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Business Leadership EU referendum

by Howard Dormer


The EU Referendum: Vote Out To Stay In

With the EU referendum only a week away, and both sides increasingly ramping up the rhetoric, Howard Dormer shares his view on the Brexit debate and why we should vote out…to stay in…

The upcoming EU referendum and surrounding debate has both galvanised and polarised opinion across the country. Both sides have been peddling ever more outlandish and unsubstantiated claims about what will happen if we stay/leave, in an attempt to “persuade” the voters to back their position, to the point now where many people do not know what and who to believe. Given this will be one of, if not the most important decision that we make as a nation for a generation, that is very disappointing and a sign of how badly the political class has failed its’ constituents.

Putting aside those who have made up their minds on both sides, I suspect that there are many people who are deeply uncomfortable with the binary choice we have to make. The Remain campaign argue that leaving the EU is too risky from an economic, financial, geopolitical and security point of view – however, they have said little, if anything about what the future might look like if we vote to stay. My own personal view is that the EU elites will take it as a green light to forge ahead with “ever closer union”, the UK will lose whatever influence we may have had in the past to reform the EU from the inside, and we will slowly but surely see our sovereignty and democratic institutions eroded as the EU project moves ahead without the need to worry about Brexit on the horizon.

The Leave campaign argue that leaving the EU will liberate the UK from all manner of burdens imposed as a result of being part of the EU, ranging from red tape impacting businesses, to freedom of movement rules affecting immigration, to the impact of the European Court of Justice on our legal system. However, just as the Remain campaign has said little about how the future might look if we vote to stay, the Leave campaign has failed to address the legitimate concerns many of us have regarding the economic impact that Brexit would have in the short/medium term.

My own personal view is that there will be painful economic adjustments as the global financial system tries to make sense of what Brexit means and businesses try to deal with the further uncertainty such an outcome will create, without even considering the potential strategic, geopolitical implications. In reality, no one knows what the impact will be but we must assume there will be significant consequences.

EU Vote – Can We Call Their Bluff?

Faced with such an unpalatable choice, it is tempting to vote “neither of the above”. But that is not an option, given the importance of this decision. Most people, including David Cameron I suspect, know that the renegotiation he has secured falls well short of what was promised – the EU offered him just enough to persuade voters to stay, or so they thought. As someone who is pro-European from a cultural and economic point of view, but Eurosceptic when it comes to the EU Commission and everything it stands for, I wish we could call their “bluff” on this deal and then send our government back to Brussels to renegotiate a genuinely different relationship with the EU that focuses on the founding principles of the EU, namely free trade and the single market. Impossible?

This line of reasoning was raised early in the campaign, but was quickly dismissed – if we vote to leave, Article 50 comes into play and the decision is irrevocable. Or is it? The EU elites are nothing if not determined to keep their dream alive, so, faced with the reality of Brexit, I firmly believe that they would do whatever it takes to rescue the situation. Remember the Lisbon Treaty? The French and Dutch voters rejected the original treaty, but the EU didn’t like that decision, so they ignored it and pushed it through anyway. Where there is a will, there is a way.

So, vote to leave, open new negotiations with a considerably stronger hand and then ask the British people to vote again once we have secured meaningful changes/reform. Such an outcome would not only be beneficial for Britain, but arguably for the EU as a whole. As a recent survey by the Pew Research Centre showed, Euroscepticism across the EU is growing – indeed, populations in Germany, France and Spain are as Eurosceptic, if not more Eurosceptic that the UK, so perhaps a vote for Brexit and a consequent renegotiation would force the EU to change for the benefit of everyone?

What are your thoughts on the EU referendum? Do you think the renegotiation strategy of vote out to stay in will work? Share your thoughts with our community below.

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About the Author

Howard Dormer

Business Development Director for Alium Partners, Howard is an experienced business leader with broad operational expertise and a proven track record of successful delivery across multiple sectors (TMT, Financial Services, IT, Business Services) who thrives in a fast moving, high growth environment.

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