The 1979 Ridley Scott classic ‘Alien’ may not be the first thing that springs to mind when the words “EU referendum” are mentioned in conversation, but hear me out on this one. Britain, a slightly less glamorous Sigourney Weaver in this case, is in a bit of a dilemma. We are apparently stuck in a rather dire situation (the Nostromo) where we are trapped by leaders of the EU (slightly less venomous Alien’s) and have no apparent escape. Now although I don't see Donald Tusk having a carnivorous monster erupt through his chest any time soon, nor Ripley sitting down around a coffee table in Brussels with the aforementioned Alien, my simple question is, in both situations, is it not time to leave?
Project Fear, commanded by our Prime Minister David Cameron, who will either be delighted or heartbroken by the summer after West Ham and Aston Villa’s performances in the Premier League this season, is banking his entire campaign on telling us how uncertain and chaotic an ‘Out’ vote would be in the long run. They talk of our economy, the fifth biggest in the world, crashing and burning as the EU countries suddenly strike us from their Christmas Card list and halt all trade to the UK. They talk of our country being unable to cope with the waves of migrants being sent over here by our former allies, neglecting the fact that we have the legal right to say ‘no’. There has even been talk of peace being threatened by leaving the EU, despite it being the job of NATO, and not the EU, to keep conflict as a last resort for any country. In all honesty, Cameron has gone to Brussels, come back with very little in his much anticipated negotiations, and is now trying to scare the public into thinking that the World as we know it would end if an ‘Out’ vote was reached. The lack of substance and detail to his £9 million leaflet (propaganda) demonstrates that the Remain side are not only clutching at straws, but they are scared of the Leave Campaign. I am here to say that leaving the EU is the only sensible option for us as a country. There are a number of key points that will affect how each individual member of the British public will vote on the 23rd of June, some more significant than others. The three words that appear to crop up most often when Europe is discussed are Sovereignty, Immigration and Safety. Here I shall try to justify why leaving the EU will contribute positively in all 3 of these areas of the debate, and subsequently why a ‘Remain’ vote would be a missed opportunity in both the short and long run for Great Britain.
Sovereignty is defined as ‘the supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed by a state or community’. In other words, it is the ability to govern what goes on within a country, and so it is immediately apparent as to why this is such an important part of the EU debate. In order to be a part of the EU, and subsequently the single market, we as a nation currently have to abide by a number of rules set in Brussels. Although these rules are implemented so as to supposedly benefit trade and prosperity for all members of the EU, there are a number of people who are now beginning to question this. Last year, the top executives of JCB, one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing companies, stated that they felt it was time for Britain to leave the EU so as to remove the unnecessary and bureaucratic nature of these laws, with red tape limiting the progress of businesses both big and small. Chairman Lord Bamford told the BBC back in May that the UK ‘could negotiate as our own country rather than being one of 28 nations in Brussels as we are today’. 4% of the U.K. Commission are from the UK, meaning that Britain has the most people per representative out of all of the EU countries. Over 60% of the laws in the UK are made by this unelected European Council. That is what the argument boils down to for me, in that as one of 28, it is very difficult to get the interests of our own countries across.
This was made all the more apparent when Cameron’s relatively small demands were met with stubborn refusal by many EU member states. It is not only the big business’ that are being affected by the EU, with some polls showing as many as 2 in 3 small businesses are now in favour of Brexit. According to recent polls, since 2010, the UK has opposed 72 measures within the EU Council, all of which are now laws, with 25% of these taking place within the last 2 years. When Cameron talks of our great influence on the actions of a great Union, and how leaving the EU would hinder our power on the world stage, I believe that we as the public should take it with a pinch of salt. In 1971, we were told by Edward Heath that there would be ‘no erosion of essential sovereignty’. 45 years later, things have clearly changed.
Immigration and sovereignty are linked in that without the sovereignty to decide who and how many people can enter our country, the immigration numbers are out of our hands. The government recently released figures, stating that net migration has reached 323,000, with an estimated 904,000 having arrived since 2010. This evidently shows that immigration is on the rise, rapidly, and that David Cameron has a long way to go before net migration is in the ‘10s of thousands’ that he is seeking. To put these figures into perspective, in the post war decades, we were taking on between 30,000 and 50,000 each year. Now I am not going to tell you that migrants come over here, steal our jobs, scrounge off of benefits paid for by tax payers and do not contribute to society. However, do I think that the levels of migration into the UK is healthy? No I do not. Although migrants take a variety of jobs, of both high and low skill and contribute to vibrant local communities, the reality is, with immigration already at over 300,000, and only likely to rise thanks to the governments new living wage (the wage being introduced in 2016 will be 7 times than that of Romania), our country is going to struggle to cope. Having a parent who works in the NHS, I know first hand that due to a limited budget and an ageing and ever growing population, our public services are struggling to handle the extortionate numbers of people within our country. What baffles me even more, is that we continue to let people in when we currently have a serious housing crisis where the demand is simply too high for the supply that is currently being given. What can we do about it, while we remain in the EU?
Absolutely nothing. Cameron has managed to scrape a deal for the UK that spreads the benefits given to EU migrants across a 4 year time period, but I fail to see how that will help the problem, that is simply the sheer number of people entering our country. Another benefit of being in control of our borders is that, when we control the supply of labour entering our economy, taking people with skills that are needed and not flooding the market, wages will almost inevitably rise. And finally, a fact that is almost always neglected when this debate is brought up, if we had more controllable levels of migration from within the EU, there is no doubt that we would be able to help those who truly need it. There is a humanitarian crisis occurring in Syria, with people fleeing for their lives. But due to EU laws, we are simply unable to do enough. The crisis has been handled appallingly, with EU countries failing to come up with a feasible solution, resulting in the burden being taken almost singlehandedly by Germany. Although I strongly disagree with opening the borders like Angela Merkel has done, which I believe will have contributed to even more deaths from people being smuggled by people traffickers (and has now resulted in Germany having to close their borders), there is no doubt in my mind that outside the EU, we could do more to help the people whose lives are in danger.
And finally, on the topic of danger, I shall conclude my argument with the problem of safety. The safety of jobs. The safety of our economy. The safety of our own people. There are people on both sides, passionately advocating that either staying or leaving is the only logical option. Jobs and the economy are clearly a primary interest to the public, as leaving the single market seems does seem like a step into the unknown. Comparisons to Switzerland and Norway are often drawn, as these countries, despite deciding to stay outside of the EU, are forced to abide by a number of its laws and pay membership to access the single market. I believe that this is quite frankly a poorly formulated argument. We are not Switzerland or Norway. We are Great Britain. The fifth biggest economy in the world. The people from Wall Street who state that it would be a fatal error for the UK to leave the EU are the same people who predicted (wrongly) that failing to join the Euro currency would prove to be a mistake. There is no doubt in my mind that if we were to leave the EU, it would be in the interest of both parties to set up a reasonable and fair trade deal that benefits all involved. Another thing that is swept under the rug too often by Project Fear is the subsequent ability to trade with the rest of the world. Iceland, a country with a growth rate of 3.16%, currently has a free trade deal with China. Not only could we set up trade deals with EU member states, but we could also reach out and form new and better trading bonds with China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States amongst others. People often ask me ‘what will happen while all these deals are being set up? Will the Channel Tunnel be blocked up and the country will be forced into fighting each other for food and water?’.
The answer is, nothing will happen. The EU states that if a country wishes to leave, while negotiations are taking place, the current deal carries on until a new one is found. Another prominent issue for me is the safety of our country. The Paris Attacks of last year demonstrated that with thousands of people flooding through the economically bare Greece, there is the strong likelihood that there are now a number of people within Europe that want to cause harm to our country, amongst others. The head of Europol has stated that up to 5,000 members of ISIS could now be operating within the EU. To compound my worry, the EU now wishes to invite Turkey to become a member, a country that is plagued by political turmoil, as well as the minor issue of it bordering on to Syria, Iran and Iraq. There have now been 3 terrorist attacks in Ankara, the Turkish capital, within the last 6 months. It is surely unwise to invite a nation with this much political and social conflict into the EU, completely irregardless of its dangerous geographical positioning.
The strong drive by a number of EU countries, including our own, to get Turkey into the EU, truly summarises what it has now become. It was once a close knit collection of countries seeking economic success. Now, with 28 countries, it has become far too big to manage, with a number of countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal all suffering economic catastrophes due to its failing economic policy. It is more of a theatric and overdramatic popularity contest in which Germany wins every time. It is now time to jump from this sinking ship and reach out to the rest of the world. It is only by doing this, making this once in a lifetime situation, that the true potential of Great Britain can be unleashed on the world stage. It is time to act. Now.