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Old 17.02.2016, 23:55
Cornetto Cornetto is offline
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Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

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Sorry this is a long post, but a few thoughts.....

I'm old enough to have voted in the original "Common Market" referendum in 1975. The package we were sold back then was essentially that joining the Common Market (as it was actually called) was all about 2 things:

1. Free movement of people. Very few ordinary people worked outside the UK in those days so the idea seemed a bit remote, but we wouldn't need work permits if that chance ever arose. And no visas or much paperwork for holidays (though to be fair I can't recall if and when we ever needed a visa to travel around western Europe on holiday).

2. Free trade. No variable taxes or import/export duties. Sounded like a good thing.

And that was pretty much it.
That is my understanding as well, although I wasn't born when it all happened. It seems to me that the original idea of the common market was great, but what we've ended up with is an undemocratic and unwieldy political union run by unelected and unaccountable idealogues for whom the EU is something of a vanity project. If Brexit is what would bring Brussels to its senses, then I'm all for it.

To me, it seems absurd that someone working in one EU state can claim child benefit for children living in a different EU state. I presume that each EU country must have their own reasonably decent child benefit system, so does this mean families where one member works abroad are effectively able to claim child benefit twice? It sounds a bit like inverted tax avoidance to me, if you understand my meaning.

With regard to the arguments against leaving, I find it hard to believe that businesses would suddenly forget about the 60+ million-strong customer base in the UK. I also find it hard to believe that EU countries would suddenly impose visa requirements on British citizens or vice versa. The UK is already outside Schengen, so we would lose nothing in that regard.

I appreciate that ease of travel is not quite the same thing as freedom of movement, but I don't see a problem here either. The EU system could be replaced with one where companies looking for skills in short supply at home can recruit abroad, and only individuals with a confirmed job offer would be granted residency. This is surely better than just allowing anyone to turn up with little more than a vague hope of finding a job at some point.
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