In an article titled ‘Divided we fall: A vote to leave the European Union would diminish both Britain and Europe‘ The Economist sets out a case which is both factually based and easy to understand. According to the magazine, a vote to leave the European Union would do ‘grave and lasting harm to the politics and economy of Britain’.
Putting the reasons for its’ conclusion in a global context The Economist states that a Brexit would ‘gouge a deep wound in the rest of Europe’ and mark a defeat for the liberal order that has underpinned the West’s prosperity, what with Trump and Marine Le Pen fanning the flames of economic nationalism and xenophobia.
The magazine accuses the liberal leavers of ‘peddling an illusion’ whose ‘plans will fall apart’ if the reality of Brexit comes to pass. Such an outcome will leave Britain ‘poorer, less open and less innovative’. ‘Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial’.
On the economy, if Britain leaves the European Union it is ‘unlikely to thrive in the long run….’ because ‘almost half of its exports go to Europe’ and ‘access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment’. To maintain current levels of export and interaction ‘Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people’. The Economist maintains that to ‘pretend otherwise is to mislead’ because ‘Europe has dozens of trade pacts that Britain would need to replace’ and, as a result, Britain would be a ‘smaller, weaker negotiating partner’. ‘The slow, grinding history of trade liberalisation shows that mercantilists tend to have the upper hand’.
It accuses the out camp of stoking voters’ prejudices and pandering to a ‘Little England mentality’. Interestingly, The Economist refers to the steel crisis taking place at Port Talbot, Wales and accuses the Brexiters of clamouring for state aid and tariff protections that ‘even the supposedly protectionist EU would never allow’.
With regard to immigration, the claim that Turkey will join the European Union and, as a result, millions of Turks will now ‘invade Britain’ is branded as false. Immigrants, it is claimed, are net contributors to the Exchequer and helps Britain foot the bill for health care and education, public services, rather than place a strain on them.
The Economist raises the subject of regulations which Brexiters claim are holding back free markets but it contradicts this claim by referring to British made regulations which have stymied growth in areas such as new housing developments, the upgrade of poor infrastructure and a skills gap. ‘Leaving the EU would not make it any easier’.
With so many dangers attached to a Brexit vote the Economist states that ‘all this should lead to a victory for Remain’ but ‘in the post-truth politics that is rocking Western democracies, illusions are more alluring than democracy’. The Brexit camp has derided the ‘experts’, those distinguished voices who have painted a gloomy economic picture should Britain leave. The Economist response is ‘as if knowledge was a hindrance to understanding’.
Is the EU run by ‘unaccountable bureaucrats who trample on Britain’s sovereignty as they plot a superstate’? The Economist explains that the ‘EU is too often seen through the prism of a short period of intense integration in the 1980s which laid down plans for …the single market and the Euro’. It further explains that ‘in reality, Brussels is dominated by governments who guard their power jealously. Making them more accountable is an argument about democracy, not sovereignty’.
It concludes by stating that ‘Even if Britain can leave the EU it cannot leave Europe. The lesson going back centuries is that, because Britain is affected by what happens in Europe, it needs influence there’. In regard to frequent criticisms of France and Germany The Economist suggests that Britain should work with France to counter balance a powerful Germany. In the same vein, if France wishes for the European Union to be less liberal, Britain should work with the Dutch and the Nordics to stop this.
The Economist believes that leaving would be a terrible mistake because this scenario would weaken Europe and impoverish and diminish Britain.