Senior experts working with Regent’s University London have argued that the disadvantages of Britain’s EU membership are being ‘grossly exaggerated,’ and that UK political parties are not doing enough to inform voters ahead of an ‘in/out’ referendum on the issue.
Professor John Drew, Director of Regent’s Institute of Contemporary European Studies; Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times; Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform; and Graham Avery, Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre have put forward their findings in a new paper titled ‘The UK and the EU: Are there alternatives to EU membership?’
Speaking at a Regent’s University London seminar earlier this month, the nonpartisan group were unanimous in their criticism of arguments supporting Britain’s departure from the EU.
Charles Grant commented:
“Germany exports tremendously well to China but Britain doesn’t, so whatever’s wrong it isn’t to do with EU membership. A lot of Euro-sceptics say Britain has a services trade surplus, but roughly half of our exports go to Europe, while only 10% of their exports come to us. America will take the UK much less seriously without EU membership, meaning we will become less influential in the world.”
Martin Wolf said:
“The European referendum is reckless, foolish and utterly unnecessary. There needs to be a clear choice over a clear issue. The UK electorate will have no idea what they are voting on. [Europe] is our most important market for the future and we are making a staggering mess of the entire relationship. The disadvantages of EU membership have been grossly exaggerated, and we retain an incredibly flexible labour market.”
Graham Avery added:
“The question is ‘on what basis are people expected to vote?’ There are no answers from the main political parties. Our paper concludes that if Britain wants access and the ability to influence, there is no alternative to EU membership. The EU is not just a single market. It is about values, social justice, the economy, defence, immigration, fisheries, the environment and much more. There are other choices, but they are all significantly worse.”