The EU – it ain’t perfect but it’s better than the alternative

I can agree with our Chairman, Chris Whitehouse, on a number of issues when it comes to Europe and the European Union. Yes, the ‘Remainers’ should be disappointed, if not frankly ashamed, by the way they have run a campaign based on fear (although one could make a very similar case for the Brexiters). Yes, Boris Johnson is rather like Marmite.

And, yes, there are problems with the EU that include the level of accountability of officials and those in high office.

I have absolutely no problem admitting that the European Union is far from perfect. But I don’t believe the answer to that is to take our ball and go home.

The fundamental question come 23 June is this: are we going to be better off if we stay in the European Union or are we going to be better off if we leave? The answer, quite resoundingly, is that we’re better off in.

Where I fail to be convinced is that some of the ideas of how we’ll benefit from leaving, according to the Brexiters, resemble remarkable leaps of faith. We’ll be able to negotiate favourable trade deals. We’ll be able to better control our own borders. We’ll retain greater sovereignty.

Will we? Will we really?

You could be forgiven for listening to the likes of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (and incidentally to point to an EU establishment when the flagbearer of Brexit is an Oxford educated Etonian repeatedly elected to safe parliamentary seats is a nonsense) for believing that, if we vote out, it will be a brand new day come 24 June. The colour of the sky will be different. Summer will break out. All will be good with the world.

Absolute tosh. The Institute for Fiscal Studies insists there will be a short and medium term impact on the economy that will lead to the extension of austerity. Critics will claim this is a selective analysis, but those same critics have been happy to point to the IFS’s research when it has suited their needs in the past.

We’ll be able to negotiate advantageous trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world. Seriously? On what basis? We’re a powerful economy, but any sane diplomat or economist will want to see the effect of Brexit before committing to a deal. To suggest otherwise smacks of eighteenth century imperialism and an age of empire – we can do it simply because we’re Britain. Sadly not, the world’s move on.

I entirely agree with Chris that the use of immigration in the referendum campaign has been vile. But equally, people are not going to simply stop coming to the UK because we leave the EU. To those would claim otherwise, I would politely suggest they need to come back and join us on Planet Earth.

No, Europe isn’t perfect. But given we are a democratic, economically strong, diplomatically savvy and militarily quite handy country, as we not better from accepting the benefits it gives us and using our influence to reform from within? Are we not better able to negotiate our trade deals as part of the EU, while protected from the likes of Euro? Can we not better able to prevent by remaining ‘in’ against the frankly ludicrous idea of a European army that would undermine NATO? And are we not better able to ensure we are not adversely affected by the EU by being part of it, rather than being the silent figure left outside the clubhouse?

The alternative is to frankly take a leap of faith.

The answer is quite clear come 23 June. In.