Question #9 – So, why don’t we just leave the E.U.?
Well, lots of reasons really…here are some of the cases for and against. Every option has a trade off for the UK.
Britain would gain full control of its own borders – and be able to control, or stop, the flow of migrants from the EU, which accounted for 27% of total net migration in 2010. 2.3 million citizens of other EU countries were living in the UK in 2011, according to the ONS.
It is important to note that flexibility of labour works both ways and millions of Britons currently live and work elsewhere in Europe. A lot would depend on what kind of deal was reached with the other EU nations. 711,151 UK citizens were living in other EU countries in 2011, says Eurostat. There would also be uncertainty for many EU workers now paying taxes in the UK.
Britain’s legal system, democratic institutions and law-making process
The country would be free from the European Arrest Warrant and other law and order measures, but would still have to deal with the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU.
Britons benefit from EU employment laws and social protections, which would be stripped away. Withdrawal from the European Arrest Warrant could mean delays for the UK in extraditing suspects from other European countries; and the UK already has some opt-outs from EU labour law, including the Working Time Directive.
With small and medium-sized firms freed from EU regulation, there could be a jobs boom. More than 90% of the UK economy is not involved in trade with the EU, yet still bears the burden of these rules, says the Bruges Group.
Millions of jobs could be lost as global manufacturers move to lower-cost EU countries. Britain’s large foreign-owned car industry would shift into the EU and sectors linked to EU membership such as aerospace would also suffer. Airbus production could move to France and Germany, pro-EU commentators claim.
“We will continue to trade with Europe, as part of an association of nation states,” says Eurosceptic Tory MP Bill Cash. The UK would also be free to establish bi-lateral trade agreements with fast-growing export markets such as China, Singapore, Brazil, Russia and India through the World Trade Organisation. Imported food from non-EU countries could get cheaper, as tariffs are lowered.
The EU is the UK’s main trading partner, worth more than £400bn a year, or 52% of the total trade in goods and services. “The UK is always likely to be better positioned to secure beneficial trade deals as a member of the EU than as an individual and isolated player,” says Labour’s Europe spokeswoman Emma Reynolds. 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.