Should We Leave The EU?

Last week PM David Cameron promised voters a referendum on our membership of the EU. To proviso is that it won’t actually take place until at least 2017, by which time the PM hopes to have negotiated us a much better deal, regained control of some powers and won the 2015 General Election, of course.

In the unlikely event all of those things happen, Cameron will be trying to persuade voters to keep Britain in the EU. In any event, his negotiations are likely to include looking to secure access to the single market – one of the biggest advantages the EU offers – whilst also taking back powers from Brussels, which many consider to be the downside of EU membership.

However, the other member nations will not be too keen to see that happen. Why would they agree to Britain taking a package suited only to itself, while they have to abide by the same EU rules and regulations as before only to enjoy the same benefits?

It makes no sense at all – you can’t simply pick and choose the parts of the membership deal you want and drop the rest. It doesn’t work that way. You can, though, try to re-negotiate your position, along with the other EU nations, making the union more beneficial for all involved, including Britain.

But what about the Euro sceptics? All those Conservative back-benchers who want out of the EU altogether; the members of the public who have had the idea of going alone planted firmly in their heads; and the rapidly-growing-but-still-quite-small United Kingdom Independence Party (or UKIP if you want to use the annoying abbreviation).

You know the kind, the ones who say we pay far too much and get very little back, the EU holds all the power, and so on… Well, quite frankly they’re wrong.

The amount we actually pay to the EU each year accounts for a very small proportion of the tax the average person pays – about £28 for somebody earning £25,000 per year. In comparison to the welfare bill – to which the same person would contribute around £1900, it really is a tiny proportion.

And the benefits we get from being members? Well, the biggest of all is probably access to the single market which supports our exports to other EU members (around 50% of Britain’s total exports – a huge trading partner), which in turn supports thousands of British jobs. That same access also makes us more attractive to outside investors, many of whom have their European Headquarters in Britain, as well as other EU nations; German companies, for example, employ around 400,000 people in Britain.

So the EU certainly makes us stronger than we would be alone, but once again, the Euro sceptics would say we could strike the same deals without being a member state. And to an extent, that’s true; Norway isn’t a member of the EU but still has access to the single market. Norway also adopts 75% of EU legislation but has no say on how it’s formed. Turkey is another often-cited example, which has access to the single market, but only for goods, not services.

But that’s enough talk about how the EU affects us, what about the referendum itself?

Well, if on the off-chance we are given the opportunity to vote (please bear in mind there’s a better chance Cameron will lose the next election and then resign as party leader), most people would probably want us out of the EU, but I’m convinced that is only down to the right-wing press which blights us with negative stories about the EU. But, hey, they have to sell papers, right?

Before any referendum takes place, though, we would need to be properly educated on the mighty subject, otherwise nobody would be able to make an informed decision. Although, at this point, I’d consider the recent AV referendum, when in the process of explaining the simple system to the electorate, the government actually served to complicate things. Who’s to say a similar situation wouldn’t occur again?

So then, that should’ve cleared a few things up for you, but don’t worry too much about the referendum – it’ll probably never happen.

Suite B,
Windsor Business Centre,
Trinity Point,
B63 3HY