1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech in Hong Kong made on Thursday 7 April 2016.
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
During the last few days in Hong Kong I have been asked repeatedly whether the UK will leave the European Union.
Almost without exception, the questioners -
"If Brexit really happens", he said on Bloomberg, "we will surely decrease our investments.".
Mr Li is not alone. As we move towards the referendum in June, the UK has been warned against exit by -
In response, the advocates of Brexit accuse all these sources of "interfering" if they are foreign; or "scaremongering" if they are British.
The "Out" campaign label such warnings -
Let me set out my own position.
As Prime Minister I refused to join the Euro currency. I believed it to be premature and risky. I also opted out of the Social Chapter since, at the time, it seemed to give rights to those in work, at the expense of denying work to the millions who were not. And -
I am, therefore, no starry-
The case for remaining is most often seen in economic terms. But it is far wider than that. The outcome of the UK Referendum will decide what sort of country we are -
When the UK joined the then Common Market our economy was the "sick man" of Europe: today, as a result of our domestic reforms, together with our membership of the European Single Market, we have the best performing economy in Europe.
Within the next 20 years -
On issues such as the environment, climate change, internet costs and consumer protection, the UK can best progress -
The underlying mantra of the "Out" campaign is -
If emotion triumphs over reality, then all four British nations will lose out: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We will lose power, prestige, security and some of our future economic well-
At present, our world is very disturbed. Uncertain. Across Europe, the scales have fallen from our eyes over President Putin. We see Russia threatening her neighbours with trade embargoes, cyber attacks, energy cut-
I am not, and never have been, a Cold War warrior, but we ignore what Russia is doing at our peril.
A united Europe can help penalise and deter her: a disunited, shrivelled Europe cannot.
The faults and frustrations of the EU are widely publicised in the UK: its achievements, less so. But they should be. Across Europe, ancient enemies of many years no longer fight against each other -
The EU was the magnet that helped Spain, Portugal and Greece free themselves from fascist dictatorships. It helped the political climate that brought about the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
It helped re-
If the UK leaves the EU, the impact will be felt widely -
If the UK departs, the EU will lose:
As a result, the EU would be gravely weakened, especially when set against the power of the US and China. Europe -
Does the UK really wish to be the cause of that? Does she really wish to abdicate her role in European and global influence? I truly think not -
The point is this: a UK departure would not only be a huge setback for my own country, but for many other nations too. It would have widespread repercussions -
For Europe, already facing internal and external crises, it could be one crisis too many.
There are hard questions for the UK too, and it is more appropriate for me to raise these in detail at home, rather than overseas. But some are directly relevant to our global trading partners.
Would external investors -
That is not a difficult question to answer. The UK would lose investment and jobs. How much, how many, and how soon is difficult to say -
In the referendum debate, the advocates of leaving claim they can negotiate an arrangement to protect our trade relationship with the EU. After all, they say, the EU needs us because they -
Their argument is, to put it kindly, disingenuous: more accurately, it turns the truth on its head.
UK exports to Europe are between 40-
In the game of who needs who the most, the answer is clear. If the UK exits the EU, our partners will not be the demandeur in any negotiations on our future access to the single market -
Moreover, it is blithe optimism on a Panglossian scale for the "Out" campaign to assume our partners -
I fear the reverse will be true. A divorce, at the behest of one partner, is rarely harmonious -
The UK will have chosen to leave and, by so doing, will have gravely weakened the whole EU. Some countries will see fifty years of ambition imperilled -
Any trade deal the EU might eventually do with us would certainly not be a sweetheart deal: and it may be harder and harsher than the optimists believe.
And if we wished such a deal to include services (and we do -
And, of course, the UK would have to accept free movement of people. If we refuse that -
The UK will face another dilemma with its international trade.
By leaving the EU, we would be withdrawing from Free Trade Agreements with 53 countries negotiated by the EU on behalf of all their Member States. These cover 60% of all UK trade.
They will all need re-
Nor will bilateral renegotiations of these Free Trade Agreements be a priority for other nations -
Our partners are more concerned with multilateral trade agreements, and will see the UK's need for a speedy bilateral deal as a self-
To brush aside such realities is to play Russian roulette with the economic future of the UK.
The battle now joined over Europe has -
On the other side those -
In the Referendum, the easiest slogans inevitably lie with the "Out" campaign, and repudiating their often foolish and extreme claims is for a UK audience. Suffice to say, the "Out" advocates, whether in enthusiasm or ignorance, lace their argument with false statistics and unlikely scenarios.
They promise negotiating gains that cannot -
Nor can they tell us how they actually see the UK outside of Europe. This is simply astonishing, not least since some of them -
Some wish to have no relationship at all with the Single Market. Others can't -
I understand the frustration that fuels the "Out" campaign, but have no doubt that an exit from the EU would harm our nation, now and in the future. We must not let an emotional spasm of faux-
We would soon regret it. And our children and grandchildren would regret it even more.
That is why -
I hope and believe that -