Devil’s Advocate: Should Britain leave the European Union?



Tom Bitirim

One of the most contradictory policy positions in British politics, one that has always baffled me, is that of the SNP towards the European Union. Almost every argument advanced by the party during the Scottish independence referendum can be used to advocate British independence from the EU, and then some. Nevertheless, for reasons that escape me, the ‘pro-Independence’ SNP lament decisions imposed on them by a democratically elected government in London while happily accepting every diktat and directive issued by an unelected body in a foreign country. Can it be that the EU’s benefits are so overwhelming as to make sovereignty a side issue?

There is a common misconception that opposition to the EU is a position solely of the right. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there is in fact a very strong left-wing argument against the perceived neoliberal project. Yet wherever you are on the political spectrum, if you are at all, is actually irrelevant. For without a functioning democracy, what is the point in having political views at all? This is why, the issue of Britain’s membership of the European Union is a very simple one indeed. It boils down to the fundamental question, from which all other issues are derived: Should the UK be a sovereign, independent and democratic nation?

The most divisive issue of this referendum, without which this vote would likely not be happening, is immigration. 500 million EU citizens have the right to settle in the UK while non-EU citizens must apply for a visas. What makes EU citizens superior? Allowing Europeans freedom of movement at the expense of the rest of the world seems rather discriminatory. It makes no sense to restrict talented people from around the globe from coming to our country while allowing an open door to EU-citizens. If we left the EU, we could regain control of our borders, have an immigration policy that is fair to all, allows us to plan for public services and enriches our country. We can give immigration a good name once again.

When asked whether leaving the EU would make British wages rise, Lord Rose (the head of the ‘Remain’ campaign) replied: “If you are short of labour the price will, frankly, go up. So yes”. This downward pressure on wages has been confirmed by the Bank of England. Revealingly, Rose then added “That’s not necessarily a good thing”. Rising wages might not be good for large corporations using cheap labour, like that which Lord Rose headed. I’m sure many workers would disagree.

We are told that we need to be part of the EU in order to trade. Currently, the UK’s seat at the World Trade Organisation is vacant, as we, and 27 other countries are all represented by a single EU bureaucrat, who has to represent the various and diverging trade interests of all EU countries. By leaving the EU, we can make our own free-trade deals with the rapidly developing countries of the world. We will also continue to trade with the EU (the world’s only economically shrinking continent) as we buy far more from them than they do from us, and would have to sign a deal.

We undoubtedly enhance our security by sharing intelligence with other countries, having processes for extradition and by checking those who cross our borders. The country with which we share by far the largest amount of intelligence is the United States, yet no one is suggesting we need become the 51st state. The UK would be far better positioned as to its national security by maintaining these strong intelligence links whilst seceding from a bloc where the freedom of movement across borders leaves us vulnerable not secure.

We are told that on its own, Britain is not big enough to make its own way in the modern world. What we are really being told is that Britain is not good enough. We are told that leaving the EU is the risky option. Frankly, I could think of nothing more risky and unpredictable than remaining in this unsustainable superstate which faces major existential crises. The only feasible way to contain both the Euro and the migrant crises is for the Eurozone and Schengen countries to integrate even further, dragging us with them. This is our only chance: No one can predict the future, it is not supposed to be predictable, but at least as a sovereign democratic nation, our destiny can be in our own hands. This is why I urge you to think carefully about what is likely to be the most important decision you will make in your lifetime.



Emily Allen
For every British citizen, the date June 23 is now synonymous with their chance to have their say in a decision which will have worldwide implications for decades to come.
It is a complex question, and you have to fully understand both sides in order to make an informed decision. After hearing countless arguments, pamphlets, and articles, I have decided that I want Britain to remain in the EU.
The EU is indisputably Britain’s largest partner in trade, as countries in the EU buy 44 per cent of Britain’s trade, concerning everything from machinery to bonds. The EU Single Market means that all the EU member states are viewed as a whole in terms of trade without any obstacles to the movement of services or goods, stimulating efficient trade. The EU’s Single Market Economy is almost six times as big as the UK’s economy and inside the EU, Britain has access to these trading benefits and it is therefore superfluous to state the extent to which Britain would be disadvantaged without them outside of the European Union.
Given that the other member states will still have these superior advantage, this could only impact negatively on Britain, creating insecurity and jeopardy concerning trade as well as jobs, given that more than 3 million British jobs are linked to the EU. In the past few days, the Treasury has estimated that the UK would lose £36 billion in tax receipts if it were to leave the EU, another dire warning on top of the warnings from the Bank of England, IMF, and our allies around the world.
The loss of the EU’s Single Market would also have strong negative consequences on the everyday way of life for British citizens. It is highly likely that there will be an economic shock with negative consequences for the pound, which would raise the prices of basic household necessities. More luxurious aspects of everyday living, such as holidays and foreign travel, could also be negatively impacted, as Britain being in the EU has resulted in holidays to European countries being cheaper and easier to obtain, in particular regarding flight costs and package holidays. UK citizens also have the right to travel freely to other EU countries and have cheaper (and often free) healthcare, privileges they would lose in Brexit.
An argument which is often heard on the side of Brexiters is that leaving the EU would give us back total control of our borders, and therefore reduce or even totally bring a halt to the number of immigrants entering Britain. Britain is not part of the border-free Schengen Zone which allows free movement between 26 countries.
As such, Britain has control of its own borders and checks the passport and credentials of anyone arriving in the country. If we have no control, why is there a massive camp in Calais being denied access?
In Cameron’s EU deal, Britain will also be able to deny plans to deny EU citizens working in Britain tax credits (as well as other benefits, like child benefit) for up to four years after their arrival. As such, leaving the EU will make no difference whatsoever. If we stay, we keep control and can enact the reforms we want, without risking our economic prosperity.
On security, Britain’s police force will be stronger if it remains in the EU, as by doing so Britain has access to the European Arrest Warrant, through which it can use intelligence (including fingerprint and DNA data) from the other member countries. This means that the network of information used to identify criminals is larger and more advanced.
The benefits of Britain staying in the EU range from national security to economic stability. Britain has even more benefits accrued thanks to Cameron’s renegotiation granting us opt-outs to many unfavourable aspects of the EU. Britain also has the third most seats in the European Parliament (which, contrary to claims by Leave, are democratically elected by the British people in European elections). The UK is also set to have the largest number of seats by 2030 due to population rise, making us the powerful head of the largest economic-political union in the world.
There can be no major powers transferred to the EU, without a vote in the UK. The EU is not a threat to British interests. It is a great source of our prosperity in the modern world, and I urge you to vote Remain.


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