When discussing our relationship with the EU and whether we should stay in or leave, the defenders of the status quo highlight the risks of pulling out rather than the benefits of staying in. Over the last few days David Cameron has received a barrage of unsolicited advice from people who want us to stay in the EU. This has been triggered by the increased likelihood that Cameron will hold a referendum on the issue at some point in the next few years.
Lord Heseltine is the latest to warn against a referendum and say that leaving the EU would be bad for UK business because so much of our trade is with Europe. I disagree on a number of levels. The EU is not the same a Europe and the word/term shouldn’t be interchanged, we do not trade with the EU, we trade with people and businesses who happen to be in Europe. Leaving the EU might have some negative impact but I do not believe it would be significantly so. I am still waiting to hear any compelling pro staying in arguments, what I hear a lot of is anti-leaving arguments and they are not the same thing at all. If there are compelling reasons to stay in the EU a referendum will flush them out.
Also I wonder why people say with such pride that half our trade is with Europe when the fast growth economies are in all parts of the world except Europe. Asian economic activity has been underpinning world trade for a few decades, Latin America is now snapping at their heels and the image of Africa as an economic basket case is inaccurate, unfair and is blinding us to opportunities there.
The UK was at its economic best when it was a truly global player, when it viewed the continent as just one, and not even the biggest, of its trading partners. The pro-EU lobby hold on to the status quo rather than be bold and look at the rest of the world as an opportunity rather than a threat.