Last week two events dominated the EU In/Out Campaign. One involved Emily Wood, a music producer from Poole, who furiously revealed her mother had been shunted down the housing list by officials who prioritise immigrants, demanding: “Where are we going to put them all?”
The second development which was hijacked by Leave campaigners was the release of figures from the Office of National Statistics which showed net migration to the UK rose to 333,000 in 2015, the second highest figure on record.
Immigration has been the most hotly debated topic surrounding the EU Referendum, which is to be held in less than a month.
In a passionate response to Miss Wood, Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party, stated, “If we have a housing shortage we should build more houses, not kick people out of the country”.
Responding to the news that net migration has increased, Leave supporter and London Mayor, Boris Johnson, stepped up his bitter war of words with Prime Minister David Cameron, stating that the Government was cynical to claim it could control immigration while inside the EU and the new figures exposed the “scandal” of Cameron’s broken election pledge to slash numbers.
With the pressure mounting, it can be hard to see the wood from the trees when it comes to viewing both sides of the In/Out Referendum arguments. Here is our best shot at laying down each sides’ claims in an objective manner, so you can make up your own mind on how to use your vote on 23rd June 2016.
Arguments for Leaving the EU
- Trade – Europe is our biggest trading partner, with around 30% of Britain’s total GDP coming from importing and exporting goods and services to the Continent. Negotiations for new bi-lateral trade agreements could take many years, and during this time, exporters especially, could suffer major losses; due to investment in trade-related activities being put on hold and fluctuations in the value of the pound.
- Immigration – Remain campaigners argue that EU migrants contribute millions of pounds to the UK economy. Not only do they provide valuable labour in industries such as agriculture and construction, where margins are tight and keeping wages low is imperative for business survival, but they staff hospitals and schools. Migrants also start new ventures which create jobs for British people (according to statistics, migrants set up one in seven new companies launched in the UK).
- UK Citizens Living Abroad – Free movement works both ways. Approximately 1.4 million UK citizens reside in the EU and enjoy access to healthcare and other public services. Leaving the EU could put in jeopardy the rights of British citizens who have made new lives for themselves in Spain, France or Italy.
- Easy Extraditions – The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries.
- Cheap Plonk – Leaving the EU would be catastrophic for those who enjoy a glass of Spanish red or Burgundy white. On leaving the EU, the price of imported wine could jump by a third. Imported cars, mobile phone roaming fees and flights are also likely to increase.
Arguments for Leaving the EU
- The Ability to Create New Trade Agreements – Trying to balance the needs and desired of 28 separate countries with vastly different cultures can make it slow and difficult to negotiate new trade agreements. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to work out deals with Canada, Australia, China, and other emerging markets such as Brazil, on its own terms, quickly and efficiently.
- Controlling our Borders – Outside of the EU and its principle of free movement, Britain could control the number of EU citizens coming to the UK to find employment by introducing work permits and setting minimum requirements that must be met (such as a good knowledge of English) before a visa is granted.
- Sovereignty – Leave campaigners argue that leaving the EU will allow Britain to regain its sovereignty. Far from being right-winged hooey, they state that the European Commission, which is unelected, has the monopoly of proposing all EU legislation which it does in secret. It also has the power to issue regulations which are automatically binding in all member states.
- Saving money – Leaving the EU would mean Britain would not have to pay a membership fee. In 2015, the UK paid a net sum of £8.5bn to Brussels, equivalent to 7% of the NHS budget.
- Brussels is a bureaucratic basket-case – From wasting £760,000 for a "gender equal" cultural centre which was never built, to a complete inability to manage the migrant crisis, those who want to leave the EU state that Britain needs to control how it makes its own decisions. As the crisis in Greece clearly highlighted, monetary union without political union is destined to fail – meaning for the EU to work, closer integration between countries is required, something the Leave camp is completely horrified by.
How will the vote go? Polls show support for remaining in the EU is ahead….but only just.
We will keep you posted.
Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premiere immigration law firms. If you have any concerns or questions about how the EU Referendum could affect your immigration status, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.