Our endorsement for the EU referendum in Britain

On Thursday, Britons will go to the polls to make the most important decision in a generation: whether to remain in the European Union or to leave the 28-member club. Much has been said by both camps during the last few months, but we strongly believe that the facts –both on the economic argument and the security argument– are clearly on one side: the Remain camp.

On the economic front, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of organizations, economists and businesses are in favor of remaining in the European Union. Even the Leave campaigners have been forced to recognize the possible dangers of leaving the EU –from job losses to a decrease in the UK’s growth forecasts. It should not take too long to realize that leaving the biggest market on Earth would be a terrible path to follow for the home of one of the biggest financial centers in the world. A so-called Brexit would hit the City of London hard and would create an environment of uncertainty –the most toxic word for businesses– that would decrease Britain’s growth, reduce its GDP in the long term and increase unemployment.

On the security front, a victory for Leave would send a terrible signal of isolationism to Britain’s allies in the continent and America. At a time when Europe and the West in general need to be more united than ever to face the threat of ISIS-inspired terrorism and the expansionist ambitions of Vladimir Putin, a British exit from the EU would weaken NATO and European security.  

But perhaps the most important argument in favor of remaining in the EU is not economic or security-centered, but values-centered. This referendum goes much deeper than being just a choice about GDP and national security. At its heart, this referendum is about the nature of Britain itself. It’s about globalization versus nationalism. It’s about whether Britain continues to be an open and successful liberal nation where immigrants are seen as a force for economic and cultural dynamism  –as they actually are– instead of scroungers who still jobs from native-born Britons and endanger British identity. This is what is actually at stake with this vote.

Make no mistake, this is much more important than a general election. On June 24th, there will be no turning back. You can choose to be on the side of globalization, openness, free trade and free movement with Europe, and continue the unprecedented prosperity that Europe has made possible during the last decades. Or you can turn back on this progress and create a small nation, isolated from its main allies, forgotten by the big players of the international system including America, and with much less economic potential.

Whether they know it or not, Leave supporters –if they get their way– will be contributing to the cause of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen. We prefer to be on the side of David Cameron, John Major, Tony Blair, William Hague, Nick Clegg, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. As Margaret Thatcher said in 1988: “Britain does not dream of some cozy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the community.”  

On Thursday, Britons can once again reaffirm their commitment to openness and globalization as they did in 1975, or they can choose to retreat into isolation. Our option is clear: vote for globalization, vote to remain in the European Union. Polls are very close, we don’t know which side will win. But one thing we do know: on June 24th, there will be no turning back.