10 reasons why it makes sense to ‘vote remain’ in the referendum on 23 June
In nearly one month the British people will decide to remain a member of – or to leave the European Union. Here are ten reasons – from my point of view – why it makes sense to stay in. For British citizens. But also why this will be good for all citizens of the European Union.
- A vote to remain will put British citizens in good company.From the majority of their own Members of Parliament, countless political leaders and friends of Britain around the world, to the majority of their fellow citizens of the European Union, everybody will welcome Britain staying a member of the European Union after 23 June.
- A vote to remain will help to stabilize a world currently in a fragile state.We are still experiencing the aftermath of the worst financial and economic crises since 1929, we are in the middle of the worst refugee crises since WWII and we are living in a time still marked by growing inequalities on a national and global level. A vote to leave would only lead to more instability and more uncertainty in the world. This is the only thing which is certain. It would mean less control for everybody.
- A vote to remain will strengthen the unity of the European Union.It will be a rejection of a renewed nationalism in Europe where nationalism is on the rise again in many countries. It is not in the interest of anybody in Europe to go back to the time before 1914.
- A vote to remain will foster peace and security in Europe. The European Union is currently surrounded by a ‘ring of fire’: revolutions in the South followed by unstable and fragile states, a civil war in Syria and new Russian imperialism in Ukraine and elsewhere. A vote to leave would weaken a common European defence response to those challenges and it would make the common fight against Islamist terrorists much more complicated.
- A vote to remain will strengthen Britain’s own union, the union between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A vote to leave would increase the likelihood and the risk of a second Scottish Independence referendum. The result could be a breakup of the United Kingdom. In case of a Scottish Independence it is likely that the Naval base in Faselane, Scotland would need to relocate sooner or later. That would make the renewal of the Trident submarine fleet, Britain’s nuclear forces, even more expensive. In addition, a vote to leave may again lead to ‘a harder frontier’ between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
- A vote to remain will allow the British people to keep control over their economic prosperity in the near and long-term future. As stated above, a vote to leave would create more uncertainty. And uncertainty is a killer of investment. In the past Britain has benefited excessively from foreign direct investments. A liberal, business-oriented culture, outstanding universities and research and the fact that Britain is the home of today’s lingua franca have helped to attract foreign direct investments. But final decisions in favour of these investments have also been made because Britain is part of the European Single Market. With a vote to leave, it is likely that Britain would slide into recession. A fair number of goods and services in Britain are not produced and rendered for Britain only, but also for the Single Market or even the whole world. Companies which produce these goods and render these services are not always owned by the British: Think of the manufacture by Japanese car makers, the production by Airbus, Minis produced by BMW, or think of foreign banks operating from London. It is quite likely that such production and services would be downsized in Britain to fit the size of the British market and that the rest would be shifted to the Continent or Ireland. In addition, future investment would be held back. Consumer confidence would decline. A vote to leave would probably result in a systemic contraction of the British economy because of countless individual economic decisions. The extent of such a systemic contraction would mainly depend on the terms and conditions of the new agreement between Britain and the European Union. However, it would be uncertain when the agreement would be concluded and what it would look like. That is why a vote to leave might cause the British economy to be in limbo until a final agreement with the European Union would be reached. Furthermore, Britain had a budget deficit of 4.4% in the calendar year 2015, coming from more than 10% in 2009 (ESA 2010 figures). Britain’s debts have more than doubled over the last eight years in the aftermath of the global financial crises. They went from 43% of GDP in 2007 to 89.2% of GDP in 2015 (ESA 2010 figures). So, they are nearly at the same level as the average of Eurozone debts (90.7%). A vote to leave would increase the pressure to take austerity measures in Britain, one even more. The British Pound is already weakening in anticipation of a potential Brexit. In general, Britain would be more vulnerable to the financial markets in case of a vote for Brexit. And this would come at a time when Britain has announced its highest account deficit since records began in 1948, one of 5.2% of annual GDP.
- A vote to remain will foster the power of the European Single Market and may help to renew the vigour of the European economy. At the moment, all European nations need to invest heavily into the digital economy. And Europe needs to nourish its growing startup culture. The Single Market is currently being changed into a Digital Single Market. A vote to leave would disconnect Britain from the other 27 member states. It would not make the flow of people and new ideas easier which is so important for innovation, science and technology. And the British would give up their final say in standardization and harmonization across the Digital Single Market. This would lead to additional competitive disadvantages for British enterprises in the future. Furthermore, with a vote to leave there would be a clear incentive for the European Union to demonstrate that an exit from itself does not pay off for those exiting. Some Brits consider the European Union weak. They are wrong. They might be surprised of how much power the European community would be able to unfold if Brits tried to continue to export 44% of their goods and services to the Single Market after a Brexit vote. 65 million Brits would ask for continued access to the Single Market of a community of 440 million Europeans.
- A vote to remain will safeguard British influence in Europe and the world.A vote to leave would make the British less influential in Europe and therefore both – Britain and Europe – less influential in the world. Britain would shrink to its true size: less than one per cent of the world’s population producing less than 3% of global GDP. And in case of a Scottish independence, it would become even worse. Limited resources mean limited influence. More people than ever would question a permanent seat in the Security Council of the United Nations. Its composition seems to be out-dated even today.
- It is paradoxical, but a vote to remain will strengthen overall sovereignty. In the 21th century, sovereignty is a concept more relative than ever. This holds true inside and outside of the European Union. Today’s world is interconnected more than ever. And it becomes ever more apparent that it is developing in mutual interdependence. This is reflected by numerous international treaties. And it also manifests in the fight against climate change, global tax evasion or international terrorism. In such a world, no European country is able to master global challenges on its own – not to mention taking the leading role in fighting them off. This is a fact given the size and limited resources of each individual European nation. A strong European Union, however, is capable to do so. By sharing and pooling sovereignty with other member states in the European Union, citizens of the European Union transfer some sovereignty of their own nation to the European level in order to tremendously increase their common overall sovereignty in a globalised world. This enables the citizens of the European Union to master global challenges together and even to assert global leadership in fighting them off. Europeans are stronger together. In contrast, a vote to leave, with the risk of a breakup of the United Kingdom, might even lead to a situation of no British sovereignty at all, to a situation of a Scottish sovereignty and a sovereignty of the remaining England, Wales and Northern Ireland. And as the former Prime Minister John Major has recently pointed out in an unpretentious manner: Those who want ‘undiluted sovereignty’ should ‘go to North Korea’.
- A vote to remain will confirm the interest in reforming the European Union from within. The history of the European Union might be short, just 66 years, but its experience in dealing with crises and setbacks is already rich. The European Union has mastered them all. And each time the Union came out stronger. Only 12 years ago, it saw the biggest enlargement of its history with ten countries joining from Eastern Europe from very different backgrounds, ending the historical divide of Europe. With a British vote to remain countless fellow citizens in Ireland and on the Continent will feel relieved. Many citizens share the belief that the European Union needs reform. Currently, the European Union is learning its lesson in better protecting its own borders and preventing illegal immigration while upholding its fundamental values and helping innocent people who have fled from a cruel civil war right on its doorstep in Syria. For many reasons, this is a very complicated task. And without doubt, the European Union needs to improve its border protection and immigration policies significantly. It must regain full control over its immigration. But there is no need to lose trust that the European Union is able to do so and to reform. It has already done so countless times. The British people can be proud of their legacy. They have resisted and defeated the Nazis, helped to restore and strengthen human rights throughout Europe after the War. And just as some other European nations, they have helped to stabilize and to develop the weaker parts of Europe with their net contributions in the last few decades. A liberal and pragmatic voice deeply rooted in the rule of law, pluralism and democratic accountability, a voice which is passionate about outstanding research and innovation is not only very welcome, it is needed to push for real reform in the European Union these days.
All these arguments outweigh the arguments put forward by the Brexiters by far.
The referendum on 23 June is going to be a decision between lose-lose and win-win. With a vote to leave, Britain would lose and Europe would lose! Without doubt, the European Union would lose one of its most important members in case of a Brexit. That’s why a vote to remain is not only in the interest of the British people, it is also in the paramount interest of all citizens of the European Union. And this is why it is so desirable that much more people on the Continent will speak out in the remaining weeks before the referendum. With a vote to remain, Britain will win and Europe will win! Britain is ‘stronger in’ the European Union and the European Union is stronger with Britain in. Both are stronger together.
The decision is up to the British people. They all have a free choice to vote on 23 June. Either way Britain, the European Union and the rest of the world will have to live and deal with the result. Life will go on. This is certain. And European integration will go on – with or without the British people. This is certain as well. It is good for many reasons. And finally, there is just one other thing which is certain: A Brexit would be bad for Britain, bad for Europe and bad for the West.