I am a supporter of the UK REMAINing in the EU. To me it is a no brainer for a shed load of entirely positive reasons including -:
- Membership of a Customs Union removing all tariffs and trade barriers as well as expensive border paperwork within a marketplace of over 500 million people.
- The Single Market concept and the level playing field it tries to create although it needs completion and to do that we have to be in to influence it.
- Freedom of Movement enjoyed by 2.3 million Brits and a few less EU migrants living and working in the UK where all the evidence shows they overwhelmingly contribute positively to the economy. Also, of course, allowing us all easier and cheaper holidays.
- It is where Workers’ Rights are protected across the Union in a way they would never be in the UK alone.
- There are also environmental protections across the board.
- Membership give support to Science including massive investment and through EU funded collaborative schemes in the UK.
- There is also support for Academia including educational exchanges through schemes like Erasmus.
- Despite the doubts expressed there are democratic controls – this is controversial in some quarters as I know only too well but the EU does have the appropriate checks and balances and we are hardly democratic ourselves with a government holding a majority but elected by less than 50% of the votes cast AND with an unelected 2nd chamber. I do however agree that the EU can appear distant.
- The EU has the ability to make better deals for trade around the world as it is a larger trading block than the UK alone.
- Important to me is the fact that the EU and its predecessor organisations have contributed positively to peace in Europe. Some will say that is NATO but they would be wrong as that organisation is only concerned with external defense.
- We can trade with the rest of the world as well as the EU with a common set of agreed rules.
- Sadly, leaving the EU could lead to the break-up of the UK.
- The peace process in Northern Ireland is at risk if controls have to be reintroduced on the Irish Land Boundary and even more so if the Common Travel Area is abrogated.
The above list is not exhaustive and if anybody gets nit-picky it can be extended. Now, with the best will in the world, leaving the EU is a gamble as nobody knows what will happen but extracting ourselves and negotiating new trade arrangements will take years (some experts say 10 or more world-wide) during which time our economy could implode. It is incumbent on the Brexiters to paint a positive and fact based picture of a post-Brexit UK – they wont of course as they cannot.
There are those that say the Remain campaign uses fear and is negative. This is a total distortion as all we do is point out the difficulties that are brushed aside by leavers in their rush to the exit door that they are trying to push open.
We do ask questions of leavers and the main one (see the previous paragraph) is simply not answered – they do not know what is the other side of the door they so desperately try to open. They cannot know what lies in the future but then neither can we.
The difference is that support of the status quo (as adapted by Cameron’s piece of paper) is what it is. If REMAIN win on June 23rd then people have certainties about the kind of world they will be living in going forward from the 24th but this is denied to you by Leave if they win as that will send us in to a black-hole consisting mostly of uncertainty. The Leave campaign, at a political level, is to a large extent made up of opportunist bandwagon jumpers that have flip – flopped on the EU issue (some several times).
I spoke in the last paragraph of Leave uncertainty but one thing is for sure. They will point to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and say that the remainder EU will have to negotiate a deal with us.
The facts are that they do have to negotiate but reaching a deal is an entirely different matter. So let us quickly examine the basis of their claim.
Article 50 states-:
1) Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2) A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3) The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4) For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5) If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to re-join, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
Effectively from day one we cannot be denied a right to leave and we would get 2 years to negotiate a brand new arrangement with the remainder EU. That is straightforward and positive however we must remember that that both sides around this negotiating process will have widely divergent positions. The UK, according to Leave, want everything that is good and none of the painful shared responsibilities or the one thing that irks them the most – the free movement of labour.
The remainder EU will however see this entirely differently and this isn’t being negative it is practical negotiating. They would like the UK to stay in the single market as this benefits all parties but for them this cannot be at any price as there will be nervous inward glances and they will want to discourage any other desertions.
I suspect that their minimum requirement will be the Norway option of paying to access and accepting all rules including the free movement provisions. On this basis it is unlikely that we will reach an agreement after two years have elapsed, yes a hard fact alert – it will take that long before anything at all changes.
If it looked like an agreement was possible we could extend those negotiations for up to the end of a third year. It is possible that a solution could be found but somehow I doubt that the other member states would want a deal at any price and, in particular, one that did not allow free movement.
Therefore, at some point in the 3 years, we are likely to walk away with nothing and the Customs Union will be denied us and tariffs re-imposed. The freedom of movement will fall away and we will have to reintroduce controls on what are now EU workers and UK citizens living and working elsewhere in the EU will possibly subject to controls themselves from their host nation.
I can hear squeals at this point from the Brexiters that I am contributing to the fear but honestly I am not – Article 50 is clear on the process and they could still grasp the nettle and tell us what will happen.
There has, of course, been talk recently of leaving and then negotiating a better deal before holding a second referendum (please I can’t go through this again) although Article 50 does allow for lapsed members to rejoin. Any such application will be treated under Lisbon under Article 49 as a new application so it may entail some of the things that we have currently got protection from such as membership of the Euro.
I believe that any second deal will be worse than what is currently on offer as the EU will be very unwilling to accede to anything very much from us as we will have caused them to deal with us rather than confront the real issues affecting the Union which are many (I am the first to admit that) including the ongoing Refugee issue, the Euro crisis (something that we currently have protection from as part of the revised deal) and the collapse of Schengen (not our problem in the current arrangement).
We are positively better off REMAINing – that is completely clear. If you think otherwise, please tell me positively, how leaving will make anything at all better as I simply cannot see it.
The big elephant in the room is Immigration, Asylum, Refugees, Economic migration and the free-flow of EU labour both in to and out of the UK (our people do live and work in other member states in great numbers). I will issue a piece confronting this issue soon.
If you have got this far, I thank you.
Thanks to Stuart Wilson, a member of the Say Yes 2 Europe – Remain in the EU alliance.