Why I’m voting to remain.
By Martin Weatherilt
There is no easy single liner that gives the answer. This is pretty good as an analysis by a Nicholas Barr, Professor of Public Economics at the LSE. It has an economic bias, but is pretty broad.
Another really good source of reasonable balanced views is the BBC. I’m not a huge fan of the Beeb, but this is great work by them.
My take (as of today 10th June 2016), in summary:
The EU is not complex, it’s just never been explained to us. This is very poor marketing by our government in letting us know what we agreed to get into.
- There are 55,000 EU civil servants; the UK has 393,000 making the UK somewhat more complicated.
- The most recent document I could find from the EU on how it operates is from 2014 and refers to the people from 2013. It demonstrates a terrible lack of judgement by the EU that this information is not up-to-date, especially at such a pivotal time.
The EU is democratic.
- We elect 72 MEPs out of 751. (Based on population) No country apart from Germany has more MEPs than us. We have unfortunately chosen to elect at least 1 in 3 of those MEPs from parties that want to stop the EU functioning. So we as a country have chosen not to play to the full.
- The nominations for the President of the EU Commission are made by the democratically elected heads of each member state. (E.g. in our case David Cameron)
- The democratically elected MEPs vote to elect the President of the EU Commission every 5 years. (One fundamental point raised by Leave campaigners is the idea that the President of the Commission is not democratically elected. This a blatantly not true.)
- The President of the Commission then appoints his/her 27 commissioners, one from each member state. This is on the basis of recommendations from member states. The final list is approved by the Council. (Heads of State)
- The Commission are like the top civil servants. Generally, none of the UK civil servants is elected.
- The UK has a non-elected House of Lords, which has a huge influence on UK law.
- The Commission has defined duties:
- Propose legislation
- Manage and implement agreed policies and budgets
- Represent the EU with other countries, for example in negotiating trade agreements.
- The commission has to get approval from the democratically elected MEPs on all proposals.
The EU is a place for the UK to do business in a way that is advantageous for the UK
- Health tourism – The UK pays out other countries something like 18 times the amount we collect, is caused by our inability to record and collect for foreign visitor treatment. Our choice. If EU citizens want to use our excellent health service, we could build more hospitals, employ more ambulance drivers, doctors, nurses, etc. and charge for our services. We (the UK government) chooses not to. If you get treated in Germany, the consultant you see will ask for you German health insurance card, your EU card or your credit card. (There will be a card reader on their desk!)
- Border control – We are in the unique position to monitor who comes and goes and keep out the baddies. We have decided however that we would rather:
- Reduce spending on our border forces – Our choice, not the EU’s
- Stop monitoring/counting visitors and EU workers, instead preferring to question a very small sample with clipboards on cross channel ferries, asking then about their visit. It’s ludicrous that planning for NHS and Education growth is based on such guess work. But it’s what we choose to do.
- We have an unlimited opt-out on the Euro. We can choose to join it or stay out or it. Our choice.
- We have a rebate – the money never leaves our account! This is negotiated as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) every seven years and must be unanimously agreed. So we have a Veto on changing it. (Leave say this can be removed at any time, but it’s simply not true.)
- We have a veto on enlargement of the EU. So Turkey may be knocking at the door, but we (our UK Government) can say “no”. Currently the Conservative Government’s position is to say “yes”, but they were democratically elected by us! Enlargement is not dictated by the EU.
- The UK is one of the least regulated leading economies in the world. The regulations from the EU are pretty trivial overall and are as much to our advantage as a disadvantage in that by meeting those regulations we can trade with the whole of Europe. If we left the EU, we would still need to meet those regulations if we wanted to trade with the EU.
- There does not seem to be much doubt by any economists that the EU is good for UK trade. 9 out of 10 predictions are that the UK would be worse off outside of the EU. Calculations are very complex, with loads of variables. Essentially it’s educated guesswork. No one really knows for sure.
- We can deport any EU migrant after 6 months if they cannot find work. We simply don’t because we choose not to. So, EU migrants should not be a drain on our benefit system. (Generally, all economists agree that EU migration has a net benefit. However, this could be a much bigger benefit if we ran our systems better!)
- We need more young people to contribute to the economy in order to support the ageing population and huge/growing pension bill. EU immigration is an excellent source of those tax paying workers.
The EU costs us somewhere in the region of 30p per person per day
- For most of us this is a pretty small amount. If the EU really helps with peace, I know I would gladly pay that to keep my family out of a war – regardless of any other benefits.
- The 30p per person per day is our contribution, less rebate, less subsidies given back for farming, grants for research, grants for social development programmes (e.g. in rural areas such as Cornwall and Somerset, etc.)
- There is simply no truth to the claim that EU membership costs us £350m per week. That myth has been universally debunked, but is still the cornerstone of Vote Leave’s campaign. Furthermore, those “savings” would be paid to the NHS, and farmers, oh and regional development. So Leave are promising savings that don’t exist and are promising those fictional savings several times over.
- If the claims of Cameron and Osborne are to be believed, the cost to the UK economy will wipe out far more than the savings from not paying for EU membership. No one knows what will happen, but it’s likely that the UK would be worse off to a degree, so these “savings” could at best dwindle very quickly.
The EU provides a lead in many areas, where our Government may not choose to do so
- Human Rights
- Forget the odd examples of where the European Court of Justice decisions look ludicrous and remember that this is a fundamental protection for each and every one of us. Protection from national government, EU government, big business etc. Michael Gove’s current brief is to get us out of our commitments – e.g. reduce our protection.
- Grants from the EU help us maintain rural industries and care for the UK countryside.
- The EU initiatives helps us protect the environment where party politics and big business interests get in the way. E.g. Landfill, recycling, fracking etc.
- Compensation for delayed/cancelled airlines – UK government and airlines would never have agreed to this
- Vastly reduced mobile roaming charges
Repercussions of a Vote to Leave
The current polls across Europe suggest that EU citizens are generally happy. Most countries have at least a majority of 10% more people saying remain. When asked if they think other countries will exit if the UK does, then it’s an overwhelming “yes”. This means that unless something is done to stop it, the UK could be first of several exits. Whether that’s good or bad, is not what concerns me. What will almost certainly happen is this – the EU will delivery such a bad trade deal to the UK, that no other countries would be tempted to leave. It won’t be done out of nastiness, just self preservation. In short, look at the bad deal Norway currently gets and make that several degrees worse. That’s what we are likely to get.
(10/6) As predicted, Germany closes the door on a post-Brexit trade deal that gives the UK all the “good” bits and none of the “bad” bits.
Not just in the EU, but in the USA. Frankly, who knows what madness is going on there at the moment. However, the US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said a UK vote to leave the European Union could have “significant economic repercussions” (on US economy). With that in mind, maybe we would go to the back of the queue as President Obama suggested. Maybe not.
Like it or not, US companies favour the UK as their passport into Europe. The top 5 US banks employ some 40,000 staff in London. If we leave the EU, we may not get the same rights back to the Euro zone that we currently have. Even Swiss investment banks base most of their EU operations in London, because their deal is too restrictive. Banking (love them or hate them) and financial services are a large tax raiser (5.5% of all taxes raised – £31.3bn annaully – £600m per week) and a huge export for the UK. Unless we secure the same access as we currently have, we will risk losing many of these jobs and much of this national income.
Okay, if sovereignty is the most important issue to you, then you may be excused for voting to leave.
However, it’s really important to understand what that means. We already share our sovereignty with many institutes: NATO, UN, WTO and the EU included. To be able to play on a world stage, means we need to agree to treaties with other countries and trading blocks (we currently have 14,000 signed treaties).
With the rise in global business, corporations are becoming bigger and more powerful than the national governments. Just look at our inability to collect taxes from Google, Apple, Facebook… for that matter almost all multi-national companies. Look at the USA and see what the rise of these super companies results in. The elections there are completely undemocratic there – it’s all about money and big business interests.
Companies like Monsanto do whatever they want. With the EU (at least for now) we have protections from an organisation that is big enough and separate enough from these giant companies. Only yesterday a headline read “Recall of Monsanto’s Roundup likely as EU refuses limited use of glyphosate”. Thank you EU!
Finally, who are we really trusting when we “return sovereignty” to the British public? Does the UK parliament represent the regions? Do the regions have their own sovereignty (Wales, Scotland, NI)? When the Conservatives have an overall majority, that allows them to do whatever they like, is this really what 6 out 10 people who didn’t vote conservative wanted? The Scottish electorate appear to be firmly remain, so a vote to leave will probably trigger another referendum, one which will likely result in a Scotland splitting from the UK. What will we be left to have sovereign control over?
Personally, I see Europe as a great opportunity, where we as a country have so far only scratched at the surface of its advantage. We fail to take advantage due to the failings of our own national government (Conservative and Labour!).
Why would we want to take away that advantage and place all of our trust in the very people who are doing so badly at running things now. It just doesn’t make sense.
I want my children to grow up in a Europe with friends from all corners, an understanding of other countries and cultures, low-cost low-barrier travel, and opportunities to work and live in other countries.