Should we stay or should we go? The ins and outs of referenda. PT. 1

Harry Ballman

In the past two weeks, news coverage of the ‘Brexit’ campaign has spiralled out of control, leaving many overwhelmed and actually quite disinterested by the negotiations between Downing Street and Brussels. Ultimately however, the date (23rd June) has been set for the referendum concerning the future of the UK within Europe, giving campaigners a little under 5months to show their colours. The campaigns will be at the forefront of British media, and risks having a dramatic impact on domestic politics. Yet, little is known about the real impact that leaving the EU will have on the UK public, the UK business sector significantly reliant on EU trade, and European citizens who live in the UK.
Trade: Ultimately, one of the biggest advantages of the EU is free trade, making it easier and cheaper for companies to import (and export) goods to and from the continent. Interestingly, Nigel Farage believes that Britain could follow along the same path as Norway; whilst having access to the free-market, it isn’t bound by the regulations on agriculture or domestic affairs. This is a compelling standpoint for stakeholders directly affected by the EU and may well prove to be a contentious point of debate.
Immigration: Regardless of the contention arising from the trade agreements, no debate will prove to be as heated, nor as controversial as a discussion focussed on immigration. Both
sides of the Brexit argument have used immigration to further their own arguments. David Cameron believes that following his negotiations in Brussels, the restriction on welfare benefits will help limit immigration into the UK. Again, Nigel Farage proves to be his usual, vocal self, telling the BBC “We cannot control immigration into Britain while we remain inside the EU”.

Whether or not you are in agreement with Mr Farage, it is clear to see the topic of immigration is at the forefront of concerns in the Brexit argument. Jobs and opportunities: As students, we all share a subconscious concern about our life after university.

The issue concerning jobs (or lack of them) is a notion that is probably closest to the student body’s hearts within the Brexit debate. Therefore, it is nice to see David Cameron warning about the prospect of fewer jobs if we lose our ties with Europe. “The more partnerships we have, the more we are likely to maintain and enhance our skill base here in the UK” Cameron told The Guardian, a seemingly mindful PM, looking out for the interests of everybody within the EU.

Ultimately, there will be a number of interesting things we can expect to see between now and June 23rd. The primary focus will be the Conservative Party; the effect the referendum will have on Cameron and how Boris Johnson may well use the ‘out’ campaign to kick-start his challenge for party leader.


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