Many of us will remember the opening lines of a song written by Burt Bacharach and made famous by the Walker Brothers: ‘Make it easy on yourself’ which includes the phrase ‘Breaking up is so very hard to do’
And so it could prove if the vote on 23rd June leads to the UK leaving the European Union. Forget for a moment the pluses and negatives of the economic benefits of EU membership; that is of course if you hold an abacus detailing all the relevant numbers. Consider instead what the post exit consequences/process would be. If you need to pause at this point, it is with good reason. The post exit fallout is simply unknown, other than to say it would not be easy. I have heard it reported that the renegotiation and re-classifying of trade agreements with the other 28 member states would take at least two years.
Currently about 70% of UK exports go to the Eurozone; these goods are exported with the minimum of fuss and red tape compared to exports to other parts of the world. This advantage would cease if the UK leaves the EU.
I hold no grudges against our European Members and I am confident that they would still look upon the UK with affection of our culture, democratic government and way of life. But realistically, how motivated or engaged could we consider our current partners in say, Germany or France, if we broke off our betrothal with them? It is fair to say jilted lovers or indeed business partners do not always respond to rejection by being sympathetic to the other party.
Economic stability and growth is underpinned by confidence. Confidence is harnessed when people and businesses believe they can commit to projects with some form of certainty to their outcome. The uncertainty about Brexit has already brought a slowdown in inward investment. The private equity firm KKR, who had previously owned the pharmacy chain Boots, commented that it would not touchBritain until after the vote. Their view is held by countless other international buy-out specialists.
The Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, has called the referendum ‘the biggest domestic threat’ to financial stability. Mark Carney’s views are shared by a wide variety of people and institutions including President Obama and the International Monetary Fund.
My personal main drive for remaining in the EU is for economic reasons. I grew up in a grey and desolate post-war London. The last 20 years has seen London and with it, most parts of the UK, grow and establish standards of living and wealth that for many could not have been foreseen 40 or 50 years ago.
However, there are of course factors outside of economics to be considered. The former heads of MI5 and MI6 comment that if Britain left the EU we would have little say over the terms of data sharing which is essential for us to monitor and police the global terrorist threat. They conclude that for our own security we need to stay in EU.
Finally, as a inhabitant in a multi-cultural, mixed ethnic working community, I believe that living and working together means that the chances of harmony and peace is far greater if we stay together.
Europe’s history prior to 1945 is not a good potent for nationalistic, grandiose inward-thinking nations