Leaving the EU not as easy as you think

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Terry Palmer has popped up in your letters column, (January 17), demanding that the UK leave the EU immediately.

Where I do agree with him is that we need some real debate in Parliament and the country about the complexity of leaving an organisation of which we have been a member since 1973 and with which our economy and citizens’ rights are very integrated.

If we pull out immediately, with no contingency plans in place, we will face immediately a customs barrier to our main export market; our universities will lose access to European research programmes; our hospitals will lose access to Euratom’s radioactive isotopes for cancer treatment; our police will lose access to Europol to fight crime across borders; the financial sector (the major part of our economy) will lose access to the European Market; our farmers will face barriers to their exports and World Trade Organisation tariffs will apply to our food imports from Spain, France etc. pushing up the cost of living; the border in Ireland will no longer be open and the Peace Process be put in jeopardy; workers’ and consumers’ rights enshrined in EU law will be lost; UK citizens resident in other EU countries will have no certainty as to what their rights are just as much as EU citizens in the UK; airlines will not know if they have the right to fly across the rest of Europe, and the easy travel we currently enjoy will be jeopardised. Much of our inward investment from outside the EU is predicated on having smooth access to the Single Market, and could very well migrate to other European countries.

The big problem the leading Brexiters are encountering is that they either appear to have been (and still are?) unaware of just how complex our withdrawal from the EU would be, or they deliberately dismissed any discussion of potential problems as “Project Fear”. The Leave campaign insisted everything would be very easy, adding we would no longer have to fear millions of Turkish citizens coming to take up residence. Turkey is very unlikely to be joining the EU any time soon, so this was deliberate misinformation.

Mrs May and David Davis are now trying to find a way of enjoying all the benefits and privileges of our EU membership without obeying the rules or making our financial contribution, and finding it very difficult. Liam Fox thinks he can produce overnight trade agreements around the world when they usually take several years of negotiation, whereas we already have through the EU over 750 agreements covering not just trade, but also issues like airline flying rights. I cannot see President Trump signing up to anything with us which will not put “America First” and would weaken our food safety rules, as the EU has much higher standards of animal welfare and food safety, particularly in relation to routine use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed. He also lacks the concern shown in Europe over climate change.

These are just some of the issues that need very serious debate both in Parliament and throughout the country before any final decision is made. It is our children’s and grandchildren’s future we are talking about. Most of them, if they had a vote, voted to remain.

Veronica Hardstaff

Northfield Court, S10