|David Cameron's gamble on a referendum for Europe could cost the UK economy dearly, experts warn.|
As some of you may have heard, today the Government managed to pass a law confirming that a referendum on British membership of the EU will be held in May 2017 if the Conservatives win a majority at the next General Election. Whilst it may be in the interest of democracy to give people a say, research suggests that British public opinion at the moment points to the UK exiting the EU. This is largely due to misinformation and scaremongering about issues such as immigration and a lack of education as to what the benefits of EU membership are.
So, let us consider the consequences. What would happen if Britain voted "Yes" to leave the European Union in 2017 if a referendum was held? Here are 5 reasons why leaving the EU would be a disaster for the United Kingdom.
1: International diplomacy: The US sees Britain as a gateway to the EU, due to the special relationship and historical ties between the two countries. Being in the EU also gives the UK a voice in foreign affairs and a platform where we can raise our views and try and make the world a better place. In a world which is changing and evolving, with new opportunities and very real dangers, this is not the right time to leave the EU and become an isolationist country. Leaving the EU would damage Britain's international standing, and the US, being such a major economic world power, would no longer see us as an ideal trading and commercial partner, which would have serious implications for foreign policy.
2: Business uncertainty: Since the services sector plays such a large role in the UK economy (It contributes toward around 50% of our GDP) a lot of these businesses are only in the UK because of the unique opportunities they have from Britain being in the EU, such as easier trade with fellow EU countries and cheaper taxes. Leaving the EU would mean that, for these businesses, staying in the UK is no longer a viable option, and they would relocate, possibly making millions of people redundant whilst doing it. It is estimated that leaving the EU could cost the UK economy up to £100 Billion, a price that we simply cannot afford to pay in the current economic climate, and that would have to be paid by mass spending cut slashes and NHS privatization. Sir John Major has already warned that Britain would pay a severe price economically if we were to quit the EU.
This could also have implications for students who are studying F.E courses, or University courses, as Tuition fees are kept relatively low due to E.U funding. Without that funding, it would be much harder for people from poorer backgrounds to go into higher education, and would worsen our skills deficit crisis.
3: Foreign Trade deficit: At the moment, UK businesses get unique tax breaks and cheaper trading with the rest of the EU because of our membership of it. Leaving the EU would once again cause an unsustainable foreign trade deficit, where the UK would be forced to continue trading with Europe, but without the tax breaks and cheap trading, which UK businesses would be unable to compete with because of levies in exports and would have to close, once again costing millions of jobs in the process.
4: Skilled immigration: Immigration is a very real and serious problem that none of the major party leaders seem likely to want to tackle seriously any time soon. The fact of the matter remains, however, that there simply are not enough workers in the UK with a specific skills set to work in areas such as Manufacturing. The myth of benefit tourism however seems to have made people largely forget about the good things that immigration brings. For example, Right now this deficit is offset by the arrival of skilled immigrants, but leaving the EU would make it much harder for immigrants to come into this country from Europe, which would harm the British manufacturing industry and possibly cost 100s of thousands of jobs across the UK, once again leading to further economic ruin.
5: Free movement: If we suddenly left the EU, what would happen to British expats in foreign countries, who would most likely lose their jobs or would face problems in going abroad in the future? Surely we cannot be expected to abandon our commitment toward fellow Britons by leaving the EU? The numbers simply do not stack up.
Leaving the European Union is not the correct way forward. As an institution, the best way is to reform it from the inside. UKIP, if they wanted right now, could try and pass legislation through the EU to limit the rights of unskilled workers to go and work in other countries, and they would likely receive support from the Far-right, Eurosceptics, Conservatives, and perhaps even some Socialists within the European parliament. The best way is to stay within the EU, receive the benefits of staying within the EU, and reap the benefits whilst trying to reform it, instead of leaving and plunging the country into economic ruin and subsequently ruin the lives of millions of ordinary hardworking people. This is an issue that the Eurosceptics have not considered, and that they will need to consider going forward if they are to have a significant electoral impact at G.E 2015.