The Big Question, IN or …… ?

By: Rbeeza Mobeen

To remain, or not to remain?  That is the question.  The question of the generation- our generation.  The question that’s been lolling off everyone’s tongues lately and the question that will ultimately determine whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union (EU) or whether Britain should remain Brexit for a long time.  Here are the bare facts outlining why it is so much safer, sounder and saner to remain.

Firstly, how much does it cost to actually be a member of the EU?  Well, the Gross contributor in 2015 was £17.8 billion but the UK rebate was worth £4.9 billion- a sum that was also paid back to the UK government for farm subsidies and other programmes.  That means that we only paid around £13 billion and, therefore, the economic benefits of an EU membership very easily outweigh the cost we pay as a net contributor to the EU budget as, although we pay more than we get back, in retrospect, the UK actually does gain more out of this discount of $4.9 billion than were it to pay the full sum of £17.8 billion. .  Basically, we get paid just for being a member.  Because of this privilege, we pay the least amount of contribution to the European Union out of all the nations despite gaining the most amounts of funding and support both literally and through the private sector.  Furthermore, even after Brexit, Britain would still have to act as a contributor and apply to EU rules and regulations in order to retain full access to the single market- the EU set up that allows free movement of goods, services, capital and workers across Europe.  Were Brexit to happen, 9 out of 10 economists state that it would be disastrous for the UK’s economy as it would mean a significant rise in the prices of goods, houses, energy bills etc.  As a matter of fact, concerning the share of exports, Britain is more dependent on the rest of the EU than the EU is on Britain.  Why?  Largely because of the fact that produce such as 73% of UK farming exports go to the EU.  This is essential as, because of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which remains the EU’s biggest area of expenditure, many British farmers would go out of business without it.  (And let’s not forget that it was the EU who forced France and Germany to lift their preposterous bans on British Beef.)  So how does the UK profit from all this?  Well, all in all, it means that for every one pound we contribute to the EU budget, we get ten ponds back.  Is that not worth staying in for?

For those reading who prefer to look at the greener way of life, you’ll be happy to know that Britain’s energy security is stronger in the EU as it negotiates as a large bloc, teaming up with other countries to fight environmental issues.  Need I remind you that energy bills would raise by £500 million were we to leave the EU?  But why should we, when, because of the EU’s environmental laws, the UK has purer water, crisper, cleaner air, and lower greenhouse gas emissions?

Working with EU neighbours not only brings about a major environmental change, but also a socio-political one as it enables us to tackle shared threats and assists big decisions in the European Parliament (being a country who has been able to ‘retain a veto’.)  Leaving would diminish our significant influence on the world stage and possibly even break bonds between other member countries.    And I’m not the only who believes so.  Many experts, politicians and world leaders believe that Britain leaving the EU is ‘nothing short of madness.’ Great!  Because, I think that those few (Donald Trump *cough cough*, Michael Gove *Ahem*) who see Britain in a haven of thriving individuality, are ‘nothing short of madness’!  Anyway, as universities in the UK receive millions in funded research from the EU, Brexit would be “disastrous for UK science and universities” say 150+ leading scientists and 13 Nobel laureates in an open letter urging voters to vote in.  Moreover, many of the UK’s top scientists come from European member states on EU grants as well as the Erasmus programme allowing British students to study abroad.  All this would take a drastic turn if we leave because it would mean that British students will not be allowed let alone offered study in other European countries, nor foreigners be allowed to study here.  Now what would that mean for the future of our technology obsessed generation?

It’s not just studying abroad that we should be worried about.  It’s travelling and living abroad too.  Currently, member states of the EU allow citizens to live and work where they like which means that British tourists can enjoy free healthcare and services wherever and whenever they like! (So long as the ‘wherever’ is in the EU.)  Furthermore, flights to Europe and using mobile phones on holiday are cheaper thanks to the EU, which is the reason companies like Ryanair are in favour of remaining.  Sadly, after Brexit, there will also be no guarantee that expatriates in the EU would be able to stay in the UK- nor will the British be able to remain in the EU.

One could even link this into immigration.  Of course that’s the UK’s biggest concern right now, Syria being in a civil war and all that, but why is it a concern?  Well, one of the EU’s laws legislates that all member countries must accept the flow of immigrants and refugees without a barrier on how many.  Currently, the debate is that immigrants are an out-of-control drain on the economy as they come here only to exploit Britain’s benefits and destroy British history.  Well here’s a fact: immigrants actually pay more taxes than they take out.  And they’re not here to eradicate British history, they’ve come to experience the wonders of Britain themselves, in fact, in most places, the multicultural society of modern Britain has enriched its culture and made it to be a well respected country due to this.

So, overall, what can we learn from this?  That leaving the EU is the biggest mistake our citizens can make and that we will gain very little (if not anything) beneficial out of it.

(Rbeeza Mobeen is a GCSE student at Willowfield Humanities College, London.)