Why We Should Remain in the EU

Why we should remain a member of the EU

This post has been written in response to a Facebook argument with a couple of Leavers. I have chosen to post my response here so I can amend and polish it more easily than on Facebook.

These remarks are not completely organised and I am not taking the time to provide sources (from some of which I have plagiarised the occasional phrase) though I may add them later. I also touch on some of the Leaver arguments. Although they do not constitute reasons to remain, the invalidity of many of those arguments weakens any case for leaving.

The Common Market/EEC/EU has been instrumental in keeping peace and spreading democracy within Europe for the last 70 years. This was recognised by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Destabilisation of the EU is not something I wish to see; it seems that some like Putin would be happy for this to happen. It does seem that the threat of Brexit has strengthened the belief of other member countries in the EU.

Membership of the EU improves our political influence by being an important member of the world’s largest single market. There are two military powers in Europe; being inside the EU means we can leverage our power more than being outside. The UK is one of the leading powers in one of the most important organisations on the planet.

Barack Obama: “[Having the UK in the European Union] gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union and is part of the cornerstone of institutions built after [the] second world war that has made the world safer and more prosperous.”

Our participation in EU organisations like Europol increases our security.

Membership of the EU has improved the health of the UK economy from the sick man of Europe to one of the strongest. This has translated to improved standards of living for most people.

The UK benefits from third party countries establishing bases in the UK as a gateway to the Single Market. Increased Foreign Direct Investment is also a consequence of our membership.

The economy will be damaged should we leave the EU. The immediate fall in sterling after the referendum result indicates that the “market” doesn’t think it’s a good idea. The effect of this is impacting consumers as inflation rises. More and more companies are announcing plans to shift their base from the UK. European agencies will have to move from the UK, costing jobs and auxiliary benefits such as revenue from visitors to those agencies.

To be clear: what is meant by damage is that in years to come the economy will be smaller should we leave the EU than it will be should we stay—not smaller than it is now. Growth will be slower, say the great majority of informed commentators. The notable economist exception is Patrick Minford, but his methodology is regarded as suspect.

Membership of the EU improves trade by removing barriers and ensuring that all goods are produced to the same minimum standards. The EU has free trade or other preferential agreements with over 100 countries that are in force or require only final formalities. The EU is negotiating trade agreements with countries including Japan, India, Mercosur (which includes Brazil and Argentina), Australia and New Zealand. What’s left? The US, China and Russia. The bargaining power of the UK alone in attempting to make bilateral agreements will be much less than that of the EU.

It also not true that countries will be lining up to do trade deals with us. Several countries have already made it clear that their priority would be a deal with the EU before the UK.

Being a member of the EU benefits our science community by allowing access for the greatest minds in Europe to work in our universities easily.

Being a member of the EU allows businesses to attract from a wide pool of talent. The evidence on the impact of workers coming to the UK under freedom of movement is overwhelmingly that they have a positive impact on the economy. They do not take jobs from UK workers. They do not drive down the wages of UK workers. There is some evidence that the wages of the lower earners among foreign workers are depressed slightly by the inflow of foreign workers.

Membership of the EU improves our culture by widening diversity and giving ready access for our artists to alternate culture and ideas.

The environment, consumers and workers have benefitted from the regulations and standards introduced across the EU. And for businesses: if you can sell it legally in the UK, you can sell it anywhere in the EU.

Many of these protections would be under threat if we leave the EU. Gove has already shown an inclination to actions that would harm the environment. So-called free traders argue that the UK should unilaterally remove tariffs, which would have a devastating impact on what remains of UK manufacturing.

Roaming charges for mobile phones is a good example of a benefit that accrues to millions of us travelling around the EU. EU standards for energy efficiency are saving us all money. Of course, some people don’t pay attention, or pay too much attention to the wrong sources (like The Mail) and think that proposals for standards on vacuum cleaners means we have to rush out a buy the most powerful one available. The EU proposal clearly states new cleaners must be equally efficient as cleaning while using less electricity. This is just another euromyth like bendy bananas and busty barmaids.

“Too much EU regulation?” Well, there are, at least, 79 people dead from the Grenfell fire caused by cladding that it would have been illegal to use in Germany.

Membership of the EU means that EU citizens can live, work and travel anywhere in member countries without visas. Note that this does not mean that citizens from other countries can come to the UK permanently to look for work or live off benefits. Anyone can come to the UK and work if they have a job. Anyone can come and look for work for up to three months. Anyone wanting to come for more than three months must have the means to support themselves. Otherwise they have to go home. Immigrants from outside the EU to other EU countries do not have the right to travel to the UK.

While on that topic: “uncontrolled immigration” is a charge for which the EU is made the scapegoat by Leavers. More bollocks! Citizens of new member states do not automatically gain the right to freedom of movement. There is a seven-year cap that Tony Blair chose not to apply in the case of countries like Poland. The EU had rules to manage the issue, but Bambi chose not to take advantage. These same rules would apply to any new members.

Slightly more people come to the UK from outside the EU. Our inability to control this is not the fault of the EU.

EU membership also means access to emergency healthcare when we are travelling in member states.

Globalisation is not the fault of the EU. It does have the clout to stand up to multinationals. Proposed regulations are about corporate taxation are the reason that some rich bastards supported the Leave campaign. The EU does not listen to people like Rupert Murdoch unlike some in the British government.

“We give the EU £350 million a week.” Most sensible people know that this was a flat out lie despite BoJo doing a Trump and doubling down on the lie. But relatively speaking, UK membership of the EU doesn’t cost that much. The UK’s net contribution to the EU budget is around 0.4% of GDP. The economy has benefitted by much more than that.

I read and hear many people arguing that the UK will negotiate agreements once outside the EU. Why should we need to do that when these agreements and treaties are already in place? The Economist as estimated that 759 treaties and agreements will lapse if we leave. How much this will cost us is probably unquantifiable, but I am sure the amount will not be trivial. We do not have the resources to renegotiate those agreements in any reasonable timescale. Being a member of the EU hasn’t stopped Germany exporting much more than the UK to the rest of the world. And being a member hasn’t stopped the UK from making huge trade deals with China.

The EU is not perfect, but UK membership has helped improve it, e.g., CAP takes much less of the budget than previously.

There are allegations made by Brexiters that are simply not true. For example, that the auditors haven’t signed off accounts; that Turkey is going to join and flood Europe with workers under free movement of labour; that the EU is going to have its own army. These charges are either not true or the facts misrepresented.

“We voted to join a common market not a political union.” In 1967, Harold Wilson gave a speech that made it clear there were political implications in joining.

The accusation that the EU is undemocratic is a standard Brexiter canard.

Europe can’t make any laws it likes. It can only act in areas that the 28 states have delegated to the EU. These are areas where it makes sense to work together sometimes, such as business, the environment and science. And it is not the European Commission that actually makes laws. EU commissioners are appointed by democratically elected national governments and the Commission is answerable to the European Parliament. The EU is not run by the unelected eurocrats of the commission that we hear all the time. It is actually run by the 28 governments working together in the council together with the European Parliament. Junckers can say what he likes, but unless 28 (or 27) national governments agree, it ain’t gonna happen.

“Take back control of our borders!” We never lost control of our borders. Everyone coming into the UK had their passport checked and the UKBA has the power to refuse entry to EU citizens who meet certain negative criteria. Any failure to control illegal immigration cannot be laid at the feet of the EU.

Federalism is a dirty word for Leavers. The world is connected: there are tiny bits within small bits within slightly bigger bits and so on. Fucking get used to it. Apart from the EU, the UK is a member of multiple international and global organisations up to and including the United Nations. These all confer certain rights and obligations; the world runs on compromise. We are all connected and we need to recognise the fact that and work with it. The UK will have more influence inside the UK than out. Notwithstanding that, the UK is not committed to join a federal Europe if we stay in. We weren’t even before David Cameron’s agreement last year.

“”You lost, shut up!”

“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.” David Davis, MP.

We are perfectly entitled to continue our opposition to Brexit. If this Government is stupid enough to go through with Brexit because, you know, “the will of the people” then we will be campaigning to rejoin as soon as possible. The 26% of UK citizens who voted leave want to strip the rights and benefits of EU membership from the rest of us based on the result of a referendum that was essentially a giant opinion poll because the result is not legally binding. It is a disgrace that the majority of MPs who supported Remain did not have the guts to do their job in a parliamentary democracy to look after the well-being of their constituents and the country by voting against the triggering of Article 50.

We Remainers think it is best for the UK to stay in the EU. We do not want the country to run off the edge of a cliff like a bunch of lemmings. Yes, I know that lemmings don’t commit mass suicide. Do you know why? They listened to the 48%.


  1. […] recently posted a response, Why We Should Remain in the EU,  as part of an ongoing debate with some Faceback Leavers. I was challenged to provide evidence […]

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