After years of campaigning and deal-breaking, Eurosceptics and nationalists in the country have finally got what they wanted – a chance to come out of the European Union on Thursday, June 23.
But is the EU a good thing? Would people in Essex be affected if we came out? Is immigration really that bad? Ian Burbidge spoke to Professor Steve Peers at Essex University, who lecturers in EU Law to find out…
1. What are the pros of staying in?
The pros are that certain things we want are guaranteed. If we had left, we would have had to renegotiate them. There is a value in preserving what we have, such as the trade agreements we have, and the likes of security and exchange of information, for terrorism etc.
“There is some degree of uncertainty on whether we’d be able to negotiate that if we are outside the EU.
2. What are the cons of staying in?
The cons include the cost of the EU. Ukip’s accountants estimated that the yearly contribution to the EU is £9billion. Although, even if Britain comes out, it could still be possible that the country still has to pay something to the EU depending on what deal is negotiated.
There is a lot of immigration from the newer countries to the UK. There is a public perception that this is creating a lot of pressure on public services. But there is a debate on whether that is true or not – certainly some economists would say it is not.
And finally, another issue is about soverenity. About 85 per cent of EU laws go through. In the last five years, the UK has been outvoted around 14 per cent of the time, but that is a figure that has increased.
3. How will coming out affect Essex?
It all depends on what deal we get if we leave. The leave side will want to still trade with the EU without having to comply with EU laws, or without giving them money, but it is highly unlikely they will get all that. But not knowing how any deal will go makes it a difficult question to answer.
The biggest impact could be on anyone who works in a job that exports. There is also a debate on whether we will still get the same amount of financial services, but you’re talking about the big businesses that export and the big banking businesses. So that could affect people who work in Canary Wharf.
In Essex, I don’t know any big factory you could pinpoint to say they would definitely be affected.
“The smaller businesses= would not be covered by EU laws, so they would be less restricted. I think different votes would happen across different parts of the country. For example, workers in Sunderland who work at Nissan’s manufacturing plant could vote differently to Essex, which has smaller businesses who don’t export as much.
4. Does the EU really wield that much power over Parliament?
There are a lot of different stats in regard to British Laws that are superseded by EU law. One clause in Parliament could have 300 clauses, but only one from the EU. It is difficult to say.
But at least some of our laws would be influenced by EU laws if we continued to trade with EU countries. Car businesses that export would need to comply with EU car manufacturing laws, for example. Yes, we will be able to adopt laws we otherwise would not have been able to adopt, but the question is how much more?
“For exporters, they will have to comply with EU laws even if they are not the laws on the land. For smaller businesses, they would not be impacted.
5. Is immigration as bad as it is perceived to be?
“It’s a highly political issue. Most non-EU migration is not regulated by the EU.
About half of the net migration to the UK is from outside the EU, and that’s where we have a choice on it. So about half the numbers people are concerned about we have the ability to control. And there are steps to look to decrease non-EU migration.
“Will the Prime Minster’s deal really help? I don’t think it will affect immigration levels very much. Therefore, people need to balance whether a reduction in net immigration is worth the risk of leaving the EU.
6. How will you vote?
“It is quite even at this moment in time, but I’m on the remain side. It’s possible that we can get a deal that what we’ve got now, if we come out, but I don’t think the EU will be willing to give us a better deal. There are viable complaints about the EU, but I don’t think it’s worth that uncertainty.”