With the prospect of a Ukip group at KCL, Jessy Howard argues against their anti-EU policies.
Reece Warren, member of Ukip’s youth wing and soon to be KCL student, told political website The Blue Guerilla that if a youth wing were set up, many frustrated members of the KCL Conservative Society would defect.
The article cites the Conservative Society as “going in a way opposite to their core ideology – British before European”, and claims that this EU soft spot is what is causing students to consider defecting.
Ukip strongly advocates leaving the EU, claiming, among other things, that the UK spends more on the EU than it gets back.
Non-Conservatives might think, great – they’re fragmenting. But this issue goes beyond party loyalties. There’s a growing perception across the UK of the EU as a root of all (or much) of the evil in modern Britain. With talk of a referendum in the near future on whether the UK will stay in the 28-country bloc – a referendum we will be voting in – it’s important for King’s students to understand exactly what this argument is based on.
Looking exclusively at the budget for EU programmes, the UK seems to contribute more than it gets back. We pay in £11.3 billion and get back 6.6.
However, we gain a lot simply by trading within the European single market, as Europe is the biggest buyer of UK exports. By removing tariffs on European products, everyday consumers have to pay less, raising the quality of life for all and benefitting industries and trade.
While Eurozone countries buy the majority of our exports, some argue that, because we import more from Europe than we export to it, Eurozone countries depend on our trade. On the force of that, some argue that we could negotiate our own terms and leave the EU while remaining in the single market.
But if we did that, the UK would no longer have a voice in the shaping of the laws that govern trading, both with European countries and external partners, such as the US which buys 13% of all UK exports. Further, we shouldn’t take it as a given that Eurozone countries are dependent on us to the extent that they would be prepared to conduct trade on the same terms if we leave.
Also, by investing in poorer countries, the region as a whole becomes more stable. The economy grows, industries are created, and relations between countries are strengthened. These are the same socio-economic pressures that, when competing, helped bring about the last two world wars.
If this is our main argument for leaving the EU, I’d suggest to people like Reece Warren that they take a second look at what it is precisely that they are fighting for, and why.