This is part of a series of guest posts written exclusively for Cicero Elections by the main campaign groups on both sides of the EU referendum debate.
The clock is ticking and we are now less than three months away from the biggest political decision this country will face in our lifetime. It will affect our democracy, economy and public services.
Regardless of size, every business must comply with EU regulation, even if they don’t do business overseas. In fact, only 6% of UK firms trade with the EU, yet 100% must abide by legislation from Brussels. This burdensome regulation drives up costs, reduces productivity and makes it far more difficult for businesses to grow and create jobs.
After we Vote Leave, we can halt the insidious level of regulation that strangles business expansion, reflected in the torrent of time-sapping, complex and costly regulations that emanate from Brussels on a regular basis. Our politicians can take back control and create policies that support business, enterprise and entrepreneurship. And, importantly, if we don’t like what they’re doing we can vote them out!
Many people are completely unaware that we are unable to negotiate our own trade deals. Incredibly we currently have no free trade agreements with India, China or the USA. Despite the fact that non-EU countries are becoming increasingly important to the UK, we lack the power to strike these important deals outside the EU. By choosing to remain trapped in the EU we are giving Brussels full control of our trade policy, with our interests watered down to accommodate 27 other member states (and growing). Brussels brokers everything on our behalf, is woeful at negotiating trade deals – discussions begun with India in 2007 have shown no sign of coming to fruition – and doesn’t effectively represent British interests.
Meanwhile, European countries outside the EU have forged ahead. Both Iceland and Switzerland have signed free trade deals with China, giving their businesses better access to 1.4 billion customers. If countries with populations the size of Coventry can do this, imagine what sort of powerhouse the UK could be if it were free from the shackles of the EU. As the 5th largest economy in the world we would be able to strike vastly superior deals to those secured by Iceland and Switzerland.
Furthermore, we have a significant trade deficit with the EU. In 2014 the EU sold £78.9 billion more goods to the UK than we sold to them. Clearly the EU would want to preserve trading arrangements with the UK, via a free trade deal to maintain our strong trading links with our European partners, rather than jeopardize sales of goods to the UK, which would be nonsensical. Leaving the EU would give us the opportunity to take control of our trade policy, thereby opening up opportunities for businesses in emerging markets across the globe.
Historically we are a trading nation, the 5th largest economy in the world with a seat on the UN council, with a widely spoken language and a world renowned legal system. The referendum is our chance to take back control and have a real say on how our country should be run. Voting to remain in the EU means giving more power and money to Brussels – permanently. With complete control over our own affairs, we can have sensible regulation and an opportunity to spend our money on our priorities. That’s why I will Vote Leave on 23 June.
Matthew Elliot is Chief Executive of Vote Leave. For more information visit www.voteleavetakecontrol.org.