In an EU referendum event organised by Britain in Europe at Brunel University London, Mr Stephen Kon, Senior Partner in global law firm King & Wood Mallesons and Britain in Europe member, stressed the important benefits that EU membership brings to the UK.
Stephen demonstrated that alternatives such as the Swiss or Norwegian models are unconvincing, and reflected on the very significant risks of Brexit.
“The EU economy is double the size of the economy of China, and bigger than the economy in the United States”, he said.
Not only that. If Brexit were to happen, Britain would not only be excluded from free trade with the EU, it might be excluded from other important free trade opportunities such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that the EU is currently negotiating with the US, he added.
Speaking about the importance of correcting misconceptions, and attempting to dispel myths, around the EU, Kon said about EU bureaucracy that it was allegedly “too heavy and too weighty”, but then gave the example of the Department of Work and Pensions in the UK, which employs 91,000 people, while EU institutions employed in total 55,000 staff members in 2015.
Stephen equally noted that halfof the migration into the UK was coming from outside the EU, and 20 percent of this 50 percent was UK nationals returning from Europe.
“We should not underestimate the risks of Brexit”, he warned. This would be “the greatest constitutional change since the restoration of the monarchy”, and the legal process for withdrawal was not at all straightforward.
In the Q & A that followed the presentation, Kon reflected on the historic and cultural reasons for Euroscepticism in Britain, arguing, however, that these were not sufficient in themselves to support the case for Brexit and that the reason we were finding ourselves in the current situation was mainly the result of Conservative party internal politics:
“David Cameron is either going to come out of this a hero, or he is going to come out as the man who actually singlehandedly destroyed the UK relationship with Europe, and took us into global wilderness”, Stephen concluded.
Opening the event, Britain in Europe’s Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos commented that it was indispensable to have a fully informed, evidence-based, debate on Europe, and that the Brunel-based think tank would actively participate in it.