EU Referendum Talk

Brexit – stick or twist?

Former Bank of England economist, Kevin Butler presents an EU Referendum talk on Thursday 19th May at Exeter Golf and Country Club.

A “leap into the darkness” or the first of many steps back “from darkness to light”? Our political leaders are increasingly using polarised metaphors to win support for their side of the EU referendum on 23 June. Mr Cameron’s “new deal” is seen as by some as sufficient to warrant sticking with the EU but by others as just not enough.

So Brexit, it is argued, gives us an opportunity to determine without interference from 27 other states the laws that affect trade, employment, competition and the economy in all its facets of human activity. We can regain control of our borders – to allow inward migration from anywhere in the world if it supports the UK’s economic growth and wealth creation; but also to stop giving out benefits, including healthcare, to other EU citizens who have complete freedom to live in the UK without having contributed to our nation. Moreover, we will no longer be (net) contributors to the EU’s budget and so save ourselves some £8bn a year.

Above all, Brexit will liberate UK people’s skills and attitudes and this will enable us to compete throughout a fiercely competitive world, in which new powers have emerged in both the East (especially Asia) and the West (Latin America). But the arguments for sticking with the EU are that we have a free market for our goods and services; about half of our exports go to other EU countries. Germany is our largest single trading partner. The EU’s rules governing trade and commerce ensure fairness and prevent anti-competitive behaviour, including tariffs and other trade restrictions, within the EU economic bloc (the largest trading bloc in the world). Employees’ rights are protected but we also have a more flexible labour market than most. The free movement of labour has enabled our economy to grow over the years, with access to skills that, sadly, our own schools, colleges and universities have not been able to provide to the extent needed.

Furthermore we have stability and security in an increasingly troubled and violent world that Brexit could compromise. And joining the likes of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland in negotiating bilateral trade deals would require us to abide by EU rules and laws with no say in their construction – and at the same time continue to allow free movement of labour.

The decision is on a knife edge. Business polls suggest a 2/3rds majority for staying in the EU but voter polls indicate a 50/50 split. The weeks leading up to this historic decision are crucial for mind-clearing.

Will the UK’s children and grand-children born this year look back on 2016 as the year the UK successfully cut its ties with the Dis-united States of Europe; or the year in which Britain lost its Greatness?

EU Referendum Talk on Thursday 19th May

What does the result, in or out, mean for jobs, incomes, businesses, consumers and our basic way of life?
Exeter Golf and Country Club will play its part in helping to clear minds ahead of the vote on 23rd June.

This year’s President Kevin Butler, formerly an economist at the Bank of England, will lead the debate and will be joined on the platform by, among others, Steve Hawkins from University of Exeter. Constructive audience participation will be encouraged with Past President Ruth Smith, in the chair to ensure fair play at all times!

Kevin Butler

There is no charge but donations will be invited to the President’s charity, the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Advance booking is essential to secure a place at this key event.

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EU Referendum Talk