In two weeks Britons will go to the polls to determine if the United Kingdom will bid adieu to the European Union or remain. As the referendum date comes closer, polls are tightening. The most recent numbers indicate that Britons who favor a departure are ahead. However, roughly 10% of those polled indicate they are undecided at this time.
Prime Minister David Cameron is a firm supporter of the UK remaining in the EU. He has come across as increasingly uneasy during recent public appearances. The reality that the Brexit referendum is approaching has to be weighing heavily on him. In a news conference on Tuesday, Cameron urged voters to pay attention to the opinions of ‘the experts’ such as the World Trade Organization and the chairman of the US Fed. The ‘economic consequences’ gun has been Cameron’s weapon of choice in the referendum debate. The PM, and his Remain allies point to the potential negative economic impact a Brexit could have on the nation. New trade deals would have to be worked out since access to the EU’s single-market would be lost. The Remain camp stresses that trade deals take time to complete and in the meantime, a tremendous amount of damage would be inflicted upon the UK economy.
The Leave campaign, on the other side of the coin, stresses that as an EU member, Britain is handcuffed to an economically inert part of the world, preventing it from negotiating deals with developing nations across the globe. Brexit supporters point to the fact that Britain buys more from the EU than the EU buys from Britain.
This referendum is not centered around a singular issue though. Trade, while important, is only one of the points of contention. Immigration, predictably, is a key issue that has helped bring about the referendum. The EU’s inability to contend with the migrant crisis effectively has been scrutinized and helped bring about a wave of anti-EU sentiment in Great Britain as well as on the continent. Brexit supporters argue that the lack of border control will lead to millions of immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East becoming EU citizens which will give them the right to move to the UK. The strain on public services, in this scenario, would be great.
Security is an argument that the Remain campaign has tried to use to its advantage. Without England, the EU would be less secure and disunited at a time when Vladimir Putin is rattling his sabre and causing tension on a weekly basis more or less. What the Remain camp refuses to acknowledge is that European security against outside aggression is ensured by a strong, united NATO, not the EU. Economic and societal issues are the jurisdiction of the EU, not defense and security issues.
As the referendum comes closer, we will discuss the looming Brexit more on this blog.