EU referendum: Pros and cons of Britain voting to leave Europe
What is 'Brexit'
Brexit is an abbreviation of "British exit" that mirrors the term Grexit. It refers to the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union The country will hold an in-out referendum on its EU membership on June 23.
Why is a referendum being held?
Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold one if he won the 2015 general election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. The EU has changed a lot since then, gaining more control over our daily lives, they argued. Mr Cameron said: "It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics."
For the EU, a vote for Brexit on June 23rd could hardly come at a worse time. The club is in trouble. The euro crisis is not over, with growth slow, youth unemployment high and Greece again in difficulties. The recent fall in the flows of refugees across the Mediterranean may prove temporary.
The Pros and Cons of leaving the EU
The greatest uncertainty associated with leaving the EU is that no country has ever done it before, so no one can predict the exact result.
Leaving the EU would result in an immediate cost saving, as the country would no longer contribute to the EU budget. Last year, Britain paid in £13bn, but it also received £4.5bn worth of spending, "so the UK's net contribution was £8.5bn". That's about 7 per cent of what the Government spends on the NHS each year.
The EU is a single market in which no tariffs are imposed on imports and exports between member states. Britain also benefits from trade deals between the EU and other world powers. "The EU is currently negotiating with the US to create the world's biggest free trade area," says the BBC, "something that will be highly beneficial to British business."
Britain risks losing some of that negotiating power by leaving the EU, but it would be free to establish its own trade agreements.
Inward investment is likely to slow in the run-up to the vote, due to the uncertainty of the outcome and its consequences: that's what happened in before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.
In the longer term, there are diverging views: pro-Europeans think the UK's status as one of the world's biggest financial centres will be diminished if it is no longer seen as a gateway to the EU for the likes of US banks, while Brexit campaigners suggest that, free from EU rules a regulations, Britain could reinvent itself as a Singapore-style supercharged economy.
Under EU law, Britain cannot prevent anyone from another member state coming to live in the country – while Britons benefit from an equivalent right to live and work anywhere else in the UK. The result has been a huge increase in immigration into Britain, particularly from eastern and southern Europe.
The effect of leaving the EU on British jobs depends on a complex interplay of the factors above: trade, investment and immigration.
If trade and investment fell post-Brexit, then some of these jobs would be lost – but if they rose, then new jobs would be created.
A drop in immigration would, all else being equal, mean more jobs for the people who remained, but labour shortages could also hold back the economy, reducing its potential for growth.
Britain's place in the world
For Outers, leaving the EU will allow Britain to re-establish itself as a truly independent nation with connections to the rest of the world. To Inners, Brexit would result in the country giving up its influence in Europe, turning back the clock and retreating from the global power networks of the 21st century.
Britain would remain a member of Nato and the UN, but it may be regarded as a less useful partner by its key ally, the US. The American government fears that the "EU referendum is a dangerous gamble that could unravel with disastrous consequences for the entire continent"