Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor of The Economist, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today program making her argument for why Britain should remain in the EU. With the sheer volume of arguments from the Remain and Leave camps, Zanny points out the importance of identifying those few issues which are going to make the biggest difference to voters. For her, the single biggest issue at stake, is access to the European single market.
Being part of the EU means Britain is part of the single market. That means that although British firms have to follow regulations that are jointly agreed in Brussels, they are also able to sell their goods and services anywhere in the EU – the richest market in the world – without facing tariffs or restrictions. If we were to leave the EU we would be freer to set our own rules, but we might also lose access to that market.
UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, denies that losing access to the single market would harm Britain. He believes that we don’t need to be in a political union to trade with the rest of EU. Furthermore, leaving the EU will mean that we develop new trade agreements with the wider world – something which remaining in the EU is preventing us from doing. He argues that we have ‘tied ourselves in with the world’s only declining trade bloc’ in which we are represented by just ‘one twenty-eighth of a Eurocrat in Brussels’ which is ‘no way to do business’.
Peter Mandelson, former European Trade Commissioner, fears that making new trade agreements would not be so straightforward. Without the combined muscle of European trading bloc, Britain risks falling down the pecking order as a trading partner in the eyes of China, India and the US. By the time they get round to negotiating with Britain, ‘we could be decades behind’.
For Zanny, it’s clear that at a minimum, leaving the EU will cause huge uncertainty that will hurt investments and jobs. In the long run, if we want to maintain our access to the EU single market we will have to apply the EU’s rules – paying into their budget and allowing migration from the rest of the EU but without any influence over Brussels. Zanny fears that if we want to set our own rules, we will lose access to the single market and the idea that we can quickly and easily find alternative markets, is nonsense.
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