Note: apols for a very long post, I didn’t have time to write something more concise.
“Quite honestly I don't see why so many reg commentators are pro remain?”
Interestingly, the Remainers are much more visible here now than they were before the referendum.
Here are some reasons to be pro-Remain, in no particular order:
The UK has a reasonably strong economy but it still just one of the many players in the global marketplace. It is also an economy which is very reliant on doing business internationally. Being in the EU gives Britain unrestricted access to the EU market. And as a member of the EU we are in a stronger positioning when dealing with much larger entities such as the US and China. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like to negotiate the equivalent of the TTIP between the US and the UK? (Hint: the US is rather larger than the UK.)
I get the impression quite a number of people voted Leave because they don’t agree with the policies of the current government (which they voted for around a year ago). They’re entitled to that view, but using the referendum to express that is an abuse of the democratic process.
EU product standards mean manufacturers can now produce one flavour of their product rather than 28 marginally different ones. The larger market makes production more cost-effective (especially for niche products). I gather EU standards for some products are also accepted beyond the EU, further widening markets.
EU environmental directives have helped clean up Britain’s rivers and beaches. Similar safety standards also mean that when you travel in the EU you can be reasonably confident that tunnels, drinking water, electrical appliances, etc. meet the same safety standards as in the UK.
From my corner: UK contractors can work on the railways in the Netherlands, London-based consultants can advise on tunnels in Zeeland, and specialist Dutch contractors can work in the UK – all with little more hassle than working in the home market.
Being able to study and work anywhere in the EU gives people the opportunity to have more interesting lives and careers. It also means you can get foreign labour to do jobs the locals don’t want to train for or aren’t interested in doing (in the UK that’s highly relevant to the construction industry and agriculture, and also healthcare I think).
Being in the EU makes it easier to deal with international crime.
Like any member state, the UK is different in many ways from “Europe”. But the similarities between these countries are greater than the differences. We are living in a world which is getting smaller and more interconnected every day – cutting ourselves off from the EU means cutting ourselves off from a large chunk of that world.
Many of us now look far beyond the village, county or country where we were born. For myself and many of my friends being European is just as important as the nationality of our birth. Perhaps even more so, as our European identity is something we have chosen, while our nationality is an accident of birth.
Those we some of the positive reasons to be in the EU. Other reasons have to do with the negative impact of leaving:
Negotiating trade treaties, etc. with the EU and the rest of the world is going to be very time-consuming and expensive and there aren’t enough people around in Whitehall to do it. (See today’s FT: “Britain turns to private sector for complex Brexit talks. Britain seeks consultants to bridge trade negotiator gap with Brussels”). All that will take time and money which would be better spent on the NHS, education, supporting deprived areas, etc.
If the UK sets its own standards for certain products/services that will increase the regulatory burden on exporters who will have to meet both UK and EU standards. If UK standards are less strict than EU ones then this will reduce consumer and worker protection in the UK. If stricter then costs will rise.
If I was a farmer or lived in an area where the economy is depressed I would hope that Westminster would give me the same support as the EU did. But I would be very worried as a wobbly UK economy is going to make that impossible. Furthermore, I get the feeling the leaders of the Leave campaign may not be that well-disposed to deprived areas – but I might be wrong.
Brexit may lead to Scotland voting for independence which would be likely to cause even more economic and political headaches. Issues will also arise in relation to Northern Ireland and may affect the peace process. (Remember the Troubles? I do.)
Brexit is likely to have a significant impact on the British economy, i.e. on jobs, on the ability of the government to pay for public services such as the NHS (which is not getting an extra 350 million a week). That’s going to hurt young people and those in economically weak areas much harder than most. And this time those young people might not be able to move overseas to find a job. The construction industry is already being hit http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/news/brexit-bit1es-construc3tion-activity-hits-low6est/
“Surely the fact that centralisation of anything generally increases corruption and makes administration more difficult and therefore less successful is enough to bring people to the obvious leave option?”
Any organisation of more than one person brings difficulties like that. But it also brings opportunities as a broader range of views and experience (among MEPs, civil servants, experts) can help reach better decisions and may well reduce corruption.
Incidentally, many of the directives adopted by the EU do not have direct effect. Instead they have to be implemented in national law by the governments of the member states. Some governments then have a habit of gold-plating them. As far as I’m aware, the EU is much less integrated/centralised than, say, the US.
Apols for rambling.