Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister is far more secure than it looks.

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In the few days since Theresa May’s difficulties during her keynote speech at last week’s Conservative Party Conference, rumours have abounded as to how much longer she can remain in the role, suggesting that her premiership is teetering on a cliff edge. In fact, it is anything but.

It says a lot, that the only attempt at a rebellion was led by the comically inept Grant Shapps (as many commentators were quick to point out, one wonders how many of the names on Shapps’ “list” were his own alter egos…), and it is highly unlikely that any credible figure will emerge to depose May any time soon.

For the few Cabinet members who could provide a credible alternative to Theresa May, it makes absolutely no sense to try and take over right now.

David Davis? He’s seen first hand how difficult Brexit will be to actually deliver, so there’s absolutely no way he’d want to carry the can for the disaster.

Amber Rudd? Perhaps the Cabinet member best suited to being PM, but difficult to imagine her wanting to take up the job whilst simultaneously trying to defend a wafer thin majority in her own constituency, and given that she was an arch-remainer, she wouldn’t be a popular choice with the party membership.

Philip Hammond? Too boring!

And Boris? Well, given that his primary concern is polishing his own reputation he’d have no interest in the impossible task of trying to deliver his referendum promises — instead preferring to come in “save the day” when the damage has already been done.

And given that no rebellion is ever going to have one of these people as a figurehead, it is unlikely to have any real success.

The main reason for this, is that despite many Conservative MPs (likely including those listed above) feel that Theresa May leading them into the next election would be inadvisable, they are terrified of the civil war they’d precipitate by deposing her. Since the referendum, most of the commentary on party divisions has focused on the Labour Party, and the stark divisions between the Corbynites and the Blairites. In fact, the Conservative Party are as (if not more) divided — up to now at least they’ve just been better at hiding it.

Any leadership election would be bloody and completely tear the party apart. And after all that, the likely outcome would be Jacob Rees-Mogg winning the leadership — a surefire way to never win a General Election. It is laughable that some seem to think Rees-Mogg — an Old-Etonian whose views on social issues would have been considered old fashioned sixty years ago — the answer to the Conservative Party’s problems with young voters. But this is the guy who Tory activists will likely coalesce around, and as such moderates in the Party will have to find their own single candidate to avoid splitting the vote.

This candidate is unlikely to come to the fore until shortly before the next General Election (still scheduled for 2022), with some suggestion from Ruth Davidson that she may be open to the leadership post-2021.

Given this current situation, despite what it may look like, Theresa May’s position is actually pretty safe for now.

Despite this, Boris remains a danger. Although he won’t lead a rebellion, he’s likely to continue to cause trouble. May can’t sack him (although given his conduct as Foreign Secretary, this would be a perfectly proportionate response) as that would risk turning him into a martyr — already popular with the party membership, he’d use the sacking to manoeuvre himself into the leadership, and it’s always better to have your rivals inside the tent. Instead, she should reshuffle him, which May implied in interviews published today that she might be prepared to do. Demote him by moving him to Business, still sufficiently Brexity but with more to do, in the hope that this will prevent him from going off-piste quite so often — wading into other policy areas and causing damage. Do this, and May keeps herself safe.

Despite the current furore, things will quieten down soon. If the Cabinet want to get rid of May because of the election result, then the time to do so was immediately after the election — to back her immediately after the election only to stab her in the back a couple of months later would reflect very badly on the perpetrators in the long-run. Plus, no one wants to become Prime Minister, only to have to take responsibility of Brexit.

Although her position looks wobbly, at the moment it is anything but.

One step forward for student fees, two steps back for housing.

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This week’s Conservative Party conference began with Theresa May pledging action on student fees and housing, pitched as a generous offer to young voters — long considered her party’s achilles heel.

First was a pledge to ‘freeze’ university tuition fees at £9,250 a year, a change from the policy announced earlier in the year to allow universities to increase fees by £250 a year. Calling this a ‘freeze’ is clearly taking positive spin to the extremes, as in reality it’s hard to see this as anything other than a u-turn. In any case, it’s generally accepted that the actual annual rate of tuition fees has little impact on deterring university applications from any background, and given that the vast majority of graduates never pay back the full amount anyway, it’s a change that will only be financially beneficial to the highest earners. This is just a cosmetic change in an attempt to compete with Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to completely scrap tuition fees — a pledge that somewhat misses the point of the problem, which isn’t the existence of student loans (many people agree that students should pay something for further education and the subsequent increase in wages) but the steep repayments, and the seeming pointlessness of a system where loans are so high that almost no one can actually pay them off anyway.

But, what followed was the promise of a much more consequential (and welcome) change in policy — to increase the repayment threshold on student loans from £21,000 to £25,000. When the new system of student loans was originally brought in by the Coalition Government in 2012, one of the key parts of the policy was that the repayment threshold would rise (to account for inflation), but ultimately this was scrapped and the repayment threshold has remained at £21,000 for five years. Theresa May’s decision to increase it is a welcome one, and one which will actually have an appreciable impact.

On housing on the other hand, Theresa May pledged an extra £10bn for the Help to Buy scheme, which offers 20 percent equity loans to buyers of new builds worth up to £600,000.

This is a misguided policy decision. It is indeed true that many young people struggle to get on the housing ladder. And the PM is correct to pick it out as an issue she should look to address. But the problem is, in reality, one of a low supply of affordable housing (particularly in certain areas) and high demand.

As anyone with any knowledge of basic economics knows, if you pump money into increasing demand or purchasing power, without any attempt to address a fundamental problem of lack of supply, all you will succeed in doing is increasing prices. This change is therefore unlikely to have any real benefit for those struggling to afford a first property.

Additionally, the fact that Help to Buy is limited to new build properties causes further problems, making it more difficult for existing homeowners to sell their properties (and devaluing them in the process) and slowing the market down even further.

It is true that radical reform of housing is required and neither of the two main parties seem to have the answers. Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for rent controls, announced at last week’s Labour Party Conference, also wouldn’t help. Whilst capping rents would reduce costs for some, there would be a concurrent reduction in housing supply as it would effectively kill the buy-to-let industry.

I confess that I do not know the answer to the problems of the housing market, but new and radical ideas are clearly needed.

It seems unlikely that they will arrive in this Parliament, where the Government has decided to be cautious on account of their lack of a parliamentary majority and the herculean task of implementing Brexit.

But really, Theresa May has a very real opportunity to attempt the radical reform to help the ‘just about managing’ that she promised when the first stood on the steps of Number 10 last summer. No one else in the Conservative Party has the stomach to carry the can for Brexit; so although Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister looks insecure, in fact it is anything but. This gives her an enviable opportunity to attempt radical reform. It’s is generally expected that she will lose the next election (although given that nothing seems certain in politics these days, I wouldn’t count on it), so she’s got nothing to lose. And by attempting radical reform of housing (and public services too), May could arguably save her premiership, rather than letting it become completely defined by Brexit.

Andrea Leadsom’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference should make everyone thankful that she didn’t become Prime Minister.

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Andrea Leadsom.

Yesterday the surprise runner up in the Conservative Party leadership race, Andrea Leadsom, made her first major speech as the Secretary of State of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. Speaking to the Conservative Party conference, she set out her vision for post-Brexit Britain — whilst everyone breathed a sigh of relief that she didn’t become Prime Minister.

Leadsom began by bringing up the example of the person selling bottles of English countryside air, seemingly as her pick as our best rural export. Although there is indeed a company selling bottled countryside air for £80 a jar, they have estimated they only sell around three hundred jars per annum. So slightly baffling that Leadsom thought it sensible to mention in her speech. One would hope that her post-Brexit strategy for our rural exports is based on something better than this.

She then went on to talk to complain about how the lack of mobile phone signal in the countryside meant that she couldn’t play Pokemon Go. This was meant as evidence for her commitment to the rolling out of superfast broadband throughout rural areas of Britain, but surely she could have thought of a better example?!

Finally, she used the old Conservative Party Conference favourite of talking about how we export food to countries who have invented the food in question.

Leadsom said: “We’re selling coffee to Brazil, sparkling wine to France, and naan bread to India.’ Of course she tactfully failed to mention the amount which is coming the other way. But, nonetheless continuing the commitment to British produce held by her predecessor at DEFRA, Liz Truss. It was of course Truss who came up with the memorable line at the 2014 Conservative Party Conference: “We import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace.” Needless to say, Truss’s speech was replayed many times other, and the same will undoubtedly occur with Leadsom’s this time around.

All this from Leadsom, without properly addressing the integral role that migrant labour plays in the functioning of the rural economy. According to her, the shortfall can be completely made up by employing British youths. Not likely. This simply went further towards proving her evangelical attitude towards Brexit. Clearly Leadsom, just like fellow Brexiteer Liam Fox, won’t accept any free movement of people, even if it is integral to the survival of UK businesses.

This speech just proved that Leadsom wasn’t in any way qualified to become Prime Minister. How she nearly managed to, is beyond me.

Theresa May looks to seize the centre ground.

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With Theresa May making her first speech as Prime Minister and choosing her first cabinet, she has finally offered a glimpse of what her policies as Prime Minister could look like. 


With her appointments to the major roles in her first cabinet it was clear that Theresa May was aiming to make good on her promise to reunite the Conservative Party following the bloody referendum campaign. With high-profile figures from both the Remain and Leave camps appointed to key positions within the cabinet, May has looked to appease the warring factions within the party. Indeed, perhaps most notably Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson, who clashed so explosively in the first referendum tv debate, were both given plum roles in cabinet. Whilst veteran Eurosceptic David Davis, who had previously been extremely critical of Theresa May over her stance on civil liberties, was made the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. This move, as well as the appointment of Liam Fox as Secretary of State for International Trade, is likely to do much to appease the often troublesome Conservative backbenchers. Overall, it could be said that the ideology of the cabinet has shifted to the right somewhat, with the discarding of Tory modernisers like George Osborne, Michael Gove, and Oliver Letwin, part of the so-called ‘Notting Hill set’.

But, whereas the cabinet has shifted right, Theresa May’s rhetoric in her first speech as Prime Minister was distinctly left of centre. May stated:

If you’re from an ordinary working-class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise.


The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours.


When it comes to taxes we will prioritise not the wealthy, but you.

With such a strong commitment to the themes of social justice and inequality, it was clear that May was attempting to seize the political centre ground, admittedly relatively simple in the absence of an electable opposition. However, at times it was difficult to distinguish between some of the themes of her speech and the themes of Ed Miliband’s 2015 electoral pitch. This tallies with some of the commentary on May’s speeches during the short leadership campaign, with The Daily Telegraph describing her proposed curbs on big business as ‘rehashed Milibandism’. This suggests that Theresa May is looking to take advantage of the lack of a viable centre-left party, persuading any swing voters that their only viable option is to vote Conservative. This may also be a sign that another general election is imminent: either in the autumn or early in the new year.

Ultimately, it is difficult to know what way Theresa May’s policy will go during her time as Prime Minister. However, taking into account her complete overhaul of the cabinet, as well as yesterday’s speech, it seems that Theresa May’s administration will take a completely different path to David Cameron’s.

Labour rebels would be foolish not to unite around one candidate.

Splitting the anti-Corbyn vote would be suicidal to their chances of deposing the incumbent party leader.

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With Owen Smith announcing that he would enter the Labour leadership contest and challenge incumbent Jeremy Corbyn, there are now three names on the ballot paper for the forthcoming leadership election. Former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Smith, joins former Shadow Secretary of State for Business Angela Eagle in challenging Corbyn. Both have launched their campaigns on the grounds that they can unite the party and heal the divisions which have opened up in the months following the election of Corbyn as the party leader. However, this promise to heal divisions within the party loses credence when it becomes apparent that the rebels cannot even agree upon who should challenge Corbyn for the leadership.

In the last Labour leadership election Jeremy Corbyn strolled to victory, winning 59.5 per cent of the first preference vote. The rebels insist that Corbyn’s support has declined to such an extent that he is beatable in the forthcoming leadership challenge. However, even with just one challenger taking part in the contest, the rebels are relying upon a significant swing away from Corbyn in order to depose him. For the original challenger Angela Eagle to have defeated Corbyn, she would have required a swing of around ten percent away from the current leader. In recent YouGov polling, data suggests that Corbyn retains enough support to defeat any challenger by a margin of around 50–47. However, this margin increases when potential challengers for the leadership are suggested. Polling undertaken at the same time suggests that Corbyn would defeat Angela Eagle by a margin of 50–40, with 10 per cent of those surveyed responding ‘don’t know’ or ‘would not vote’. This polling suggests that even when there is just one candidate opposing Corbyn, they are fighting a losing battle.

Therefore, it seems foolish that Owen Smith has also decided to enter the race. Surely all this will achieve is to split the anti-Corbyn vote? This would make it near-impossible for Corbyn to be defeated in the upcoming leadership challenge. In actual fact, Owen Smith is a more credible candidate for the leadership than Angela Eagle. Having only entered Parliament in the 2010 General Election, he is not tainted by Labour’s time in Government and so would be in a better place to win a future general election. Although having said this, Smith may be a better candidate than Eagle, but he is still a sub-par candidate overall.

In this case he has dithered too long, and by entering the leadership election at this stage, all his presence will do is split the anti-Corbyn vote. In turn, this will guarantee Jeremy Corbyn as the Leader of the Labour Party for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, whoever challenges Corbyn seemingly has little chance of beating him. It seems likely that Corbyn will win the leadership challenge, and that this will serve to renew his mandate as party leader.

Following this, the moderate elements of the Labour Party will be forced to split if they wish to be seen as a credible option in any future general election. Overall, this would be their best option. Rather than putting their energy into promoting sub-par candidates to usurp Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, they should look to form a new party that can seize the centre-ground and offer the UK the credible opposition that has been so lacking for the past ten months.

Hammond and Osborne should be the first names on May’s teamsheet.

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On Wednesday, David Cameron will take part in his last session of Prime Minister’s Questions before handing over the Prime Ministerial baton to Theresa May. Upon taking office May will almost certainly make significant changes to the existing Cabinet, with key allies such as Damian Green, Chris Grayling, and James Brokenshire potentially being promoted into big cabinet jobs.

One person who will be less sure of their position is George Osborne. Given Theresa May’s recent criticism of economic policy under the leadership of David Cameron and George Osborne, it seems likely that Osborne’s six year tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer has come to an end. On Sunday May said:

For a Government that has overseen a lot of public service reforms in the last six years, it is striking that, by comparison, there has not been nearly as much deep economic reform. That needs to change.

This suggests that Theresa May intends to take a rather different strategy in terms of her economic policy, meaning that Osborne’s position as Chancellor is now untenable. You may think that this means the end of Osborne’s government career, and that he will be discarded from the cabinet to serve on the backbenches for the remainder of the Parliament. However, there is still a role that he could fill in Theresa May’s top team.

The overwhelming favourite to become the new Chancellor of the Exchequer is current Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. Hammond has vast cabinet experience as Transport Secretary, Defence Secretary, and Foreign Secretary, and has also served as shadow Chief Secretary of the Treasury, making him ideally placed to take over as Chancellor. In addition, Hammond was a strong supporter of May during her ultimately short campaign for the Conservative party leadership. This leaves a vacancy at the Foreign Office which can be filled by Osborne.

Although there would likely be an outcry amongst the Conservative MPs who campaigned to leave the European Union that two supporters of the remain campaign are given the top jobs in the new government, the experience of Hammond and Osborne will be vital for the new government. The UK’s shortage of trade negotiators has been well publicised in recent weeks, with this shortage caused by the fact that it has been many years since the UK has been in a position of having to negotiate its own trade deals. Previously this was left to the relevant department of the European Union. With no potential cabinet members with experience of making trade deals, the international experience of Hammond and Osborne will be vital to the new government. Both have extensive experience of travelling abroad on government business, and both have cultivated strong relationships with their international counterparts. When it comes to negotiating international trade deals in the near future these relationships could be crucial. Although Theresa May has pledged to appoint a Secretary of State for Brexit (most likely Chris Grayling), Hammond and Osborne could be significant assets when it comes to negotiating with countries outside of Europe. Most importantly: Canada, China, India, and the United States.

Indeed, George Osborne is currently in the United States promoting closer US-UK relations, whilst he has also been promoting increased trade with the likes of China and India.

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Given that Osborne has already begun to promote Britain’s cause around the world, he would seem an obvious choice to become the new Foreign Secretary. This is a move that David Cameron himself was strongly considering had he remained as Prime Minister following a win in the EU Referendum.

In addition, Osborne reserved strong praise for Theresa May after she became the presumptive Prime Minister, indicating that he was willing to put behind him their previous disagreements upon cuts to public spending, as well as his keenness to continue in the cabinet.

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Therefore, despite the likely anger this will provoke amongst the Brexiteers (given that Osborne is hated for his prominent role in the remain campaign), Theresa May should make Osborne the new Foreign Secretary as his relationships with other world leaders will prove crucial in Britain being able to make strong trade deals in the years to come.

As for Philip Hammond, there are few individuals who are as qualified for the second highest office in the government. Hammond has frequently been described as boring. In January, The Times described him as ‘Mr Boring’, whilst in February The Guardian described him as ‘Dull Phil’. But, in this time of great upheaval, perhaps boring (and more importantly: competent) is exactly what is needed as Chancellor.

Overall, Hammond and Osborne should remain in the government when Theresa May announces her cabinet in the next few days. Although both backed the losing remain campaign (meaning that their appointment may prove divisive amongst those who backed Leave), they have significant experience in cultivating international relations and some continuity of personnel is exactly what is needed in this time of great uncertainty.

Why I will be voting remain on 23 June.

The UK would be stronger if it remained in the European Union. Whilst I admit that the case for remaining has been exaggerated somewhat by the StrongerIn campaign, just as Vote Leave have exaggerated their argument in support of Brexit, on the facts a Britain in the EU would be far stronger than a Britain outside the EU.

Trade.

The UK is currently part of the world’s largest trading bloc, with the European Union accounting for around 22 percent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to International Monetary Fund figures. This makes the EU the world’s second largest economy in terms of GDP, after the United States. The effect of this is that countries like China and the United States are forced to take the EU seriously when it comes to trade negotiations. If we were to leave the EU, and then had to go to Washington or Beijing for a trade deal, we would be doing so without this bargaining power. Without the might of the combined EU economy, a trade deal with the UK would not be a priority for the likes of the United States and China. Even if we did get a trade deal, it would likely take many years to come about, as international trade deals typically take rather a long time to negotiate it could be years before we manage to do a proper trade deal with the United States. Indeed, on a visit to London in April, President Obama said the following: “I think it’s is fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon because our focus is on negotiating in a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done. The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”

Without the might of the combined EU economy, a trade deal with the UK would not be a priority for the likes of the United States and China.

In addition, the UK would be unlikely to be considered to be an especially important trading partner to these countries. Indeed, when David Cameron visited China in 2013, newspaper the Global Times said, “The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study.” As a result, we would be unlikely to get the preferential treatment that we can receive as members of the EU. In short, leaving the EU would cause a significant loss of power and leverage when it comes to negotiating international trade deals.

As well as the difficulties that would be inherent in negotiating trade deals following an exit from the EU, there are other significant benefits to trade which come courtesy of EU membership. The EU incorporates the free movement of good, services, capital and people. The so-called ‘four freedoms’. The free movement of goods means that companies based in the UK are able to sell their goods in EU countries without being subject to tariffs or other protectionist trade policies. This lack of tariffs can mean a huge saving for businesses who export their goods, meaning higher profits. Whilst it is true that European Union membership does bring with it some added red tape for business owners to have to deal with, the truth is that the gains from avoiding trade tariffs offset the irritation of this red tape significantly. If we were to leave the European Union, there is no guarantee that we would be able to retain a trade deal as beneficial as the one which we have access to today. In fact, it seems highly likely that any trade deal that we secure with the rest of the European Union after we leave will be on far worse terms than we currently enjoy, particularly if the Vote Leave campaign continue their mission to curtail the free movement of people which will likely come at a severe cost in terms of a worse trade deal with the European Union. Switzerland and Norway both benefit from some of the European Union’s trade rules, however they must also accept the free movement of people. If the UK leaves the European Union, and is then intent on also curtailing in the free movement of people (in itself a terrible idea) then we will almost certainly be landed with relatively poor trading terms. In any case, there is little doubt that exporting would become more expensive for British businesses. The imposition of tariffs would also likely mean that goods being imported into the UK for sale would be more expensive. As always, this increase in cost would be passed onto the consumer. The head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Robert Azevedo, suggested in May that leaving the European Union could cost British consumers around £9bn a year. Although it is almost impossible to truly estimate the costs of leaving of the European Union, it is virtually indisputable that trade would become more expensive.

Therefore, in terms of securing our position as a competitive trading nation, the UK must remain members of the European Union.

Employment.

Another significant benefit of the single market is that companies choose to base themselves in the UK, or at least have a significant presence in the UK, in order to gain access to the single market and thus benefit from the free movement of goods. Many American companies choose to have significant presences in the UK due in part to the common language and strong business infrastructure, but also in order to gain access to the single market, in particular the free movement of goods. For example, American investment bank JP Morgan employs 19,000 people in the United Kingdom, whilst Japanese car manufacturer Nissan employs 4,000 people in the UK. The same is true of many other multinational companies, who have a significant presence in the UK, in part, because of our membership of the European Union. Whilst it seems unlikely that any of these companies would completely leave the UK in the event of Brexit, there is a strong chance that they will end up reducing their presence in the country as a result. CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, suggested that JP Morgan could cut 4,000 jobs in the the UK, if the UK were to vote to leave the European Union. Of course it is easy to simply dismiss statements regarding potential job losses as scaremongering, but there is genuine risk. Seeing as these companies extract real benefit from the UK being in the EU then it stands to reason that they will move their UK business into a country which remains an EU member in order to capitalise.

Of course it is easy to simply dismiss statements regarding potential job losses as scaremongering, but there is genuine risk.

There is a big reason why so many international financial services companies choose to locate their European headquarters in London, and that reason is our membership of the European Union. The access to the single market which comes with our European Union membership has been a key reason behind the City of London becoming the global financial centre which it is today, leading to over half of the world’s largest financial services firms choosing to base their European headquarters in the UK. This sector provides over one million jobs all around the UK, with many of these jobs intrinsically tied to our membership of the European Union. Indeed, 100,000 of these jobs are said to be at risk if we were to vote to leave the European Union.

Access to the single market also offers significant benefits to manufacturing companies as they can export their goods tariff-free throughout the European Union. Access to the single market has been a key reason behind Britain’s thriving car manufacturing sector. Both Nissan and Honda have a significant presence in the UK, in part because of our access to the single market.

Many European companies also choose to have a significant presence in the UK because of our membership of the EU. This is because of our access to the single market. For example, German multinational Siemens employ 13,760 people in the UK. Chief Executive of Siemens UK, Jurgen Maier, has been vocal about the company’s wish for the UK to remain members of the European Union stating that, “it is very important”, for Siemens that the UK remains members of the European Union. The same is true of many other European companies who have significant presences in the UK. In February, a survey of 700 businesses carried out by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that 29% of British and German companies polled would relocate completely or reduce their capacities in the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union. This is an incredibly worrying finding. Even more worrying is that the wish to leave the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union, was particularly prevalent amongst companies operating in the IT and technology sector. This is currently one of the fastest growing business sectors and with continued innovation will continue to grow at great speed, meaning that it is absolutely crucial for our future prosperity. The possibility of technology companies leaving the UK in the event of a vote to leave the European Union would be a huge blow.

Ultimately, leaving the European Union could be a huge blow to the UK in terms of loss of jobs. Therefore, it is vitally important for employment that the UK votes to remain in the European Union on 23 June.

The Economy.

Aside from trade and employment, leaving the European Union would also have wider implications for the UK’s economy as a whole.

In a poll conducted by the Financial Times at the beginning of the year, 100 economists were surveyed. Three-quarters of these economists predicted that leaving the European Union would have an adverse effect on the UK’s economic prospects in the medium-term, with only eight per cent suggesting that a vote to leave the European Union would have a positive effect on the UK’s economy. This alone shows that there is a broad consensus amongst economists that a vote to the leave the European Union would be damaging to the UK’s economy. At the very least in the short to medium-term.

Evidence suggests that if we vote to leave the European Union, then the UK economy will suffer an immediate negative shock. In addition, if we were to vote to leave the European Union then there would be a transition period which would likely last around two years. During this period there would be significantly heightened uncertainty surrounding Britain’s trading relationships which would have the potential to significantly damage trade and investment. Traditionally, trade and investment decreases significantly in times of uncertainty, and that would be unlikely to be any different in this case. This would be likely to have a significant knock-on effect on the UK’s economic growth, and on household income levels.

There is also the fact that the UK depends upon migration from the European Union in order to meet our economic targets. Chancellor George Osborne has set the target for the UK to achieve a budget surplus by the end of the current decade. Analysis has suggested that this will not be possible without an increase in migration. Therefore, if leaving the European Union has a significant impact upon migration, which surely it will do, then this could have far wider reaching implications for the UK economy.

It has also been suggested that a vote to leave the European Union could leave a hole in the UK’s public finances. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (an independent think tank) has forecast that a vote to leave the European Union would lead to a hole of £20bn to £40bn in government finances, as a result of lower economic growth and higher borrowing costs. In turn this would be likely to mean the necessary extension of austerity for at least two further years, until 2022. This would clearly offset any financial benefit that we might gain my no longer having to make a financial contribution to the EU budget. The deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Carl Emmerson stated that, “the overwhelming analysis suggests that the economy would shrink by more than enough to offset the positive effect on the public finances of the reduced financial contribution to the EU budget.” Therefore, leaving the European Union could deal a hammer blow to the UK economy.

The economy would shrink by more than enough to offset the positive effect on the public finances of the reduced financial contribution to the EU budget.

Overall, it is the uncertainty which could be most damaging to the UK’s economy. Leaving the European Union could lead to years of uncertainty, with the potential to plunge the UK into another recession. This uncertainty would have far-reaching effects on the UK’s future economic growth, and household income. Therefore, the UK should vote to remain members of the European Union on 23 June. Economically, voting to leave is just too big of a risk to take.

National Security.

European integration was originally seen as a way in which to reduce the chance of a repeat of the Second World War, which saw huge loss of life and destruction throughout Europe. Although there seems little chance of war between European countries in the near future, membership of the European Union still remains crucial for the UK’s national security.

The European Union has significantly contributed to a safer Europe through its ability to impose sanctions upon Russia, with the European Union taking the lead in the confrontation of Russia over its annexation of Crimea. The European Union has also been a key player in confronting Iran over its nuclear programme.

In addition, the danger from terrorism around the world has scarcely been greater. Fighting terrorism is incredibly difficult as it is, but membership of the European Union does make it somewhat easier. Cooperation between European Union countries on the exchange of aircraft passenger records for example, can go a long way to help foil a potential terrorist attack. Continued cooperation between European Union countries will be absolutely integral to continuing success in the fight against terrorism, and remaining members of the European Union is the only way to ensure this.

Overall, remaining members of the European Union will benefit our national security greatly. Continued cooperation between European Union countries is the best way to maximise our chance of success in foiling terror attacks, and minimise war, in order to ensure our national security and the safety of our citizens.

Summary.

I have tried to keep this relatively brief by focusing purely on the economy and national security. I could comfortably have talked about the environmental protections brought in by the European Union, or the workers rights and safety standards which have been brought in by the European Union, but I felt that to focus on the effect that Brexit would have on the UK’s economy and its security would really hammer home the negative effect that leaving the European Union would have for the UK. I also felt that these were the areas in which the leave campaign’s erroneous claims about the European Union could be addressed. One of Vote Leave’s major campaigning points is that the UK sends £350 million a week to the European Union. However, when we account for the money that the European Union sends back to us, as well as the European Union spending on the UK, then the net amount that we pay to the European Union is closer to £120 million a week. This cost amounts to a fraction of the economic benefits which we gain from being a part of the European Union and, even if leaving the European Union means that we will no longer have to pay it, the uncertainty caused by our exit will hit economic growth and investment so hard that it will offset any saving. Therefore, there seems to be no monetary benefit to be gained from leaving the European Union at all. As for sovereignty and democracy, the UK remains a democratic country regardless of our membership of the European Union, and European Union law actually comprises relatively little of the legislation enacted in the UK each year. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has claimed that an astonishing 75 per cent of the UK’s law originate from the European Union. This is patently untrue. In fact, the figure is difficult to calculate for certain, but it closer to between 15 per cent and 25 per cent than Farage’s claim of 75 per cent. Once again this is a small price to pay for the economic and national security benefits provided by the European Union. As well as comments about the proportion of law made in Brussels, Vote Leave also regularly comment on some the ridiculous laws constructed by the European Union. For example, Boris Johnson has recently been keen to talk about European Union regulations regarding ‘abnormal curvature of bananas’. Yes, laws like this are somewhat ridiculous. But is this really a good reason to leave the European Union? No. The fact that Vote Leave are having to resort to arguments like this shows that they realise they are losing the argument in terms of the economy and national security.

Overall, the European Union is not perfect. Realistically, no trading bloc or indeed sovereign country can ever be perfect for everyone. However, the benefits of European Union membership vastly outweigh the costs. For the sake of our future economic success and national security, the UK must vote to remain members of the European Union on 23 June.

For the reasons which I have outlined here, I will be voting for the UK to remain a part of the European Union on 23 June. For the sake of our country’s future success, I hope that you will do the same.