Due to our membership of the European Union, we have been able to regain some lost ground albeit with foreign owned manufacturers such as Nissan, Honda and Jaguar – Land Rover. This is only one example, but one that I think typical of other industries. These experiences were felt throughout the west, with only Germany being relatively unaffected. My point is that without the help of others we cannot hope to be a world-class economy once again. As I have done, our workforce needs to adapt to a very changing world. There are numerous examples of modern day British excellence, which has been achieved with talent from all around the world.
British Football would not be where it is today if it were not for foreign players coming here. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson. Our National Health Service is another example. In 2013, there was a piece on the News about ground-breaking technology at Southampton General with respect to robotic surgery. It is now possible to operate on someone with greater accuracy than previously could be achieved manually and the surgeon does not even have to be in the same room. When the surgeon was interviewed, it was clear that he was not first generation British and the same was probably true for the robotics engineer supporting the equipment, as he appeared to be Japanese.
Deeper European Integration
In 1945, the formation of the European Iron and Steel Committee and its intention to create peace in Europe, was a very natural desire. Over time when war seemed increasingly unlikely, the Iron & Steel Committee evolved into the Common Market. By 1975 when the government of the day launched the In/Out Referendum of the Common Market, most people probably knew little about the economy, but the idea of being part of Europe in an economic sense as well as a geographical sense, persuaded many to vote to stay in.
We can gain from getting to know people different creeds and cultures and as a nation, we can gain much more by being part of a larger group than by being isolationist and above all not to be scared by nations whose first language is not English.
The nuts and bolts of the European Union is very complicated and requires much study in order to understand it and yet as a nation for the second time we are going to be asked whether to remain or leave the European Union. That decision is what I expected of our elected politicians. Even today, after having a lifelong interest in matters European my knowledge on the subject is still not what I would like it to be and that is after studying it during my recent Masters of Public Administration postgraduate degree.
By being part of the European Union will strengthen our manufacturing interests and therefore the converse is true that by leaving the EU would weaken it. I stated that I have first-hand knowledge of UK mass production and even though I look back at what might have been had politicians made better decisions, I recognize that globalization has made the process irreversible. On a positive note, although most of the major companies that remain in the UK are foreign owned; many jobs have been saved or created for our skilled workforce. There is even some satisfaction to be taken from the fact that the UK is still a force to be reckoned with in terms of small-scale manufacturing such as Formula 1 technology.
The second part of my reason for remaining in the European Union relates to further integration where I spoke of my own efforts at integration. I believe that I am a better person for it. My knowledge and understanding of others is vastly improved. I admit that this is an emotional response to remaining part of the European Union, but I am also aware that the largest economies in the world are those of the greatest population. China’s economy is fuelled by having a large workforce on low wages. To compete we have to have a similar model. Large-scale manufacturing must be concentrated in the poorer regions of Europe. This would have the added benefit of removing the current trade imbalance that is so negatively affecting the Euro. An example of this was the disappointing news that the Ford Transit plant in Southampton moved to Turkey, but actually, it makes economic sense for a global manufacturer to seek a lower cost base. However, if I had influence in national government I would have done my level best to persuade Ford to locate to its factory in Romania or in Portugal since that would have been in Europe’s best interest. Large-scale manufacturing must relocate to these low socio-economic regions to benefit Europe as a whole, since the more prosperous are the other EU members, the less we have to contribute financially and the less attractive the UK becomes for nationals of poorer countries seeking work here.
The European Union is over 60 years old, based on bureaucratic French law. It is not perfect and is in need of reform to make it less bureaucratic and more democratically accountable, but the UK has much more to gain from being part of the European Union and being part of those reforms than it has by leaving it.
I support the notion that the best interests of the United Kingdom are served by remaining within the European Union.