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Stay or go? Arguments for and against Britain leaving EU
[LONDON] From immigration to sovereignty, here are the main arguments for and against Britain staying in the European Union which will be debated ahead of a referendum expected to be held in June.
Pro-Brexit: Those who want to leave the EU say Britain should be able to control its own borders and limit the number of migrants coming from the European Union. They are particularly worried about migrants who claim benefits and use public services like the National Health Service (NHS). Last year saw record net migration to Britain of 336,000, of which 180,000 people came from the EU.
Pro-EU: Those in favour of staying argue that migrants from the EU contribute to the economy by paying taxes. They say that, since they are young, they often do not place an undue strain on public services.
EU migrants contribute 34 per cent more than they receive from the state, according to 2013 research conducted at University College London. Prime Minister David Cameron is also seeking to limit their access to benefits as part of a package of reforms designed to convince voters to stay in the EU.
Pro-Brexit: Leaving the EU would mean Britain would no longer have to pay its contribution to its budget - estimated at almost £8.5 billion (S$17.3 billion) last year.
Brexit could mean GDP increasing between now and 2030 by up to 1.6 per cent, according to the most optimistic calculations by the Open Europe think-tank. It could seek to keep a trading relationship with the EU while cutting political ties, like Switzerland or Norway, they say.
Pro-EU: In campaigners say EU membership means a stronger economy creating jobs, trade and investment in Britain. Some 45 per cent of all British exports go to the EU and three million jobs in Britain are linked to trade in Europe, they argue. Open Europe indicates that a Brexit could lead to GDP shrinking by up to 2.2 per cent by 2030.
Pro-Brexit: Britain could boost its standing in the world by leaving the EU as it would remain in NATO and keep its seat on the UN Security Council while leaving it free to push for new global trade deals alone, campaigners say. It would also free Britain up to create its own laws rather than having many imposed on it from Brussels, they add.
Pro-EU: Leaving the EU would undermine Britain's standing in the world and could increase the likelihood of Scottish independence, campaigners argue. As part of his reform package, Mr Cameron is also seeking an opt-out from further integration and a veto which national parliaments could use to opt out of EU legislation to address concerns about sovereignty.
Pro-Brexit: Brussels imposes too much red tape on British business, according to the pro-leave camp, which says the top 100 regulations cost Britain's economy over £33 billion per year. If Britain leaves the EU, businesses, particularly small ones, would have more freedom to make their own decisions, it adds.
Pro-EU: Cameron is seeking a commitment from Brussels to cut red tape. In any case, the Office for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says that Britain is currently among the least regulated wealthy countries. Its analysis puts Britain's labour market on a level with the US and Canada.