Recent European Union debate has misrepresented the case for exit. Those advocating the status quo depict exit as closing Britain off, reducing our influence in Europe, limiting our trade and endangering our economy. Similarly, too many see euroscepticsm as inextricably linked to UKIP, putting off many moderates. Instead, leaving the EU is an opportunity for a new relationship, openness and choice.
A better relationship
As part of a British exit from the EU, we would negotiate a new relationship. Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Lichtenstein sit outside the European Union but are members of the European Free Trade Area. This allows them to trade freely with members of the EU. These four EFTA states are richer and freer than the average EU state. Over the last decade, they have enjoyed higher employment, lower inflation, plentiful trade with the world, more EU trade per head, healthier budget positions and relatively robust economic growth. The only jobs that need disappear are those of our MEPs, and the supporting EU bureaucracy targeted at Britain.
Openness to trade
Outside the EU, we could still join the block in trade negotiations. We could also pursue our own free trade deals (potentially with EFTA members) to deepen our ties with the Commonwealth, America, China, and all our favourite country groupings (from the BRICs to the Asian tigers and the Next Eleven). We could even move towards a policy of unilateral free trade.
Outside the EU, we would be free to determine our own policies and regulations. Much of the European Parliamentary election debate was dominated by immigration. You don’t need to agree with UKIPs proposals to believe that policy is better set by our Parliament, and our voters, rather than imposed from abroad. we would be free from silly laws imposed by Brussels, ranging from the needless bureaucracy of the “bendy banana law”, to proposals for an actively harmful financial transaction tax.
The exact proportion of law that comes from Europe is a matter of debate. It depends how you measure laws, and calculations rarely account for their impact. Regardless, even if the EU share is only around 15%, this is a loss of our fundamental sovereignty and equates to a vast body of regulations costing us hundreds of billions. In just four years, 3,580 new laws have been passed affecting British business. This equates to over 12 million words, which would take the average British business person over 92 days to read.
Do not allow the case for leaving the EU to be misrepresented. It is an opportunity for a better relationship, greater openness and choice over Britain’s own affairs and future.