Posted April 24, 2014
Published on Liberal Democrat Voice By Antony Hook
Over 4 million British jobs depend on exports to the Single Market.
Those are the words of the Centre for Economic and Business Research regarding their recent report into British Jobs and the Single Market.
When we talk about this issue UKIP and the Tory Right throw around words like “liar”. When people do that it usually means they have lost the argument.
UKIP appear to be temperamentally unable of reasoned debate grounded in the evidence. Their leaders are like children who cover their ears and say “I can’t hear you”.
Their game is to bully and intimidate with insults. They underestimate the care we have for our neighbours and our country. This care compels us to make the case for being in Europe.
The many millions of jobs linked to our EU membership are not only those in firms that sell goods and services into the Single Market. More jobs are in firms that have their operations here because we are part of the EU. There are more jobs in sectors, like science and research that are funded by the EU (€80bn of EU funds will go into science in the next 5 years); if we leave the EU researchers in the UK won’t be able to apply; many will leave.
There are, of course, many further jobs that are supported by the spending of wages by people working in these three categories.
The additional benefit of the Single Market is for consumers. It means we can buy goods that they want to buy, wherever in Europe they are manufactured. Choice improves quality of life (people can choose goods that better meet their needs) and reduces the cost of living (access to cheaper goods).
These are elementary principles of free trade that every liberal understands.
By way of practical example, last week the Investment Management Association, whose members look after £4.5 trillion of our pensions and savings, said that being in the EU get us a better return.
UKIP and Tories claim that if we left the EU we could still enjoy full access to the Single Market and would not have to comply with expensive “red tape”. They say that if Europe did not give us market access, we could prevent our consumers buying their goods – a ludicrous threat of mutual self-harm.
If we left it is easy to imagine competitors to UK companies lobbying their governments to place restrictions on UK Single Market access in their sector. Staying in guarantees permanent Single Market access, with ever closer business opportunities.
Being out would mean that if, like Norway, we had access to the Single Market we would still have to comply with most rules of the Single Market but with no say in the making those rules. UKIP and the Conservatives have not answered the democratic deficit they would create.
What would happen to British famers who, outside the CAP, would face tariffs to export to other parts of Europe?
There is the expert evidence of a long list of British companies who conclude we get real benefits from being in Europe and should stay in.
The weight of evidence is persuasive that we are better off in the EU.
Photo: Some rights reserved by Zoonabar
* Antony Hook is MEP Candidate for the South East and practised as a criminal barrister for ten years. His campaign website is here.