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  2. Brexit
22 June 2016updated 12 Oct 2023 9:58am

Brexit pros and cons: should Britain stay in the EU?

In or out of the EU – what does it mean for Britain?

By New Statesman

Arguments about the pros and cons of Brexit have focused on two main areas: the economy, and immigration.

For both sides, the question “should Britain stay in the EU?” can only be answered with speculation – whatever the result of the EU referendum, it will be impossible to test whether the alternative would have been better – but that speculation has variable grounds.

For an overview of of Brexit pros and cons, read on.

Economy

The economic pros and cons of Brexit have been hotly debated. According to an OECD analysis of Britain’s economic prospects outside the EU, even the best-case scenario will see every home losing £2,200 by 2020 after Brexit.

That verdict is backed up by the CBI, which has warned that leaving the EU would cost £100 billion to GDP by 2020 and lead to the loss of 950,000 jobs.

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The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, meanwhile, claims that Brexit is likely to lead to a weak pound– good for UK exporters, bad for UK tourists and the price of imported goods.

The Leave campaign has countered that pulling out the EU will allow Britain to retain the money it currently pays in (although Leave’s favoured figure has been thoroughly discredited).

Leave also claims that it would be possible to renegotiate trade deals quickly after Brexit, although it doesn’t specify how snubbed EU partners could be induced into favourable terms.

Security

Should Britain stay in the EU to enhance its security? The Remain campaign highlights the benefits of international cooperation in implementing sanctions, sharing intelligence and enforcing arrest warrants.

Leave has a very different account of the pros and cons of Brexit. According to Leave, the EU “stops us controlling who comes into our country, on what terms, and who can be removed.”

World power

The Leave campaign has chosen “Let’s take back control” as its slogan, arguing that Britain will be freer to assert its will when not working through the EU.

Remain counters that, by engaging with the EU, Britain has more influence than it would outside. 

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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