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During the UK’s 2015 election campaign, the Conservative party promised to hold a referendum in regards to the UK’s membership of the EU by 2017. On 23 June 2016 a referendum regarding the UK’s membership of the EU will be held and the question will be: ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’, with responses ‘Remain a member of the European Union’ / ‘Leave the European Union’.
Due to the level of uncertainty, many NFDA members still feel unsure and ill-informed about benefits of EU membership or Brexit. In response to this, the NFDA will start to produce weekly information sheets that will be published in our newsletter. In these documents we will examine benefits of staying in or leaving the EU analysing different areas as case studies
The lead campaign groups as confirmed by the Electoral Commission on 13 April 2016 are: Britain Stronger in Europe(BSIE) and Vote Leave.
Britain Stronger in Europe (BSIE)
Launched by former Marks and Spencer boss Lord Rose on 12 October 2015, the BSIE group is a cross party, cross sector organisation that has highlighted the economy, leadership and security as its three most important campaign issues in the lead up to the referendum.
On the economy, the group has emphasised the amount of investment and jobs tied to the UK’s trade with the EU. They claim this leads to lower prices for British consumers who they state receive a ten to one return on investment through the EU. They also cite that the UK has access to a further 53 free trade agreements with countries around the world via the EU.
Furthermore, the group believes that the importance of leadership and “having a seat at the table” so Britain can help make key decisions is vital and therefore the only answer is to stay in the EU and keep its “seat”. It says Britain needs to be outward looking and shape the future through participation.
Finally, on security the group believes Britain is safer inside the EU. They mention Russian aggression, terrorism and crossborder crime as particular aspects in which being part of the EU helps make Britain safer.
Vote Leave was launched on 15 October 2015 and is again a cross party group.
They are calling on the electorate to vote to leave the EU so that the UK can establish a “better, friendlier relationship with the EU” and have pledged to negotiate a new UK-EU deal based on free trade and friendly cooperation in the event of Brexit. They describe it as the “safer choice.”
The group cites the following benefits of leaving the EU as their main reasons for campaigning:
– Leaving the EU would allow the UK to re-instate its presence within international institutions such as the World Trade Organisation. This would allow the country to be a more influential force for free trade and international cooperation.
– Brexit would enable the UK to implement a more humane and fairer migration policy. It would stop the “open door” EU immigration system which results in “blocking people who could contribute to the UK coming from non-EU countries.”
– A Leave vote would allow the UK to have better control of the domestic agenda and budget. The Vote Leave Campaign is working alongside campaign groups Labour Leave, Conservatives for Britain and Business for Britain.
The NFDA is a non-partisan organisation that does not hold a position as to whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU and is not affiliated to either the leave or remain campaigns.
Next week we will look at the implications that the result of the referendum may have on trade. We will analyse arguments from both sides and explore possible agreement options that the UK could try to form if the country votes to leave.