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Brexit could be UK’s undoing


Countdown for the historic June 23 UK vote on whether to stay or leave the EU is causing regional and international anxiety. Half of Europeans feel Brexit could spark a domino effect, as other states would follow suit. Britain first joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, and in a referendum two years later, the public backed membership by just over 67 percent. But things went awry with Brussels triggering the UK to opt out of key projects including the euro and the Schengen passport-free zone. Yet, it remained in the single EU market.
The fallout has begun now. The EU this week cut its Eurozone growth forecasts for the year, listing the danger of Britain leaving the bloc as among the risk factors weighing on the economic recovery.
Earlier, the International Monetary Fund and the G20 group of the world’s leading economies also warned of the economic dangers of Britain leaving the EU.
The weighing in of the US, China, Japan and the rest of Europe in favour of the “stay” campaign demonstrates how far they are worried over possible exit of the UK from the 28-state block. If it exits, it will have far reaching economic and political reverberations.
While visiting England, President Barack Obama said last month that EU membership magnified Britain’s global influence, warning that if Britain did leave and wanted to sign a separate trade deal with the US it would go to the back of the queue. This warning comes from a close ally, and shared by the US political and business circles. The “stay” campaign got another significant endorsement from Japan. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday warned that Britain would become “less attractive” for Japanese investment if it votes to leave the European Union in the June referendum.
From the economic perspective, the UK cannot afford to squander lucrative Japanese investments. About 1,000 Japanese companies operate in the UK, employing 140,000 people. Many of the Japanese companies set up their
operations in the UK precisely because Britain is a gateway to the EU.
Japanese investment in Britain totalled £38 billion ($55 billion) at the end of 2014 and had played a particularly important role in reviving British car manufacturing. Nissan Sunderland in northeast England is Britain’s biggest car plant.
The Remain and Leave camps are neck-and-neck on 50 per cent each,
according to the What UK Thinks website’s average of the last six opinion polls.
In his attempt to win ambivalent group that could decide the referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron evoked the memories of wartime leader Winston Churchill who fought and helped achieve victory for Europe in World War II. He brings home the idea that the UK is part of Europe. Cameron was right when he said a British exit would threaten peace on the continent.
The “stay” campaign was also boosted by former MI5 chief Jonathan Evans and the former head of MI6 John Sawers who stated “Cooperation with the 27 other EU members means Britain is better placed to tackle threats ranging from IS terrorism to cyber-attacks by hostile governments.”
Britain is stronger, safer and better off within the EU, but it isn’t the case out of the EU. In case of exit, the UK won’t enjoy the status quo.

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