Answering Boris Johnson’s Five Questions

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Dear Boris,

You asked us some questions: we’ve replied. Let us know when you’ve reassessed your position and what time to expect you on June 23rd, or Vote Remain Day.

1. How can you possibly control EU immigration into this country?

Definitely not by leaving! Freedom of movement is one of the key pillars of the Single Market. If we want to retain full access to that market, we will have to accept freedom of movement.

Project Fear you say? Nope, project evidence! Both Switzerland and Norway, who have full access to the Single Market, have to abide by freedom of movement provisions. In fact, they have proportionally higher levels of migration than the UK.

Okay, so let’s say we were ready to forsake full access to the Single Market. We would still be unable to significantly curb migration: economists estimate that by applying the immigration rules which are currently valid for non-EU nationals across the board (i.e. to EU nationals as well) the number of EU immigrants would only decrease by less than a third (100.000 out of a yearly total of 323.000). Doesn’t seem like much.

2. The Living Wage is an excellent policy, but how will you stop it being a big pull factor for uncontrolled EU migration, given that it is far higher than minimum wages in other EU countries?

Definitely not by leaving. The pull factor of the living wage will remain intact after a Brexit.

The way forward is to work with other EU countries to encourage them to raise their minimum wage levels. There is certainly demand for this, across the EU. Firstly, many citizens and political parties are calling for this kind of social integration measures to accompany economic integration brought about by the Single Market. Secondly, in EU countries concerned about brain drain living wage has become a topic in the political discourse. This is exactly the kind of beneficial change, which a Britain fully engaged with the EU could trigger. And this would benefit the thousands of UK nationals working in those other countries as well.

3. How will you prevent the European Court from interfering further in immigration, asylum, human rights, and all kinds of matters which have nothing to do with the so-called Single Market?

Which European Court are we talking about, Boris? Let’s be clear.

Human rights have little to do with the European Union. It is the European Court of Human Rights which deals with the cases of the European Convention of Human Rights. This is signed by 47 States, across a wide geographical area, from Russia to Iceland, one of which is the United Kingdom. Brexit would not affect our relationship to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Court of Justice, meanwhile, only “interferes” in your words, where our government told it to. The Court of Justice has the authority to regulate the competencies that we have given the EU institutions – to make sure they don’t get too big for their boots! And we can withdraw these competencies.

Finally, thinking that freedom of movement has nothing to do with the Single Market is just wrong. Being free to only move goods between States is really a rather empty right, if you don’t also allow our hardworking engineers to work, our businesses to offer their services, and our students to study abroad (all whilst being protected from any form of discrimination) in the 28 Member States of the EU.
But, Boris, last time we did that, it didn’t go so well. The UK withdrew from some areas of co-operation of justice and security in 2013 (protocol 36 if you recall). But our police force and judiciary system found it so difficult to work without their European partners, that we had to (go through a long and expensive process) of re-application. And we re-opted in in December of 2014. Don’t undermine our security forces ability to do their job.

4. Why did you give up the UK veto on further moves towards a fiscal and political union?

We are afraid to say, Boris, that we did no such thing. We are too busy studying for exams! But if you’re talking about your mate Dave Cameron, he did the opposite, by opting out of further integration because the UK is not committed to the principle of ‘ever closer union’.

What Cameron did not secure is a veto on the Eurozone making further moves towards fiscal and political union. But the UK isn’t a Eurozone member, is it? So it’s a bit as if a French politician complained that the French President has been unable to obtain a veto on policy decisions of the Commonwealth, forgetting that France is of not a member. Shoddy, really.

Talking of the Eurozone, Cameron did secure a right for the UK Government to call for an extraordinary meeting of Heads of State and Government of EU countries, were the Eurozone considers any moves towards further fiscal and political union. This is commensurate to the UK’s status as a non-member of the Eurozone, who cannot therefore veto its decision, but who can expect to discuss such decisions at the highest level if the Government feel our interests are being threatened.

5. How can you stop us from being dragged in, and from being made to pay?

Dragged into what, exactly? The UK is not a member of Schengen. The UK is not a member of the Eurozone. And, as we pointed out, we left the European Arrest Warrant (only to realise this was a mistake and re-join).

As for ‘being made to pay’, all EU countries contribute toward the EU’s budget. And even some non-EU members pay (Norway springs to mind) in exchange for full access to the Single Market. We have our rebate, which Margaret Thatcher obtained for us in the 1980s. And according to the BBC, our net contribution per capita comes in lower than Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium.

Yours Sincerely,
Cambridge for Europe – Students.