Brexit - My mind is made upSome of you may have read my previous post, http://www.carlreader.com/2016/03/16/the-implications…n-small-business/, in which I commented that it is very difficult to know which way to go in the Brexit debate, due to the lack of information.
I know now what works for me, from a social, political and economic perspective. I'm not going to bore you with numbers - but they are publicly available.
The basis behind my decision
As we know, there is one thing that everyone should do when they don't have the facts to hand: they should learn, learn some more, and then reflect. Always take a gun to a knife fight. You can never have too many facts, or too much information. And on something as important as whether the UK remains within the EU, the need to be informed is essential.
My decision is that I am in favour of Brexit.
I've made this decision by reading some books (including this very impartial analysis, recommended to me by a friend in franchising: Europe In or Out: Everything You Need to Know), and articles by campaigners on both sides.
But I have to be honest - the decision has been steered more by the political situation of the European Union than how it will affect us in our pockets. The reality is that it actually won't make much difference at all.
The common arguments
Much has been said about Brexit, and many people are voting either way for the wrong reasons (both in terms of legitimacy, and also in some cases morally), such as:
- It will reduce terrorism (yeah, right...)
- It will stop people nicking our jobs (there's a better way to stop that...)
- It will stop immigration
- "God Save The Queen"...
- No-one will trade with Little Britain (like how we don't buy anything "Made in China")
- Our national security will be threatened
- How will we get skilled staff?
- "It's racist that you don't agree with ..."
Yes, the last argument on either side is tongue in cheek - but not a million miles away from what I see.
The reality - Business
There's a simple fact here. Despite the UK being a little dot compared to the huge land mass of some countries, we are actually a huge trading partner for many countries. We are the 8th largest merchandise importer, 6th biggest importer of goods, and the 2nd biggest exporter of commercial services.
The EU has a massive trade deficit with the UK. In simple terms, they sell us more stuff than we buy from them. Why would they not look to arrange a trade deal?
And take this one step further. Do we need a trade deal? We don't have one with the US: funnily enough, we can't sign one in our own right whilst a member of the EU. And we certainly couldn't become a member of NAFTA.
Yes, our trade with the EU has increased dramatically whilst in the EU. Guess who's trade has increased more? The rest of the world - yup, those ones outside the EU... And it goes without saying that they aren't members.
Our more natural trading partners would be the countries of the former Commonwealth and our former colonies, as we share a common legislative system, democracy, and in many cases language. We currently struggle to deal with them due to the tariffs placed by the EU on non-EU trade.
The reality - Immigration
Immigration won't stop with Brexit. What will happen however is the Government will be free to choose it's own system for deciding who can and who can't legally migrate into the UK. How will this stop us employing skilled staff from other countries? Whether EU resident or not, migration could (and to caveat this, it is of course up to each elected Government) be based on need rather than requirement - we will still be able to welcome the German coder, the French artist, as well as the Indian doctor and the Australian lawyer.
Confusing a vote for Brexit with a vote for closing our doors is a naive assumption at best.
The reality - National Security
I'm no expert on this. But, I appear to be wiser than some who comment on this. EU membership is not a pre-requisite for NATO membership. The clue is in the first two initials. And the fact that it was formed in 1949.
There's an unfortunate reality in the world - terrorism. Guess what? The terrorists will work out how to get here if they want to, whether we are in the EU or not. They might already be here. Who knows, and who cares? For the purpose of this blog post, I don't!
The reality - Social and Political Factors
Now for the area that I could blog about for ages... but thankfully for you, I won't. I'm a strong believer in democracy. I believe that decisions that affect us should be made by a government elected by the people, not an unelected official.
I'm also a believer in fairness. How is it fair that we, as a nation, allow free movement of those fortunate enough to live in a country within the EU, which impacts on our ability to help those in need from outside the EU. or accept those who can add to our society from outside the EU?
How is it fair that we accept the intra-EU cartel, which through trade tariffs effectively forces us to trade within the EU, accepting the red tape and bureaucracy that goes with it, whilst financially penalising trade with those outside the borders?
If Europe was done properly, let's say more like the US, this would be a very different proposition. As it stands, it's an uncomfortable halfway house; and one that costs us more to be in than out, in so many ways.