Brexit risks ‘greater than opportunities within EU’

The UK would lose influence across the world and its 'sovereign power' would be weakened in the event of a vote to leave the European Union in June's referendum, according to a report from a leading foreign affairs think-tank.

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As Prime Minister David Cameron claimed in a speech that EU membership ‘magnifies’ the country's international standing and that a Brexit would put at risk Europe's peace and stability, a paper from the Chatham House think-tank said that the risks of leaving the European Union "far outweigh the opportunities.”Dr Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House and author of the paper, said that while EU membership meant that Britain could not regulate the flow of migrant workers, he argued their presence had benefited the economy. And, he said, free movement was a two-way street that had enabled Britons to move and work freely throughout much of Europe.”"The debate in Britain over sovereignty is in a sorry state – absolute sovereignty is worthless if it reduces the prosperity and security of British citizens," he said."The important thing is the government's ability to secure outcomes in the interests of the British people – and that is unquestionably enhanced by membership of the European Union."Dr Niblett said that he accepted that the inflow of workers from the EU into Britain had "caused great public concern and is a principal driver of support for the campaign to leave".But he added, "There is no escaping this trade-off, as it is a key requirement of EU membership. However, free movement of labour is a benefit for the UK economy in the aggregate, and a valuable right for British citizens who wish to take up employment in other EU countries. The fundamental question before the British electorate, therefore, is not whether it is time for Britain 'to take back control' from the EU.”"This is a worthless proposition if it does not address Britain's actual ability to ensure the prosperity and security of its citizens. The question should be whether Britons are content with the trade-off that accompanies EU membership, that is, that Britain can best enhance its security and its economic prospects if it accepts being part of a single market for workers as well as for goods, services and capital."In my opinion, the choice is clear. For Britain, the opportunities that will come from remaining in the EU far outweigh the risks, and the risks of leaving far outweigh the opportunities. Britain's effective sovereignty will be strengthened, therefore, if it remains a member of the EU."Dr Niblett also attempted to allay some of the membership drawbacks being put forward by 'leave' campaigners, saying the UK retained control over 98 per cent of government spending and had kept powers to establish its own policies over almost every issue of serious concern to British voters.

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