David Cameron and George Osborne seem confident of successful renegotiations of Britain’s relationship with Europe. They wish to remain in the EU, as long as they can achieve their goals of greater political autonomy; essentially they are fighting to maintain the ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ of Westminster, that has been eroded over the past decade and a half by the EU.
Europe, however, is not the great demon that many euro-sceptics would have you believe. It is not some freedom and resource consuming monster that is doing nothing for us apart from steadily leaking immigrants into the country who sit around all day trying to imagine new ways to funnel our precious tax money away from hard working individuals. We as a country depend on it for a lot more than we realise. 3.5 Million jobs depends on EU trade, that is greater than the sum of the population of the UK’s 6 biggest cities after London (Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford and Liverpool); half of all UK trade is with Europe, that is 700,000 companies, all of whom who would risk losing business.
As for the so called ‘immigration problem’ the independent Office for Budget Responsibility says the economy relies on migrant labour and taxes paid by immigrants to keep funding public services. European immigration accounts for less than half of immigration to the UK (http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/01/graphics-britain-s-referendum-eu-membership), and mass migration to the UK is in part what has fuelled UK growth. Damn all those immigrants coming over here…. taking our jobs…. helping to stoke economic growth and rebuild the economy…. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?
The EU has improved air quality, sewage treatment, beach cleanliness, drinking water quality and cut destruction of protected nature sites by 93%. It has protected workers rights on paid holiday time, pensions, part time work, temporary work, maternity pay and excessive working hours and working conditions. It has reduced fraud, stopped airlines producing misleading adverts, imposed price fixes in order to keep down prices of 1000’s of goods and as of next year mobile roaming charges whilst abroad in Europe will be abolished. (http://www.labourmovementforeurope.org.uk/oldsite/What%20has%20the%20Eu%20done.html)
This is the so called ‘red tape’ that the EU ‘constricts’ us with. Ask yourself, do you really want this current government to redraft legislation on all of the above areas?
I am not trying to say that the EU is perfect. Yes, the current arrangement needs to be looked at, in order to give ourselves more power to negotiate the effect of an ever greater political union upon us. But to simply withdraw altogether would be a massive step backwards after many years of progress, politically and economically. Thankfully at this very moment renegotiation is seeming like an increasingly more likely prospect, despite resistance from some EU leaders. David Cameron, George Osborne and even extreme Euro-sceptics like Chris Grayling all agree that if a successful reorganisation of our EU relationship can be achieved that their is no reason to leave. The danger comes at a knee-jerk reaction if they do not get all of their demands; to stay in the EU and slowly rearrange is much better than to throw all the toys out of the pram and roll off down the hill without thinking. As of this moment European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, along with Cameron and Osborne, expects to see an agreement reached at next months EU Summit (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/15/juncker-quite-sure-february-deal-britain-eu-membership-referendum). Until then all we can do it wait to see if Europe will forge a progressive future by allowing it’s constitution to flex and evolve, rather than become another America, a country chained to it’s nearly 250 year old document.