The news cycle in recent weeks has been dominated by one topic: the EU referendum.
David Cameron's announcement of the deal reached for reform in Europe signalled the starting pistol for the campaign. A couple of weeks in, we're gradually learning of the positions of government Ministers, Members of Parliament, business leaders and other influential figures, as the opposing camps rally support from all angles. With a little under four months to go until June 23rd, the ranks of each camp will continue to swell, not least by more members of the public deciding on which side of the fence they fall.
However, much of the coverage to date has focused on the chest-beating rhetoric peddled by high profile 'Leave' campaigners, placing greater emphasis on sentiment than on hard facts. The arguments put forward by the out camp are undoubtedly emotive; a proud nation, a former empire no less, that can make its own way in the world. When asked about the actual details of what a Britain outside the EU looks like, however, the answers are vague and ambiguous. The 'Out' camp simply cannot explain the sort of relationship the UK would have with both the continent and the rest of the world upon leaving the EU, as it's never been done before. It is therefore impossible to say with any certainty what the consequences would be, making 'Brexit' a complete leap in the dark.
The 'outers' also seem to overlook the many progressions that the EU has afforded us. We are indeed a proud nation, much thanks to our world-leading economy that has benefited vastly from membership of the EU. Free trade between member nations, access to a $24 trillion market, greater clout and negotiation power on the world stage; these are just some of the numerous trade advantages gained from membership. In a time where economic failings are still fresh in the mind, we should surely be considering the fiscal benefits of our membership above all else, and favouring the certainty of a better deal in Europe over the uncertainty of exit.
In the event of a 'leave' vote on June 23rd, it would quickly become clear that the fanciful notion of Britain going it alone is a wildly optimistic, overly romanticised idea; even the best footballer in the world needs the support of a team. In reality, it would be vital that a trade deal is negotiated with EU member states providing us with continued access to the Single Market. The price for this could well be the acceptance of policies such as the free movement of labour, as is the case in countries like Norway that have agreed to these terms in return for access to the European Economic Area. This much was corroborated by the German Finance Minister in a recent interview, who made clear that full access to the Single Market will require freedom of movement and financial contributions to the EU.
So the argument then becomes one of influence; do we want to be subject to the regulations of the EU for the purposes of trade, without having a seat at the table to influence said regulations? Or, as one Member of Parliament recently put it, do we want to be the rule makers, or rule takers?
More information will undoubtedly be forthcoming over the months ahead, but below is a breakdown of exactly what the new deal for Britain entails, and the changes that the Prime Minister has secured.