Letter from Europe: Why I’m a Union man

Jon Danzig |

Britain would be better off outside the European Union, wrote American academic, Dr Ted Bromund

In an article for the Yorkshire Post this weekend, American expert in ‘Anglo-American relations’, Dr Ted R Bromund, argued the UKIP case for Britain to leave the European Union.  

Dr Ted R Bromund

Dr Bromund, a senior research fellow at The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in Washington DC, wrote that on a recent visit, London didn’t seem so British or English to him anymore, but just ‘a world city on the streets’.  Dr Bromund added that he’d been against British membership of the EU ‘for years’ because, ‘the EU is anti-sovereignty and often anti-American.’

Because of Britain’s membership of the European Union, promoted Dr Bromund, it could not control its borders anymore, and that meant it could not control, ‘the pressure that immigration has put on housing, schools and hospitals.’

No wonder UKIP polls had done so well, enthused Dr Bromund. The defence of British sovereignty from the EU was, ‘a cause with which most Americans naturally sympathise.’

And the bottom line?  ‘The UK activists I met want Britain out of the EU not merely to defend Britain’s sovereignty or to make Britain better off. They want Britain out because the EU embodies a smug, elite political consensus, the kind of consensus that likes open borders because, dear, it makes finding a nanny, a cleaner, a painter, or a barista so much easier.’

The only asset in favour of EU membership, wrote Dr Bromund was ‘fear’. Maybe the Europhiles really believe that outside of the EU, British citizens would have to, ‘live in caves and eat rocks’, but that was doubtful, wrote Dr Bromund.

‘ London no longer feels British – and certainly not English’ wrote Dr Bromund. Photo: Jon Danzig

The problem with EU membership, continued Dr Bromund, is that it favoured immigration from Europe, ‘a tiny part of the world’, at the ‘expense of talent from the rest of it.’  So, according to this essay for Yorkshire’s consideration, Britain should leave the European Union so that it can select talented workers from all parts of the world, and not just Europe.

The NO campaign in any future referendum, concluded Dr Bromund, should cohesively assert that outside of the European Union, Britain can, ‘have a great deal more’  than if it continues with its membership.

I tried to add my response to Dr Bromund’s essay on the readers letters page of the Yorkshire Post, but they only allow a limited number of words. So I’m publishing my letter to Dr Bromund here, on my EU-ROPE blog.

Dear Dr Bromund

Thank you for letting the people of Yorkshire know that you’ve been against the European Union for years, because you believe it’s anti-sovereignty and anti-American.  Thank you for advising Yorkshire that for you, London no longer feels British, or English, or the ‘spirit’ of the Empire.  And thank you for promoting UKIP’s platform that the problem of immigration, and loss of sovereignty, are the key reasons for the UK to leave the European Union.

Let me provide a contrarian view.

I enjoy living in a cosmopolitan, global, modern London, where other Citizens of Europe can also reside and become useful members of our society, as well as friends and allies.

I enjoy our membership of the European Union, which allows me to live, work, study or retire in any other EU country.  That’s certainly a benefit of the ‘Single Market of Europe’ that I don’t want to lose. Nor do approximately two million other Britons who currently live, work, study or are retired in other EU countries.

EU membership works both ways.  Other EU citizens can come here; we can go there.  Britain has benefited greatly from other EU citizens coming to Britain to fill jobs or to open or grow businesses here; just as the rest of Europe has benefited from our citizens travelling across Europe to work and to invest in businesses there.

There are more British living in Spain than Polish in England… EU membership works both ways

Yes, EU membership really does work both ways. More British people live in Spain, than Polish people live in Britain. More British people are claiming unemployment benefit in Germany, than Polish people are claiming unemployment benefit in the UK.

You have proposed that immigration has put a strain on our houses, hospitals and schools.

Isn’t it too easy – and too dangerous – to scapegoat immigrants for the problems of society?

The evidence is that EU immigrants from Central Europe are around 60% less likely than British natives to receive state benefits, or tax credits, or to live in social housing.  Furthermore, those EU immigrants pay almost 40% more in direct or indirect taxes than they receive in public goods and services. Almost 94 per cent of the working-age immigrant population are not claiming working-age benefits.  They contributed about a third more in taxes than they received in benefits.

According to research by University College London, immigrants to the UK from other parts of Europe in the last decade made a net fiscal contribution to the UK of about £22 billion.  Most immigrants here from the rest of Europe are in gainful employment and make a substantial net contribution to our economy.

Rather than being a drain on British society, these immigrants are actually helping to pay for our pensions.

And talking of pensioners, unlike the many British who, thanks to the benefits of EU membership, have retired to Spain – making full use of Spain’s hospital and health services – immigrants here from other EU countries are mostly young, fit and less likely to be ill or to have started a family. Subsequently they make considerably lower use of our health service, costing a smaller amount proportionally to the NHS than native Britons.  These immigrants have come to Britain to work, and most of them do.

In February New Society magazine reported that there are‘fewer than 7,000 Poleclaiming the Job Seekers’ Allowance.   That’s a tiny fraction of the number of Poles now living in the UK and who are, actually, mostly in gainful employment.

It’s the elderly, and not immigrants, that are causing a strain on hospital services

Furthermore, it’s not the fault of immigrants that our hospital Accident and Emergency departments are so overrun. Up to 40% of the increased use of Accident and Emergency Departments come from the over-85s, who are 10 times more likely to end up in A&E than people in their 20s, 30s and 40s (the age group of most immigrants).

You have proposed that our membership of the European Union is preventing Britain from recruiting needed, highly skilled talent from other parts of the world.  I fail to see how that is the case.  

In addition to our EU membership, the  UK has a tier system for accepting non-EU immigration. Last year, just over 45,000 Tier One (highly skilled) and Tier Two (skilled) non-EU immigrants were offered jobs and visas for the UK.  Why do we have to leave the European Union to continue with that scheme?  In fact, if we left the European Union, we would be reducing our pool of skilled labour, rather than increasing it.

Although you have painted the European Union as only having downsides for Britain, I believe we gain much more from membership of the European Union than it costs us to be a member.

Our membership allows us free access to the world’s biggest, richest market place – bigger than your country.  Bigger than Japan.  Bigger than China.  Our businesses can freely do business with all other businesses across the European Union, without cumbersome red-tape, bureaucracy and customs duties.  Why would we want to give that up?

Our membership of the EU allows us to enjoy excellent trading agreements with the world’s countries, because the EU is so big, powerful and influential…and because other countries of the world desperately want access to our lucrative marketplace.

Although you have written that the European Union is often anti-American, as far as I know, neither the EU nor EU member states have been tapping your President’s phone or even your phone  – although it has now been confirmed that your country has been tapping the phones of  many of our EU citizens and leaders, including Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

EU-US free trade deal: being negotiated now

Nevertheless, we’re building bridges with your great country.  Currently the EU is negotiating an enormous free-trade agreement with the USA that is destined to become the world’s biggest free trade deal. This will hugely benefit your country and our continent.  The deal could boost the UK economy by £10 billion (but only, of course, if we stay a member of the European Union).

When negotiating, it usually helps if you’re the same size or bigger than the entity you’re negotiating with.  We’re bigger than your country, Dr Bromund.  But on our own, without the muscle of the EU behind us, and as a country barely the size of Florida, Britain would be unlikely to achieve anything like the advantageous trade deal with your country that we could through our membership of the European Union.

I noticed  that earlier this month you wrote an article about a bust of our great leader, Sir Winston Churchill, being dedicated by your Congress. It was of course Churchill who was one of the founders of the European Union.   Churchill said in his opening speech to the Congress of Europe in 1948: 

We cannot aim at anything less than the Union of Europe as a whole, and we look forward with confidence to the day when that Union will be achieved.’

And in 1963, two years before Churchill died, he wrote,

‘The future of Europe if Britain were to be excluded is black indeed.’

Even though you don’t want the UK to be a member of the EU anymore, it should be noted that your President has urged us not to leave the European Union.

Finally, what makes you think that Britain has lost its sovereignty by being a member of the European Union?  In the UK, our Parliament rules supreme.  That hasn’t changed.  The vast majority of laws in the UK have been debated and voted for in our democratic Parliament.  Just a small fraction of our laws emanate from the European Union; and all of those laws have also been democratically decided by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, in which Britain is fully and democratically represented.

Furthermore, the laws of the European Union mainly involve the facilitation of trade, of benefit to us all, or Europe-wide protections of all its 500+ million citizens.  Such as protection of the environment, safety of medicines, and uniformity of products; and protections from international crime, abuses of privacy, and personal data, etc.

According to the latest opinion polls, Britain is evenly split on the issue of its membership of the European Union, with around 40% wanting to stay, and 40% wanting to exit.   So there’s everything to play for in a possible future in/out referendum on this issue.   Let me make my position clear:

I’m proud to be a citizen of both Britain, and Europe.  And my vote is for Britain not just to remain a full member of the European Union; but for Britain to lead, influence and improve the Union for the benefit of all the member states.  

I remain, an unequivocally Union man.

Yours sincerely

Jon Danzig
British & European Citizen

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