Architects have nothing to fear from a Brexit, writes Paul Finch
Distance can offer perspective, so while in Melbourne I read with puzzlement the statement by Prime Minister Cameron that leaving the EU would only give Britain ‘the illusion of sovereignty’. Surely the illusion of sovereignty is what we have now as a result of being an EU member, though not, thankfully, part of the Euro- or Schengen-zones. Quite clearly we do not have control over our own borders, a fundamental measure of whether you are in charge of your own country.
You always worry when language is abused, or obvious whoppers put about as absolute truth. If I read about one more ‘captain of industry’ claiming that we will not be able to trade with EU members if we were to leave Brussels behind us, I will run screaming for the Brexit. Do these people think we are really as stupid as they imagine? How do Japan, the USA, Canada and China trade with the EU when they are not members of it? With no great difficulty is the answer, since world trade is covered by GATT, not the EU.
And since our biggest EU trading partner is little old Ireland, we wouldn’t have much difficulty either, particularly as we run a trade deficit with the EU, but a surplus with the world beyond. Would architects suffer were we to leave? I can’t see why. Architecture is a global activity and anyone can work more or less anywhere if they want to. We would, however, be able to ditch EU procurement rules, thereby saving ourselves vast amount of time and money, with only lawyers regarding this as a matter for regret. We would also be able to stop the nonsense of people with EU-approved qualifications coming here and registering themselves as architects while our own folk have to study for longer and pay for the privilege.
I can’t see why architects would suffer if we left the EU
Would the construction industry collapse if we could not rely on cheap foreign labour? The answer is there would be some disruption in the short term but it would soon fade. We would start training people in large numbers again, though whether the Construction Industry Training Board is the right organisation to do it is another matter, given its long-term failure to generate sufficient workers (hence the imports).
Scare stories will come thick and fast as we approach the EU referendum, not least the ‘threat’ by Scottish Nationalists to call another referendum should a Brexit vote triumph. I can’t say the threat frightens me much and, were Scotland to leave, it could rely on economic success stories like Greece and Portugal to give it hand-outs instead of the English. We would save even more money than we would already be doing by no longer paying billions to Brussels every year for little or no return.
The EU is a bloated corporate, with a record of financial irregularities that leave FIFA and the IAAF looking like small fry, run by a cult who think of European integration as the Holy Grail of world politics. It is, of course, completely meaningless, except in the sense that EU citizens can go and live anywhere they like, whatever the social cost to the host communities who begin to experience being a host in a biological sense.
One nice piece of gossip from Sydney: Goldman Sachs has come to the conclusion that the best way to reform the EU would be for Germany to pull out of the Euro and reconstitute the Deutschmark, allowing Euros to float against the Neumark, thereby rebalancing/resetting their economies. This is such a good idea that in EU mind-sets it is completely unthinkable.