On the 23rd of June Britain will be making the most important choice in a generation: a choice between isolation or unity.
Much of the reason why this referendum is even taking place is because of the massive issues the EU has been facing since the financial crash of 2008. With the backdrop of weak growth, political unrest and the largest migration in history, Europe is facing some of the toughest problems in modern times.
Many of the Brexiteers point to these issues as a positive reason to leave; Europe is the only continent in the global economy which isn’t growing, whereas Britain is one of the most prosperous. They say we should leave so we can be free of all of their bureaucracy and economic turmoil. But is it realistic to think we can ever be truly free of a market that’s only 22 miles away?
‘Leave’ likes to say we could forge better trade deals with countries on our own, but not a single international leader has said this could be the case. We’ve had Obama, our closest ally, telling us we’d be the ‘back of the queue’. India has come out and said that our trade relationship with the sub-continent would be worse, they describe us the ‘gateway to Europe’; Japan has said something similar.
The Brexiters ask why should we rely on Europe for trade, when we have our glorious commonwealth? A collection of nations we ‘granted’ freedom to as imperialism became unviable and unfashionable. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all warned against the impact of Brexit, the very partners the leaders of ‘Leave’ are shouting for closer unity with.
Finally, the last giant on the world stage, China, has warned against Brexit. If Britain leaves the EU, the UK will become a rule-taker in trade negotiations; like Switzerland in its recent deal with China, Britain will have to accept what larger partners have to offer.
On the international stage, only three globally influential politicians have endorsed Brexit, Marie le Pen, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Nothing else needs to be said on this point.
Britain, for all of its glory years in the heyday of Empire, was a nation reliant on trade. Whether endorsing chartered companies, mercantilism, colonialism or free trade, Britain has shaped the discourse of all of these economic hegemonies. When the evidence is staring us in the face that Brexit would absolutely not be in our interests, why would we weaken our trade potential and our economic clout?
There hasn’t been a single economic organisation that has endorsed Brexit: The IMF, The Bank of England, The Institute of Fiscal Studies, Confederation of British Industry and numerous others, all warn of dire consequences if we go ahead with it. What was the Leave campaigns response this? Apparently the entire subject of economics is always wrong – or a conspiracy.
When I grill a Leaver on why they want to leave, the conversation always boils down to ‘we’re being controlled by some secret elites’, but no evidence is ever presented of this ‘secret elite’. I’ve heard that MEPs are all controlled by secret forces, I’ve seen it be claimed that the Second World War was a setup in order to create the EU, I’ve seen Leavers argue that a whole tenth of our population are refugees and that a vote to remain will cause a flood of blue meth into our country.
The contrived and incorrect arguments boasted by leavers are poisoning an already insidious the campaign; false facts are thrown around daily in order to get people on their side. At the end of May a committee of MPs found that Vote Leave’s claim that Brexit would save £350m a week “deeply problematic”. The argument of £350m a week doesn’t factor in any of the invest Britain receives from the EU or the sizeable rebate that Thatcher agreed in 1985, but this doesn’t matter to the Leave campaign: after all, economics is only a myth.
It isn’t only the economists, scientists, religious leaders, world leaders or anyone in some position of power that are warning against Brexit. If you look at Britain’s universities, not a single one has endorsed Brexit. The heads of the world’s leading academic institutions are shouting that this leaving will do us no good – surely they must know something?
A vote to leave could not only isolate us from Europe, but it could isolate us from every other nation on our island. It is a very real possibility that three of our four nations will vote to remain, but will be forced out by the sheer numbers advantage within England. The Scots have already said that a vote to leave will trigger another independence referendum within two years, and it would be a sure-fire boost to Plaid Cymru’s argument for an independent Wales. God forbid we take any action that is going to complicate the Irish border and republicanism even more. A vote for leave is a vote for the disintegration of our nation – something no Englishman should want.
But we don’t even need to look at our internal borders for reasons to remain. The Conservatives are tearing themselves apart over Brexit, Labour is mostly unified behind Remain, and so are all the other parties in parliament – except for that one bloke wearing purple.
As Europe remade itself in the aftermath of the Second World War, the continent came together to try and put an end to the endless conflicts that had made our home the bloodiest region on the planet, and it was this from this common idea that the EU was born. So should we tear ourselves apart in the vain attempt to cut down immigration? If we want to be part of the economic area then free movement is a prerequisite of being a member. More immigrants came from outside of the EU last year than in, and even with a points system in place, migration from the EU will not come down. So, really, I ask you, what is the point of Brexit, except to tear apart and isolate our country?
Europe is at a vital and tense point in its history. It could fall apart into a series of small insignificant states – started by Brexit – or we could stick to it and be part of the most powerful economic body on earth. Why should we turn away from Europe when it is struggling? What kind of nation turns away from its allies when the going gets tough? Did we turn away from the French in World War Two? No we fought on, we held our ground and we didn’t surrender. Why are we giving up and our allies when they’re struggling, when we have never done so before?
Words by Connor Parker