A ‘Brexit’ no comparison to impact entering EU had on NZ

EDITORIAL

The United Kingdom faces one of its most important decisions since World War 2 in the coming referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union . . . fortunately the result will not have anything like the impact on New Zealand that the original 1975 decision to join the EU did.

Set down for June 23, the referendum has become known as Brexit, shorthand for Britain Exit.

Opposition to the EU, commonly referred to by opponents as Brussels, has been mounting with developments like the fast rise of the UK Independence Party.

Britain is almost evenly divided and that applies equally to the Conservative government — about half of Tory MPs, and five Cabinet Ministers, want to leave. The man likely to follow David Cameron as leader, London Mayor Boris Johnson, has joined them.

Conversely the Scottish Nationalist Party led by Nicola Sturgeon is strongly in favour of staying.

Two of the main issues are immigration and the cost of Britain’s membership. Immigration reached a record 323,000 last year and the Schengen Agreement which allows free travel between the 28 EU member countries is a major point of contention. A major concession Cameron won in his recent pre-referendum consultation with other members was the right to limit the benefits of EU migrants for four years.

The UK paid £17.8 billion in dues to the EU last year, which is £340 a year per household. The “In” campaign estimates that in return the benefits of membership are £3000 a year per household.

Cameron has been accused of conducting what is called Project Fear, a series of warnings about what will happen if the UK leaves — including threats of 10 years of financial uncertainty.

A referendum was also held in 1975 to confirm the UK’s entry into what was then known as the Common Market. The decision had a massive impact on this country which was then known as Britain’s farm, but has since directed its attention towards Asia.

That means interest here in this referendum, although high among expats — many of whom will get to vote — is mostly academic.

The United Kingdom faces one of its most important decisions since World War 2 in the coming referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union . . . fortunately the result will not have anything like the impact on New Zealand that the original 1975 decision to join the EU did.

Set down for June 23, the referendum has become known as Brexit, shorthand for Britain Exit.

Opposition to the EU, commonly referred to by opponents as Brussels, has been mounting with developments like the fast rise of the UK Independence Party.

Britain is almost evenly divided and that applies equally to the Conservative government — about half of Tory MPs, and five Cabinet Ministers, want to leave. The man likely to follow David Cameron as leader, London Mayor Boris Johnson, has joined them.

Conversely the Scottish Nationalist Party led by Nicola Sturgeon is strongly in favour of staying.

Two of the main issues are immigration and the cost of Britain’s membership. Immigration reached a record 323,000 last year and the Schengen Agreement which allows free travel between the 28 EU member countries is a major point of contention. A major concession Cameron won in his recent pre-referendum consultation with other members was the right to limit the benefits of EU migrants for four years.

The UK paid £17.8 billion in dues to the EU last year, which is £340 a year per household. The “In” campaign estimates that in return the benefits of membership are £3000 a year per household.

Cameron has been accused of conducting what is called Project Fear, a series of warnings about what will happen if the UK leaves — including threats of 10 years of financial uncertainty.

A referendum was also held in 1975 to confirm the UK’s entry into what was then known as the Common Market. The decision had a massive impact on this country which was then known as Britain’s farm, but has since directed its attention towards Asia.

That means interest here in this referendum, although high among expats — many of whom will get to vote — is mostly academic.

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