EU debate: Britain is better remaining

While I, like many others, must have been a bit taken aback by the negative campaign that has been run by both sides for this referendum, I put that down to the fact there are few solid facts to rely on for people making this decision on the 23rd June.

Friday, 17th June 2016, 4:57 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:44 am

Instead we are looking at forecasts and predictions which are by their very nature subjective and personal, and when someone questions someone else’s expert (or not so expert) opinion, then that’s when tempers flare and things get nasty.

For me I think comparing the two sides are like comparing apples and pears and wondering they we cannot reach a consensus agreement – those who wish to leave Europe want to do so because of ideaology. They hold that Britain can and should stand on its own two feet as a matter of principle. People who hold this view should not be shunned, for I have no doubt that Britain is big enough and strong enough to cope with leaving Europe, but let us not be shy in saying that we will all need to sacrifice something to get there.

However, if we are to think with our heads and not our hearts we find that, based on the whole weight of evidence and expert advice, the only prudent, practical, viable and financially sensible option would be for us to vote to remain in Europe.

The argument to remain is that certainty is crucial for successful trade and commerce on which we all rely for our jobs and livelihoods. One of the few certain facts that can come out of a Brexit catastrophe is that Britain will suffer what’s called an economic shock - the argument is only over whether it will be a big recession or a small one. Simply put, leaving Europe will cost us all money and permanently affect our long term growth. There is also the very real worry that the loss of one of its largest founding members causes Europe to implode and I know we hate to admit it, but our economic success is as much tied up in Europe’s whether we are in or out.

I frequently hear talk over trade and whether Europe would stop importing our stuff, or whether we would not be able to import their stuff. It is certainly the case that Britain would be a good, rich trading partner but all the rules will need to be redrawn which takes time and will add to the uncertainty. A Brexit would not see us have the same trading relationship as we enjoy today unless we give up the things we have already given up today - like free movement of people - as trade agreements rely on all parties operating on an even playing field.

I run a small business and we export products to Europe and the rest of the world.It is far easier for us to send a parcel to Europe than it is to the USA for example. We buy our courier contracts ahead and there will be costs to leaving Europe all through our supply chain - we have already seen our suppliers re-costing next year’s stock based on a rise in their their dollar rate as investors move their money out of sterling because of the uncertainty this referendum brings. These extra costs will all filter through to the consumer in incremental pricing increases which won’t seem that noticeable for one item, but across a weekly shop for a year for example, will all add up.

Lastly, I feel there is something of a moral certitude about our membership of Europe. Funding from the EU helps to advance economically deprived areas throughout Europe. It is a diplomatic mechanism that has successfully prevented war between its members and it has provided universal worker benefits such as the minimum wage and maximum working hours for employees.

Europe has its faults - we all do - but warts and all, I think a vote to remain in Europe on June 23 will be beneficial to Britain and to my residents in Worthing. I will be advising the 55 people who work for me to vote to remain on June 23 and I hope you will too.

Michael Cloake

County Councillor for Worthing Pier

NB: This letter expresses my opinion only and not the opinion of the county council as a whole.

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