The economic case for being in the European Union is overwhelming:
- a market of 500 million people
- producing and selling one third of the world’s goods and services
- where British businesses do at least 50 percent of their trade
The aspirations for the British economy – high-skills, high-wages and high productivity – are easier to achieve within the European Union than outside it.
Ed Miliband in his ground-breaking speech to the CBI used the example of the UK car industry to demonstrate that it is easier to achieve our aspirations within the EU rather than outside it.
“Nissan, Tata and Toyota didn’t come to Britain for a low-wage, low skill economy:” Ed told his audience on Monday. “They come to Britain because we offer a gateway to high-income consumers who want high-value goods. And to make those high-value goods they invest in high-skilled jobs…………….we have people from all over Europe coming here to be part of (our) Technology Clusters. Because of the single market.”
The economic case for being in Europe is overwhelming, and many, if not the majority, of those attending the CBI conference are pro-EU and would not want Britain to leave. Their businesses rely on being in the EU.
The alternatives for Britain were we to exit the EU are grim indeed. Ed highlighted them:
“If we left the EU, be under no illusions, it would be the United States, China and the European Union in the negotiating room. Literally eating our lunch. And Britain in the over flow room……I fear ……we would end up competing on low wages and low skills. A race to the bottom.”
And most importantly, Ed Miliband stressed that this is not a future for Britain that we should contemplate.
Yet no-one, even the most Europhile amongst us, would for even a nano-second claim that everything in the EU is rosy. Ed pointed to the following.
There are 25 million unemployed people across the EU and five million young people in the EU are at this minute looking for work. The failures of the Euro have shaken confidence in the whole EU. The EU budget often seems to match the priorities of the 1950s not the 21st century. Meanwhile the immigration attendant on enlargement has not been handled well.
These important matters should be addressed while the massive advantages to Britain of being in the EU emphasised more strongly.
Ed is also very clear that now is not the time for a referendum on the EU. Businesses considering coming to Britain would put their investment on hold pending the outcome of a referendum. There would be instability in the British economy. Moreover, holding a referendum on the EU would not reflect the priorities of the British people – jobs, living standards and prosperity.
Britain is stronger in the EU than it would be outside: “Exit would not honour the traditions that have made Britain the great country it is,” was the upbeat note on which Ed concluded his speech. “Britain has always given so much to the world. We have traded with others, not turned inwards. We have opened up our country to new influences, not shrunk from them. We have engaged with others, not stood aside from them.
“An ambitious Britain has always been an outward looking Britain. An inward looking Britain can never be an ambitious Britain.”
And finally Ed Miliband said in no uncertain terms: “I believe our future lies within the European Union.”