According to the EU, its main claim for existence is that it has led a historically war-torn, conflict-prone continent to peace and harmony. Whilst Europe has seen a far lower incidence of conflict since the end of the Second World War in 1945, I do not believe we can attribute this to the European Union and, in fact, the EU is now the cause of the upsurge in European conflict we thought we’d left behind. Yes, the EU has been a forum for discussion but two other factors have been more vitally important in stopping conflict on the continent. Firstly, NATO – it’s motto; “an attack on one is an attack on all,” is a fearsome prospect. It has also made states realise that military coordination makes them all stronger and safer without the need for political integration. The second is the development of nuclear weapons. Whilst few European states actually have nuclear weapons, the fact that a few do has been enough to avoid fighting with the possibility of mutually assured destruction forcing adversaries to work together, or at least to pushed battles off the continent and into Asian proxy wars. But now the EU seems to be bringing conflict back and turning states against one another. Protests in countries most affected by austerity have been against Merkel and Germany: their new imperial overlords. Ukraine essentially broke down into civil war the moment it was presented with even the possibility of membership. As the European economy falls apart, everyone is beginning to blame each other for its crumbling.
The collapsing economy is another reason why we should leave. Yes, it is true, we are not a part of the eurozone, but as the euro and EU become increasingly connected, we are being made to pay for and bail out a project that we don’t want to be a part of. Only one continent has seen lower rates of economic growth: Antarctica. The EU has proved itself incapable of undertaking the structural reform necessary to overcome the flaws of a single economic bloc because this is not its main aim. Its main aim is to have a single political entity, to which it can fit an unworkable economic model. The variations in GDP within European countries can be staggering, particularly in Italy where there’s a clear North-South divide, but this is irreconcilable across the whole continent. Having one single economy makes it harder to address these discrepancies because economic policy has to be one-size-fits-all and cannot be directed towards particular regions. The economic failure of the EU matters to the UK because we are focusing all our attention on this bloc whilst ignoring faster growing regions. We have been forced to let the EU do all our trade negotiations for us, which is a much slower process when 28 nations have to agree to the relationship. Obama has said that, if we leave, we will go to the back of the queue for trade deals but this isn’t how diplomacy works. People don’t look at one trade deal and, when that’s done, go onto the next. Instead, several trade deals are being negotiated at any one time, and it’s a lot faster when only two nations have to agree. If Costa Rica can have a trade deal with the US, it is ludicrous for the US to say the world’s fifth biggest economy shouldn’t be allowed one. Even if Trump was elected as the Republican nominee, I have to believe the country has more sense than to cut their nose off to spite their face. If we leave it will be easier to make our economy more dynamic, and to increase trade with China and India, having removed European protectionist measures. It’s true that states tend to do more trade with their neighbours, but as those countries around us stagnate, our growth will be dependent on looking further afield.
The factor that the British seem to care most about in this referendum has been immigration. But what the Remain campaign has failed to pick up on is why this is such a key issue and why it needs to be scaled back. Most people will agree that migration is on the whole a good thing; it brings in new economic resources and skills, with most contributing more than they take out. Many of those who want to leave aren’t anti-immigration because they’re racist or because their main concern is about the benefit system being abused, although this could be better improved as Cameron’s “four-year deal” is no more than a gentleman’s agreement which will be revoked if we vote to remain. Ultimately the problem with not having control over who comes in is that our public services and housing stock can’t keep up with rates of immigration without removing what makes this such a fantastic country, our “green and pleasant lands”. We could build millions and millions of houses and decimate our green belt and woodland areas, but Britain (England in particular) already has an extremely high population density and the most demand is in the south east where there is not that much green belt left to build on without reducing the standard of living. Equally, our schools, hospitals, roads, and public transport cannot be expanded enough to keep up with demand because there just isn’t the space or cash to finance such expansion. Furthermore, the current freedom of movement rules mean we can’t actually select those individuals the UK needs. We need more doctors, nurses, and engineers. What we have mostly received is low-skilled workers who have pushed down the wages of those who are already struggling to make ends meet.
I’ve only scratched the surface of why we need to leave the EU and have barely mentioned the erosion of our sovereignty which we have fought centuries for the right to. But in this referendum, sovereignty has not been the issue of concern; most people simply want to know how it will affect their bank balance. And in my opinion, the effect will be a negative one as we attach ourselves to a sinking bloc and see our house prices rise as supply can’t keep up with demand. If we want to increase public services, tax will ultimately have to increase. But war is the most damaging thing that could happen, and in history war has mostly been the result of the suppression of national identities. With the EU trying to achieve just this, if it carries on along the current path, war may be on the horizon.