Why do you want to Remain? 2017

Why do you want to Remain? 2017

We received a simple question this Christmas Eve, "Trying to understand why you want Great Britain and Northern Ireland to stay in the EU?" As an end of year roundup, we thought we'd publish our response as an open letter. The EU is a boost to our universities, our NHS, our industries, our jobs, our peace and our economy. That's become pretty clear this year. Here's our summary of why we think the way we do.




Dear XXX, thanks for getting in touch.


We hope we can answer your question with the following list of reasons for wanting to be part of the EU. 


The Lancet is one of the world's most prestigioius medical journals. In this recent article, health experts evaluated every type of Brexit and tried to give a score for how it would impact the NHS. Every type of Brexit damages our NHS. 


On the other hand, our government hasn't performed any impact assessments on how Brexit will affect our NHS, or any other institution. 


While the government has not been bothering with impact assessments, other groups have. The IMF recently warned that Brexit might mean privatisation of the NHS because of damage to tax receipts: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/privatised-nhs-and-tax-rises-forecast-by-imf-h969qgjmb


Brexit is set to strip £72bn from GDP which means a little over £20bn lost from tax revenues by 2021:http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-economic-cost-of-brexit-in-gdp-2017-11


This comes at a time when the NHS is already expected to be underfunded by £20bn per year by 2021: https://fullfact.org/health/spending-english-nhs/


Really, we could exit from Brexit and give our NHS the £20bn per year it requires instead. 


The international think-tank called the Rand Corporation recently published an economic impact assessment on the different types of Brexit. They said, again, that every type of Brexit is damaging to our economy. There are lots of think tanks and some have their own agenda, but this one is respected well enough that even the ultra-Brexity Daily Express reported their findings without any complaints: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/891217/Brexit-news-latest-Rand-corporation-Brexit-update-UK-economy-gdp-EU-European-Union-video


Of course, that's just the NHS and the economy and jobs and so on. 


For science, there are also major problems. 


Here's Heriot Watt university announcing jobs and cuts because of Brexit damage to their prospects:https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/heriot-watt-university-blames-brexit-for-redundancies


Here's Aberystwith University reporting a loss of international students straight after the referendum. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-36799951
Here they are shortly after, announcing job losses and cuts because of Brexit damage to their prospects. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-39859608


Other universities have expressed concerns and several others have announced cuts and job losses too: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-uk-leaves-the-eu-36719923


It's not just the NHS, universities, public finances and the economy. We do rely on migrant labour for specific industries. Our farming, for example. We've had endless stories about reduced immigration harming our farms this year e.g. https://www.ft.com/content/13e183ee-c099-11e7-b8a3-38a6e068f464


After all the talk of "getting our fishing back", the fishing industry of Grimsby wants a Brexit exemption: http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/news/grimsby-news/brexit-exemption-sought-grimsby-seafood-736984


And the car industry has warned of the dangers of leaving the Customs Union e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/14/honda-uk-warns-mps-of-consequences-of-leaving-eu-customs-union


Some of this may seem like scaremongering, but the other way to view it is: the EU has been a boost to our NHS (which has been starved of funds for 7 years); it's a boost to our university and education systems; it's a boost to our industries like farming and car manufacturing and fishing; it boosts our GDP which we can then use to fund our public services (or not, under the Austerity government.)


A prime example of this is the problems with the Irish border. Leaving the EU is proving very problematic for maintaining peace and stability in Northern Ireland. That sounds like scaremongering again. But the other way to look at it is that EU membership really helped bring about the Good Friday Agreement because it simplified issues about moving people and goods and services across the border in Ireland and the border between Ireland and the mainland UK.  


The big question really is why would we want to go ahead with Brexit? 


Nigel Farage said the day after the referendum that they shouldn't have promised more money for the NHS. https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/682979/Nigel-Farage-NHS


Generally speaking the Leave campaign has admitted that they lost the economic argument and they lost the science and trade and other arguments. The only thing they won was the appeal for 'more sovereignty' and the control of immigration. 


The government's own Brexit white paper (Brexit government, post referendum) states, "Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU" - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-united-kingdoms-exit-from-and-new-partnership-with-the-european-union-white-paper/the-united-kingdoms-exit-from-and-new-partnership-with-the-european-union--2


So the only thing left is immigration. 

But, as with the farmers who lament the loss of their labourers this year, and the universities making cuts because of lost students, our NHS is losing staffing because of the Brexit vote.

Now, no one voted for fewer staff for the NHS. But the problem with international migration is you can't have half the country vote for fewer foreigners without upsetting all foreigners. We can't say "let's keep the good ones" because it's not up to us. It's up to them. 

So if we never lost sovereignty and our anti-immigration policy is damaging industry, public services, universities and the economy... what's left?

I don't know about you, but we don't think that's worth the cost of Brexit. The Financial Times estimates Brexit is costing us £350million per week already! https://www.ft.com/content/e3b29230-db5f-11e7-a039-c64b1c09b482

So there you have it - we want to remain in the EU because it boosts our NHS, our universities, our jobs and our economy. We want to remain in the EU because it boosts our power and influence in Europe and gives us a bigger platform to speak to the world. The EU was set up to boost peace and we can see how it has done that in Northern Ireland. There are no benefits to leaving. Unless you prefer a privatised NHS... like Brexit leaders, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks, Paul Nuttall, Daniel Hannan and several of the Brexitiest Tories have all admitted in the past. 

Merry Christmas and hope you'll join us in 2018, 


Dr Rob Davidson is co-founder and director of Scientists for EU, Healthier IN the EU and Trade Deal Watch.

Showing 16 reactions

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  • Gary Warburton
    commented 2017-12-26 22:55:32 +0000
    Please remove my repetition in the first sentence it should read after 1968 “in decay and falling apart.”
  • Gary Warburton
    commented 2017-12-26 22:47:02 +0000
    When I was in Britain it was not in EU but what I noticed was everything in 1968 was everything seemed to be in decay and falling apart. It seemed the rest of Europe was building new modern new things and modern facilities but Britain refusing to change was stuck in the past. Their money system was incomprehensive at first before I learned how it worked. Their system of weights and measures and distance were antiquated and backward. They stubbornly refused to change. I heard a lot of complaining about new pence which was being introduced at the time. However lately things seemed to changed as new ideas began to appear in Britain they actually began to embrace Europe new buildings began to appear with a modern flair. They actually began to develop a space program. They became the gateway to Europe. However the old guard finally won out (the conservatives) so I guess it is back to being a backwater no wonder the youth of Britain are angry.
  • Shirley Pullan
    commented 2017-12-25 20:10:31 +0000
    Although I heartily acknowledge the intent, this article reads very negatively. The question was ‘Why should the UK remain in the EU’ and not ‘Why should we not leave’. What positive vision can you provide to those that are fixated on the ‘EU as a dictatorship that allows in immigrants’. The working and lower classes have no other narrative and it is these people that have voted in droves in favour of Brexit. They have been sold a lie by the likes of Farage te al. We should create a positive vision that speaks to all corners of the UK demographic. Currently there is little in anti-Brexit speak to turn anyone. “If you do not do this, this bad thing will happen” is not changing anyone’s mind on the subject. Recent polls suggest only new voters are likely to change the balance of remain/leave and existing voters are likely fixed in their beliefs. We need to address both in my opinion. Here’s how IMO:
    1. The Eu is not responsible for our immigration policy – our government have chosen to ignore and enforce it.
    2. The EU is driving force for many positive things: environment/pollution, workers rights, policy on consumer protection (inc low phone tariffs on holiday), common health policy, fighting tax evasion of large multinationals, a common voice against dictatorship and oppression, peace …
    3. We are a great nation and we are even stronger with our allies
    We need a new narrative that speaks to the average person that is positive and sting in its spirit.
  • Ian Digby
    commented 2017-12-25 01:22:47 +0000
    I want to remain because I think the bonds and ties of friendship with our fellow nations are a wonderful thing and that as we act together, so we will better all our lives.
  • Richard Toon
    commented 2017-12-24 22:57:15 +0000
    Sorry the symbols got changed in my posting!!!! What I said was that when the Pound Sterling is worth less than the EURO, that will be a real symbolic Brexit consequence. I think the public mood will turn very rapidly indeed at that point in time. Any bets for a date?
  • Richard Toon
    commented 2017-12-24 22:52:20 +0000
    Am waiting to see the £ loose more value against the € as we progress towards the Brexit end point. I’ll wager that the really significant symbolic point will be when the £ < €. More symbolic than blue passports!! New Year Resolution for 2018? Fight harder to keep within the EU family.
  • Robert Price
    commented 2017-12-24 20:33:49 +0000
    Because history as shown us that humans can do more and achieve more when they work together, rather than isolation. The EU provides a framework to do that for the European continent.
  • Brian O'Riordan
    commented 2017-12-24 20:19:54 +0000
    Because you have to be very self centred if you believe you are better, stronger or more valued on your own. Always stronger together. Always better putting others more vulnerable before your self interest. True of individuals as of nations.
  • John Kay
    commented 2017-12-24 20:16:13 +0000
    Remaining in the EU will result in our population continuing to rise by 500,000 pa, as it has for each of the past five years. As there has been no plan to achieve this, there has also been no provision of the necessatary onfrastructure: not enough new houses, not enough extra transport provision, not enough new school places, etc, etc. Result: much harder to get new housing if you are at the squeezed end if the soectrum; much harder to see the GP; much harder to get a less-skilled job with decent wages and decent T&C. If you don’t want to work long shifts in antisocial hours at the minimum wage, there will be plenty of young people from EU countries with high youth unemployment who will. Theresa May proudly boasted we have 6,000 more GPs than we had under Labour. What she failed to say is that if the population grows by 500,000 p.a., we would need 5,000 every year, so 35,000 since 2010, just to mark time. Reducing the value of the £ has had two positive impacts. It boosts UK production, as our exports become more competitive, and competition for UK jobs reduces, as our jobs look less attractive to mercenaries who assess their value in Euros. At the current rate of progress we might even see full employment lead to higher wages, as without free movement it should. We might even see housing get a bit less unaffordable.
  • Jean Bryant Bryant
    commented 2017-12-24 20:13:37 +0000
    Please – could we create a double fold leaflet containing this information and crowdfund for publication and distribution, especially in the Vote Leave areas….. with clear positive statements for those areas around remaining (investment!)? I am tired of being angry. I want to DO something to stop this chaotic mess.
  • Hanneke Wooster
    commented 2017-12-24 17:48:39 +0000
    Thank you for your concise summary. As a European I have lived in the UK for over 40 years and have seen the UK blossoming through being a member of the EU. Through influences of other European cultures the UK became a more tolerant multicultural society enriched by the cross pollination of other EU member states. Brexit seems a retrograde step reflected in encreased Xenophobia since Brexit. This does not bode well for future Peace! The UK’s closer ties with America will be a greater threat to English identity then Europe was ever. True to Christmas spirit I still hope for a Miracle that will call a halt to this madness.
  • Beannie Hewitt
    commented 2017-12-24 17:26:35 +0000
    John Salter – you said everything I wanted to say but didn’t know how to. Mike Keskeys – I said this many times post-referendum – such a long period of peace after 2 World Wars in quick succession in our recent history! I can only hope that sense will prevail, somehow, otherwise my late years will be musch changed from how I imagined they would be.
  • Mike Keskeys
    commented 2017-12-24 17:07:15 +0000
    This great project to united the waring tribes of Europe who have for thousands of years killed each other at every opportunity is shining example to the rest of the world of what can be acheived with good will. Why would we want to throw it away.?
  • Gill Clark
    commented 2017-12-24 16:48:13 +0000
    Well said, John Salter. Couldn’t put it any better. Just to add that for us (of a similar age to you), the EU allowed us to spend almost 30 years living and working in other EU countries on the Continent. Devastated to be experiencing this.
  • John Salter
    commented 2017-12-24 16:32:12 +0000
    I’m a European, albeit, a European with a kilt on. I believe in a strong united Europe that can accommodate all of its minorities within a framework of equality, trust, respect and inclusiveness. I’m intensely proud of the continent that produced, Socrates, Caravaggio, Bach and Darwin. It is our history, our culture, our heritage. It defines what it is to be British. The EU, of course, is far from perfect but by leaving we will lose the ability to improve and change it. As to the alternative should we decide to go through with leaving? A United Kingdom dominated by big business and multinationals, unfettered by legislation, morality or ethics, removing: hard-won workers rights; social care; environmental protection. A society based on the principles of Disney, MacDonalds and Coca-Cola. I want to stay in Europe, because it’s culturally diverse and culturally mature, it’s inspirational, in a word it’s “wonderful!”
    Born in 1951 into post-war austerity Britain, I have led a charmed life. I’ve always had a roof over my head, three square meals a day, free healthcare and education. I have enjoyed forty five years of gainful employment. Year on year my quality of life and overall prosperity has increased. Unlike my parents’ generation, I have never needed to concern myself with bombs dropping on my home, an unwelcome knock on the door in the middle of the night, or, indeed the prospect of myself, or my family members, dying a violent death in yet another devastating European war. The European project, or as I would see it the EU, has presided over an unprecedented 70 years of peace in Europe, my lifetime.
    As to the end, for end there must be, with a bang, or, with a whimper? I hope I’m not around to witness either eventuality. At my individual ending, I hope and trust, that my last words will be “I had a lovely time” rather than “I told you so”.
  • Peter Koronka
    commented 2017-12-24 16:25:40 +0000
    Sums it up very nicely. Thank you for your excellent summary. Cheers