An argument to leave...
An under-valued aspect of democracy is the ability to kick out the incumbent. If you are not happy with your local councillor you can vote them out at the next election. The same applies to your MP and while we do not have a direct system for electing the Prime Minister, the electorate do vote on the basis of a specific party manifesto. Tell me, how do we remove a European Union Commissioner?
Put simply, we cannot and thus we must rely on them to be a benign influence. Hopefully, they will be, but there is no guarantee and indeed it encourages the kind of groupthink which has been the undoing of many a once well-intentioned organisation. After all, this is the European political project which made Ireland twice vote twice until the Eurocrats got the answer they wanted.
Some will argue the benefits of membership outweigh the costs. This is, as you might imagine, hotly contested. Britain outside the EU would retain access to the free trade area, but it does seem somewhat counter-intuitive to step back from the body which is making the decisions regarding it. Yet, to stay in the EU purely on this basis would be to place a cash value on liberty and democracy.
For decades we have had those who support British membership state that we need to be in the EU to reform it. However, they never set out what those changes consisted of or laid out a timescale to deliver them. Our current Prime Minister is the exception. David Cameron requested specific changes to Britain’s relationship with the EU and set out a timeframe for the referendum. The renegotiation made significant progress, but it also highlighted how difficult it had become to change the EU monolith. Without the threat of “Brexit” probably even the concessions gained would not have been forthcoming so it would be entirely naïve to think that renewing our membership would provide any form of mandate for further reform.
There is a big World out there and one in which Britain is trading with and engaged with every day. In some instances EU imposed tariffs actually constrain our potential. Britain, home to the 5th largest economy on the planet, would be free to decide upon its own trade arrangements and to take a seat at the World Trade Organisation if it leaves the EU.
As we approach the Referendum on our membership of the EU there will be plenty expressing concern that change creates uncertainty. However, if Britain opts to leave, this country will have the certainty that it can choose its solutions, its direction and its future.