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.