On 23 June, it's safer to Vote Leave and take back control. We should stop sending £350 million per week to unelected politicians in Brussels, and spend our money on our priorities, like the NHS.
On 23 June, there will be a vote to decide whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union, or leave and take back control. It’s a big decision – and there may not be another chance to vote for years. Here are the facts:
More than a quarter of a million people came to the UK from the EU in the 12 months to September 2015 – the equivalent of a city the size of Plymouth or Newcastle in a year. If this rate continues for a decade, there will be more than two million extra people. EU law means all members must accept 'free movement of people'. Many immigrants contribute to our society. They also affect public services. Experts disagree on the overall effect.
The EU is growing. When we joined, there were just 9 member states. Now there are 28, the most recent being Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. Five more countries are being considered for membership: Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey. When they join, they will have the same rights as other member states.
The UK's official EU budget is about £350 million a week. That’s about the same as the cost of building a new NHS hospital every week. We get less than half of this money back, and we have no control over how it’s spent – that’s decided by politicians and officials in Brussels, not the people we elect here.
EU law overrules UK law. If there is a conflict between an EU member's national law and EU law, then EU law trumps the national law. This is a basic principle of EU membership like 'free movement'. This means the British public cannot vote out the politicians who make our laws. EU judges have already overruled British laws on issues like counter-terrorism powers, immigration, VAT, and prisoner voting. The Government’s recent new deal can be overturned by the European Court after the referendum: it is not legally binding.
European courts now control how our security and intelligence services work and these courts can extend their control without Britain stopping it. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, says, 'Leaving the EU would bring two potentially important security gains: the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights ... and, more importantly, greater control over immigration from the European Union.'
In the EU, the UK isn't allowed to negotiate our own trade deals. This means we currently have no trade deal with key allies such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or the USA – or important growing economies like India, China or Brazil. Instead of making a deal which is best for the UK, we have to wait for 27 other countries to agree it. Outside the EU, Britain would have an independent voice on the World Trade Organisation.
You don’t have to be a member of the EU to trade with it. Countries across the world trade with the EU without being members of the EU. Switzerland is not in the EU and exports even more to the EU than we do. Some big banks and multinationals think the EU is strongly in their interests. Small and medium-sized businesses think differently. Only 6 per cent of UK firms export to the EU, yet all have to abide by EU regulations on their business. Most small businesses say that Britain should take back the power to negotiate our own trade deals which we cannot do inside the EU.
The European Union has changed enormously since the UK joined in 1973. Back then, it was called the Common Market. But over the past 43 years, the EU has grown to take control over more and more areas which don’t have anything to do with trade – such as our borders, our public services, and whether prisoners should have the right to vote. The euro means that more and more decisions are being made in Brussels.
The European Union has changed fast and will keep changing. Its Court decides how much power it has over the EU members.
There are risks in voting either way. Experts, politicians, and businesses are divided. People have to weigh up the risks and potential benefits of each course of action for themselves.