If the UK leaves the European Union, politicians can run the country how they want; Corbyn can try out his Stalinist policies or Mogg can take us back to the 18th century. But for the rest of us, Brexit will hurt economically, socially and personally; and whatever anyone says, it’s not too late for us to change our mind and stay in the EU.
Here are six reasons why Brexit is a mistake:
- The UK and EU will lose economically. Some people say that Europe has more to lose than the UK from Brexit, others that the UK will do worse than Europe, but the truth is that both the UK and Europe will lose out economically from trade barriers. Building border crossings and taking on lots of new customs people is not going to help the UK or Europe compete globally – Brexit might give politicians more power, but it’s going to make both poorer.
- But the UK will lose more. Currently overseas companies see the UK as a business friendly location – sensible labour laws, skilled workforce and connected to the single market. Post Brexit, we may still have sensible labour laws, but will lose some of our workforce and probably our access to the single market. Many UK companies are currently setting up or expanding in Europe to ensure they have access to European markets – and this means job losses here and job gains there.
- European migrants enrich our society. Round the world, you can see that cosmopolitan cities that mix societies are streets ahead of their more parochial counterparts. It’s no coincidence that Barcelona, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, London, Miami and New York are all home to many migrants, and are vibrant cities moving the world forwards.
- Europe needs us. Britain and our free market economy is a positive influence on the rest of Europe. If you travel to Latvia, for instance, once subservient to the Soviet Union and now growing in freedom, Britain is a beacon for hope. Britain can help all of Europe become a better place for its citizens – also benefiting ourselves as close neighbours.
- Internationalism makes us better. Much of the reasoning behind Brexit is closed-minded nationalism, thinking we are better off without “the other”, often rooted in simple prejudice. But we all live together on this small and fragile, interconnected world. Most problems in society – pollution, refugees, terrorism, cyber attacks, nuclear weapons and more, need an international solution. Separating from Europe will not help international cohesion. It is simply unilateralism and ultimately, we will be weaker because of it.
- The Union promises peace. The twentieth century saw terrible, destructive wars in Europe, but the European Union bound the wounds of that war together and one of its great benefits has been longstanding peace. We can see that beneath the surface (just look at Catalonia or the Ukraine), there are risks of war. It’s easy to criticize EU bureaucracy or our neighbours’ bad habits, and often such criticism is fair, but fragmenting Europe risks returning one way or another to violence.
It risks leaving a fragmented Europe deteriorating into violent conflict
The First World War started with nationalist jingoism and ended in the slaughter of young people of Europe. I do not suggest that Brexit is as bad a mistake as joining the First World War,but just like that war was a mistake, Brexit is also a mistake. At best, it will lead to economic loss and a weaker society; at worst it risks leaving a fragmented Europe deteriorating into violent conflict.
We are still a democracy. The Brexit referendum was won by lies and propaganda and a narrow result should not be enough to define our future. When the terms of the final deal are clear, let’s have a second referendum before the deal is accepted, and make a more rational and considered decision.
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