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A Simple Guide to Both Sides of the EU Referendum
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Should the UK remain a member of the EU - or leave the EU?

This is the question the Prime Minister, David Cameron, is asking us all.

We will get our chance to answer in the referendum on 23 June, when all British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 resident in the UK - that’s England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - along with certain UK nationals living abroad, can cast their vote. For further information, see ''. But should we stay, or should we go?

Here’s the KIS guide to help you make up your mind.

The “Leave” camp – known as Brexit (British exit) – wants the UK to reject:
* The supremacy of EU law.
* The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
* The free movement of people.
* The requirement to pay significant amounts into the EU budget.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies suggests that 17 of the EU’s 28 member states are net ‘givers’ while 10 (mostly in Eastern Europe) are ‘takers’ (Spain comes out exactly neutral).

There are 28 member countries of the EU, but only 19 have the Euro as their currency.


Our financial contribution

Brexit campaigners say EU membership costs the country more than £350m a week- or around £18.8bn a year. This is based on official Treasury figures for the UK’s gross contribution to the EU budget for 2014.

It’s about £252 for every person in the country.

It represents about 0.6 per cent of national income, equal to about 14 per cent of total UK health spending for 2014.

The economy

Supporters argue that, free from EU rules and regulations, the UK could reinvent itself as a Singapore-style supercharged economy.

And, the argument goes, if the UK left, other countries might follow suit. The EU would collapse, and the UK would emerge as a safe haven, attracting investors, boosting the pound and encouraging Scotland to stay onside.

Our laws

Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg are responsible for more than half of the UK’s legislation.

The UK government was taken to court 23 times for failing to implement EU law between 2007 and 2011.

The top 100 EU regulations cost the UK economy £33.3 billion per year.

Since 2010, the EU has introduced more than 3,500 new laws affecting British business.

Four of the top five most costly EU regulations are either employment or environment-related, says the Open Europe think tank. These are:
* The UK renewable energy strategy, £4.7bn a year
* The working time directive, £4.2bn a year
* The temporary agency workers directive, £2.1bn a year.

Even if the UK leaves, EU laws covering protected species such as bats and rare birds would remain in place, initially at least.

The same thing would apply to Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

UK influence inside the EU itself is dwindling. We have less than 13 per cent of the votes in the EU Parliament – when we first joined, we had almost 20 per cent.

And yes, Great Britain would still be able to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. Alasdair Rendall, president of the UK Eurovision fan club, says:

International politics

We have less than a 10 per cent share of the vote in the EU legislatures, so the UK’s ability to influence EU policy is limited. An independent UK could exert greater international influence.

We could stay in NATO, the UN Security Council, the OECD, the G8, the G20, the P5 and the Commonwealth.

We would have our own seat at the World Trade Organisation rather than being represented by the EU.

Trade and business

The UK's exports to the rest of the world are growing twice as fast as the UK's exports to the EU.

Over 50 per cent of UK exports (in 2012) went to countries outside the EU, including markets in Asia and Latin America.

Leaving would provide the UK with the freedom to negotiate its own free trade deals through membership of the World Trade Organisation.

Eurosceptics claim that due to a high level of regulatory issues many small and medium sized UK businesses do not trade with the EU.

EU trade negotiations with major economies such as Japan, India and the UAE have either been suspended or are barely moving.

Australia, South Korea and Japan are all thriving economies that conduct trade policy on a direct one-to-one basis, rather than joining free trade zones.

If we left, the UK would regain control over fishing rights around its coast.


Currently the UK has to allow access to anyone coming from Europe who wishes to enter.

1.5 million EU migrants moved to the UK between 2004 and 2010. Most of these were low-skilled. Critics argue that EU migrants can often deprive British citizens of jobs.

Migration accounts for one third of the UK deficit in social housing and puts pressure on benefits and public services.

Migrant workers can still send child benefit payments back to their home country, because Prime Minister David Cameron was over-ruled on this by the EU.

Without the pressure from unskilled EU migrants, we could let more skilled non-EU workers into the UK – the competition for visas is highly over-subscribed.


We are leaving the "door open" to terrorist attacks by remaining in the EU, argues politician Iain Duncan Smith: “This open border does not allow us to check and control people,”he says.


Our financial contribution

“Stay” campaigners say that the rebate Margaret Thatcher’s government negotiated in 1984 reduces the actual UK contribution from £18.8bn to £14.4bn.

And billions do flow back directly to the British government from the EU.

Farmers receive huge EU subsidies.

Some of the poorest regions of the UK also benefit.

Non-governmental bodies such as universities and businesses receive money from the EU too.

This brings our net payment down to about £9.8bn in 2014 or £5.7bn, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies,as non-governmental spending is taken into account.

These adjustments slash the annual UK contribution per person from £252 to £89 – or around £60, with aid to non-EU countries, revenue from trade tariffs and administrative spending taken into account.

The economy

The pound is safe. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that we will never join the Euro. And he’s got EU assurances that the UK won’t be discriminated against for having a different currency.

The UK is seen as a “gateway” to Europe for US banks. We’d lose this status if we left.

BMW has already reminded their UK employees at Mini and Rolls Royce of the “benefits” that EU membership offers. Car-makers could leave the UK because tax-free imports to Europe would end.

If we left, we would face £40bn in extra spending cuts by 2030, hitting investment in the NHS, says Oxford Economics.

Our laws

We get cheaper flights and supermarket prices, and save money on using our mobile phones in Europe because we belong to the EU, says campaign group Stronger in Europe.

The EU protects workers’ rights to paid maternity leave, guaranteed holiday leave and protection for women in the workplace with equal pay and anti-discrimination policies.

David Cameron has secured a ‘red card’ system – if 55 per cent of EU members object to a piece of legislation, it has to be rethought. Supporters say we can only get a better deal if we work from the inside.

International politics

“As your friend, let me say that the EU makes Britain even greater,” - this recent comment from President Barack Obama makes the US position on the UK in Europe clear. We could lose a vital ally if we withdraw.

Being in the EU helps us to fight climate change on a global level.

The EU also helps us tackle humanitarian causes, as it matches every £1 of UK aid with £6 from EU countries.

Trade and business

EU membership means we benefit from free trade agreements with 50 countries around the world.

The EU is negotiating with the US to create the world's biggest free trade area.

An estimated 3.5 million jobs in the UKare linked, one way or another, to trade with Europe.

No independent trade agreement could match the current quota-free, no-tariff deal we enjoy as an EU member.

200,000 UK businesses trade with the EU.

More than 60 per cent of UK small business exports go to the EU, according to the HMRC.

The British Chambers of Commerce says 55 per cent of members back staying in a reformed EU.


David Cameron says that concessions he won during the renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership will reduce immigration as new arrivals will receive a lower rate of child benefit.

New arrivals will not be able to claim tax credits and other welfare payments straight away - but will gradually gain the right to more benefits the longer they stay, at a rate yet to be decided.

Without migrant workers from the EU, labour shortages could hold back the UK economy, reducing its potential for growth.

Free movement of people across the EU opens up job opportunities for UK workers seeking to work elsewhere in Europe.

If we came out, and the government opted to impose work permit restrictions, other countries could reciprocate, meaning UK citizens would have to apply for more visas to work.


Senior military figures say, “increasingly important pillar of our security", especially with instability in the Middle East and Russian nationalism.

Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon,is in support:

Being in the EU reduces demands on the UK military.

Our presence strengthens other countries’ security forces.

EU economic sanctions helps to reduce the threat of armed conflict

The EU supports economic development overseas, so reduces potential conflict.

The European Arrest Warrant makes arresting criminals and terrorists easier.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage believes we could follow the lead of Norway, which has access to the single market but is not bound by EU laws on areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs.

But others argue that an “amicable divorce would be impossible”. “If Britain were to join the Norwegian club,” says The Economist, “it would remain bound by virtually all EU regulations, including the working-time directive and almost everything dreamed up in Brussels in future.”

Alternative models


Sources: Channel 4 News, BBC, Institute for Fiscal Studies, Leave.EU, Britain Stronger In Europe, The Week, Oxford Economics, Open Europe, The Economist.


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