Labour must fight to maintain the Union: Background Facts

In this article, James Christopher Maxwell seeks to provide the background facts for you to use to make the case for the UK to stay in the EU. James is currently Vice Chair of Liverpool Young Labour and a first year Politics student at the University of Liverpool University. In his spare time, James engages with student politics, watches European dramas (especially Nordic Noir), and likes to spend time with friends and family.

The Prime Minister has finally finished renegotiating the terms and conditions of British membership of the European Union. Cameron’s political theatrics were played in full view of the British public, with the performance involving all 28 EU Member-States and various EU institutions lasting several supposedly dramatic months. The Prime Minister has finally proposed to have the in-out referendum on 23rd June 2016; subject to Parliamentary approval.

Despite Cameron’s claims that he has managed to secure Britain a ‘special relationship’ with the EU, the reform package that has been presented before us fails to address the real fundamental problems with the EU and British membership of it. But despite the failings and problems associated with the political union, fundamentally, British membership of the EU is vitally important for our economic security, national security, maintaining our standing the world, as well as opening an avenue for the Labour Party and our European sister-parties to further the advances of social democracy.

This article presents somewhat simplistic but effective facts that enable you to develop your own arguments against withdrawing from the EU. The facts, I believe, provide a good foundation that will hopefully enable you to develop arguments that you can use on the doorstep; campaigning for a decisive ‘In vote’.

It’s the economy, stupid!

The economic argument often presented in favour of EU membership is that businesses and industry will lose out if Britain decides to withdraw from the largest trading bloc that is on our doorstep. This argument is undoubtably true, and it has been estimated by the CBI that the net benefit of EU membership to the UK is in the region of £62bn-£78bn per annum. That figure concisely presents the economic benefits of British membership of the EU, but lets be honest, for most of the electorate that figure is too remote, and for some it may seem difficult to link that benefit to their daily lives.

To put the economic benefits into perspective, here are four statements to consider:

  • The average family is £3,000 better off in the EU than out.
  • Cheaper flights to Europe and roaming charges abolished by June 2017.
  • 790,000 new jobs would be lost if the UK pulled out of the EU.
  • 50,000 apprenticeships could be put at risk if we decided to leave.

The EU allows Britain to play a role in the world

Long gone are the days where Britain could act unilaterally when it comes to addressing the nation’s concerns. The threats facing Britain today are far from conventional with the growing threats from terrorism, hybrid warfare, and environmental concerns.

The European Union allows the United Kingdom to play a legitimate role in an increasingly globalised world.

Through the EU we have managed to achieve:

  • Sanctions against Russia in the light of the annexation of Crimea.
  • Striking a deal to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Sanctions to limit North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
  • Intervening to bring peace and conflict resolution in newly formed/recognised European nation-states.
  • Providing training and expertise to law enforcement in multiple developing nations.

All countries can have their own unique foreign policies, but when it comes to pressing issues, a 28 nation-state bloc is much more effective in addressing global issues than the fragmented foreign policies of various nation-states.

The EU enables Labour to advance its cause

Being out of power at a national level can be frustrating to all those who take issue with Tory austerity measures and those who support progressive politics. Being in the EU allows Labour and our European partners to advance the cause of social democracy, even in the face of Conservative governments. Right now, Labour’s European Parliamentary Party (Party of European Socialists/S&D) is the second largest party in the European Parliament. We are able to influence the agenda of the EU to advance our cause by being a member of the European Parliament’s ‘grand coalition’.

What we have managed to achieve in the EU:

  • Promotion of gender equality.
  • Protection of women within the workplace.
  • Guaranteed maternity leave.
  • Equal-pay and anti-discrimination laws.
  • Guaranteed holiday leave.
  • Abolition of the death penalty across Europe and promoting abolition worldwide.

Turnout in European elections is dangerously low, but if we manage to decrease apathy this will further legitimise our calls for Europe to improve the lives of its populous and further the cause of social democracy.

I hope, therefore, that I have helped to give you some ammunition to argue not just a case for staying in the European Union on the 23rd June but for a Labour case for staying in the European Union.

Disagree with James? Let us know and we’ll publish your response.

James Maxwell
James Christopher Maxwell

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