UK's EU Referendum: 'To Leave Or Not To Leave', That Is The Question

UK's EU Referendum: 'To Leave Or Not To Leave', That Is The Question

by Bhaskar Majumdar - Monday, January 18, 2016 10:40 PM IST
UK's EU Referendum: 'To Leave Or Not To Leave', That Is The Question

Should EU decide what is good for UK? Does UK have a bright future outside the EU?

The United Kingdom comprising of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Channel Islands has had an uneasy relationship with its mainland European cousins. The European Union is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are less likely to wage war on each other.

It has since grown to become a ‘single market’ allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environmenttransportconsumer rights and even mobile phone charges.

UK has never been a full member of the EU and had retained its own currency, the Pound, and was not a part of the Schenzen VISA that covered most of mainland Europe. Politically, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democratic Party have always been supporters of Europe. Over decades, the Tory party has been a divided house on the issue of Europe.

UK's EU Referendum: 'To Leave Or Not To Leave', That Is The Question

David Cameron, Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister has repeatedly urged his party to stop “banging on about Europe”. But the core Tory voters, scared witless by the rise of Nigel Farage’s rabidly anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), have constantly hassled him to adopt a tougher line with Brussels.

His response has generally been to appease them. During his first term, he initiated the 2011 European Union Act, which requires any EU-wide treaty that passes substantive new powers to Brussels to be put to a British referendum. In January 2013, Mr Cameron promised that, if the Tories were re-elected in May 2015, he would renegotiate Britain’s membership and hold an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.

Following his election victory in May 2015, Prime Minister Cameron claimed to have embarked on renegotiation to fix what he says is wrong with the EU. Yet he was deliberately vague about what changes he wants, partly for fear that if his shopping list leaks, Eurosceptics in his own party will rubbish it as inadequate.

At the European summit on 15-16 October, however, he was told by his fellow heads of government to produce a list of precise demands in November if there were to be any chance of the negotiations being concluded, as he at one time hoped, at the December European summit. He did produce a list of demands but a deal still eludes him. The prime minister is now hopeful of getting an agreement by the end of February.

Even as late as the last elections in May 2015, the chances of “Brexit”— Britain departing from the European Union—seemed remote. However, since then, largely because of Europe’s migration crisis and the interminable euro mess, the polls have narrowed.

For the first time in the politically-correct, multicultural Britain, people are openly questioning the sexual escapades of the Muslim immigrant community disturbing the fabric of the country.

Now it is evident that Cologne isn’t the first time such incidents took place. Earlier also, there were similar sexual assaults to young girls in Bavaria during last Oktoberfest and during ‘Weare STKHL’ Music festival in Stockholm.

Some recent surveys even found a majority of Britons wanting to leave the UK. A poll commissioned for the Mail published on 17 January, revealed that 53 percent of Britons now want out of the EU, compared to 47 percent who believe we should stay in. This shows the leave campaign has opened up a commanding six percent lead as the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the 28-nation bloc looms ever closer.

As an entrepreneur and employer in SMEs in the UK, I feel that the UK will thrive outside the EU. The EU costs us too much, it hinders our trade with the fast-growing global economies and it over-regulates. London pays more than GBP four billion per annum to the EU headquarters in Brussels to support their fat bureaucracy. We would be better off if we spend our money on UK’s priorities.  David Cameron had said that “Brussels is too big, too bossy and too interfering”. I think he had understated the obvious.

The EU stifles our democracy and has far too much control on the daily lives. Why should EU judges decide on the fact that prisoners have a right to vote in the UK? Why should they decide that fracking isn’t good for UK’s economy? 70 percent of the UK’s GDP is local, while only 15 percent is from the EU and 15 percent from rest of the world. Yet, Brussels regulations afflict 100 percent of the UK economy.

Thanks to the Working Time Directive rules, the EU has become a job and enterprise destroyer in the UK for decades. SMEs in the UK fear the European directives around employment and don’t recruit staff to grow businesses. The impositions of red tape around health and safety and taxes, has made Europe uncompetitive in global marketplace.  The EU has failed to get trade deals with fast-growing countries like India and China. It is time for the UK to take back control and expand the horizons beyond the European markets.

I am positive about the UK future outside of the EU. London is the world’s legal capital; it is Europe’s centre of capital market; a centre of excellence in design and now emerging as a technology and start-up haven. Unshackled from Europe, I am positive that London in particular and UK in general, will have a far greater entrepreneurial growth and continue to be among the top five economies in the world.

Bhaskar is a successful serial entrepreneur turned Venture Capitalist investing in early stage businesses across India and the UK. With homes and businesses across London and Mumbai, he is a keen observer of politics in both democracies – the world’s oldest and the largest. Bhaskar is an Alumnus of IIT and Harvard.
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