Well, it happened. After almost no sleep, little food and exhaustive media coverage David Cameron managed to come to an agreement with the rest of the Eurozone leaders on a new relationship between the EU and the UK, of which he describes it as special treatment. He’s since declared that the referendum to decide on whether we stay or leave the EU will be held on Thursday, June 23rd.
Most important vote in decades
I don’t think I am understating it when this is going to be our most important vote in this country for decades. Probably since we first voted to enter the EU in the 1970’s when it was called something different.
I ran a poll a couple of weeks ago now in which the industry overwhelmingly decided to “leave”. Of course that was only a rough snapshot of people’s thoughts, and between now and the 23rd of June, opinions will change and polls, whether you trust them or not, will report many differing variations.
It is important that we listen to both sides of the argument and then form our opinions independently. There is going to be a lot of propaganda to try and grab your vote. If these early rounds are the marker, then expect a lot more negativity and scaremongering. But what could actually happen if in the end we voted to leave?
Life without the EU
Instead of speculations and threats, there are some things we could deduce from today. For example if we left the EU we would start saving £50m+ a day. Money back in the bank. That would accumulate quickly, and hopefully would be spent on paying down the national debt or be invested into areas that we desperately need.
Could we get rid of CE marking on windows and doors? Possibly. It was the EU that enforced it on our industry after making us scrap our own British version that worked fine for many years. There is also a plan for a pan-European WER certificate. Leave the EU and that wouldn’t apply to us.
We would be able to pass our own laws without recourse. No EU looking over our shoulders ready to slap our wrists if they believe we did something they thought was wrong.
Then there’s the paper work. It would probably set of a goliath-sized reorganisation of paper work on a scale never seen before. That would cost money. Lots of it. Wouldn’t want to be that guy.
We’d also have to strike up a new trade deal. We would still be in the existing trade agreement, just not in the EU. Still, things will have changed and the rest of the Eurozone will need to agree a new set of rules. Now, David Cameron’s new deal promises that if we left, we wouldn’t be held over a barrel if and when it came to sorting out a new trade deal. You’ll forgive me if I take a pinch of salt with that one.
More than just immigration
My biggest concern is that this referendum is going to be swamped by the issue of immigration, when in reality it forms just part of a bigger conversation.
My next concern is that should we vote to leave the EU, what the national reaction will be. The worst thing that could happen would be for a wave of extreme nationalistic tones to spread. I’m already seeing some very concerning things on social media about “pride” and “patriotism”. It these things that could be hijacked by extreme groups, and that’s the exact opposite of what we would need at that point. I also fear for those who are not from the UK. Those who have moved here to make a life for themselves. Who would blame them for suddenly feeling on edge and very much in focus. We have to exercise restraint at that point.
Then there comes the issue of the UK and Scotland. I can almost guarantee that if we voted to leave, then Scotland will ask for a second independence referendum, and this time it will be a vote for “yes”. It will split up the UK. A good thing? A bad thing? Depends on your perspective.
One thing is for sure, a vote to leave will set of a chain of events that will change our country, and it’s eventual effects won’t be known for many years after that.