During the seven years I have spent in the UK, I have never experienced such a poor public debate about a key political issue, which will affect lives of millions of people for generations to come. The Brexit debate has been a combination of lies, demagoguery and populism on the ‘Leave side’ and weak and split political partisan politics on the ‘Remain side’. The under-researched and half-informed media reporting on it has not helped either, turning the famous British news sector into a cacophony of irrational truisms, number wars and attacks.
I have no formal say in this debate as I am not a British but an EU citizen. At the same time, I would like to present some of the arguments for why to stay and why not to leave. Not for myself, who would like to continue living in this adoptive home of mine, but for the United Kingdom, because I care for it and want it to remain united. But in Europe. And this is why:
|1. National unity||EU was instrumental in the Good Friday Agreement, which has kept Northern Ireland peaceful; Scotland wants the EU market for its oil exports; the Gibraltar issue was resolved through the EU.||There will be a referendum in Scotland on independence, leaving would endanger peace in Northern Ireland, it would lead to the isolation of Gibraltar (again).|
|2. Economy and Trade||EU economy is the largest economy in the world (GDP), the world’s largest trader; 44% of UK exports go to the EU; access to single market will be seriously restricted (both Switzerland and Norway pay a hefty price to access it partially); 9/10 economists agree that the economic benefits offset the 1% governmental expenditure sent to Brussels; less than 2% of our taxes go to the EU.||GBP already dropping when there is a prospect of the UK leaving; short-term impact would be highly negative (long-term is unpredictable); export & import (7% of EU’s export goes to the UK) would be reduced. You cannot trade with other countries if you do not reciprocate – you will have to bear the consequences of exclusion.|
|3. Autonomous decision-making||Around 10% of laws originate in Brussels; EU regulation had very positive effects on the British environment, NHS benefits from EU funds, research and workers; food industry regulation and consumer rights were first upheld with the EU laws.||EU is a complex decision-making machine, poorly understood and explained. But influence from the inside is more effective than from the outside (Norway and the Swiss are a case in point). If you want control, you have to stay in Brussels.|
|4. Migration and mobility||Migration and free movement of people (both highly skilled and low skilled) makes economies prosper: research and development are critically dependent on mobility as is business innovation; low-skilled workers doing jobs Britons do not; there are clear demographic benefits for an aging population; millions of Britons freely work, study, travel to, and get health treatment (!) in the EU; global patterns of migration cannot be stopped but need to be accommodated.||Fewer EU migrants will come and more Britons will seek citizenship of other countries. Travel will be more expensive. Research and the diversity of the job market will suffer. Note: Migrants might be replaced by non-EU migrants if the ‘Australian scenario’ is put in place: it allows for re-familization, i.e. automatic right to bring entire families.|
|5. Global power and security||EU replaced culture of wars and conflict with a culture of peace and arbitration (ex. EU negotiated the Iran deal); UK is no longer the empire it used to be and will be weakened by leaving as it is the EU which is a partner to the US, China, Russia and India; NATO cannot face the global world as a political decision-maker, EU can.||UK will be on its own as an island nation, cut off from the rest of European affairs =