Britain must not turn its back on its friends and allies by leaving the EU Single Market

Mark Boleat
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President Obama argued that EU membership magnifies British influence (Source: Getty)

The referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union is just ten days away. While this decision on whether to remain in the EU and its integrated Single Market is the sovereign choice of the British people, it is important for voters to listen to the opinions of allies and partners from around the world.

When US President Barack Obama spoke in London earlier this year, during the final visit of his presidency, he said the “United Kingdom remains a friend and ally to the United States like no other”, but went on to say that “the European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it”. It is telling that a world leader, who has stated that he “cares deeply” about our country, would come out and so unequivocally back our membership of the EU.

Read more: Forget Obama: Brexit would boost Britain’s global influence

Leaders from many of our other major trading partners, including China, India and Canada, have all spoken out, stating that they believe that the UK would be better off within the European Union. These allies believe we should be helping to guide the EU’s development and strengthen its voice in the world, while maintaining ourselves as a world-leading place to do business.

Even when looking at Europe, many national leaders have indicated their support for the UK to remain in the Union. The UK is closely integrated and draws a huge amount of business from the continent, which accounts for over 40 per cent of our global exports, and half of our imports.

The UK, with a competitive tax regime in a business-friendly environment, a highly-skilled workforce, and the world’s leading financial hub, is the world’s entryway of choice to the European Single Market of more than 500m people. Due to these unmatched advantages, more than 43 per cent of global companies have chosen the UK for their European headquarters, providing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of quality jobs across our country.

Read more: Losing the EU financial services “passport” would be a disaster for the UK

The blunt truth is that, if even a handful of these important companies moved significant business operations, or their headquarters, to another European country in order to maintain continued access to the world’s largest Single Market, the job losses and economic effects to the UK could be substantial.

Membership of the European Union comes with a number of rights and responsibilities, and sometimes we don’t get all we wish for. But as a whole, working with our European partners has contributed to an unprecedented time of pan-European peace and prosperity.

Access to the Single Market has been a cornerstone of our economy for years, and to leave it without a realistic idea of what comes next would leave our economy on shaky foundations for years to come. Our international friends and partners are urging us to stay in Europe, and we would do well to heed their advice.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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