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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

EU Referendum - Letter from Stephen LLoyd, former Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne

February 22, 2016 11:39 PM
By Derek Deedman in Letter from Stephen Lloyd former Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne
Originally published by Horsham Liberal Democrats

Below - I give you my reasons why I'll be voting to remain in the EU. What's your view? Click here to complete my quick survey and let me know

It appears the starting gun has just fired on the EU Referendum. I suspect it will be a pretty complicated and often shouty campaign, which I'm not sure will always shed a lot of light on what is likely to be an enormously important decision for the UK.

I've been asked by a number of people what my views are so I've outlined a few of them below. Hopefully they'll be of some value to anyone who is still unsure about which direction to take.

In a nutshell, to me it's mainly about trade. The EU is far and away our largest trading partner - 44% - which is hugely significant. I believe such a substantial percentage of our business being with the EU makes it imperative we remain at the top table in Europe. Bluntly if we're in we can influence the EU's direction better than if we vote to leave. And I think that's a pretty fair conclusion.

Of course the EU won't cease trading with us if we head for the exit but it will become more costly, because being outside the formal single market would increase complexity and therefore cost. And if we wished to trade with the EU from the outside - which naturally we would as it's almost half our current market (it makes China and India almost gnat like by comparison) - the UK would have no influence on the direction the EU is going or with the trade regulations. Like Norway we'd have to take it or leave it. Not something I believe would be satisfactory for us as a nation in my opinion.

"Bluntly if we're in we can influence the EU's direction better than if we vote to leave"

London's financial services sector would also lose its place as the premier financial centre in the world. And though many of us are pretty disgusted with the behaviour of many in that area over the last x years, it's still a huge net earner into the Exchequer, paying for an awful lot of our NHS, education etc. Frankfurt would demand and get tariffs put on the City. This would have a catastrophic impact on our tax receipts!

And finally when it comes to trade I believe a lot of the big, global co's would either think twice about moving to the UK or seriously consider disinvesting what they already have. The reason is very simple. They tended to move here because they saw/see us as a sort of giant aircraft carrier which allows a launch-pad into the wealthy EU market.

Now to be fair some folk disagree with this and say they'd still come anyway. Not least because of the quality of the workforce and I think that's a a good point, but, and this is a serious "but" for me, it's just inconceivable they'd do so if we were on the outside of the EU zone. They'd immediately lose the automatic single-market access advantages so what would be their upside?

"There will be a lot of hyperbole over the next few months, and frankly, I expect both sides will exaggerate the benefits and the negatives"

In conclusion my quiet view is that we as a nation are stronger and more prosperous being 'part' of the worlds richest trading bloc.

For what it's worth I also have an instinctive sense that if we voted to leave the European Union the UK would become a more introvert, inward looking, even smaller country, and that's not something I feel would be good for us now or on the longer term.

It's a big decision folks. A really big decision. I hope we get it right.

All the best,

Stephen Lloyd

Former Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne