Remaining in the EU is in Britain’s best interests

A vote to leave would be a vote against multilateralism, to the detriment of the world at large

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 June, 2016, 12:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 June, 2016, 12:18am

The vote by Britons next Thursday on whether to stay in the European Union is about more than British interests. Should the nation decide to leave, a strong signal against globalisation and multilateral cooperation would be sent around the world. There are already such calls coming from within Europe as it struggles with economic uncertainty and an influx of refugees, while in the US, presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken an isolationist stand on trade. It would be a mistake to endorse such moves.

Globalisation has, after all, brought the world growth and development. The flows of trade, investment and talent have been especially beneficial to developing nations like China and India, helping them to modernise and pull hundreds of millions of people from poverty. President Xi Jinping has joined President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other leaders in calling on Britain to remain in the EU. He told Cameron during his state visit last October that he hoped for a prosperous and united EU and that Britain could play a constructive role in developing ties between China and the European grouping.

Britain, don’t turn your back on the EU and its ideals as a force for good

The G7 and G20 have been similarly staunch in their support of keeping the EU together. Both have said that the global economy would suffer should Britons vote to leave. After its summit in Japan last month, the G7 said it would lead to a downturn in international trade and investment. Global growth would further decline and greater numbers of jobs would be lost.

Trump is unashamedly protectionist on trade, contending that countries like China and Mexico have taken American jobs. He has suggested that should he be elected, multilateral economic agreements the US has signed should be torn up.

There are many benefits to multilateralism; China well knows this, which is why it is pushing the belt and road initiative. British exit supporters believe the billions of dollars in EU membership fees Britain would save by leaving would outweigh the loss of financial advantages like free trade and inward investment. Those are debatable points that ignore the global challenges the world faces. Multilateral cooperation is the best way forward.

The case for Britain to remain in Europe may stand on its merits, but it has fallen behind in opinion polls amid xenophobic sentiment. Campaigning was suspended as a mark of respect after Thursday’s fatal street shooting of pro-Europe MP Jo Cox. The killing has been rightly condemned around the world. Hopefully the brief campaign ceasefire would give voters pause to reflect on Britain’s best long-term interests.