January 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


A pro-immigration argument for Brexit

Leaving the EU is good for trade, immigration and the poor, argues James Bundy

I do not remember June 24, 2016, very well. I had been up for more than 50 consecutive hours as I had been planning and then participating in leafleting and canvassing for Vote Leave, as well as attending the national count in Falkirk.

But while my mind was immensely numb due to tiredness, my only recollection of the day was the joy that I had knowing that our United Kingdom was going to restore our national sovereignty. I still have this joy today.

Unlike the narrative you hear in the press regarding Brexit supporters, I am pro-immigration. I am proud that the United Kingdom is a country where people from around the world want to come to work and make their family home.

All Brits should take pride in this as there is no higher compliment to British values than that. There has to be, however, an element of control to immigration and that is the first problem with the EU-enforced immigration policy.

Due to freedom of movement, the Government of the United Kingdom is somewhat powerless in controlling immigration from continental Europe. This is the antithesis of a nation state because a fundamental pillar of sovereignty is control over your borders.

My main reservation about the EU’s freedom of movement policy, however, is how it prioritises immigrants from the EU over countries from the rest of the world such as India and Brazil.

The United Kingdom used to be, and should be, a truly global nation rather than be submerged into a continental bloc.

One of the ways for the United Kingdom to become global is to offer people wanting to come to the United Kingdom to work and live the same opportunity to come here.

The only way to do this is for the United Kingdom to stop participating in the EU’s freedom of movement policy; which means leaving the European Union.

Immigration, however, was not the main motivation for my reasoning to vote leave.

The number one reason, which still remains to this day, was to regain control of our trade.

Membership of the European Union requires membership of the EU’s protectionist and anti-free trade Customs Union.

The Customs Union allows for tariff-free trade between members of the Customs Union but significantly, charges a uniformed tariff rate for goods coming into the Customs Union.

This means that goods coming from the United States of America will be charged the same tariff if they enter the EU Customs Union in either London, Dublin, Paris or Berlin.

Tariffs are just another form of taxation. They make consumers worse off as they force prices to increase. The European Union charges tariffs as high as 11.8 per cent on goods such as clothing and food entering the European market.

These tariffs have a disproportionate impact on the poorest in our society as they spend a higher proportion of their income on clothes, food and footwear when compared to the middle and upper classes.

Leaving the Customs Union and abolishing these tariffs, therefore, would give the poorest in our society a real-term increase in their incomes. An admirable outcome.

It is not only the poorest in our United Kingdom who would benefit from our leaving the EU’s Customs Union; the poorest countries in the world would also benefit.

As the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “The biggest thing that has lifted people out of poverty is free trade.”

One only has to look at China to see the liberating impact free trade can have. In 1981, nearly 90 per cent of the Chinese population lived in poverty, but after economic reforms which liberalised the economy this was reduced to under two per cent, according to the World Bank’s latest measurement.

Leaving the EU’s Customs Union, which can only be done by leaving the European Union, will allow our United Kingdom to have the ability to strike our own comprehensive free trade deal.

Being a champion of free trade around the world is good news for Britain, the global economy and the poorest people in the world.

Leaving the European Union presents many fantastic opportunities to our United Kingdom and as a Catholic, I believe these opportunities meet the outcomes my Faith tells me to aspire to.

Leaving the European Union’s freedom of movement policy will allow our nation to treat citizens from the rest of the world as equals.

Leaving the EU’s Customs Union will benefit the poorest in our society, as well as the poorest countries in the world.

So rather than wasting your energy advocating for reruns of the 2016 referendum, lets come together and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. God Bless.

—James Bundy is co-founder of Scots for Leave and a member of the University of St Andrews Catholic Society.

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