Should we stay or should we go?: EU Referendum Debate
Miles Howell and Alex Owers offer their views on the upcoming EU referendum on 23 June from the opposing sides of whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union.
Miles Howell for leaving the EU:
The use of ‘Project Fear’ from the Remain campaign has been a great success in rallying wavering voters to its cause. The term ‘leap in the dark’ has often been bandied around in the attempt to play up the vision of a nightmarish world outside the EU. I find this curious as we know what it looks like for Great Britain if it left the EU: we would be a sovereign self-governing state just like most of the other countries in the world.
If the EU was so necessary to govern peoples, then think why is not every other country lining up to join it. In fact, the Parliament of Switzerland has recently ended its 24-year old bid to apply for EU membership. The idea that Britain would be absolutely nothing without being ruled from Brussels is patently absurd; our country had been an independent nation for hundreds of years before we joined the European Economic Community (as it was known then) back in 1973. The only real leap in the dark I can see is staying in the EU and thus edging closer towards its aim to an ‘ever closer union’.
Make no mistake; the EU is committed to becoming a fully-fledged federal state, a United States of Europe so to speak. When we last had a vote on this matter in 1975 the British public were told that remaining in the EEC would result in no loss in sovereignty and that it was purely economic organisation – a claim made by people we know now where lying through their teeth. Since that date the power of our Parliament has slowly been eroded as Brussels has gained more and more power over our country and its laws. The pretence of the EEC as only a trading block was given up in 1992 when the signing of the Maastricht Treaty created the EU. Since then the EU has created its own currency, parliament, and has had plans for an army. If we vote to remain we could be seeing a situation where our country is stripped of its strength and becomes merely a province in a European superstate.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews)
Many stories that Project Fear has used do not hold up to scrutiny. Take for instance, the claim by French politician Emmanuel Macron that France would tear up our the Le Touqet agreement that lets British border police operate in Calais and thus send hundreds of migrants into Kent. This threat is hardly keeping in the spirit of greater co-operations and good relations across Europe that so many federalists believe in. In fact, the Le Toquet agreement has nothing to do with the EU and was set up in order to benefit both France and Great Britain.
Do not listen the scare stories that tell us that we are weak and can only rely on Brussels to do well. The same rhetoric was used before we decided to not join the Euro, and luckily we saw sense on that occasion as the Eurozone has caused misery for those who went along with it. Just look at Greece, for instance.
Great Britain has thrived in the past long before the EU was just a glint in the eye of the federalists, and I believe if we enter the world stage unrestrained by Brussels on our own we will thrive.
— YouGov (@YouGov)
Alex Owers for remaining in the EU:
Although I am limited to very few words on a topic where many words can be expressed, I start by offering a rebuttal some of the general messages of my own side, namely of the pseudo-reasoning that Brexit should preempt Britain’s total ostracism as a European nation, pushing us further leftward into the open water of the Atlantic, which is a lavishly self-deceiving Clegg-ian view. Granted, it may not win us any favours with some EU countries, but the proverbial wedge in between Britain and continental Europe is not a forthcoming analogy in this instance. Indeed, it is rather clear that a trade deal would be struck soon after a Brexit – although the neatness of this deal remains a hazy prospect. But all that being said, there is indubitably a case to be made with regards to ‘solidarity’.
The EU transudes some of the most elegant postures of the cosmopolitan ideal and the globalised world: it is estimated that some 1.5-2million Britons live in other EU countries enjoying health care and other social benefits. Atop of this migration, which must be stated clearly and honestly to ourselves is mutual, the UK enjoys a multitude of other meliorating byproducts of being in the EU such as cross-sector business enhancement which includes the obvious and the sometimes overlooked. For example, the EU is granting £27.8m in subsidies for the farming industry between 2014 and 2020, which will help to restore Britain’s farming market to something of better colour considering the long-debilitating state of its agricultural sector. Higher education is another area where the EU’s policies are positively felt, take our own University for instance, which has received bountiful grants from the European Commission, accompanied by an ever-increasing profusion of study opportunities abroad.
PM: Taking advantage of the single market is one of the ways this country has made itself great https://t.co/4G1FBUhkSP
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov)
Indeed, it is easy to continue in this vein, stipulating all the things we have heard numerous times over from both sides (quickly typing in the pros and cons of Brexit in Google does this satisfactorily), with each diatribe slackening or rotund depending on the voice. But of all the flippancy, speculative comments, and conjecture, none, on either side, is as poorly thought through as Brexit serving as a ‘reprieve of sovereignty’. This jingoistic hyperbole assumes that Brexit would coincide with a re-aggregation of power in the hands of the ‘elected’: now, I don’t wish to cart the argument into something else, but this supposed restoration of power will not invocate a national day of liberation on 23 June, partially because who is ‘elected’ represent only a portion of voters, and because the EU at times during a Tory tenure serves as a protectorate as much as it is anything else, helping to ebb its policies of self-service. Some might contend that the EU, or more specifically the European Commission is just as shady and soiled as Britain’s quasi-democracy, which again is a fair critique, though reform of the EU is a topic duly under scope, somewhat present in Cameron’s ‘new deal’, and a concern for most EU countries on the periphery and growingly in the centre.
With regards to our own political stasis, change is not forthcoming, but even if it was, would we not be better off affecting it while in? Sure, there are glaring inefficacies in the EU’s structure at present, possible augmented connection with the world outside of Europe might also belay an out-vote, but for the most part, aside from the available quants that are somewhat transparent, the majority of the debate is conjecture, but the question one must ask is whether fighting for a better Europe and a better Britain is best done in or outside the club. Severance of ones membership from anything seldom invites hostility from ones former ‘friends’, and we should not be bullied into a decision, except perhaps by our own gut and feeling.
For regardless of its problems, of which there are many, I personally do not think that the EU’s imagination is completely lost, and with the right engagement with it, its ideals can further be pursued to the lasting benefit of Europe and Britain.