The European referendum is due to take place on 23rd of June 2016. British citizens and those belonging to commonwealth countries and residents in the UK will be deciding on which way the referendum will go.
This is an article to look into and assess various arguments and advantages and disadvantages of Britain remaining in the European Union or what if Britain leaves the European Union. Everyone may have their own preferences and reasons to decide to vote whichever way they may wish. There can only be speculations and assumptions on what may happen if the vote goes either way. Therefore, the predictions and reasons for support for either of the sides may be unsubstantiated at times.
The benefits of remaining in the European Union:
- There would not be a great fluctuation in the financial markets. There will be more certainty for businesses and economy;
- Time being, there may not be threats from the Scottish government for leaving Britain or demand for another referendum for Scottish independence;
- Status quo and room for more countries joining the European Union and a greater and larger union
What happens if Britain leaves the European Union?
The answer is not as simple or straight forward. In 1970s when Britain joined European Union things were different. The world is in a different era now due to liberalised markets and it would not be accurate to say Britain’s economy would be the same as it used to be pre 1970s. There can be panic and the country may go into short term recession. Rents will go down and house prices will go down when the inflow of people from European Union will reduce and this may affect the economy and some of the services. Of course, Britain can join back the European Union in such an eventuality and when there is a large scale change of mind over Brexit.
Some migrants from non-European countries have been asking questions on whether leaving the European Union will help non-EU migrants with the UK’s immigration rules. The reason for rigid immigration rules is because of the government’s plans to control immigration. The points based system for extensions and settlement or the artificial cap which the government planned meant stricter immigration rules to reduce the numbers. However, when the pressure of large migration from the European Union reduces then the immigration rules may not be as rigid as they currently are and there may be bit more relaxation of the rules in future. This is based on a more logical way of looking at it. Will the government still act the way it does in absence of any political pressure of managing migration if Britain leaves the European Union? A more logical and simple response would be that they would not. The reason being lack of political pressure and since immigration would not be a hot potato anymore as it currently is, then there would be less likelihood of government trying to curb settlement schemes or implementing stricter extension criteria and other monetary thresholds, for those settled and citizens, for bringing in their spouse or parents to the UK.
All these stricter immigration rules and controls were implemented post 2006 after the European Union expansion and after some of the European countries joined the European Union.
The choice is not easy, as on one side leaving may mean the UK may arguably become much more insignificant on world stage compared to other European Union countries that are part of the European Union. However, this may be a matter of interpretation. Are Canada, Australia, and Russia any less insignificant currently than the UK since they are not a part of the European Union?
Individuals will vote based on what really affects them and what is important for them, for e.g. some people informed about their inability to buy a property or afford rents in London and other cities due to the inflated house prices and rents as a consequence of a large demand and less supply in the form of housing. Yes, and of course the government’s failure to build new houses to match the demand in the market contributed to the inflated rents and property prices. The hope that the house prices or rents will come down if Britain leaves the European Union may come at a price of losing their employment or having other forms of financial difficulties in a difficult economy if what has been argued by the remain campaigners comes out to be true.
How immigration rules may be post Brexit? If what the leave campaigners are arguing is true and if they get their way then it is likely that if Britain leaves the European Union then every migrant may have to go through a Points Based criteria to enter Britain irrespective of where he or she comes from. Only the best and the skilled may be able to enter the country. There may be a route for unskilled workers coming from across the world.
There seems to be lack of positive arguments from both the sides. Those campaigning that Britain should stay in the Europe are arguing on how the UK will be financially hit and on how it will lose its prominence in the world stage. While David Cameron and other politicians and their supporters who have been shouting from roof tops on how immigration is a bad thing during their election campaigns have suddenly stopped making anti-migrant comments for the greater economic interests of Britain in the European Union. While those campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union are arguing mostly on reducing immigration in the UK and at times it is sounding xenophobic and as a result this seems to have been discouraging immigrants in general and others, irrespective of where they come from, from supporting the leave campaign. The positive arguments for leave campaigners can be more in terms of having fairer immigration rules for all irrespective of where they come from.
Whatever you decide to do on the referendum day, make sure you do vote!
Author – Amit Kapadia
Amit is the Executive Director of the HSMP Forum. He campaigns against issues such as – unfairness, inequality and abuse of human rights.
Twitter @ amit_kapadia