Friday, 4 March 2016

Collecting arguments for and against the UK leaving the EU

Like all serious-minded people in the UK, I'm collecting the strongest arguments for and against staying in the EU. I've not made my mind up yet.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:  
  • It does not appear that the EU, on its current trajectory to a single country called 'Europe' can be reformed by the UK. What do slogans such as "Better in a reformed Europe" and "Britain has more influence as a member of the EU" mean, in practice?  
  • The EU is in essence an atheist, secular organisation, which has no great sense of responsibility towards Christians (judging by its actions so far). However, the UK is very secular and very low on the table of 'religious' nations, in Europe
  • The UK does well on the corruption index. How does the EU do? Are we doing well because we work to maintain our own country?  Would the UK become more corrupt if 'Europe' were our country?
  • 19 countries regularly outvote the UK on Qualified Majority Voting. In 1973, it had 17% of the votes in Council. The UK now has just 8% of its votes.  Is that "nil points" - as the Eurovision Song Contest forever? 
  • The EU has helped keep the peace for 70 years in ultra-war prone Europe (war hotspot of the world) or was this mainly due to NATO? Europe needs something to bind these countries together (at least those nations on the mainland). Does this have to be a political Union?
  • Leaving the EU, when the euro is weak and the EU may not be able to cope as one body with the migration crisis could destroy the entire European (trading) Union.  The Germans, whose population is falling would be left with the burden of a weak euro, dipping economy, an ageing population and mass migration (for which there is no clear solution). BREXIT could be responsible for another potential catastrophe.
  • Who decides on UK's regulations and laws?  Is it unelected elites in other countries or ourselves? 
  • Outside the EU, the UK could throw off State Aids and VAT rules which prevents it helping its own industries and businesses. This could help offset a reduced income from 1-3% of our GDP (in a worst case scenario, there could be a greater loss from BREXIT).
  • Our benefits bill for EU workers could fall, but our tax receipts could fall too.  
  • We would probably have to compensate UK farmers to some extent for losing income from EU agricultural subsidies.  We could all end up considerably poorer.  Higher taxes.
  • The level of our trade with 13 EU countries is now at the same level as it was in 1973 having risen in the '80s and now fallen back.  In that time,  more developing countries have come on to the scene, such as India, Brazil, China and The Far East who were not potential trading partners in 1973.  This would give us other positive trading options. Individual trading deals might help offset lost trade with EU. However, financial services are 80% of UK trade now - we had more manufacturing in 1973.  
  • Would a vote for BREXIT mean the end for our own union with Scotland? 
  • Should one want to belong an unwieldy, static, centralised power bloc, ruled by unelected elites where there is nothing one can do can influence its (discriminatory or unwise ) decisions and outcomes? Doesn't history teach that similar empires collapse though their own lack of competitiveness/inertia e.g. USSR?
  • Small is beautiful - and governable. We could join a collective of small independent islands. The Commonwealth is strong on defending these. 
  • We would still belong to NATO, but our defences and military influence could be impaired. 
  • International crime and terrorism could be more difficult to combat due to lack of coordination with EU.
  • The British outside the EU could lose the right to live anywhere in Europe and draw their pension abroad. This right could be invaluable if, as if predicted by the Office of National Statistics, the UK's population is rising to 86m by 2070 as the largest country in Europe (with Germany's population reduced to 60m).
  • Staying in the EU, the British would be able to move abroad to benefit from lower property prices to escape the UK's heaving roads, burdened services and water shortages. No one would be able to buy its increasingly unaffordable houses (caused by lack of supply in a small island with limited land resources).
  • Is it the EU that keeps us doing anything on climate change and the environment?
  • What if the EU suddenly lurches in the direction of 'Trump' in response to uncontrolled migration  and sustained liberal policies i.e.  there is a popular far-right vote?  Where would it be safer to be - inside or outside the EU? 
  • Isn't the UK's historic role not to lead Europe at its heart, but to sometimes intervene to help keep the balance of power in Europe? Is that best undertaken outside the EU or at the heart of it?
  • The EU needs Britain and its powerful economy. If we vote out, maybe the EU will think again about agreeing to a 'two-track' Europe - one a trading unit and the other a political union? Maybe not and as a result, to deter other EU nations thinking of leaving, they will punish us severely?
  • They talk about a 'United States of Europe' - comparing it with the USA but the USA has elected Presidents and representatives who must face public scrutiny.  We are told that the EU is ruled by 'unelected elites'. 
  • If we vote in, will we still be forced into the euro in due course?
The British need to make a decision on these very difficult questions by 23 June. 

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