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Brexit, Brussels and Boris

Posted by
24 Mar 2016
On 19th February David Cameron redrew the terms of the UK’s EU membership and confirmed that there would be a referendum which would ask the question "Should Britain remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

I visited Brussels the following day as the news was breaking and the referendum date was set. During my time there I was asked a number of times why would the UK want to leave the EU and how will I vote? Prompted by the many questions that weekend I started to look at the main arguments for and against remaining in the EU.


To briefly summarise, the ‘Leave’ campaigners believe Britain is restricted by the EU’S regulations on British laws which have a significant effect on trade and investment. Additionally, the EU charges billions of pounds a year in membership fees for very little in return. Last year, Britain paid £13billion in membership fees alone and is one of 10 member states who pay more into the EU than they receive in return.

Under current EU law, Britain cannot prevent anyone from another member state entering the country. However by leaving the EU Britain would theoretically take back full control of its border and reduce the number of people entering the country to work, which is one of EU membership’s main principals, “free movement”.

Additionally, by leaving the EU, Britain would have freedom to restore its special legal system and the UK would be free from the European Arrest Warrant as well as other law and order measures.  


On the other hand, the ‘Remain’ campaign believes Britain receives a large boost from EU membership as it makes trades between member states so much easier. The trade relationship between the EU and UK is worth more than £400 billion a year, 52% of the total trade in good and services. By leaving the EY, Britain will face a number of barriers, including on car exports and difficulty in entering emerging markets.

In regards to immigration the ‘Remain’ campaign argues the flow of immigrants are mostly young, keen to work and help to fuel economic growth.

'In' campaigners also argue Britain’s status in the world would be damaged by leaving, compromising the security of economy and leave Britain susceptible to another financial crisis as well as further terrorist attacks.

Now David Cameron has put plans in place for Britain to stay in the EU and The Conservative Party has pledged to be neutral in the campaign. However the Labour Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are all in favour of staying in.

The new membership terms that David Cameron redrew on 19th February will take immediate effect if Britain does decide to remain in the EU following the referendum.  David Cameron has proposed a list of changes to membership, some proposals were not passed as Cameron had originally intended and had to be renegotiated. Some of the proposals include;

  • Britain can keep the pound while being in Europe, and its business trade with the bloc, without fear of discrimination. Any British money spent on bailing out eurozone nations will be reimbursed.
  • Protection for the City of London - Safeguards for Britain's large financial services industry to prevent Eurozone regulations being imposed on.
  • Changes to child benefits being paid to migrant worker’s whose children live outside of the UK.

It was the ‘watering down’ of some of these proposals that led London Mayor Boris Johnson to make a U-turn and support the Brexit campaign which was a huge blow to David Cameron. Boris has said that "EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says 'no' ".

The polls suggest that the British public are fairly evenly split, but with the Remain campaign having a slight lead, but can the polls be trusted after the shock of May’s general election? We will find out on 23rd June 2016.

Do you think now is the time to leave the EU? Be sure to stay ahead of new developments in the referendum by reading our latest articles on our Insights Hub. Insights Hub 
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