EU Referendum UK
This is the one of the most difficult questions this country has faced in the last decade, do we stay or do we leave the EU?
To begin with the only reason we are having the EU referendum is because the ‘people’ wanted one. Due to the scaremongering of Farage, a small percentage of activists began campaigning to leave the EU, this pressure eventually led Cameron to promise a referendum. He later decided to negotiate with other EU member states, however failed miserably. Let’s understand the basics first.
What is the EU?
The European Union (EU) is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries with Germany, France and the UK being at the forefront. The idea was to interlink economic, political and social activities to avoid another world war. However the UK did not join immediately, in 1973 we found that the EU benefits our interests so we jumped on the bandwagon. It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around freely. It also acts as a central political framework to bring about ‘modern democracy’ to the 28 states, with 3 main institutions, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. It also provides a supreme court, the European Court of Justice.
The EU in essence is supposed to improve the lives of everyday people and set direction for 28 states. However many people feel it is in fact intrusive and is failing to live up to its motto.
What is a Referendum?
A referendum is question put to the public, that requires a yes or no answer. The winner is the side that gets most votes. It is considered as a form of direct democracy.
In summary those who wish to leave, they believe Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say imposes too many rules on business and charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for little in return. As well as this 60% of UK laws come from the EU which means it is undemocratic. They also want Britain to take back full control of its borders and reduce the number of people coming here to live and/or work. They also object to the idea of “ever closer union” and what they see as moves towards the creation of a “United States of Europe” where the EU has ists own anthem, presidency, flag and army!
and those campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU say it gets a big boost from membership – it makes selling things to other EU countries easier and, they argue, the flow of immigrants, most of whom are young and keen to work, fuels economic growth and helps pay for public services. They also believe Britain’s status in the world would be damaged by leaving and that we are more secure as part of the 28 nation club, rather than going it alone. They say we are part of a club, you can’t always have it your way.
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The UK’s gross contribution to the EU in 2015 was £17.8bn, this accounts for 20% of the total EU budget. However due to a planned rebate, the UK paid £4.9bn less and £4.4bn was also paid back to the UK in the form of farm subsidies and other funding programmes. This means the UK has contributed at least £10bn last year, money the Leave campaign say we could utilise better.
The Leave campaign also claim the rebate is not set in stone, it can easily be revoked, which means the UK will pay the EU approx £19bn for 2016. The £350m per week should go towards supporting hospitals or building homes. As well as this, more importantly, ‘we will be able to decide how we spend our money.’
Whereas the Remain campaign state the economic benefits of EU membership easily outweigh the cost. Other countries contribute more per person than the UK does and if the UK was to exit the EU but hoped to retain its trade policies, it would still need to contribute to the EU budget.
So in essence we either continue paying towards the EU, where some is rebated and also returned by way of funding or we take back full control of the money, fund our services, pay a lower rate towards the single market and retain all our sovereignty.
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The UK has to apply EU policy. EU regulations are binding across all member states and EU directives are put forward to member states to implement the policy in the near future. The Leave campaign claim 60% UK laws are made in Brussels and we can’t do anything about it. However the Remain campaign claim, some sharing of sovereignty is crucial to enable fair trade across Europe. And they are also adamant that Britain retains a veto in many important areas.
However, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Amazon are allowed to set base in Luxembourg, the tax-haven, and operate in the UK where the bulk of their business is done. This means these companies are failing to pay the due tax. Unfortunately the UK can’t do anything about this as the EU outlaws attempts by the UK to crack down on any tax cheats. There is also worry about the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership which means that the EU can block the British government taking back control of privatised NHS and Rail facilities. If attempted the EU can sue us. All because we might want to remove hospital services, railways and other contracts from private companies.
Further, EU laws are proposed by the European Commission and most of them must be agreed by at least 16 national governments representing 65% of the EU population as well as the European Parliament (which are elected). However, most of us don’t know who our MEP’s are and what their power is, and as the Leave campaign claim, ‘in fact they have no power at all.’ The European Commission are an unelected body that push through new legislation like prohibiting curved bananas and issuing red tape regulations. The parliament simply voice local opinions but have no power to steer legislation. This makes the EU legislation process undemocratic. Why would a democratic nation allow that? On the other hand, Cameron has promised that his new EU deal allows national parliaments to block legislation. Cameron has made many promises, is this another lie?
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The EU single market allows the free movement of goods, services, capital and workers, this saves time and money. However the EU does have its rules and regulations. About half of UK overseas trade is conducted with the EU. Leaving it will mean no more trade for smaller businesses and even if there is a negotiation, it never will be as good as now but The Leave campaign state that UK companies need to be free from the burden of EU regulation. This will allow more business to open. Thus if there is an economic backlash, new businesses will meet the shortfall.
As well as this, trade with EU countries would continue because we import more from them than we export to them (debateable), however Remain campaigners claim as a share of exports Britain is more dependent on the rest of the EU than they are on us. But its difficult to ignore that many businesses rely on exporting to the UK. Germany exports £11.5bn cars to the UK; Italy exports £363m shoes; France exports £940m wine; Spain exports £537m fruit. Is it likely these nation states will want trade of this value to stop? It is a matter of negotiation. You may have asked yourself why we don’t have trade agreements with India and China, that’s because we are not allowed to. The EU has previously failed to negotiate a good deal, leaving the rest of us without participation in global markets, especially with countries like India and China which are rising tremendously.
One of the Remain campaigns strongest argument is that as soon as we leave, it will cause an economic shock around the world and growth in GDP will be slower in the UK and the £ will suffer massively. We are currently on a steady rise economically, leaving the EU would only halt it. This will mean we have to borrow more, and we are back to 2008. It is estimated that we will lose out on £40bn which means we have to either raise taxes or cut public spending. Or maybe a few years of forbearance will lead to a stable, free country.
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As you will have seen most of the biggest businesses, banks and economic institutions are in favour of Britain staying in the EU because it makes it easier for them to move money, people and products around the EU.
The BT chairman Sir Mike Rake says, there are “no credible alternatives” to staying in the EU. But Lord Bamford, chairman of JCB, claims an EU exit would allow the UK to negotiate trade deals on a global scale rather than with 28 states. As well as this, many small and medium-sized firms would welcome a cut in red tape and what they see as petty regulations.
Being in the EU means you pay less for your weekly food shop, but also petrol, energy bills, flights and mobile roaming charges i.e. far too many perks that everyday people benefit from for a small price. As well as this, after two years, the UK would automatically lose access to all arrangements with the EU, including trade deals, EU funding and rights to free travel. The EU is allowing businesses to thrive and they are afraid that they will get hit, but we the people need to look at the bigger picture. A whole world out there which we can negotiate with on our own terms without excess payment to the EU. And as previously stated, is it really likely trade will stop with those in the EU?
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The Leave campaign say that Less regulation in the workplace would create more jobs. The UK could get more investment from countries outside the EU and lower migration would push wages up. As well as this Maternity leave and holiday pay would only change if Britain decided to change them.
However the Remain camp state three million jobs in the UK are linked to trade with the EU. If considering the value of the jobs, the UK gets £66m investment every day from the EU. And that the EU has delivered guaranteed holiday pay, paid maternity leave, and increased protection in the workplace, something our government will fail to do. As well as this remaining in the EU will create 790,000 more UK jobs by 2030 which means more opportunities.
The Leave campaign remain firm that local jobs won’t be affected. If businesses do not do well, then that’s due to business decisions. It important that we take it hit before we bloom.
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Total net migration to the UK is running at over 300,000 a year despite the government’s target of cutting it to under 100,000. And recently, as revealed, that the Government always knew it will never be under 100, 000. So Cameron’s recent promises are another lie. The benefit of the EU is that it allows people from this country to work elsewhere in the EU and for them to work here.
Although a good sight, the Leave campaign say it is impossible to control immigration as a member of the EU and that high immigration has put a strain on public services, as in, the number of growing migrants is not sustainable by our hospitals and schools and that there are a shortage of houses.
The Leave campaign suggest a points-based system for migrants to the UK from everyone in the world so that we can attract all skill without discrimination. But Remain are adamant that Immigrants from the EU pay more in taxes than they take out so we are not losing out. Cameron’s EU deal promises in-work benefits for new EU migrant workers will be limited for the first four years.
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Leave say Britain pays more for the Common Agricultural Policy than it gets back so leaving the EU would make more money available for UK fisherman and farmers, The CAP also wastes lots of money on bureaucracy and regulation. Many fisherman claim the red-tape prevents them from carrying out business as they used too. It’s unfair that France sells fish to the Britain that has been fished on British waters.
Where as the Remain campaigners say many British farmers would go out of business without the support of the CAP and that 73% of UK farming exports go to the EU so how is that possible without the trade. And in fact the EU is dealing with the fishing crisis in a more wholesome way, considering the environment and the longevity of fishing.
My Personal Opinion
It seems to me on the one hand you have nationalism and the other capitalism. Both sides are scaremongering the British people. If we stay immigrants will rule our country and if we leave businesses will go bust. The UK initially joined the EU because of its interests, financially and politically, it was nothing to do with the working class, and farmers nor environmental policy and I quite frankly believe it still does not. I think the only reason so many businesses and Heads of State are vouching for Britain to stay in, is so that the UK can continue being part of an order that exploits the vulnerable. The EU has many unelected officials, it’s a mechanism to adapt law to society without question; its an elitists dream.
Saying that, The European Union is intertwined within our economy, so leaving will mean we have to take a hit, in the current climate, are we willing to do that? Will things be brighter if we leave? At every election promises are made, but nothing is delivered. I don’t think anything will be delivered this time round either. Especially the claim of £350million to the NHS. However there is a need to manage immigration flow because we cannot sustain the number of migrants, and a need to have control over legislation and money. The EU in its essence has become undemocratic, regardless of the benefits, I don’t want that.
For those who are Muslim, Islamophobia will always exist, it is not for the EU to protect us; Reliance on an anti-Islamic body will only lead to further disenfranchisement and self blame. It’s for Muslims to show that they play a positive and essential part in wider society. This is our soceity. And to also vote in elections to keep right wing nut heads out.
I think for the everyday person, at the polling booth, they’re going to think about their back pockets. The Scots were so much in favour separating from the UK, but it was them last minute blunders of whether the next meal will be baked beans or loin.
But I say, don’t fear. Don’t lose hope. We are the people and we are in control. We need to influence British laws. This is a brilliant starting point.
I say we should Leave.