Wednesday, 11 May 2016

EU Referendum talk - Tom Brake MP

A Student Report

23rd June 2016, the day where the final decision will be made by the nation on whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union. It has been 41 years since the last EEC (European Economic Community) Referendum, in which the people made the call to remain in the European Economic Community (Now known as the EU). Has time changed the view of the people?


On the 28th of April, we are fortunate enough to invite Tom Brake MP (Carshalton and Wallington) from the Liberal Democrats Party to talk about his views on the issue. He, like the rest of his party believe that the UK should stay in the EU. The ‘Stronger In’ Campaign they call it - ‘Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be out on our own.’


Firstly, by staying in, it promotes and maintains prosperity of the economy. Britain receives an average investment of £24 billion per year from Europe. In fact, at this time because of the upcoming EU referendum, certain EU based companies have stalled investments for their UK regional developments in fear of Brexit bringing unsettling impacts to its operations, such as limited trade and increasing taxes. Other than direct investments being made by large cooperation, these businesses provide a lot of jobs to residents of the UK. Airbus, as an example of a European company that manufactures aircrafts, directly employs 15,000 workers in the UK with an estimated number of 100,000 other non-direct employees within the country. Not only that large companies contribute to the UK’s economic development, but almost half of the UK’s export is directed to the rest of Europe. Britain’s trade, regardless of export or import is very dependent on the European Union. The EU have well-established trade deals with 50 non-EU countries including the United States, Korea, and Australia ; whilst the UK have not negotiated a deal on its own for more than 40 years. So what will be the future after Brexit for UK’s trading?


Secondly, staying in the EU sustains peace both between the UK and other member states and by defending the UK in unfortunate cases of foreign attacks through NATO. Historically, the UK had come into conflict with France, Spain and Germany very frequently. Some say that the crucial reason for peace in recent decades is the formation of the European Union, installing mutually beneficial relationships between European countries. Furthermore, being part of the EU, guaranteed the UK’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Known as NATO in short). It is a ‘political and military alliance with the essential purpose of safeguarding the freedom and security of its members through political and military means’. Thus, as a member of NATO, the UK is protected by the organisation within the EU borders and will receive support from other NATO members against terrorist attacks and foreign invasions.


Thirdly, being part of the European Union assures freedom of movement. This is a huge advantage to the UK considering it was estimated by the World Bank in 2014 that around 7-8% of the UK population live permanently abroad. In comparison of 3% of Spanish and 3.8% of French, the UK is actually befitting rather than losing from this agreement. Not only so, but it allows easier travelling within the Europe and also for educational purposes especially aimed at students. Additionally, immigration of working people (usually aged 25 - 35) from other countries adds to the diminishing UK working force because of the gradually greying population. This thus boosts productivity and help support the expanding retired population.


Lastly, the EU has bounding legislations on the UK (which excludes the UK Parliament) regarding environmental and welfare protection. Currently, most European laws possess the Doctrine of Supremacy, meaning that it has the presence over UK law. Such cases are able to go beyond the ruling of the Supreme Court into the European Court of Justice. This not only restricts the growing amount of power held by the always sovereign UK Parliament but protects certain civil liberties and settles environmental concerns. For example, environmental targets are being set for minimising air pollution, this includes a ’47% reduction in loss of life expectancy as a result of exposure to particulate matter’ and another ’10% reduction in acute mortalities from exposure to ozone’ by the time of 2020.


Despite controversial debates concerning arguments on both sides, a lot of people have yet still not made up their minds. How would the nation decide? Is staying in actually better for our security, our economy and our people? Only time will tell.