It is an issue that will has been debated for a good while now. The European Union Referendum. When David Cameron won the 2015 General Election, he promised (in an attempt to steer away the competition in UKIP) to have a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. And so, with that, News reports will increasingly be featuring the story for the rest of this year, into 2016, and well into 2017, when the Referendum is set to take place. But this begs the question: Should we leave the European Union?
Now, in a first for If you Ask me, this post is a collaboration. Lexie Hill is a young blogger who runs her own blog (http://www.politicallymindedteen.blogspot.co.uk/). She’s anti EU, and will provide the reasons that she feels we should leave the European Union.
The question of the EU is very topical given the impending EU referendum, due before the end of 2017. It was a referendum no one expected, even Cameron himself, who despite his rhetoric, was never truly convinced the Tories would win an overall majority. But they did, and with it comes a promise of this referendum, that is quite unpredictable upon what the likely outcome will be.
Personally, it is blatant that we have been sold a false promise on the EU. When we all voted back in Harold Wilson’s time, we were told the EU was not more than a trade partnership, a medium to harness trade relations with free Europe – the so-called common market. Yet it’s become far more than that, its become a superstate that overrides national democracy, the founder of a failing currency, the open door to terrorism and dare I say it too, the prospect of an EU army. This is not a club, I believe a global player like Britain wants to be a part of.
We have a proud tradition of democracy, yet allow Brussels to create a large proportion of our laws for us as well as bombarding us with countless pieces of legislation, notably the Common Fisheries Policy that is devastating for our once prosperous fishing towns like Great Grimsby. I believe the people we vote for (albeit not in the most fair way) should dominate decisions that affect the British people, not unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, that the majority of Britons would not be able to name if they were so duly asked.
Open door immigration has become more than an issue of jobs and wages. It has now progressed up the ladder of importance to being one of basic safety. Given the recent migrant crisis, although it is reasonable to accept a sustainable number of genuine refugees who are actually fleeing persecution, it has now become impossible to differentiate between genuine refugee causes. Thus, ISIS can and have evidentially started to use this crisis as a means to infiltrate European open borders with their own Jihadis, some of which have been knowingly involved in the Tunisian attacks. And given open border, the inevitability is that once they retrieve a European passport, they can progress to any European country of their choosing. If that’s not a safety threat, I don’t know what is. Furthermore we must not forget the classic immigration argument – open door migration causes over supply of labour which causes foreign unskilled workers to override British workers on the recruiting market as they are more openly prepared to work for lower wages due to their countries of origin having costs of living that are significantly lower than our own.
A common argument from the Pro-EU camp is that the EU is essential for trade. This is untrue given that countries in the EU are beneficiaries of our markets and would not stop trading with us on the occasion of a Brexit, as it would be damaging to their own economies. Germany, for instance, is hardly going to stop selling us volkswagons so will be inclined to hold a free trade relationship, as will other EU countries. Furthermore, if one looks at the example of Norway and Switzerland, who may contribute financially to the EU, but are not bound by its legislation or open borders, and are able to maintain the sovereignty of their own parliaments. Im addition, Norway and Switzerland have access to quickly developing economies outside of the EU, who Britain, as an EU bound nation neglects (partly due to the common external tariff. In fact, the EU is negative for trade, despite Britain only exporting 14 percent of its GDP to the EU, we are obliged to follow all of its legislation!
Thus, this is why Britain must leave the EU. The cultures of Europe are vast and diverse, this is the Europe I love. The European union is an entirely different entity.
I am on no particular side of this argument. I don’t particularly think that the European Union is a democratic and fair organisation. It is very flawed. However, I think the Anti EU rhetoric does not mention the benefits that the European Union does bring.
But first, I must address the immigration argument. We do have an issue when it comes to immigrants in the UK, as does the rest of Europe. But statistically, the Immigrants in Europe are not really coming over here. More are going to Germany, or France. And the problem here is lessened by the fact that we’re not part of the Schengen area. You need a passport to come here legally. The Anti EU’ers will have you believe swarms of middle eastern and African people are trying to come into our country, and that the EU is the problem. No. We have border controls, and we can refuse people. If we let everyone in, we’d really have a problem. But we simply do not
As for the EU Residents, who can live in the UK, one must consider their impact on our economy. The most recent statistics I could find on EU Citizens living in the United Kingdom were from 2015. The population of EU-born in the UK stood at just over 3 million in the first quarter of 2015. Around 2 Million of them are currently employed in the UK today. With the working population at 31.05 million people, and Unemployment at around 3,461,400, a lot of those jobs could potentially be filled by British workers…but a lot of those jobs are menial labour for paltry pay. The fact people are coming over to this country to work gives us cheap labour, as British workers will not perform menial labour for paltry wages.
A lot of the Anti EU argument stems from a lack of Sovereignty. Indeed, with the ECHR, this is now the highest court in the land, and people can appeal to them. Businesses or people who were unfairly dealt with will not have that if we leave the EU. Being in the EU has enhanced democracy, as we elect representatives for the EU Parliament, and like I said in the previous sentence, we can appeal to another high court if we need to fight for something.
Talking about the Human Rights act, this will potentially be the biggest thing we will lose. In 2015, the Government proposed the end of the Human Rights act, should we leave the EU. This will be replaced with a new Bill of Rights, penned by Teacher’s Pet Michael Gove. Now, you may wonder. ‘Ben, what has the Human Rights act done for me? Its Bloody Germans trying to tell me what to do?’. Errrm, you know how Lexie gave her reasons for leaving the EU, freedom of speech. Now, I am not implying that a new Bill of Rights would rid us of our free speech, but its quite clear that we could lose a lot. Internet freedom, or torture, or even the death penalty. That is probably the single biggest thing we could lose.
Other reasons I found on this website include: The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries. Eurojust helps UK authorities work with other EU countries’ to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering.
In conclusion, leaving the EU will leave us with some benefits, and some disadvantages. While regaining sovereignty, we risk losing out on many trading deals that we have set up with our European neighbours. While it would be possible to form a free trade deal, much like Switzerland and Norway, this will be expensive, and likely take time. There is also the danger of losing easy access across Europe. And to replace the institutions that Europe has formed with us will take time and money. What worries me (Ben) the most is the threat to our human rights. It is a complicated issue that may divide many political parties.
Overall, this issue will be decided through natural democratic forces. However in order for democracy to be at its purest it is important for both camps to be factual in their debates and avoid political scare mongering and demonisation. It is evident to see the main issues of the debate will be trade, sovereignty, cost of membership, and regulation.
We can all agree that this is a very important issue, however. And I hope debating this issue brings out the best in us, to think of new, and innovative ways to work with our neighbours, in an increasingly smaller world. Whether you agree or disagree that we should leave, you should discuss it. A recent YouGov poll suggests that 20% of people are undecided. ⅕ of the population is unsure. This is why discussion is the most important. And this collaboration is good, as it could help people decide their decisions. But please. Do your own research. Don’t be swayed by one person’s opinion.