14 April 2016

European Union Referendum. In or Out?

In or Out EU Referendum 23rd June 2016 
Despite living in Cornwall, where there are more benefits to membership of the European Union (EU) than there are for some, I am still making up my mind whether to vote to remain part of the EU on June 23rd. 
Here's a few key issues from the EU debate which I've been considering before deciding which way to vote in what is probably the most important political question of our lifetime.
A peaceful and social Europe?
The EU certainly isn't all bad. We haven't had a war with Germany and Italy for a while and many of the social policies coming out of Europe have tempered an otherwise unthinking and rapacious free market. I have in mind improved employment rights, things like paternal leave and safety at work, but, on the other hand, surely these changes to workers rights could have been made here in the UK, if our elected MPs cared enough that is...
Is it right that EU Commissioners, that you probably have never seen, or even heard of, make many of the laws used to govern the UK?
The democratic argument for leaving the EU is that it's law making procedures and institutions are not democratic. Decisions are made in secret by EU Commissioners that are appointed and not elected.  Ultimately, the only way to stop these directives becoming enshrined in UK law is for a majority of the Council of Ministers to vote against them, but since the UK is only one voice in twenty eight our ability to influence decision making in Europe is minimal. On top of this mathematical reality, as other EU member states become increasingly aware that the UK is, at the very best, ideologically semi-detached from Europe, the hard core and more powerful members of the EU, i.e. Germany and France, are likely to dig their heals in and make it even more difficult for the UK's Ministers to have a meaningful say in Europe.
Here's the late Tony Benn speaking in 1975 on the undemocratic nature of the European Economic Community which later became known as the European Union:
What economic power has the UK got outside the EU?
If we decide to properly leave the EU, that is without a free trade agreement, the EU will be more expensive for UK to do business with and this reduce EU. It is also by no means certain that the international trade lost from the EU will automatically be replaced by trade with the rest of the world, or on such favourable terms. 
The reality of the situation is that the UK is no longer the superpower it was before the second world war and today ranks as the sixth largest economy in the world. Outside the EU free trade area it will be be more difficult for UK businesses to negotiate as good trading agreements, which will inevitably drag down economic growth. Add to this to this the rise of State Capitalism in Asia and it's not hard to imagine a lose-lose scenario emerging in the years ahead. In short, the decision to leave the EU has to consider the impact of Britain's reduced international stature.
If we end our marriage with the EU will it be a messy divorce?
In view of the power-shift away from the West towards the East, the long term economic benefit to the UK remaining of part of the EU is, I believe, marginal. Business need not fret too much. Businessmen the world over are sufficiently greedy to do deals irrespective of political systems. After all, the US and China are not members of the EU and they trade with us. Further, the UK consistently runs a trade imbalance with the EU meaning that we buy more from them than they buy from us. Does this mean, if the UK pulls out of Europe, that France and Germany will refuse to sell us their Renaults and BMWs? I doubt it. The EU economy is suffering enough without EU politicians not playing ball. No, coming out of the EU won't alter the balance of trade with Europe too much, not once it all settles down.
Should we have faith in UK democracy and cut ourselves loose of the European Union?
Overall, because of the undemocratic nature of the EU and the feeling I have of being disconnected from the EU political process, I am seriously considering  voting to come out of the European Union in the June 23rd and look forward with interest to the Remainer's headed by David Cameron, George Osborne and Theresa May to make the democratic and economic case for staying in...
In - Out Referendum
The case for Europe: The UK government's opinion on EU membership
More arguments for and against UK membership of the EU