I n January, I stepped off a plane and into my role as British ambassador to the United States. And in my travels around this country, I’ve been thrilled to hear how highly valued the friendship is between the US and the United Kingdom. Still, no matter where I go , the question on everyone’s mind is this: Will the UK vote to remain in the European Union?
It’s a question that the British people will answer on June 23, in a once-in-a-generation vote that will shape the future of the UK.
It’s been 40 years since Britons last had their say on the UK’s membership in the EU. Since then, the EU has changed immeasurably, and support for it has fallen, in the UK and across the continent.
This year, Prime Minister David Cameron secured a new settlement to give Britain special status in the EU. As a result of his efforts, we are out of the parts of Europe that don’t work for us. We will never join the Euro, or be part of Eurozone bailouts, or the passport-free area. There will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for EU nationals. We have secured vital economic protections and have full say over the rules of the free trade single market.
There is no question that these reforms were needed and that they make the EU itself more open, competitive, and dynamic. And as the prime minister has said, we will continue to be stronger, safer, and better off in a reformed Europe than we would be out on our own.
We’ll be better off because British businesses will have full participation in the free trade single market, bringing jobs, investment, lower prices, and financial security. We’ll be safer, because we can work closely with other European countries to fight cross-border crime and terrorism, giving us strength in numbers in a dangerous world. And we’ll be stronger because we can play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organizations from within, helping shape the big decisions that affect us all.
In the weeks leading up to the referendum, our friends and partners around the world have expressed concern — that leaving the EU would diminish our position on the international stage, compromise our global security, and weaken our economy.
For example, businesses from around the world, including the United States, invest in the UK for our skilled workforce, our flexible labor market, and low corporate tax rates — the lowest in the G7. Today, we are regarded among the top countries in the world for ease of doing business.
We also have the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations in the pipeline— which could add $137 billion to the US economy. So it’s no surprise that many US businesses, both large and small, are in favor of the UK staying in the EU.
Last month, President Obama spoke out in favor of the UK remaining in the EU. “A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances British global leadership,” he wrote. “The US and the world need your outsized influence to continue — including within Europe.”
His voice joined the chorus of others who believe that the UK should remain in the EU. Our island nation does not stand alone on the global stage. It is a valuable player and the US’s partner of choice. And a vote to remain will ensure that a strong Britain, in a strong Europe, will benefit us all.
Sir Kim Darroch is Britain’s ambassador to the United States.