On Thursday the 23rd we have to make a decision which will affect all of our futures. The type of future we have as a nation will be determined by the decision we make. We need to decide whether we want to be internationalist – looking beyond the protectionist customs union in which we reside and trading with the whole world – or whether we are content to trade exclusively with the European Union. We need to decide whether we want the governments we elect to pass the legislation we mandate them to or whether we are happy to place our collective destinies in the hands of people whose decisions we cannot hold into account.
When we consider the referendum only in the context of the present it is far too easy to consider just the short term gains from either route. What we need to do is to look more long term. If you dislike the Conservative government of today, do not use that as a reason to vote to Remain in the European Union as you feel it provides some sort of check and balance on the present government. Governments come and go – where you dislike the government of the day you are free to lobby them, to hold them to account and to vote them out – where you dislike the actions of the EU, tough – you have no way of voting out the people with formal power to propose that legislation.
I’d like you to consider the future. Do you want to be able to influence the legislative agenda? Do you want to vote out your representatives if you disagree with them? Do you want your voice to count in the political process and make a difference? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then the EU is not for you in the long term. Increasingly centralised and increasingly taking on the characteristics of a nation – perhaps the EU’s greatest irony is that it’s formal legislative powers (which in its own democratic requirements for member states are what are considered important) lie exclusively with an undemocratic body.
I want to live in a Britain where any body that enacts the legislation that governs us is one in which we can vote out its legislators, one where we can hold the legislators to account. I want the policies that we mandate our government to enact to be enacted – if the Conservatives are mandated by the British public to implement a cap on migration, they should have the legislative capacity to do so. If the Labour Party are mandated by the British public to nationalise the railways, they should not be impeded by an unelected bureaucracy in their attempts to do so.
Today, trade with the European Union accounts for somewhere between 40% and 45% of our total trade, dependant on the statistic you use and your estimate of the Rotterdam Effect. That’s down from 55% ten years ago and reflects the growing importance of non-EU markets in the world economy. The European Union’s share of world trade and world GDP has been continuous declining over the last twenty years and with growth in the Eurozone stagnant, this shows no sign of faltering. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland are just some of the EU’s economies facing default or uncertain economic futures.
With such low growth and the weakness of the aforementioned economies, amongst others – Remain’s claim that the UK would fail to get an attractive deal with the European Union seems unfounded. With the United Kingdom representing the largest export destination for the EU27 and with particular consideration of the impact that losing approximately 16% of their exports would have on a stagnant economy (whereas UK export-losses in a worst-case scenario would be offset by the benefits of removing the Common External Tariff on UK-non EU trade) it is clear that both sides would receive economic benefits from a continuation of some form of free trade relationship and thus the economic incentives for trade make a UK-EU free trading arrangement a certainty.
What we are offered by leaving the European Union is a future where we can trade freely with the growing markets of the world – including China, India and the United States – and with the established economies of the EU27. We are offered the opportunity for the businesses we work in and found in the future to trade globally, rather than just within the European Union.
We are being offered the chance to retake our seat on the World Trade Organisation and have a voice in the negotiations on regulations which govern international trade – the top table, if you will. We can, we must, and we shall have a voice in those regulations – as opposed to one twenty-eighth of a voice.
Don’t look at the status quo, look at the future. The European Union is increasingly expansionist and statist – its future is very much in further integration and further power to an undemocratic body. Outside the EU we can have a global future – trade with the EU and the world unimpeded by a Common External Tariff, rather than just with the EU. Outside the EU we can have a democratic future – where our legislators are elected by – and accountable to – us, and where the governments we elect can enact the legislation we mandated them to.
Outside the EU we can have a better future. On June 23rd, vote for that future – vote Leave.