Brexit: Britain’s Colossal Mistake

On the 23rd of June, a vote will be put to the British public with regards to whether the United Kingdom should remain in the EU. This is a controversial, widely debated topic with advocates from either side employing various methods of propaganda to influence voters and potentially steer the results in their favour. The organisation of the referendum was one of Cameron’s obligations after guaranteeing that Britons will produce the final verdict as to whether the UK will prevail as an EU member as an element of his campaign when running for his second term as Prime Minister.After ignoring demands for this referendum in 2012, Cameron’s promise was largely made to satisfy Eurosceptic backbenchers and appeal to right-wing voters in a bid to augment his chances over UKIP, to whom the Conservatives seemed to be losing votes. Cameron himself is an avid supporter of the ‘Remain’ campaign and believes the merits to maintaining Britain’s position in the EU are far greater than the few benefits of leaving. For once, I actually agree with him.

Firstly, I disagree with the relinquishing of responsibility to make such a radical judgement to the public. I don’t trust that an informed decision will be drawn amidst all the bias, discrimination and indoctrination. Cries for sovereignty, freedom and ceasing immigration will easily oscillate the public. Concerning the argument of ‘returning Britain to its previous glory’, this will prove an impossible task. In fact, it doesn’t have a particularly glorious past, even preceding its unification with the EEC, but more a gruesome one instead (See the establishment of the British Empire). Yes, the EU regulates aspects and certain issues that the British parliament address such as the environment, agriculture, fishing, exportation and so on but I concur with this as I feel safer knowing that there is an external force that the national government must answer to. It prevents drastic changes and holds parliament responsible for their actions, making them less likely to take extreme measures and will force them to be more cautious.

EU conventions provide citizens worldwide with common human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. This includes the prevention of slavery and forced labour, equal pay, the freedom of fair trial, freedom of religion, freedom from torture and freedom of expression. Cases are presided over by forty-seven impartial judges that are appointed by the Council of Europeans. This method minimises the chances of corruption entering the courts while acting as an important institute of justice and authority. Brexit would mean that Britons would no longer be protected by it and would have no legal rights. While the UK could compose its own bill of rights, I cannot feel comfortable or assured in the possibility of Boris Johnson devising my rights. Additionally, although leaving the EU could perhaps terminate the EU’s management of particular aspects in the governance of Britain, the UK will also cease to have any input into one of the world’s largest power network of countries and will be isolated from what is happening around the world. It will have no control over actions that are taken in the EU and will abdicate any authority it currently has. The age of globalisation is upon us but for Britain, it could prove disastrous.

One of the core arguments that are exploited by the ‘Leave’ campaigners is the issue of immigration, which Britons don’t seem to believe will be mutual. Leaving the EU is a drastic measure to counter a matter that people are overreacting to. At the moment, working and travelling around the EU is simple and quick. Strict border control may prohibit foreign nationals entering the country but may also restrict the travel of British citizens to countries in the EU. What will happen to the thousands of British migrants who have established their lives elsewhere? Automatically, millions of jobs are in jeopardy (figures from the 2000’s indicate approximately 3 million) and for what? For uncertain promises amidst a precarious and unpredictable future? Furthermore, it will place a restriction on UK students who want to study abroad. This is consequential for them and will have repercussions not only for those striving to attend university abroad but those who will be participating in the Erasmus programme. Are we willing to gamble with people’s lives, simply for nationalism? We could potentially deter hundreds of scholars and intellectuals who could ultimately accomplish something that would revolutionise the world. Professor Adrian Favell outlined in an article for the London School of Economics that “Britain was ideally placed to attract the brightest and the best of the continent into its booming commercial, financial, media, high-tech, educational and creative sectors” and that leaving the EU could result in the loss of these potentials and would curb the selection that employers have when choosing potential workers. Not only is this debate sustaining racism, but also it is a feeding ground for it, allowing it to flourish. With all this in mind, wouldn’t tourism in Britain almost certainly decline? After all, who would want to visit a state where there’ll be racially abused after spending hours verifying their identities simply to get into the country itself?

When immigration is expended as a tactic to acquire support for a cause, it’s most likely not a beneficial or progressive cause. Although we might laugh at Trump’s extreme ideologies of banning Muslims, Mexicans and essentially anyone who isn’t a white American, won’t Britain be doing the same? The subject of immigration seems to lure out people’s most greedy, abhorrent and shameful selves. The worst and most illogical justification of this racist mentality is ‘they steal our jobs, homes and social welfare.”

Firstly, employment does not have any claims on it and neither does housing, land nor country. There is no one opportunity that is reserved for a white British person; the roles that become available are not tailored to a citizen of the UK. Instead, each candidate is considered equally. If you were a candidate that applied but failed to secure the job, it is most likely because the alternative applicant, the ‘foreigner’, was more impressive than you. More so than this, it is perplexing how individuals have the audacity to accuse people attempting to construct the foundations of a better life for themselves or their family in a country that’s more economically stable of ‘pilfering’ available resources and employment when they themselves are too indolent to procure a job and exploit social welfare in order to obtain an income with minimal exertion. Who would you prefer to have in your community?

In fact, UCL conducted a study that shows that “Immigrants who arrived since 2000 were 43% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits. They were also 7% less likely to live in social housing” and that “European immigrants who arrived since 2000 are on average better educated than natives (in 2011, 25% of immigrants from A10 countries and 62% of those from EU-15 countries had a university degree, while the comparable share is 24% among natives) and have higher employment rates (81% for A10, 70% for EU-15 and 70% for UK natives in 2011)”. In fact, they found that “European immigrants who arrived in the UK since 2000 have contributed more than £20bn to UK public finances between 2001 and 2011. Moreover, they have endowed the country with productive human capital that would have cost the UK £6.8bn in spending on education. “ Ergo, they are not a fiscal burden on the UK.

The Office for National Statistics has released a report containing the mathematical facts about immigration in the UK. In it, they have stated that “Of the 290,000 people who immigrated for work in YE September 2015 (up 25,000; not statistically significant), 59% (170,000) had a definite job to go to. 165,000 EU citizens came to the UK for work-related reasons. Of these, 96,000 (58%) came for a definite job and 69,000 (42%) came looking for work.”

Furthermore if one endeavours to start a new life in the UK but cannot acquire a job as of yet, it is most likely because they have not been presented with the same opportunities to be trained in skilled work as Britons have and are strangers in a different country where broken English may be their sole method of communication, whether they’re EU nationals or not. Without any assistance, however, how can anyone have such high expectations of another? Yet they continue to endeavour. The ONS further affirmed that “Latest employment statistics from the Labour Force Survey show estimated employment of EU nationals (excluding British) living in the UK was 2.0 million in October to December 2015, 215,000 higher than the same quarter last year. Non-EU nationals in employment increased by 38,000 to 1.2 million and the total number of British nationals in employment increased by 278,000 to 28.3 million. Therefore, nearly half of the growth in employment over the last year was accounted for by foreign nationals.”

The figures that Cameron claim to be true concerning migrants draining social welfare published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cannot be trusted as it is far too broad. One defect is that rely on tax credits. The DWP declared that 37% and 43% of EU migrants acquired some sort of welfare, a rather sweeping range. They also assert that 66% of them were in work. It is imperative to remember here that a migrant family is described as “where at least one adult is a migrant when issued with a national insurance number” by the HMRC. The Guardian went on to reveal that because of this definition, the numbers that were released showcasing the approximate total of EU nationals exploiting the benefits system “is likely to include thousands of British people who are part of the same family, possibly including children.” They also found that according to the office for National Statistics, there are 1.1 million couples living on British shores where one partner is a British national and the other a foreign national. That accounts for more than 7% of all couples.”

The Guardian also provided some context to the figures that were published, stating “EU migrants make up only a small proportion of the overall benefits caseload. They accounted for 2.5% of benefits the DWP administered in 2014 – mostly out-of-work benefits – in 2014, and 7% of tax credits, based on the HMRC definition discussed above. The DWP analysis says EU migrants on “in-work” benefits cost the taxpayer £530m in 2013. That represents a modest 1.6% of the year’s total tax credit bill.” More accurate figures cannot be calculated due to the DWP and HMRC refuses to disclose any figures to the Guardian.

Britain’s economy is imperilled. An OECD analysis, which was supported by the CBI, discovered that even at it’s most auspicious, each household faces the loss of £2,200 by 2020 subsequent to Brexit. The CBI additionally warns “leaving the EU would cost £100 billion to GDP by 2020 and lead to the loss of 950,000 jobs.” The value of the pound could also severely drop, according to The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.The IMF have already curtailed forecasts for the UK’s GDP in 2016 and has also warned Britain that if it were to withdraw from the EU, there would be severe consequences for the economy.

Leave campaigners attest that Britain pays £350 million a week to the EU, money that should instead be invested in the NHS. These figures have been recently discredited as Full Fact disclosed that the accurate sum is, in fact, £250 million on account of rebates. It was also unveiled that around £85 million of that money is invested back into the UK weekly, meaning the UK’s net contribution to the EU is £8.5 billion a year. This is merely 7% of what the government spends on the NHS annually. Thus the economic impact of leaving the EU outweighs that of the membership fee.

With respects to importing and trading, the EU has established a single market without imposing tariffs on imports or exports throughout the EU. By leaving this network, Britain loses it’s power to have any input into EU trade agreements and withdraws from the world’s largest trading market. Not only that but the EU also has trade deals with countries outside of the EU, which Britain also benefits from. In fact, the BBC claims, “The EU is currently negotiating with the US to create the world’s biggest free trade area, something that will be highly beneficial to British business.” Presently Sky News has pointed out “More than 50 percent of our exports go to EU countries,”. This may cease if Brexit ensues. Of course, Britain will be free to create its own trade agreements and Farage has argued that Britain could attempt to imitate Norway who has admission to the single market while forgoing EU laws. Others have, however, disagreed. The Economist has declared that “If Britain were to join the Norwegian club, it would remain bound by virtually all EU regulations, including the working-time directive and almost everything dreamed up in Brussels in future” while being unable to have any impact on how the trading rules are drafted. Furthermore, the EU is unlikely to permit this and will drive a hard deal in order to deter others from following Britain’s lead and retreating from the bloc.

Brexit could prove disastrous to British businesses and investments would diminish because it is no longer an entry point into the EU, which could deter foreign companies from establishing branches in the UK. Car companies may minimise or terminate production completely in Britain as it would no longer be possible to export cars around Europe tax-free. Bell has also highlighted Business for New Europe’s opinion that “tax revenues would drop if companies that do large amounts of business with Europe – particularly banks – moved their headquarters back into the EU.”

In conclusion, I cannot see a stable and improved future for Britain if it leaves the EU. I am a resolute Remain supporter because I think that Brexit would lead to chaos and I cannot envision the Conservatives leading us through to a successful retraction that will be advantageous to either the EU or the UK. We are gambling with Britain’s stability, currency and citizens because of greed and pride and when those are your motives, it never ends well.

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