Let's Get Down to Beersness

25/04/2016 13:04

Munching down fish and chips while enjoying a pint of Broadside is a must-do when visiting Southwold. Even if your face is more battered by the wind than your cod is by the fryer; and even if you're soggier from the rain than your chips are from the vinegar. In fact it all tends to add to the whole experience.

Away from the façade of Westminster, the EU Referendum seems the last thing associated to visiting the east coast. However, sat on the bench looking out to sea, wolfing down aforementioned fish and chips I was all too aware that short of getting on a plane, Europe could not actually be any more in my face than at this moment.

Adnams export their products all over the world. You can visit Cologne and toss the Kolsch to one side, you can go to Brussels and hand the Witbier back to the barman for a taste of Southwold Bitter.

Despite pushing out 30 million pints of beer a year, Adnams is a small, independent company whose geographical and environmental footprint is miniscule - the Sole Bay brewery is roughly the size of a village hall. They rely on Free Trade deals with Europe to be able to effectively sell their products overseas. And this is the same for many other companies.

No, the referendum is not about Adnams brewery's profit margin, but it is about each individual man and woman that work hard to get the hoppy goodness flowing.

The reality of a British exit is at risk of being undermined by misinformation. This referendum is not about Boris Johnson's hair, and most certainly not about Ian Duncan Smith. It comes down to real communities - real jobs - real exports.

The Prime Minister has previously warned the alcohol industry could face a severe hangover if voters back Brexit. George Osborne has warned that it would cost each household over £4,000 in a "self-inflicted wound" if we left. He said that by 2030, the economy could shrink by 6%.

Adnams boss Andy Wood told the International Business Times that leaving Europe would be a shame, and it was not time to "pull up the drawbridge". He is met with support from other independent breweries. Never the ones to shy away from the limelight, Scottish brewers Brewdog - who while campaigning for LGBT rights, sent a case of their 'not for gays' 'protest' beer to Vladmir Putin - have also publically supported staying in the EU.

This kind of support is more or less unanimous - 36 of the UK's largest companies have all backed EU membership. The stress on more or less is important here. As the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth pledged his support for the leave campaign, before swiftly stepping down.

The UK's membership as part of the single market allows goods, capital and people to move freely between member states. This also gives UK businesses access to 500 million potential customers instead of the 60 million the UK could provide.

It would be foolish to suggest that the EU is perfect. Leaving the EU would mean not being involved with the controversial and undemocratic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a deal which is being discussed behind closed doors which will in effect mean multinational corporations can dictate and influence the policies of elected, democratic governments. Leaving the EU would help to distance the UK from TTIP, but most Tories still want to see it implemented in here, EU membership or not.

UKIP's Small Business Spokesperson, Margot Parker said:

"Fewer than one in ten British businesses trade with the EU, yet 100% of them must comply with thousands of EU laws on employment, waste management, environmental regulations, product registration, health and safety, etc. This burden is destroying small businesses and helping destroy our economy."

Sure, the EU needs reform, and small companies who do not export to the EU shouldn't be forced to comply with EU laws. But we are much more influential and better off remaining in than leaving.

There are many criticisms of the EU, Yanis Varoufakis says he wants to give the EU a "bloody nose" but he recognises that it cannot be reformed from the outside. The EU is not perfect, the only way to change it is to remain part of it.

It would be detrimental to everyone's interests to leave the EU and end up in a situation similar to Norway. In order to access the market, Norway has to pay into the EU. Yet as a non-member it has no say whatsoever.

Speaking at Princeton University, Nick Clegg said: "Those campaigning for us to leave the European Union like to evoke a sentimental, nostalgic vision of Britannia, proud and independent, ruling the waves once again. But the truth is leaving cannot return us to a halcyon age - if such an age ever existed - and may even mean sacrificing the United Kingdom itself."

Brexit would weaken the UK's position in the world. This would undoubtedly spell out another Scottish referendum where we will probably not be so fortunate this time. Clegg carried on to say:

"If we choose to remain, we will be voting for Britain's continued leadership position in world affairs; for continued influence in Washington as much as in Brussels or Berlin; and for our reputation as a proud, outward-looking, internationalist power"

Emmanuel Macron, the French Economy Minister told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme:
"Today you are strong because you are part of the EU. When you discuss your steel industry with China you are credible because you are part of the EU, not because you are just [the] UK."