This week in The Times, George Osbourne published a passionate and clear statement regarding his reasons for wanting Britain to remain inside the European Union. And as you’d expect from a Chancellor of the Exchequer, his case is primarily an economic one.
His argument is that
“Britain would be worse off, permanently so, and to the tune of £4,300 a year for every household”
Increased competition between companies within the EU, as our economies are ever more closely aligned, will lead to better jobs and higher living standards. As barriers to trade are reduced and legislation aligned more closely, it will become easier for our businesses to trade and produce value. Makes sense, right?
While I have huge respect for Mr Osbourne and his efforts to reduce the deficit whilst also growing our economy and boosting employment, the EU is only becoming more and more competitive, because we’re continually fighting over the same shrinking pie. That’s right – the EU economy is getting smaller as a share of world GDP, and rather than focusing on the growing economies of the world – like India and China – we’re putting all our eggs in the basket of the EU
According to the IMF, the combined economy of the current twenty-eight members has shrunk. In 1973, when Britain joined the club, the community of nations produced 36 percent of world GDP, whereas in 2015, that figure was a mere 17 percent.
The rest of the world is on the rise, and meanwhile we’re concerned with making it easier for us to fight inwardly for a bigger slice of the same shrinking pie. It’s not the most closely integrated markets which perform the best – although low tariffs and low barriers to trade are always welcome – indeed it is the most diverse economies which outperform the others. It’s those economies which have equal access to every economy and aren’t shackled by burdensome bureaucracy emanating from the legislature of a bygone era.
But let’s press the pause button for a moment and consider this: what if George was right? What if – at least in the short term – we will be worse off outside the European Union? Does that mean we stay?
Sure, we have to offer significant amounts of power and decision-making rights to Brussels, and okay, we might not have real control of our own borders. But I was promised my family would lose £4,300 a year if we left, and that’s no small matter!
There’s a real attraction to that, I admit. But are we really going to play economics with our sovereignty? Are we actually putting a price on our democracy? Our membership of the EU ties us in to being under the ultimate rule of a higher parliament and judicial system than the one I put in place when I vote in a general election. We are ultimately governed by a tier of political bureaucracy that sits above our democratically elected representatives, and if we ask to stay, we’re legitimising their rule.
We didn’t vote for them. We can’t get rid of them. We can’t understand how they work or who does what. We can barely contact them, let alone hold them to account. And their interests are often, not aligned with those of the British people.
These are all things which contribute to eroding our economy, tying up our small businesses with red tape, and strangling our own democracy and the sovereignty of our national parliament.
Our democracy and freedom was fought for. As was the protection of that democracy and freedom from European tyranny. It is a precious and delicate treasure for us to nurture and to protect. And it’s not for sale – even if it would be to the tune of a tidy profit.
Let us not tie ourselves in to the EU Leviathan, hiding in fear from the rest of the world, while we watch the pie get smaller – the narrative of an ‘EU Single Market’ as the golden ticket to prosperity was tried and tested, and it failed. Let us now re-enter the global single market. The single market that is the market which includes every person from every nation and gives us ultimate competitiveness, opportunity and freedom to prosper.
Let us remember the great nation it is that we are and embrace a new era of global trade, democracy and prosperity.
Take back the ability to determine your own future, and vote to leave the European Union on 23rd June.