Ben Patterson and I – East Sussex residents who were two of the first MEPs elected to the European Parliament –will shortly launch Both Sides of the Coin, an electronic publication which aims to give people a fair guide to the best arguments for remain and leave as the referendum debate develops.
On the remain side, David Cameron’s deal in Brussels gives Britain a special status in Europe which few could have imagined just months ago.
We are exempt from moves to ‘ever closer union’.
We remain out of the Schengen open border arrangement. We will take no part in any Euro currency zone bail-outs.
Negotiating with 27 other member states all defending their national interest was a marathon, and the PM’s achievement considerable.
But the fundamental reasons to remain inside the EU are even more powerful.
First, EU economic clout adds to our security and EU cross-border cooperation boosts our ability to fight crime.
Second, our children and grandchildren can think of the EU as a whole as home for work, study and leisure.
Third, we enjoy a market of 500 million people for Britain’s industries large and small. Why on earth risk access to that for our world-beating businesses like financial services, creative industries and engineering?
Fourth, though we are Europe’s biggest military power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, EU membership greatly magnifies our influence in world affairs. If we quit the EU who would applaud?
Not the US, China, India or the Commonwealth, nor fellow EU members.
But we would be giving President Putin of Russia an early birthday present – and he would laugh at our weakening the entire western alliance. The Scottish referendum was won for the UK with the belief that we were ‘better together’. The stakes of ‘better together in the EU’ are bigger still for us and the entire western alliance.
We have researched and will publish the best ‘leave’ side arguments, too – and we hope that even the fiercest proponents of each side will preserve, and assume, goodwill because whatever people decide we shall have to live with each other afterwards.
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