PCP For: Should the UK Leave the European Union?

Gabrielle Klemt - 1B Geological
Posted on: May 19, 2016

The European Union (EU) is a group of 28 countries that came together after WWII to create a unified government, with the idea that if the countries are unified by trade, there is less of a chance they will go to war against each other again. This unified government, composed of four bodies, has become something of an issue within Europe in recent years. The European Commission, a group of 28 commissioners, is the powerhouse of the EU and they create most laws and allocate most of the money. However, these people are not actually elected by democratic process and are considered by many to be corrupt and power-hungry. Three of the main issues in the official Brexit debate center around trade, immigration, and effects “at home” (in the UK).

As an observer on the other side of the Pond, I have to rely on the opinions of those I actually know in Britain, in addition to research, to help form an opinion on whether or not they should leave. Now, as my friends happen to be of the military persuasion, their opinions are probably biased, but I figured that it was as good a place as any to start.

Recently, the EU decided that should Britain stay in the EU, they could amalgamate the armies of all 28 member countries. If the goal of the EU is to avoid another European World War, then amalgamating armed forces might be a pretty solid way to go about it. Unfortunately, this is not a pill most are willing to swallow. The British military has long been considered one of the world’s foremost military powerhouses, a point of pride to citizens, and a point to note to any invaders (not so much in recent years, but going back a few centuries; British people have good memories.)

The EU would be asking the British military to contribute sensitive weapons technology developed using billions of tax dollars, as well as asking for all service personnel to take an oath swearing allegiance to the EU first and country second. Truly this is not a good idea and is more likely to anger the populace than anything else. When has unifying anything among European countries really done any good? Take the Euro if you need any proof, but I digress.

On the economic front, the UK contributes about 12.57% of the EU’s budget, making them the third-largest contributor. However, it was one of the first to decided against adopting the Euro and has tried to maintain some economic distance from the EU from the start. Although the EU has done some good things for the UK, as well as the other 27 member countries, more recently it has proven a hindrance to development. The EU takes power away from the UK government and creates costly regulations, without which Britain would be able to sign trade deals with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries.

After years of trade between European countries, it would be unreasonable to assume that leaving the EU would ruin trade for the UK with those countries, and dissolve the current peace it is experiencing. Not only would it still benefit from current trade, (although no doubt it would need to set up some kind of free trade deal, similar to NAFTA with the EU,) it would be able to control with whom they were to trade outside Europe and on what terms.

Many argue that there are plenty of models the UK could follow upon leaving the Union, from the Norway model to the Swiss model to the Canadian model (yup, we made the list!) All of these models have an underlying theme of access to the free market and freedom from many of the regulations on agriculture, home affairs and more. It’s true that it’s impossible to know if any of these models will work in Britain’s case since no one has left the EU before, but Britain has a very strong pre-EU economic history that begs consideration. In fact, given their stance in the world, I think that they will prosper rather than suffer economically in leaving. It’s a much “brighter future” as Boris Johnson, the leader of the Brexit campaign, has said.

Finally, there is one of the most contentious issues: immigration. The UK wants to take back control over their borders, something they virtually gave up when signing on to the EU. One of the main principles of the EU is free trade and free movement, be it of goods or people, and this has been good for vacationing Europeans but bad when it comes to work. Having an EU passport automatically gives anyone holding one the right to work anywhere in the EU which may seem like a good idea in theory, but it has led to problems. The amount of people coming in to the UK, from eastern and southern Europe especially, is overwhelmingly more than the British who leave to work elsewhere. The net effect of this has led to housing shortages and service provision problems. One of the many disputes has arisen over legislation to give all EU citizens living and working in Britain access to the British medical services, a service which costs the British public billions every year.

In addition, the ease for anyone from the EU to work in the UK is disproportionate to people from other countries. Take, for instance, us in the commonwealth countries. It is very hard to get a visa to work in the UK if you’re from Canada, even if you have relatives who live there or a job lined up, while people who have no connection to the UK can simply go and work there with no difficulties.

The European Union certainly has done a good job unifying Europe and preventing war, but now it’s time they loosed their stranglehold on member countries. The UK should be free to trade where and how it wants, have its own laws and regulations, a degree of separation from the rest of Europe if it so chooses, and the ability to choose who can immigrate to their country. It’s time for the UK to make its Brexit.