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EU Referendum: Are you still undecided?

April 5, 2016 10:21 AM
By Cllr John Marriott - Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham
Originally published by Rutland and South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

John MarriottThose wishing to stay in the EU will point to the economic benefits of membership of what is still the world's largest single market in an increasingly dangerous world and the unnecessary risks of our coming out, while those opposed to continued membership will cite the need to take back sovereignty ceded gradually to Brussels over the past forty years and to regain control of our borders. Their view is that then we could strike deals with the rest of the world and have a much more money to spend as we would not be paying into the EU coffers.

Neither side of the argument is in any way watertight. The 'Common Market' which some of us voted to remain in over forty years ago was very different from what we have created today. There are serious questions about the democratic deficit and whether it is still fit for purpose. Despite delivering prosperity and a certain degree of stability for over half a century there are some serious question marks over its its long term future. The Euro has hardly been a massive success and the EU GDP is currently shrinking. Probably the single biggest crisis for us all both in and out of the EU is how it will deal with migration from the Middle East and Africa, which currently shows no sign of abating.

Some cynics will argue that the 'deal' the Prime Minister has negotiated from Brussels is no more of a deal than the one Harold Wilson claimed he had got back in 1975. I would not. Whilst it was never likely that major change would occur overnight, despite the Prime Minister's efforts, what he has done is to open the door, maybe without realising it, to possible major change in the EU in the future which, if you believe the words of the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, following last weekend's EU Summit, many other states will be keen to support. With the United Kingdom leading the way, we could have a real chance to shape the EU to reflect more the aspirations of its citizens and not just those of multinationals and big business in general.

Of course, if we were to vote to leave the EU life would go on. There is no guarantee, however, that we could forge trade links with the rest of the world as easily as some think as a small country geographically if not economically, as we can whilst being part of the EU. There is also no guarantee that companies such as Siemens, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, and many others would remain here unless a deal could be struck with our former partners quickly for us to gain access again to the single market. It is true that you could argue that our current partners need us more than we need them, but can we be certain that they would want to play ball if they had been rejected?

The problem for those of you who are undecided is that nobody really knows what a Brexit will produce. One thing that does strike me is that we always seem to give the impression to our partners in Europe that we want it all our own way. What happened to the 'give and take' necessary for any successful marriage to work? Sovereignty is an issue that keeps cropping up. What membership of the EU asks members to do is to 'pool' their sovereignty in certain areas. Over the past few years most of the legislation passed at Westminster has had nothing at all to do with the EU and this will continue to be the case. Don't forget, it's not just the United Kingdom that has agreed to cede certain powers to the EU but all the other 27 member states as well. Why should we be any different?

* John Marriott is a Liberal Democrat councillor from Lincolnshire