If we listen to David Cameron, an exit from the EU will mean a descent into Armageddon and an end to life as we know it. This Apocalypse Now prediction seems to have been by and large accepted by the US press, and in this article I propose to demonstrate that there is a competing view, much more positive, much more alluring and most definitely achievable.
But first, I would put this question to Mr Cameron: We live in a representative democracy, and we elected you as custodian of our well being. IF life outside the EU would have such a deleterious effect on Britain, WHY did you ever permit a referendum on this subject? Surely, in the light of your current doom and gloom campaign, it is highly irresponsible to even contemplate a vote which would be so damaging?
Mr Cameron, you told the British public that you had negotiated some major treaty changes which would transform our relationship with the EU. Why is the REMAIN campaign not shouting this triumph from the rooftops? Well, maybe they are not so dramatic after all, and perhaps you failed to mention that any one of the other 27 member states could permanently veto these changes.
The REMAIN campaign is largely predicated on economic matters, the hypothesis that it is imperative to be part of a large free- trade bloc, both in order to trade within that bloc, and as a means of negotiation with other blocs, so that we don’t end up, to use Obama’s ill-chosen words “at the back of the queue”.
Without any doubt, many large financial institutions have endorsed that view, and it is the paramount reason many voters will choose REMAIN. However, let’s just put that “endorsement” under the microscope.
Not one large financial institution, not one, foresees a recession even a quarter of the severity of the 2007/8 crash. And let’s not forget that these same financial institutions predicted disaster when Britain did not adopt the single currency (euro), and yet we have prospered, with London emerging, alongside Tokyo and New York, as the most important global financial centre.
If we compare the economic recovery of the Eurozone with that of the UK, the differences are striking and instructive. The UK had effectively an 18 month recession, whereas the Eurozone has never really recovered. Greece is bankrupt; Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland stagnant, with youth unemployment running at between 39-51%. Out of the Eurozone and the EU, each of these countries could address its unique problems- by a devaluation of its currency making exports cheaper, allowing the economic growth and jobs so desperately necessary.
But a failure to fight off recessionary forces will mean further rising unemployment, falling asset prices and mounting costs of debt which will embolden anti-euro forces across the continent, “radicalising” electorates who look to the far right for solutions. That only Britain is disaffected with the EU is a complete fallacy.
Britain, by contrast with mainland Europe, mainly by dint of the strength of its financial services, has prospered largely due to the fact that it is OUT of the Eurozone.
However, it is legitimate to ask how Britain would survive without access to the single market of the EU, and would there be a substantial risk to jobs and exports? Truthfully nobody can predict the future in or out of the EU, but common sense tells us that because we are net importers in the EU, what gain would there be in slapping tariffs on our exports, when we would simply retaliate?
Fortunately our largest trading partner in the EU is Germany, who would surely wish to continue sales of Mercedes and BMW cars in the UK? How would Frau Merkel or her successor explain to thousands of car workers that their jobs are in jeopardy because their largest market has diminished? And how would Spain react to the shrinking of its major market for agricultural produce due to tariffs?
No, OF COURSE, they would still trade with us, and moreover we would be free to form our own trade deals with our Commonwealth partners, emerging markets, without the cumbersome and often corrupt negotiation process of the EU.
Undoubtedly, the economic argument has been at the heart of the REMAIN campaign, and is the hardest to refute, because this is portrayed as a leap in the dark, and therefore to be avoided at all cost.
There are of course many other aspects to this campaign, which I will discuss in a subsequent article. (immigration, security, sovereignty, democracy, workers’ rights, environmental issues)
But to return to the economy, I ask this: are we so lacking in courage or so risk averse that we cannot countenance a potential short period of instability in order to secure a better future? Let us not be hoodwinked by the duplicitous David Cameron, and on June 23rd let us reject REMAIN’S dismal view of life outside the EU.
To follow: immigration, sovereignty, workers’ rights, democracy…