Former UK businessman Marcus Lasance shares his top 3 reasons for the #UKtoStay in the EU.
1. #Brexit would harm the UK economy
The UK is an attractive gateway into the European market for foreign companies. These companies make up over half of our inward investment – and they don’t do this to send their products all the way back home again!
While thoughts of Britain invigorating their old Commonwealth trade ties may play well with some, we should be aware removing easy access to the European market will take away lucrative consumers of the types of goods and services currently developed in the UK.
When I was Managing Director of Maxware UK, a subsidiary of a big Norwegian software company, I was based in East Anglia. This was not just because of abundant IT skills in East Anglia, but also due to its excellent access to the European continent, located as it is next to low-cost airline hub Stansted.
We are a modern ‘knowledge based’ economy, so EU membership puts us in a great position within the IT services industry: not only does the UK sell high-tech enterprise resource systems across the EU, we also excel in creating world class computer software. In short, we rely on trade with the similarly advanced countries on our doorstep.
In Europe, we should play to Britain’s strengths in the service industry, not reminisce about exporting our luxury goods to remote ex-colonies thousands of miles away. We left those ‘days of the empire’ behind us for a good reason.
We trade well with our EU neighbours because they have similar tastes and spending power. EU freedom of movement and so-called financial passporting rights makes it easy to share our goods and services with the continent. Like us, our EU neighbours enjoy the choice, abundance and EU-guaranteed quality of goods on offer within the EU’s single market. We are lucky enough to be part of this, the largest and richest consumer market in the world, with over 500 million consumers.
Why would we want to begin burdening UK exports with potential tariffs of 10% after Brexit? Why should we shoot ourselves in the foot and have British-built cars being classified as non-EU? Why do we want to start filling in customs forms all over again, just to trade with our closest neighbours?
An exit from the European Union would take our economy backward, not forward.
2. EU Freedom of movement is not just good for trade
Freedom of movement invigorates our economy. Where there are skills shortages, businesses are able to attract the workers they need from a much larger market. Where there are jobs shortages, British workers are free to seek work elsewhere with minimum paperwork. Upon retirement, millions of Brits, Germans, Dutch and Belgians can fulfill their dreams of selling their houses and retiring to a ‘place in the sun’.
I know I did. In the region of France where I now live, Brits make up 9% of the local population. We move over and restore charming houses that stood empty for years, stopping them from becoming ruins. In our second youth, we bring life back to remote country villages.
Here in France, just like back home, an aging population requires doctors, nurses, and carers. There aren’t enough locals seeking these jobs. Thanks to the EU, we are able to attract workers from younger EU countries with less prosperity. What on earth is wrong with that? They work hard, they learn the lingo and often put us British expats to shame when it comes to integrating.
3. Together in the EU, we have a stronger voice in the world
I am conscious of the shifting global power base in the world. We have wars in the Middle East. We have international terrorism to cope with. We have a refugee crisis to deal with. Lately, the war games Putin has started playing in Ukraine and Syria concern me even more. Here we have a direct threat to Europe, yet Britain stands idly by while Angela Merkel and President Hollande work hard to get member states to agree on a common response. All while Cameron stays at home trying to outfox Nigel Farage, a populist leader who says he admires Putin.
I have also lived and studied in America. Far from a ‘special relationship’ with the USA, I always felt the USA treats the UK as a lapdog. While I have nothing but admiration for the bravery of British troops, I feel that there is no reason why they could not be just as brave in the context of greater EU military cooperation, rather than solely relying on NATO and our American allies. The EU provides us with the necessary framework for closer military collaboration, if we should ever seek it. We would lose this and many other opportunities should we decide to leave.