Stronger, safer and better off in Europe

Stewart Owadally says our economic prospects would be crippled if we were to leave the EU.

With the Welsh elections completed, attention in Wales now turns to the historic choice facing voters on June 23rd: do we Remain in the European Union, or Leave?

The issues that are encompassed within the subject of our EU membership are myriad. Inevitably, with a relatively short campaign, people will therefore want to know the details in as concise a way as possible.

EU Referendum

Leading up to the referendum on June 23rd, we’ll be publishing some key figures’ arguments for and against remaining in the EU.

You can find all of our articles on the EU referendum here.

People obviously take an interest in a lot of the issues, from climate change to our global influence. But, principally, they want to know what Europe means for our economy and our security.

And they want answers about what would happen if we were to leave.

Economically, it is clear the country is better off in Europe. Being in Europe means being in the single market – a tariff-free zone of 500 million consumers across the continent. The benefits of that to the businesses that will build our economic future are obvious. That’s why we have seen countless businesses – small, medium and large – all come out to back a vote to Remain. They include crucial Welsh employers such as Airbus, as well as small and medium businesses across the country. Wine merchants, lorry part suppliers, tea merchants, production companies, farmers, distillers, chocolatiers – the diversity of businesses that have publicly declared that their business is stronger in Europe is remarkable.

If we were to leave that single market, as Vote Leave’s Michael Gove has now advocated, our future economic prospects would be crippled. The future of hundreds of businesses would be thrown into doubt.

Why would big global companies put their next rounds of investment into Wales if we had cut ourselves off from 500 million consumers? Why would a young entrepreneur take the leap to start a business knowing that trading with our nearest neighbours had become more expensive overnight? What would happen to the 97% of Welsh lamb exports that go into Europe if farmers had to overcome new trade barriers and tariffs?

These are risks that we must legitimately highlight as part of this campaign. Questions that the leave campaign must answer if they expect voters to give them a full hearing.

To give them their dues, leave campaigners have started giving some clues about their thoughts on what would happen if we left. Michael Gove’s aforementioned commitment to leaving the single market came only last week; a major change of position, after leave campaigners had spent months telling voters they wanted to try to negotiate access back into the market if we left. When the Chancellor estimated the cost of leaving to each person would be an average of £4,300, Arron Banks, the millionaire bankrolling a leave campaign, called it a “bargain”. And Patrick Minford, an economist from Cardiff University campaigning to leave Europe, has said that leaving the EU would “mostly eliminate manufacturing”.

It will be down to voters to decide whether these are prices worth paying.

On security, the choice is possibly even more stark. Europe as a continent has historically been ravaged by war. The project for European unity was forged after the Second World War to try and curb that continuous conflict. Spearheaded from Britain by Winston Churchill, it went on to get a distinct Welsh stamp on its development. Monmouthshire’s Roy Jenkins was President of the European Commission. Cardiff South and Penarth MP, and former Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan served as President of the European Council. Over that time, against all the odds, the project worked. There has been unprecedented peace between European nations thanks to the relationships we have forged with our neighbours in the EU. I, like many others in this country and across Europe, have had no direct experience of war. It is easy to take that for granted. However, we are, in that sense, a freakish generation. Only 70 years ago, the ease with which we now associate with our European neighbours would be unfathomable. Whether or not we send shockwaves through those relationships by leaving Europe is surely a no-brainer.

And if it is hard to relate to the wars of Europe’s past, we can see how our security is enhanced in the EU when we consider more modern forms of conflict. The rise of mobile, global terrorism has meant that information sharing is crucial. That’s why security chiefs past and present have queued up to declare that they think we will be safer if we stay in Europe.

The choice that people face next month will define our future in a way that few decisions ever will. In Wales, as across the UK, we need to get the message to voters that our future is enhanced by staying in Europe. It is now crucial that all who believe we are stronger, safer and better off in Europe join the campaign to win a Remain vote on June 23rd.

Stewart Owadally is Wales Campaign Director for Britain Stronger In Europe.

5 thoughts on “Stronger, safer and better off in Europe

  1. “Patrick Minford, an economist from Cardiff University campaigning to leave Europe, has said that leaving the EU would “mostly eliminate manufacturing”.” So, are we saying that leaving the EU would mean that Thatcher’s dream would finally come true? Back to the future, eh!

  2. Why is this article titled “Stronger, safer and better off in Europe”?

    The referendum isn’t about Europe, it is about the EU.

    Very poor, IWA.

  3. Hmm..I think the current amusing variations on Monty Python’s Life of Brian sketch asking -‘what did the EU ever do for us’ is a much more effective campaigning strategy for the Remains.
    Personally, I am totally There are people whose opinions and personalities I admire or loathe on both sides of the argument. The more I am told that ‘big business’ would withdraw investments and jobs from Wales upon Brexit and ‘establishment figures’ telling me that war would break out, the more I am inclined to think.. ‘well shove it then’ (except in ruder language) and vote with the lemmings.

  4. People DO NOT want to hear the economic arguments… My grandmother is currently planning to vote Leave, with one of her stated reasons being that the Remain campaign only talk about the economic argument.
    We are part of a club, a union, which while based around trade is much more than that.

  5. It’s a surprise to read that 97% of Welsh lamb is for export, I hadn’t thought the figure was so high, but then, Welsh lamb is delicious. Apparently North Wales produces good oysters, which also are largely exported…sigh..

    I recognize the point about so many small, medium, and large businesses trading with other EU countries, and dependent on tariff-free conditions for their on-going success, but as an island nation, shouldn’t we also have lower travel costs to ease the cost of reaching those markets (and for leisure purposes)? A ferry journey including taking a car costs more than £400 in low season. Even a foot passenger trip to and from the relatively quiet ports at Harwich and Hook of Holland where there are limited facilities, costs quite a bit. For people living far from the ports, visiting our EU neighbours is a substantial expense. Perhaps it is cheaper to buy a package holiday, to fly abroad, than to be more independent and create one’s own itinerary. Within a number of countries on the European mainland, train travel is state sponsored and is more affordable than in the UK, so oughtn’t we to try and work out similar public transport systems here, to ease the cost of travel in line with that of other EU countries?

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