Brexit: The pros and cons

Authored by Phil Meekin

Phil Meekin

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Approximate read time: 7 minutes

The word ‘Brexit’ is one that rings relentlessly in the ears of most of the population at the moment. The last few months have been filled with endless campaigning, claims and their counter-claims, and often theatrical televised debates. All of these, of course, to push across the cases for the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigns, ahead of the referendum on the 23rd June.

As the ‘Brexit’ vote approaches, here’s a look at some of the speculated pros and cons of the UK leaving the European Union.

Pros of Brexit

  • Trade – Pros

A strong argument often mentioned in support of the leave campaign is trade. The point is raised that leaving the EU would leave the UK free to negotiate competitive trade deals with over 20 individual EU countries, and further afield. It is suggested that this freedom would allow us to set our own prices and rules in relation to these deals. An example of an ‘ideal’ scenario can be seen in Norway, who have access to the single market, but are not bound to EU laws and regulations. The likelihood and accuracy of this speculation would only be confirmed upon leaving the EU.

  • Investment – Pros

The leave campaign has suggested that a Brexit scenario would see the UK free from EU laws, and thus in a position to re-invent itself and its economy. Barclays Bank has put forward a worst case scenario plan, which benefits the leave campaign’s argument. It states that the reason behind current low investment falls down to the uncertainty over our position within the EU. If Brexit is the outcome of the referendum, this uncertainty will end. One theory is that the UK’s departure may stir uncertainty within the EU itself, while leaving the UK as a secure environment for investment. This would see a boost after the referendum, and furthermore, after the official departure.

  • Jobs – Pros

Suggestions as to what the job market in a post-Brexit UK would look like are rather uncertain. Many believe that leaving the EU would stimulate a rise in national employment, for various reasons, and wages would rise nationwide. It is often suggested that a fall in employees from oversees would see a large number of positions become available to those at home. How true this claim will prove to be can only be seen once the UK leaves the union.

  • UK Finances – Pros

The United Kindom spent £13bn on EU membership last year alone. Leave campaigners have suggested that this money would be freed up in a post-Brexit UK, and thus, would be available for much-needed at-home spending. It has been a popular slogan of the Leave campaign to suggest funding the NHS with such extra capital.

Pros: summary

In plain speaking, leaving the European Union would affect every part of day-to-day life in the UK. The Leave campaign has made claims that this would see a fall in immigration, a rise in national security, a rise in funding for the public sector, and a more prosperous trading landscape. It is a popular opinion of the campaign that the UK would become a ‘strong force’ in the world again, restoring sovereignty and regaining control of our own affiars. The truth behind these claims can only be shown by time, in the event that the country votes to leave.

Cons of Brexit

  • Trade – Cons

As a member of the single market, we pay no tariffs on our imports and exports. The lack of these tariffs, which are ordinarily taxes on trade between countries, is a huge saving to the national purse. It is suggested, and often feared by the Remain campaign, that leaving the EU could see the UK paying such tariffs on trade with countries on which it, for now, pays none. 50% of the United Kindom’s exports currently go to the EU, meaning that the implementation of such tariffs would only mean more hurdles in these trading relationships.

  • Investment – Cons

Those backing the Remain campaign suggest that leaving the EU would force some companies to withdraw their investment from the UK. Uncertainty over the state of a post-Brexit economy, as well as the nation’s relationship with the EU, would influence this. Early signs of this have already been seen, with uncertainty over the referendum leading to a drop in investment. Though some in the Leave campaign insist that this is simply due to the uncertainty of the referendum result, and further strategy following this, these claims cannot be confirmed.

  • Jobs – Cons

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a supporter of the argument to remain, has argued that the EU gives workers vital rights and protection. These include security of maternity/paternity leave, and the 48-hour waiver. If the UK were to leave the EU, workers would no longer automatically be covered by these rights until the United Kindom introduces its own legislation.

Further to this, it has been suggested that sectors such as healthcare and agriculture, whose workforces on average contain a large number of EU citizens, would become very suddenly short-staffed. The uncertainty over whether these sectors would be able to fill the necessary roles with UK citizens means that many in the Remain campaign see this as a strong argument.

The Remain campaign also counters the point of a rise in wages with the argument that this could cause devastation for smaller companies. The need to increase wages to compete across sectors could cause companies to cut down on staff, therefore reducing the number of positions available, decreasing productivity, and damaging the state of small to medium-sized enterprises in the UK. The immediate effect of the need for companies to pay more to their staff, it is argued, could cause financial collapse in some sectors.

  • UK Finances – Cons

Though it is indisputable that the UK would save money given the lack of EU membership fees in a Brexit scenario, there are other factors at play. The EU currently funds thousands of projects across the United Kingdom through various schemes. Such funding would be lost in a leave scenario. The question of tariffs also comes into play, as the appearance of these may mean that the UK does not save as much as it is perceived due to the added expense.

Because the situation is so unclear, it is impossible to estimate how UK finances may be affected. The balance of losses and gains cannot fully be evaluated until the nation makes its formal departure. This, it is argued, leads to uncertainty within the financial landscape of the UK, and furthermore, that of the EU.

Cons: Summary

Though pro-remain campaigners recognise that regaining control of our own affairs is good in theory, they argue that it would stifle the nation’s development. They suggest that the economy could take a hit, with the complications brought on by the need for new trade agreements, the possible implementation of tariffs, and the loss of workers with EU citizenship.

Many members of the Remain campaign feel that the uncertainty, and possible gamble, involved with leaving the EU is simply not worth the risk. They worry for the effect on future generations, and argue that though many ideas seem good in principle, there is no way to yet measure their downfalls.

Who is strongest?

The ‘Brexit’ debate is far from a simple one. Many people across the nation are struggling to pick a side, as so much uncertainty surrounds each outcome. It is unclear whether remaining in the EU would hinder the UK’s progression, or keep it stable, and equally, it is unclear whether leaving would influence progression, or cause an economic downfall. It is impossible at this stage to say which argument is the best, as there are pros and cons on both sides. Time will tell, and the result, either way, will be monumental for the nation.

We hope you found our evaluation of the ‘Brexit’ debate useful. Whether you are for Leave, Remain, or are undecided, it is always beneficial to understand both sides of the debate, and to form your own opinions based on these. Happy voting!

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