Why as a business leader, I’m voting for Britain to leave the EU this Thursday
I’ve never before made a public statement about my political beliefs. However, I feel that the opportunity presented to us on the 23rd June is of such importance that I feel compelled to share my thoughts.
As the founder and leader of five Worcestershire based businesses and with over 170 people within our team – making us one of the largest locally owned employers in Worcestershire – I take the future of our country seriously. I’ve listened carefully to the arguments of both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’, and I have drawn the firm conclusion that it is in our best interests to vote leave on Thursday.
I strongly believe that we undervalue ourselves as a nation. We established the principles of the rule of law, individual liberty and free parliaments. We were the first modern industrialised nation, and we are now the fifth largest economy in the world with the financial capital of the world in London. As a member of the Commonwealth, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a founder member of NATO with the most powerful military in Europe, we have an astonishing level of global influence. Outside of the EU, we will be free to capitalise upon our strengths and make ourselves richer, freer and safer. We would be free from the unelected EU Commission, and a bureaucracy that creates 65% of our laws. We would be free from our courts being overruled by the unaccountable European Court of Justice, which prevents us deporting 13,000 foreign criminals and tells us we must give convicted murderers and rapists the right to vote. Our laws would be made in our own country and for our benefit.
This will allow us to take control of our destiny. Being free of EU regulations will allow us to unleash the potential within our economy. No longer restricted by the EU’s protectionist customs barriers, we will be able to create trade agreements with emerging economies around the world where British products and services are held in high esteem. This includes taking back our seat in the increasingly important World Trade Organisation. We would take back the ability to control our own borders. Further, the money saved from our membership fees – not to mention the proceeds of increased growth – can be reinvested in education, our NHS and our infrastructure.
The ‘Remain’ arguments are to be considered, but are rooted in what has been dubbed as ‘project fear’. First and foremost, they argue that it would be economically damaging to detach ourselves from the Single Market. In spite of Remain’s assertions, however, there is no consensus upon the economic impact of Brexit. Although some warn of short-term risks, others have pointed to the potential long-term rewards of a more open, internationalist economy. The fact that the EU sells more to us than we export to them makes a mockery of the suggestion that they would shut their door to us. We would still be able to buy German cars, French food, and Spanish beers. It should rather be noted that the share of our exports going to the EU is in decline, from 60% in 2000 to 47% in 2015, just as the EU’s share of world trade is in free fall. Further, there is still an enormous risk attached to the Euro project, the failing Greek economy, not to mention the faltering recoveries in Spain, Italy and Portugal. In fact, remaining in the EU contains just as many risks as leaving. The idea that a vote for ‘Remain’ is a vote for the status quo and safety is naive, and ignores the very real risks and contradictions at the heart of the EU.
There is another argument that the EU fosters cooperation and peace in Europe. This is a red herring – the fact that the likes of the USA, Australia and Japan are not in the EU does not stop us working with them to fight terrorism, world poverty or global warming. In fact, on terrorism, the environment and international crime, there is more evidence that the EU is doing more harm than good. Instead, the EU’s free movement policy and ineptitude has stoked extreme right-wing nationalism in the UK, France, Germany and Greece, mass unemployment across the Eurozone, and a tragic refugee crisis that has led to deaths, destitution, and razor wire once more being laid across the continent.
Further, the notion that David Cameron’s recent reforms give us a special status is an uncertain one in itself. The Prime Minister himself admitted in the Question Time debate on Sunday that the changes are a “promise”, and still might be vetoed. Even then, his changes can still be challenged in the EU courts. The idea that Britain is exempt from further integration is not legally binding. The mission of the EU, however, for “ever closer union”, is legally enshrined in EU treaties.
For me, this is the heart of the issue. The EU is not an economic project alone. It is a customs union, the purpose of which is to draw together the former sovereign nations of Europe politically and socially. It is impossible to separate economic union from political sovereignty. Britain, however, is an internationalist country. We should be facing out to the world, not focussing on a club of declining economies. We should be saddened if we are to deny ourselves our sovereignty, freedom and the chance to make Britain a world trading nation because of fear. The key issue is, as I see it, will be whether we as a nation will be brave enough on June 23rd to face up to the bold decision and vote to leave the European Union, take control of our own affairs, and then work hard to shape the country that we all want for the future.