5 good reasons for Britain to Remain in the European Union
After several months campaigning to keep Britain inside the European Union I have clear picture of what people say they want to hear before voting in the referendum. They don’t want scare mongering and are fed up with lies masquerading as facts. The BBC and other objective news outlets ought to deal with the veracity of facts. Both the BBC and Channel Four have their on-line fact checkers but they really ought to be correcting the exaggerations and downright lies during their normal news reporting. The voters also say they want some positive reasons to vote for Britain to remain in the EU. So I will set out my own positive reasons for voting for Britain to Remain in the EU.
We will all have our own reasons for wanting to remain in the European Union but I think there are five main ones:
Britain’s place in the world’s largest single market allows us to work, study and travel with minimal barriers. It’s a two way advantage, enabling Britons to carve out a career in Paris or Rome, with French and Italian workers bringing their skills to strengthen the British economy. That contribution is right across all sectors from retail to the most advanced manufacturing. Britain and my home city of Bristol are world leaders in aerospace. But that competitive advantage depends on French, Spanish and German engineers as well as the Brits who work for the likes of Airbus and Rolls Royce. British universities are also the most numerous among the global top 100, after US institutions. Britain’s place as an innovation powerhouse, inventing the prosperity of the future, depends on freedom of movement for Europe’s brightest and best students and academics to study and research in Oxford, London and Bristol. The freedom to work and learn also applies to travel. We all benefit from visa free travel to 27 other EU member states, with low cost flights to Europe’s leisure and culture attractions. While on holiday in Alicante or Prague we don’t have to worry about the cost of emergency medical situations. I we need to phone home or use the internet then we now have reduced mobile roaming charges. This is the most recent benefit of EU membership and next year the charges are abolished.
Britain’s economy is stronger as part of the world’s largest single market. Our businesses, large and small, benefit from being able to export without tax or regulation obstacles to everywhere from Lisbon to Tallinn, across all of the other 27 member states of the European Union. The EU also bargains on our behalf with the world’s other economies. This is possibly the only area where we have more clout than the USA, the world’s second largest single market. By pooling our sovereignty we enable the EU Trade Commissioner to negotiate the best deal for British businesses and consumers. The EU has fifty trade deals with other large economies. By remaining in the EU we will continue to benefit from the existing deals and the new ones being negotiated. If Britain left the EU we would have to spend years renegotiating the existing deals and of course we’d need a new one with the EU itself. We would be negotiating all these new deals from a much weaker position than our present status as a member of the world’s most powerful trading bloc.
Pollution does not respect national borders. Creating a cleaner, low carbon future will depend on Europe working together, not pulling apart. Cooperation on energy is more likely to lead to reduced dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Everything from common standards in food quality and animal welfare depends on agreement within the single market. Europe’s high standards are a model for the rest of the world and can be protected and advanced in trade agreements.
In an unsecure world, troubled by crime and terrorism, working with our closest neighbours increases our safety. Criminals do not respect national borders but the common European arrest warrant makes sure they have nowhere to hide. Conflict beyond Europe’s frontiers has potential to impact on all of us. Dealing in a humane and fair way with refugees will require cooperation across Europe, much easier to achieve from within the EU. Britain’s membership of both the EU and NATO makes us more secure. Those who would have us leave the EU often falsely attribute our security solely to NATO but overlook the fact that it requires a greater surrender of national sovereignty than anything contemplated by the EU.
The fact that we live in the most peaceful and prosperous part of the world is all too easily taken for granted. The origins of the EU were the desire of French, German and other European leaders to trade in harmony and remove the need for conflict. My father’s father served in the Eighth Army in North Africa in the Second World War. My grandparents’ generation would all have known someone who served in some capacity. Their parents would have experienced the First World War. The fact that neither my father nor me has had to seriously contemplate conflict in Western Europe is the major achievement of the European Union. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the EU has extended east and the Poles, Romanians and Estonians now enjoy peace and greater prosperity. Peace enables prosperity to grow and people that are prosperous will not risk their livelihood with war.
Whatever your preferred reason for remaining in the European Union, one thing is certain. The future of humanity depends on nation states working together to solve common problems. Working together raises living standards and lifts people out of poverty. Working together makes us safer in a world that has many sources of conflict and trouble. Global health problems are best tackled by the World Health Organisation. Our defence and security is more certain through both NATO and the UN. The European Union is arguably the world’s most successful international club. Most of the remaining small European nations not in the EU are in the queue to join. A British exit at this point in our history would be seen as an act of madness by our fellow Europeans. Britain’s future lies inside our common European home.
To support the cross party Stronger In campaign and volunteer for helping to secure a Remain vote go to http://www.strongerin.co.uk/
To support my own party, which has consistently made the case for Britain’s positive engagement inside the EU go to http://www.libdems.org.uk/europe