On Britain

We live in a great nation. From Shakespeare to the Sex Pistols we have been at the forefront of world culture for thousands of years. We have led the world in engineering and science – Brunel, Faraday, Newton are just a collection of the brilliant minds who have guided international advances in technical and scientific theory. Britain adopted democratic principles before any other and in Britain we saw the birth of the Enlightenment. We saw the invention of football, golf, tennis and many others (even if our sporting abilities since then have been mixed!).

The United Kingdom has always led and we will continue to do so regardless of how we vote tomorrow. We have always been a world power and we will continue to be one regardless of how we vote tomorrow. The choice then, is not between ‘Big Britain in Europe’ or ‘Little England on its own’ but between ‘Britain as one voice in Europe’ or ‘Britain as a leading voice in the world’. In the European Union our influence is diminished. They have already spoken of how we are a bit-part player in their discussions, one voice drowned out among the din of 27 others.

Britain is, and always has been, a world leader. We will continue to be a world leader outside of the EU. Let us not talk Britain down and pretend that we wouldn’t be able to survive outside of the European Union – that is not in dispute. As the fifth largest economy in the world, we would be able to trade with every economy in the world – it is a simple fact that trade occurs when it is mutually beneficial, and trade with the fifth largest economy in the world is always mutually beneficial.

Those who say that we wouldn’t be able to trade with the EU fail to grasp that we make up 16% of their exports – the Remain campaign have been throwing around some vague figure of ‘only 3% of their GDP’ in the misunderstanding that a) a market growing at less than 1% per annum can afford the lose 3% of their GDP per annum; and b) that GDP is reflective of the effects of trade. 16% of the EU’s exports come to Britain – then the EU gains a multiplier effect which increases GDP further. In addition, around 12% of the EU’s imports come from Britain – meaning that the imposition of tariffs would reduce living standards by decreasing the amount European citizens can buy. Does trade sound mutually beneficial to you?

We are an economic powerhouse, so shall we stop pretending that we will be in ruins if we leave the EU. Trade with the EU and the rest of the world without having to pay the Common External Tariff will make us even more of a powerhouse. Diplomatically we are a world power. We drove through the climate talks and climate legislation that has guided international reform. Britain can stand on our own two feet and be a global player, driving global diplomacy and global cooperation, or we can be content to be one voice amongst twenty eight.

As the nation from whence the very ideals of democracy and liberalism emerged, it is time to become globalising liberals once again. Liberals have fought for tolerance and freedom of expression – rather than banning parties from speaking, let them speak and prove them wrong. Liberals have fought for strong formal democratic processes – ensuring formal powers are wielded by a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and not by some unaccountable and unelected group of 28. Liberals have fought for reducing barriers to trade and increasing globalisation – not some regressive customs union designed to protect the EU28 from competition.

I am proud to be from a country with such a strongly liberal history. A history of upholding democracy and toleration. Britain is a country worth fighting for – we are a strong and successful country and will continue to be one regardless of how we vote tomorrow. That being said, we can do so much better.

To paraphrase one of the greatest (and possible most apt) speeches from a British Prime Minister – this relationship with Europe has become a bad relationship. It has become a relationship based on the EU taking what it wants and ignoring those things that matter to Britain (like wide-scale reforms). The fact that the EU’s answer to the possibility of Brexit has not been to say, ‘But we work together so well and we can do so much together’, but rather the embattled cry of, ‘You’d be nothing without us’, says volumes about our relationship.

We are a great country. Inside the EU, outside the EU, we will still be a great country. Tomorrow, choose to realign our relationship with the EU. It’s not a case of Little England vs Big European – it is a simple choice between a Britain working, trading and cooperating with just the EU – or a Britain working, trading and cooperating with the EU and the world.

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