August 2013: European Union

The issue of Britain’s role in Europe has been the subject of much political debate in recent months, and I thought it would be interesting to gather local views on the subject too.

Earlier this month, the House of Commons debated the first stages of a Private Members’ Bill to hold a referendum on whether Britain should leave or remain a member of the European Union.

Some of Britain’s most successful and eminent business leaders have already raised concerns that there is a danger we could put political interests above economic interests, estimating that membership is worth between £31bn and £92bn per year in income gains, or between £1,200 to £3,500 for every household in the UK.

However, there is no denying that many people feel uncomfortable with the legislative burden that originates from the EU, and of course there is also concern about the effect of further more countries entering the EU on migration into the UK.

Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?

I’ve collated some articles below on the debate:

Yes

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-business-we-need-to-stay-in-the-european-union–or-risk-losing-up-to-92bn-a-year-8622925.html
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21567940-british-exit-european-union-looks-increasingly-possible-it-would-be-reckless
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-case-for-eu-membership-goes-beyond-mere-economics-8617783.html

No

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100216025/britains-exit-from-the-eu-is-inevitable-david-cameron-is-swimming-against-the-tide-of-history/
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/270311/We-have-to-quit-the-EU-to-protect-British-jobs-says-union-boss-Bob-Crow
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9703259/Ukip-are-not-closet-racists-but-weve-had-enough.html

Results

Thank you, as ever, to everyone who took part in my recent e-consultation on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. It certainly proved to be a controversial topic! The results showed that:

·         67% of those who responded voted yes to remaining in the EU.
·         33% voted no to doing so.

The comments were some of the most interesting I had received from an e-consultation.  They showed that the main reason people voted yes was for the economic impact. Several respondents noted that they had direct experience of how much easier it is to do business within the EU. However, it was also highlighted by a number of people that the EU was not without its flaws and, whilst it was desirable to remain in the UK, they would like to see significant reforms to the institutions. One message was clear from lots of you: we should do what is in the best interests of the UK and not pander to the Tory right!

Many of those who voted no commented that, whilst a common market was a good thing, the EU had become a ‘gravy train’ for bureaucrats. Others noted concerns about the cost to the UK of implementing legislation from Europe, particularly the European Convention of Human Rights (although this is actually separate to the EU).

I certainly found the responses interesting and many very much reflected my own thoughts. I agree that the EU has to change to become more competitive, open, leaner and less bureaucratic. I think we have got more chance of achieving this by working positively from within.

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