million people in which we need no longer worry about bureaucratic paperwork or national regulations aimed at restricting our exports, workers’ legal rights to paid holidays, maternity leave, paternity leave, as well as protection for agency and temporary workers and a European Health Insurance card entitling us to free healthcare when we travel within the EU.
A weaker pound (if the UK were to vote to leave the EU) would increase the cost of imports and therefore prices in our shops. It would also increase the cost of borrowing, impacting on both the cost of mortgages as well as the cost of government debt. There would therefore be less money available for the public services, whether the NHS, care for older people or repairing our roads.
The case for ‘remain’ appears to be overwhelming.
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