EU Referendum: Cameron Rose and Daniel Johnson go head to head

WITH the EU Referendum just days away, Edinburgh campaigners Cameron Rose and Daniel Johnson put their case for the Leave and Remain camps.

Monday, 20th June 2016, 5:29 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:42 pm
File picture: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

Alongside tourism, Edinburgh is characterised by two prominent communities: education – particularly the universities – and financial services.

Despite the polls which suggest the strong lead for Remain in Scotland has fallen by a substantial 16 per cent in the three weeks to mid-June (Economist), many scientists, academics and financiers are perceived as strong Remainers. Their fields are seen as strongly dependant on the EU. In the main they are not. Scientific collaboration and funding is international rather than EU-centred.

Take, for example, the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme. It gives grants to international research and projects, including those in Turkey, Tunisia and Israel, and even the projects supported in Europe regularly involve non-EU countries such as Switzerland and Norway.

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The only EU universities in the world top 20 ranking are British. Edinburgh is currently ranked 21st. Britain has more Nobel prize winners than any European country. It doesn’t make sense to claim we will not have influence or partners or funding if we leave. Fear that academic and science research will fall off a cliff if we vote Leave is ill -ounded.

The Bioquarter at Little France along with the Bush at Roslin are on the cusp of far-reaching developments where we lead the world. Again, the key point to note is that the links and the potential are as much with Asia and the United States as in the EU.

What of finance, where Edinburgh is one of the main centres in Europe, albeit inextricably linked to London, itself (arguably) the world’s top financial city? The UK has increased financial service exports beyond the EU from 60 per cent to 67 per cent, with opportunities to continue that trend as we refocus priorities and decline to follow damaging EU proposals.

Continuing EU threats include a Financial Transaction Tax which will do nothing positive for pensions, insurance and mortgages which affect us all. Access to EU financial trade post-Brexit has several options, one of which is the current passport system already open to non-EU countries. The fear of many in these fields is as alarmist as the contrived economic calculations tabled from the Remain camp. Such hyperbole extends well beyond the academic field. The President of the European Council commented last week that a vote for Brexit may be “the beginning of the end of Western political civilisation in its entirety”.

Of course we cannot predict the future. But it is worth noting that a vote to Remain also carries a raft of uncertainties – not least the prospect of further bailouts. Trade with the EU will continue, albeit on an adjusted basis, and that increased trade with the rest of the world is there for the taking by a UK which is not held back by gold-plated regulation and bureaucracy and lack of vision.

Edinburgh is well placed, with the skills and innovation we already possess, to have a bright and leading role in a newly confident Britain.

We will all benefit from recovering a meaningful democratic element which has stifled an EU which has shown itself incapable of meaningful reform. A global future rather than a European future awaits us if we seize the moment.

Cameron Rose is Conservative councillor for Southside and Newington ward