Naked Politics Blogger
Following up on Naked Politic’s well-written article on why the UK should stay in the EU, I thought it would be apt in the interests of balance to lay out 10 counter arguments for why the UK should leave.
1) The EU undermines British democracy – Because the European Parliament makes laws on an EU-wide basis, we are in the bizarre situation of non-British representatives making laws which affect the UK and likewise British representatives are helping to make laws affecting other member states. For many people opposed to Britain’s EU membership, this is a matter of principle – the UK should be governed by British representatives only and the only way to achieve this is by leaving the EU.
2) Leaving the EU will not stop Britain from trading with Europe – A common argument against leaving the EU is that it will shut us off from the European market but this claim is not borne out by the facts. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland for example are not members of the EU but have access to the single market through the European Free Trade Association. Furthermore, the UK is a huge market for many EU member states so it would make little sense for European exporters to cut off such a large market.
3) Leaving the EU will allow the UK greater trading freedom – If the UK were to leave the EU, we’d be allowed to pursue our own wide-ranging bilateral trade agreements with other economic powerhouses such as the US, China, India, Brazil and Japan far more easily.
4) The EU is wasteful – Vast sums of money have been spent on unnecessary and inappropriate projects such as £760,000 for a “gender equal” cultural centre which was never built, over £350,000 for a project to get European children to draw each other and £155,000 for a Portuguese golf resort. Of course, the UK government too wastes money but why subject ourselves to more waste than we have to, particularly in the age of austerity?
5) The EU is not transparent – Many EU laws are discussed and drafted in informal meetings held between the “trilogue” – representatives of the European parliament, European Commission and EU Council. No public records are published on the content of these meetings. An example of this is the secret TTIP negotiations which are taking place right now. Read our article about that here.
6) The UK does not need the EU to be relevant on the world stage – Supporters of the EU often argue that we must remain in it to stay relevant but much of our clout does not come from our membership of the EU. We are one of only 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, we are members of the world’s most powerful military alliance in NATO and we are key players in the IMF and the World Bank. On the other hand, the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy is toothless and requires unanimity before new policy stances can be adopted. The EU is credible because states like the UK and Germany are members, not the other way around.
7) There can be no fair, controlled immigration policy while the UK is a member of the EU – Because of the EU’s free movement of people policy, member states are unable to place any meaningful controls on EU migrants, meaning that member states may only set a limit on the number of non-EU migrants that are able to enter the country. As a result, the UK has had to turn away skilled immigrants to the UK this year at the same time as being powerless to turn away non-skilled EU migrants. If you believe in controlled immigration, it can only be fair with Britain outside the EU.
8) The EU has done little to ensure peace in Europe – It is often argued that the only reason why Europe has largely been at peace since World War II is because of the EU, but this ignores the fact that it was NATO and the American nuclear umbrella, not the EEC (as it was then known) which was responsible for stopping an East-West conflict during the Cold War, for example. Furthermore, the EU did little to stop the conflicts on its doorstep in the Balkans during the 90s. Even if the EU were to disintegrate, war between European states would be no less irrational and unlikely than it is now.
9) The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – This policy is essentially a gigantic EU subsidy for the agriculture industry and takes up around 40% of the entire EU budget. Because the UK has a relatively small agriculture sector (approximately 0.6% of the economy compared to 3.6% in France for example) this means that CAP costs the UK rather than benefits it.
10) For the EU to properly work, even more integration is required – The crisis in Greece demonstrates that for the EU project to really work, there needs to be complete political and economic integration. Only through passing even more powers to the EU Commission, can the union overcome many of its efficiency problems. However, further integration is not something many people in the UK are comfortable with, including this author. Free trade and the common market are good things but we must not let our country be absorbed into a “United States of Europe” where the European interest trumps the British interest.
Regardless of which way you vote in this referendum, it is important that you vote according to your own beliefs and nobody else’s. In the coming year there will be a plethora of people from the Prime Minister right down to bloggers such as myself trying to convince you which way to vote, but ultimately the choice is up to you.