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Remain or Leave

In 1973 the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) or Common Market. In 1975 we voted to stay in the Common Market. In 2016 we are to vote on whether to stay in the European Union. The EU is not the same institution as the EEC or Common Market. We have moved from a trading block to a situation where our actual sovereignty is to some extent compromised in that laws made on mainland Europe affect our way of life deeply.

Have we noticed that our elections seem to be dominated by Health and Education? Is this is because most of the other topics are governed from Brussels and Strasburg and our own politicians can do little to influence? Is this important at all? Can we understand our place in the structure of 28 different countries, many of which could not pass the entry qualifications if imposed as they should be? We only have to look at Greece and the underlying precarious financial position of the Euro to see its reliance on Germany. How can the fiscal and monetary policies of the individual northern and southern Europe states align when their needs are so different and economies so varied?

What about playing by the rules? Are our civil servants up to the task of genuinely looking after our own interests? I know of several examples where they have fallen short. Do they understand how to get the best from Europe?

All of these questions are moot but the debate to date has been poor. Both the Remain and Leave campaigns seem to me to have been patronising and playing to the lowest common denominator. We are told that we have to go through Europe if we wish to agree bi-lateral deals with other countries. I do not understand this. We spend our daily lives talking to businesses of all sorts, many (if not most), see the benefits of staying in Europe but happily trade with other countries without touching Europe. Why, when Burma came out of the wilderness were we “late” in taking a trade delegation being one step behind Germany and France? Had they cleared a way for themselves to have bi-lateral negotiations or were they representing the EU?

The camps seem to be falling into big institutions and businesses who deal daily with Europe and internationally whose interests are clearly in the Remain camp and SMEs who are not reliant upon Europe at all veering towards Leave.

Joe-Public are split with many saying we don’t seem to have done too badly in the last 40 years and others who want to bring back control from Europe to within our own borders for, as they see it, economic and immigration reasons. The older generations seem to want to Leave but the younger generation perhaps prefer to Remain.

Europe is in a mess but would it be worse if we were out? Do we care? Should we, as the middle and elder generation, guide the younger generation or should we defer to their preference? The future is theirs after all.

I suspect that the decision will, in the main, be a visceral one for the majority and it would not surprise me if we vote to Leave, but I think, on balance, at the moment at least, I hope that we Remain to fight for what we believe within the EU. But if there had been an “R” in the month I may have felt differently.
How will the vote affect commercial property? That’s moot too.
Written by: Mark S Hanson – BSc FRICS

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