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Why Britain Should Stay in the EU

February 22, 2016 2:59 PM
By Andrew Large - former deputy governor of the Bank of England in InFacts - Why Britain Should Stay in the EU

European flagsFormer BoE boss spurns business group's Brexit push

Commentary

Sir Andrew Large backed Business for Britain because it said it wanted to reform the EU. But it is now campaigning to quit the union. When its boss, Matthew Elliott, contacted the former deputy governor of the Bank of England to ask him to support Brexit on the basis that David Cameron's draft deal with the EU was "ineffectual tinkering", this was his response:

"Dear Matthew

Thank you for your email.

But no, I will not back you.

I have no interest in a movement which now threatens to encourage firstly the dissolution of the EU, our neighbours, whose mutual well-being is so significant for ourselves, and secondly of my own country (and yours I think) the United Kingdom. Nationalistic movements of this sort will encourage others and threaten prosperity, stability, and ultimately peace. The UK should be more mature and less short-sighted. Surely that is what fighting two world wars has taught us?

Historic moments of course come rarely. Our heritage is belittled if instead of using such moments to try to improve an imperfect EU we take a decision to help to undermine it. And surely it is irresponsible to do so at a time when it faces considerable difficulties, and in addition as we all face common threats from fundamentalism, the migration crisis [from which we cannot abrogate all responsibility], Russian aggrandisement and climate change.

The EU was designed to achieve stability, peace and economic prosperity. No one should overlook its imperfections. But its achievements are not inconsiderable in that broader context. Added to this we are not being required to participate in closer political Union; we already have our cake in economic terms; and in today's world we are de facto part of a community of nations whether nationalists like it or not.

And as for the economic and legal arguments I find them specious. Firstly we cannot expect a better deal as a hostile divorcee. And secondly there is nothing to prevent us today from doing more outside the EU. What will be different? The preoccupation and time spent on arguing our corner from within the EU will be nothing against time spent wooing a deal when we are outside. And we will still have to conform!

So just what are you expecting to achieve: for the rest of Europe as well as ourselves? And if naked self-interest is the driver just what on a net basis will we really control or gain to advantage that we cannot control or gain from within?

The fundamental change you demand was never going to happen ahead of the promised referendum date. Basing one's position on the unattainable may be a lobbying tactic, but surely not appropriate for an event of such import.

And a final point. It would surely be better to call your movement 'Business for England' if you like. But that would be a sorrily narrow slogan in my view.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Large"