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Updated on September 17, 2017

As the British people turn their minds to the gamble of the century, few outsiders can quite fathom the British obsession with withdrawal from the political and economic slab that is the European Union. Sure, there are dissenters to be found in every member state but few, if any can match the pure indifference to the European project that is felt by many in the United Kingdom.

It appears to me that the argument has rather been hijacked by the issue of immigration. This is however a red herring. Leaving the EU will have no effect on immigration, in fact it may even accelerate population growth, good news for the economy and baby boomers!

Millions of jobs depend on our membership, I hear many say! Not quite. Many jobs do depend on trading with EU countries. many do not. We are an industrial nation, the first industrial nation, leaving the EU does not change that.

EU laws protect workers rights, ensure standards, help the environment, curb the power of big companies. Well actually, British laws protect British workers and there are huge variations in standards in different countries. As for the environment, the EU is powerless to stop the worlds biggest polluters, America and China. Our so called reductions in green house gasses can be put down to the outsourcing of so much industrial production to the Far East.


Trade | If we leave the EU it will damage trade and exports

The favourite line of the pro-EU lobby is that "the EU buys 50% of our Exports" There are many reasons to completely ignore this statement:

  • Many UK exports are routed through ports such as Rotterdam. These count as exports to the EU but could end up anywhere in the world, the "Rotterdam effect"
  • There are 27 other countries in the EU so on average, 4% of our exports go to each country. Our biggest export market by far is the USA which accounts for some 18% of total UK exports. Exports to the EU have fallen from around 50% to under 45% and are expected to fall further as exports to other countries grow.
  • We have a trade deficit with most member states, they sell more to us that we buy from them.
  • The EU will have to negotiate as a whole with the UK as per article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. German manufacturers are not going to want a trade barrier with their largest market.
  • Being outside the EU does not mean that UK exports to the EU will grind to a halt. The EU has free trade agreements with other countries and it is not going to be hostile to its largest neighbour.
  • The UK is excluded from WTO negotiations because of its membership of the EU

Companies won't want to invest her if we are outside the EU

This is a favourite argument of Europhiles, but what does it actually mean? Nissan, Toyota and the like would no longer want to build factories in the UK is the gist of what they are saying. The reality is that the UK is the most business friendly environment in Europe. It takes on average almost twice as long to set up a company in the EU compared to the UK. Low taxation, English language and London being the leading financial centre in Europe are also important. Britain will still be the gateway into Europe for many companies.

Ah, but wont the United Kingdom need to negotiate trade deals on its own leaving us sidelined

This is probably a very good thing! The UK is set to become Europes largest economy by 2050. Our population is set to overtake Germany, despite German efforts to overcome its horrendous demographics, this will still happen. Nobody is going to sideline the biggest market in Europe.

The UK has 94 Bilateral Investment Treaties in place, including with countries such as Columbia and India. The only actually registered controversy is EU based, between the UK and France and Eurotunnel.

The UK would also regain its seat at the World Trade Organisation and be part of international negotiations for trade, able to influence decisions that directly affect us.

I have a holiday home in Spain and worried I won't be able to go there anymore

Britons living and working abroad contribute billions of pound to resort economies and create thousands of jobs. Who is going to pull the plug on peoples livelyhoods and businesses? Britons own property all over the world and enjoy access to an unprecedented amount of the earth.

Being in the EU has coincided with the birth of the package holiday and expansion of air travel. That's progress, not something that we can measurable allow the EU to take credit for.

Vote-UK Parliament approves following question

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

See results

Won't we lose influence on the world stage

UK influence on the world stage has been falling since the end of World War II. However this was inevitable, given the sheer scale of the British Empire. However the UK is a very important player on the world stage:

  • Permanent member of the United Nations Security Council
  • Member of G8/G20
  • Largest per capita military in Europe
  • Fourth largest military in the world
  • Seven million miles of ocean fall under British territory and the UK also has military personnel in many locations around the world
  • Many countries have long standing ties with the UK, family, economic, cultural, military, political.
  • British diplomacy is ranked amongst the best in the world. The UK is able to project soft power where it matters.

British negotiation skills are a resource that the EU would not want to loose. Aside from the ease of conducting proceedings in English, the ties that exist between Britain and so many other countries can oil the wheels of delicate diplomatic issues.

The Commonwealth, derided by many, holds a considerable amount of world resources. Many Commonwealth countries have yet to industrialise properly and have young populations. They are key markets for future exports of consumer goods and British companies should be well placed to take advantage.

Hasn't the EU brought us peace and stability in Western Europe?

It is true that we haven't seen war on the scale of World War One or World War two. However the post war era saw two important changes compared to the inter war years. Imperialism was over. Britain and France were tamed by lack of money and lack of public appetite for far away conquests amidst the ruins of war. We also have much better international institutions.

The other great change is the baby boom which fuelled economic growth and the welfare state.

Isn't the UK the second biggest recipient of EU research funds?

The UK is in the top three countries of recipients of funds from the European Research Council, so is Israel! The ERC website states quite clearly that it supports research anywhere in the world. I would argue that perhaps the quality of UK research or quality of our applicants, that sees more money coming our way. Perhaps we should celebrate the qualities of our people rather than the virtues of EU membership.


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