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Don't fear Brexit: Reasons to be cheerful about leaving the EU

After watching the #BBCDebate last night, I feel compelled to support the case for leaving the EU.

I am under no illusions that a vote to Leave will have negative consequences for the economy, as uncertainty usually has that effect until a new certainty emerges (which it will). Part of me is frightened of the turmoil that might ensue. But I feel that what happens in the long term is much more important. It’s horrifying to think that we will commit to a failing and increasingly federalist European government because our economy might stutter a bit. As owner of a business, I know only too well that things worth having are worth delaying gratification for and also that to progress you sometimes have to go backwards a bit, and you always have to be prepared to make some sacrifices.

Here are the reasons that we should vote to leave tomorrow:

When the EU economy implodes trying to rescue the Euro project, the UK will be dragged down too, and will be made to bail out the failing economies of the rest of Europe.

The economy could definitely be stronger outside Europe. For example, Switzerland has trade deals with countries with an aggregate GDP of $39.8 trillion while the EU has managed only $7.7 trillion.

If we left we would not have to be subject to the rules for public procurement that apply for contracts over a certain value. A parliamentary briefing paper (Number 6029, 3 July 2015) published 12 months ago, shows that from 2009-2011, the UK awarded 1.3 per cent of public contracts by value directly to suppliers based in other member states. Just 0.8 per cent of public contracts by value held by UK suppliers were secured abroad. One example of UK public sector contracts going abroad is the award of the Thameslink contract to Siemens in Germany. The dividends on profits made by such companies in the UK is being paid to investors in other countries.

EU economic inclusion has been disastrous for whole countries like Greece and Spain where a whole generation of young people have little chance of getting out of unemployment and austerity.

David Cameron largely failed to renegotiate anything much when we were ‘at the table’ with a huge risk that the UK might leave. His ability to negotiate anything after a Remain vote will be much diminished.

This clip shows David Cameron in 2009, arguing that the country desperately needs a referendum on Europe due to the “massive transfer of power” to Europe that is happening. He is now directly contradicting his own views that the UK should not be “passing powers” elsewhere. It is of course ok to change your mind, but it seems to me that none of the arguments that he had then are invalid now.

Trying to get things done when you have to consult 27 other partners cripples progress and sucks up time and money. We will be able to make quicker decisions and get more done.

In the last financial year, our net public sector borrowing was £74.9bn – we should be focussing on our economy, not a joint economy that includes much weaker countries.

47 per cent of turnover comes from SMEs in the UK, most of whom do not trade at all with the EU. These companies are often the most afflicted by EU red tape.

Consumers and businesses are buying British goods and services because they are good – they will continue to buy them for the same reasons.

European countries are not going to want to break off trade relations – they sell too much stuff to us.

The length of time it has taken to negotiate trade agreements such as TTIP is seen as a reason to remain, but could it be that when you need 28 countries to be represented from the EU could have something to do with how long it has taken? We don’t know, because the nature of the TTIP talks has been kept secret. I believe that we can negotiate more efficiently ourselves.

And on TTIP – as part of the EU we would be bound by this. In itself it is an assault on democracy. Companies can sue governments if the government’s policies cause a loss of profits according to the Independent.

The money that we contribute to each week is real money that could be used elsewhere. It’s a massive supertax. Part of it disappears forever, and part of it comes back in the form of grants and subsidies that we have no control over. How many useless projects have been funded by the EU? From the ones I know of, the waste must be massive.

It’s a total waste of money changing the venue of the EU parliament monthly. Estimates vary between £93m and £130m per year (The Telegraph). This is to box up papers and move them 300 miles, and to charter special trains to move the people each month. Great for the European box and train services, not so great for the Britons who are paying for this pointless activity.

Participation in democracy is important to me. It’s hard enough to get people to vote for politicians whom they see in the media in the UK. How will democratic participation go any other way but down when the important decisions are about faceless people in Brussels? In 2014, 17 other countries had higher percentage turnouts for the Euro elections and the UK turnout was below the overall average. Tellingly, the highest turnout came from Belgium, home of the parliament.

Doom-laden remain campaigners are keen to point out a vote to leave is a one way ticket. Two things on this. First, why is it a one-way ticket? If Greece and Albania can work towards joining, surely the UK could tick the boxes required much more quickly than them if we wanted to re-join. Secondly, and more importantly, staying in is much more likely to be a one-way ticket. The chances of gaining a further referendum to leave if we remain in and the EU economy or political union becomes unpalatable further down the line (which I am sure it will) are slim.

The accusation of the Leave side not having a plan is fatuous. It is the job of the government of the day to come up with a plan. If they cannot, they will lose the confidence of the electorate and will be replaced. There are well over 100 other countries in the world which manage to have a plan outside the EU.

Immigration will become a bigger and bigger issue if we stay in the EU, simply because of the lack of control on numbers. Jeremy Corbyn had the guts to admit that there would be no way to cap immigration. As this inevitably exacerbates pressure on public services including health and education, it will lead to greater problems down the line. Some people are racist and/or against immigration, but it’s wrong to attribute this to the roughly 50 per cent of people who have stated their preference for leaving. To give up complete control of how many people can come and live in the UK seems insane to me. I think that independent from Europe, we can come up with a workable system for ensuring that we get the right balance of skills coming to the UK from all over the world.

Certainty is one of the key planks of the remain camp, but I just don’t see how this is valid. There is no certainty in life, full stop. There are so many risks involved in staying in Europe, attached to failing economies of other countries and with only a small share of control over the final decisions that are made in Europe.

Liberation from having to discuss, debate, work round what is going on in Europe is very attractive. How much time, how many words, how much money has been wasting trying to work out how we fit with Europe, changing laws, being represented at meetings, funding European elections, funding MEPs, filling in forms? A lot. I look forward to a time when we never had to discuss anything about the EU again.

And finally, and most important of all, I fundamentally believe that decisions should be made close to the people affected by them. Do people in Lithuania, Hungary and Austria know anything about the needs of Newcastle, Inverness or Walthamstow? I doubt it, and I suspect they aren’t that interested either.

It is perfectly feasible that we can work with other European countries without being in the EU. We should have full control over our own destiny as a nation and so I will be voting Leave tomorrow.

Diane Young is co-founder of The Drum and tweets @SymmetriGal. For an alternative view on how to vote in the referendum, read this piece from Tech London Advocates' Russ Shaw. You can also follow the crucial final moments of campaigning in The Drum's EU Referendum live blog.

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