Opinion: “With urbane refrain we sustain the Remain Campaign”


Opinion: “With urbane refrain we sustain the Remain Campaign”

There are many ways to look at the referendum, from the well-publicised lists of the great and good supporting the Remain campaign, to the scaremongering of the Brexiteers. We wanted to look at the referendum at a more local level to consider how a Brexit vote would affect Manchester.

Policy expert Professor Richard Evans has recently highlighted the advantages brought to the North West by membership of the EU saying it has given “the region’s companies significant trade advantages, resulting in major investment and job creation and lured a lot of overseas investment into the region” adding that EU funding has “greatly improved the infrastructure of Manchester and other key urban centres.” He went on to explain there was no guarantee that funding would continue if the vote was to leave.

From education upwards the EU is responsible in no small way for the development of Manchester in myriad ways.

The EU helps universities to educate and employ people in their areas, supports home-grown enterprise and attracts top European students who contribute billions to the UK economy. European graduates from UK universities often go on to leadership positions in their home countries which matters because it helps to strengthen the UK’s diplomatic and trading relationships.

Sir Richard Leese CBE, Manchester City council leader, supports a Remain vote citing the effect of global issues including climate change and terrorism.  To Sir Richard, a man who has been a leader in Manchester’s growth story over the last twenty years, it is clear Manchester would only be harmed by leaving. Sir Howard Bernstein, Manchester council chief executive, has reported a catalogue of ways in which Manchester benefits from being in the EU, including the EU providing skilled labour and language abilities, major regeneration funding and foreign investment into the city. EU finding has also contributed towards Manchester’s new city centre tram link.

A leave vote would directly damage Manchester’s economy.

Currently we are a gateway to the EU and the implications of a withdrawal could be significant not only because of the thousands of jobs currently safeguarded by foreign investment, investment which would inevitably be affected by a leave vote, but also because exports would almost certainly be hit by tariffs imposed if we were no longer part of the EU. Currently 11% of the region’s jobs are connected with European trade and these would necessarily be jeopardised if the vote is to leave.

Brexit will be no nostrum and it is scarcely believable that our much maligned politicans  will suddenly be capable of reforming the socioeconomic maelstrom to everyone’s satisfaction should the UK vote to leave.

Whilst it is very tempting to regard Brexit supporters as short sighted, the referendum is too important to let the debate languish in a squalid quagmire of malevolent distain. I do not seek to glorify the EU and it may be a curate’s egg but it also contributes unsurpassable advantages, both social and economic to the UK and Manchester in particular.

Opinion piece by Rachel Coulthard (Rachel is a solicitor in our commercial property department and an unashamed Europhile).