Myself and Jeremy Newmark, Chair of Hertsmere Labour Party and of the Jewish Labour Movement have our differences about UK politics and about Israel. But as regards the importance of the UK remaining in the European Union, we are as one.
Remain offers the best prospect for the health of the economy. 88% of economists who responded to a poll said that it would be best to remain in the EU. The Bank of England, the OECD, the LSE, the IFS, the National Institute and the Treasury have all warned of the negative consequences of leaving the EU. Over 200 economists signed a letter in The Times supporting Remain. Being in the EU gives the UK access to a tariff-free market of 450 million people, with which the UK does nearly half of its export trade.
A stronger economy offers the best prospect for the NHS, for jobs, for growth and for pensions.
The Leave campaign is saying that leaving the EU will reduce immigration. We refute that. Every country in Europe which has signed a free trade agreement with the EU has been obliged also to agree free movement for EU citizens. Is it really worth risking a recession, to achieve an aim which makes no sense anyway?
In terms of the UK’s borders, we have the best of all worlds – in the EU, signed up to the Dublin Regulations but outside Schengen.
The European Union has been responsible for many advances in workers’ rights, such as the right to holiday pay, paid maternity and paternity leave, anti-discrimination laws, equal pay and protection for agency workers. Were it not for the EU, it would still be legal to impose a compulsory retirement age.
Leaving the EU will worsen the security of UK, because it will reduce the opportunity for security cooperation with the likes of France, Germany and Italy.
Former Jihadist Aimen Dean, who started working for MI5 and MI6 after quitting Al Qaeda, has warned that IS and Al Qaeda supporters would see Brexit ‘as a first step in the destruction of the Union,’ which they perceive to be the successor to the Roman Empire. He says that the recent atrocities in Brussels and Paris were part of a larger strategy that seeks to escalate tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims, to destabilise and ultimately ‘destroy non-Islamic institutions and states’.
The European Arrest Warrant helps our efforts to bring would-be terrorists to justice. Seamless, daily, round-the-clock security collaboration with our European counterparts is a function of our membership of the EU. We second UK Crown Prosecution Service staff to Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial and prosecutorial cooperation in criminal matters in The Hague. We deploy CPS prosecutors on long term work embedded in a number of EU partner countries. Information and evidence is passed to and from the CPS Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime divisions and EU counterparts on a continuous basis. This level of integration is why most security experts have said that an exit will worsen the security of the UK.
We believe that the economic integration fostered by the EU has helped to keep the peace and contributed to social harmony. The EU was founded (as the Coal and Steel Community, in 1951) with the express purpose of ensuring that France and Germany, by close trade linkages, would never again go to war with each other. The success with which this aim was achieved was recognised in the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the EU.
Some have suggested to us that the UK should leave the EU because of the EU’s sometimes hostile stance towards Israel. We do not accept this. Neither UK nor EU policy towards Israel will be likely to change if there is a vote to Leave. Indeed Israel currently enjoys tremendous benefits as a consequence of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and it is possible that the impact of losing one of Israel’s strongest and most vocal supporters from around the EU table might have an adverse impact.
Throughout time, Jewish communities have fared best when there is political and economic stability. But to leave the EU is a threat to stability. It is a leap in the dark with both negative and uncertain consequences, in a world where there are already too many uncertainties – Jihadi terror, Putin’s adventurism, the possibility of a Trump Presidency, turmoil in the Middle East, the slowing of the Chinese economy – to name but five. It could have profound constitutional consequences, leading to a period of political uncertainty while the Conservatives choose a new leader.
We have no doubt that a vote to Remain next Thursday offers the best choice for the economy and national security of the United Kingdom. And – therefore – for the UK’s Jewish Community.
This blog was co-authored by Jeremy Newmark, Chair of Hertsmere Labour Party and of the Jewish Labour Movement and a political lobbyist accredited at the European Parliament; and Jonathan Hoffman – politically unaffiliated – but who has been an economist for over 40 years including 13 years at the Bank of England.