On May 8th, 2015 David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, was re-elected and returned to power in what can only be called an "unexpected and dramatic election victory" after securing an outright parliamentary majority of 331 seats. The election has transformed Britain's political landscape with the resignation of high profile politicians such as Labour's Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrat's Nick Clegg.
This new landscape has set the stage for a referendum on Britain's European Union membership to be enshrined in law, one of the laws which the Liberal Democrats in the previous coalition government where able to block. The United Kingdom has been a member of the European Union since Edward Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister at the time, took the Unite Kingdom into the EEC in January 1973. On June 5th, 1975 a referendum was held known as the United Kingdom Common Market referendum, which asked, "Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?" A vote share of 67.23 percent voted to support the continuation of the United Kingdom's European Communities membership.
Those who will be eligible to vote in the future referendum will need to remember that the benefits of the European Union outweigh the negatives, as Brian Wheeler and Laurence Peter have outlined in the past. Though Britain could negotiate an amicable divorce and switch to a model similar to that of Norway and Switzerland it would be impossible for Britain not to be bound by the European Union's laws, which as a result of leaving the European Union Britain would have no influence in and exports to the European Union would be subject to European Union export tariffs.
One claim The Eurosceptic think tank advocates is that leaving the European Union, but remaining in the EEA, would create one million jobs. The truth is that millions of jobs could be lost as manufactures move to lower cost European Union countries. Our large foreign-owned car industry would move to the European Union, and such a move would be devastating. Industries linked to European Union, such as the aerospace industry, would also suffer and likely result in Airbus production being move to France and Germany. Not only would jobs be affected but so would the one 1.4 million British people who live abroad in the European Union. Furthermore more than 14,500 UK students took part in the European Union's Erasmus student exchange scheme in 2012-13 and this would be deeply affected as a result of leaving the European Union.
The United Kingdom paid £8.9bn into the European Union budget in 2010-11, says the Treasury, out of £706bn in public spending and The European Commission estimates that the United Kingdom's contribution is equal to £5.85bn. Such costs are mitigated by the financial gains the countries make from businesses benefitting from the single market. It is also highlighted that the United Kingdom could lose tax revenue if companies dealing with the Eurozone, especially banks, move from the City to the European Union.
The European Union is also the United Kingdom's main trading partner, worth more than £400bn a year, or 52 percent of the total trade in goods and services and the pro-European newspaper The Observer claims that "Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy,". The United Kingdom is also the second largest beneficiary of European Union research funds, and the British Government expects future European Union research funding to constitute a vital source of income for our world-leading universities and companies.
On matters of law, equal pay for men and women is enshrined in European Union law, as are bans on discrimination by age, race or sexual orientation. This benefits Britain and British people who live in other European Union countries. The European Arrest Warrant has also replaced long extradition procedures, which enables the United Kingdom to extradite criminals wanted in other European Union countries, and brings to justice criminals wanted in the United Kingdom who are hiding in other European countries.
Our position in the European Union is one that is a benefit to us as a country, and the renegotiation process has already begun to ensure that the United Kingdom can secure better terms. Such terms are set to liberate businesses from red tape as to allow them further benefit from the strengths of the European Union and push us further towards a single market whilst also preventing the free movement for benefits, instead of the free movement to work. The new terms will also protect the United Kingdom from further devolution of powers towards Brussels and secure the right for national parliaments to be able to work together to block unwanted European legislation. Now is the time for our country to unite and say yes to our continued membership in the European Union.