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No Brexit for me, why I'm staying in a reformed EU and so should you

Andrew Selous MP

I am proud that this Government is giving the British people a vote on whether to remain members of the European Union. The British people have been shut out from this debate for far too long. I know that people of goodwill who love their country dearly and want nothing but the best for the United Kingdom have strongly differing views on this subject. However the country votes on 23rd June we must come together as one nation afterwards to make the best of which ever decision the British people make.

I am proud of our country. Over the centuries we’ve done more than anyone to promote liberty, the rule of law and free markets. We have done so in cooperation with many and in the interests of all. Today we still offer hope to those less fortunate than ourselves in a troubled the world. We are also a sovereign power that embraces the strength found in exchanging mutual commitments.

Having thought long and hard about this issue I have decided to back the United Kingdom remaining in a European union that continues to reform.

Just under half our exports go to the European Union the world’s richest market of 500 million people. Of course we need to export more to the rest of the world as well, but harming businesses who export to Europe would have severe consequences for British jobs.

A few years ago General Motors Europe gave a renewed contract for the Vivaro van to the IBC plant in Luton where a number of my constituents work. I believe that other European van factories would have received that contract had United Kingdom not been in the European Union. 

BE Aerospace in Leighton Buzzard, a jewel in the industrial crown of south Bedfordshire, with 600 skilled engineering jobs have told me very clearly that it is best for the security of their business for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. Peter Kendall, Bedfordshire’s best-known farmer, and a small employer, is also of the same view.

It’s worth remembering that United Kingdom has created 2.7 million private sector jobs since 2010, more than the whole of the rest of the European Union put together. There are also 900,000 more businesses and all of this has been done while the UK is a member of the European Union. 

Currently there are 776,000 job vacancies and parts of the country are starting to see not just skills shortages but serious labour shortages too.

Countries like Norway and Switzerland which are outside of the European Union have to agree to free movement of labour and to pay in to the European Union coffers in order to have to have access to the single market. As the former European Union spokesman for the Norwegian Conservatives said “If you want to run Europe you must be in Europe. If you want to be run by Europe, feel free to join Norway in the European Economic Area.”

The European Union also has free trade agreements with 53 other countries and they would all lapse for the United Kingdom if we left. This would lead to considerable uncertainty for business. I think it is also significant that our friends in the Anglosphere, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America all want us to stay and India and China are mystified that we are even considering leaving. I also note that National Australia Bank which is about to float the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, sees Brexit as the major risk to its prospects leading to higher interest rates, more regulation, carnage in financial markets and reduced international investment in the UK.

Our number one services export, financial services firms who employ over 1 million people can now never be forced to relocate inside the Eurozone if they want to trade in Euros, just because they are based in the UK. That was part of what the Prime Minister negotiated. Although we would feel more sovereign if left the European Union, in this case it would be an illusion of sovereignty, because we would not have the power to protect the businesses which create the jobs and livelihoods in our country.

The United Kingdom has also secured agreement for the completion of the European single market in services, capital and energy. Completing the single market in services alone could add up to 2% to our economy. The completion of the single market in services will make it easier for thousands of UK service based companies like IT firms to trade in Europe, for example. The completion of the single market in energy will allow new suppliers into our energy market meaning lower energy bills for families across the country.

The free trade agreement the European Union has signed with South Korea has been a great boost to the UK which now has a surplus with South Korea. There are now commitments for the European Union to sign free trade agreements with America, Japan, China, India, New Zealand and Australia. Country after country has said that they while they could sign trade deals with Britain but they would prefer to sign them with the European Union because they would be bigger and better. In other words there would be years and years of uncertainty over these deals which are important to boost trade and prosperity.

As a former Territorial soldier myself, I know that NATO is the cornerstone of our security.   The military also recognise what they call defence in depth. The sanctions that the United Kingdom helped broker with the European Union and America against Russia because of its partial invasion of Ukraine are an example, as is the pressure the European Union was able to put on Iran to agree a nuclear deal.

I think that Brexit would most likely lead to a second Scottish referendum leading to the breakup of the United Kingdom and a rump England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Immigration remains too high and roughly half comes from the European Union. The recent agreement means that new powers have been secured against criminals from other countries including powers to stop them coming here in the first place and powers to deport them if they are already here. Those coming from the EU who have not found work within six months can now be required to leave and EU migrants will have to wait four years until they have full access to our benefits. Wages for British workers begin to rise this April with the introduction of the national living wage and continue to rise throughout this Parliament.

The special status given to the United Kingdom means we can now have the best of both worlds. We will be in those parts of Europe that work well for us being in the driving seat of the world’s biggest single market. We will have the power to insist that European countries share with us the border information so we know what terrorists and criminals are doing in Europe. That power would be lost if we leave. We will be out of the euro, out of Eurozone bailouts and out of the passport free no borders Schengen area and permanently and legally protected from being part of an ever closer union.

I will be voting to stay in not out of any love for the EU but from a cold hard look at what I think is in the British national interest. We should continue to challenge Europe to reform further and people across the EU are also demanding further change. We must continue to be critical and constructive partners as any true friend should be. Margaret Thatcher understood that we needed British influence at the heart of Europe which is why she insisted that British diplomats spend time in Brussels. She sent one of her closest advisers David Williamson to be Secretary General of the Commission. UK officials represent only 3% of the total and we need to push that number up to nearer a fair proportion of 12%.

Further Reading 

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