How soft security matters in the referendum debate

regulation picPeople fear the extreme and demand their governments be tough on security, but in truth our safety comes largely through control of the mundane. Rita Hordósy, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sheffield, and Matt Wood, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield, argue that the EU excels at this. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Both the Remain and Leave campaigns in this referendum make appeals to security. The Leave side say Britain’s security is endangered by membership in the bloc, arguing that it increases the likelihood of terror attacks in the UK, makes an economic crash more likely, and hinders prosperity for British nationals via the higher level of immigration. The Remain campaign, echoing the prime minister David Cameron’s mantra of ‘safer, prosperous and more secure’ Britain, claims exactly the opposite.

Theresa May, usually tough on immigration rules and numbers otherwise, weighed in to support ‘Bremain’ with further claims on criminal justice measures, national security, and fighting terrorism. By contrast, on the Leave side Michael Gove said, “I think overall our national security is strengthened if we are able to make the decisions that we need and the alliances that we believe in outside the current structures of the of the European Union”. EU judges, he argued, dictate “what our spies can do and whether we can be kept safe … our security and sovereignty stand together. I believe that there are better opportunities to keep people safe if we are outside the European Union”. Continue reading

Fear Trumps Fact

Whitman_glassThe Brussels attacks have been used by both sides of the Brexit debate to claim that the UK is either more or less secure as a result of EU membership. Richard Whitman, Professor of Politics and Senior Fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe , argues that rhetoric has played a greater role for both sides than evidence-based claims.

The Brussels airport and Metro bombings were swiftly incorporated into the UK’s EU Referendum debate. A number of Brexit campaigners drew almost immediate conclusions from the bombings, arguing that they highlighted why the UK could better provide for its own security against terrorism outside, rather than inside, the European Union.

In the week following the bombings current and former members of the intelligence and security communities claimed that the EU did, or did not, play a contribution in the UK protecting itself from terrorism. The majority of the claims made on either side where rhetorical and with little evidence produced to substantiate the assertions that were being made. Continue reading

Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave

Vote leave badges. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images. All rights reserved.Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Vote Leave, argues that the need for ‘one size fits all’ regulations to cover all of Europe makes it impossible for the EU to pursue the best interests of all its members. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s first guest editor week on openDemocracy

In less than four months’ time, the British people will make the most historic political decision of a generation. The choice we face is clear. A vote to stay in will mean a permanent loss of control to Brussels and confirm the supremacy of EU law forever. A vote to leave returns control to the British people, giving us the power to make our own laws and hold the people who make them to account. We take back the power to set our own policies on trade, migration and human rights, and the power to spend our own money on our own priorities. Continue reading