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on 25 July 2015
Finally a book that explains the issue without being condescending!!! I get why the writer believes why we should stay in the EU, it basically mirrors my own opinion, but the issue I had with the book was it didn't seem very balanced. I would have liked to have seen the reasons for leaving the EU explored rather than a mention in passing. If that had been in the book, I would have given 5 stars
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on 1 June 2014
I can see why this book appeals to those already committed to vote "IN" in any referendum. It is very readable and easy to understand. It makes clear the difficulties we would face in negotiating an exit and will be a useful guide on the doorsteps to those canvassing for "IN" votes. I am happy to recommend it to those people.

However, if you are genuinely undecided I would read it with caution. My reservation is that Dixon is incredibly optimistic about the possibility of reforming the EU in the way he suggests.

Firstly if you follow the proceedings in the European Parliament you are left in no doubt that pro-EU people in the UK have a different view to many continental supporters. Here the emphasis is on practical benefits - the single market, Europol, the European Patent. To leaders in the EP it is a political project with a clear aim in mind - federal union. This different perception can lead to confusion as to what is meant by reform or by democracy.

Secondly it is important to recognise that there are still major unresolved problems with the single currency; economic stagnation may stretch into the future.

Lastly it is clear that the ability of the UK to influence events has declined. With enlargement our vote counts less. Power has shifted to the EP where we have less influence and we are outside the core of the EU - the eurozone. A particular problem is that France is likely to be even more protectionist.

Whether we go or stay we face problems.
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on 8 March 2016
Having read Mr Dixon’s book “The IN/OUT Question: Why Britain should stay in the EU and fight to make it better”, I am now convinced that we are better off leaving the EU. His arguments, of course, are there to show the benefits of EU membership and the nightmare scenario that he predicts will unfold should the UK leave.

There are numerous totally superfluous details. He quotes details of the number of plane trips to EU countries. Taking your holiday in France, Germany or any EU country does not require membership of the EU. He writes about the cultural heritage of the UK being strongly linked to that of Europe. Of course it is. The UK is part of Europe. This is not a reason for remaining part of the EU. (Is he trying to blur the distinction between the EU and Europe I wonder?). He points out that the UK is enjoying more and more continental European food. What is the relevance of this? We can eat French cheese and drink Italian wine without being in the EU. And I’m sure Mr Dixon knows that.

I decided to probe a bit deeper into the more ‘substantive’ aspects of his book– to test and examine his arguments. A few examples will illustrate.

The author states that “eurosceptics want to stop immigration”. Does he know this is incorrect? Or maybe he genuinely believes it? As eurosceptics have stated repeatedly, they want to control immigration, not stop it.

The usual scaremongering arguments are present. What will happen to those British people living abroad if the UK leaves the EU? Will they be sent back to the UK as the author suggests? Will the UK start making immigrants leave? Has he not heard of the ‘acquired rights’? These are sometimes known as ‘executed rights’ or ‘vested rights’. They are so firmly established that they have acquired the status of “customary law”, which means that they stand as a fundamental principle of international law, not needing a specific treaty to confirm them. There is even a parliamentary briefing note about it. People who have acquired rights of residence will still have those rights when the UK leaves the EU.

And what of trade? Oh dear. He predicts more doom and gloom if the UK leaves. Again cheap scaremongering. The UK is currently the 5th largest trading nation in the world – and predicted shortly to become the 4th. To suggest we are too small and insignificant to make our own trade deals and prosper is laughable. The inept policies and bureaucratic burdens imposed by the EU mean that the EU economy is in the doldrums and has been for years. The EU’s share of world trade is shrinking year on year. There is no reason to remain a member and every reason to leave.

Some of the author’s logic escaped me. He states that Brits fear that immigrants are taking their jobs but that there is no evidence of this. In the very next sentence he goes on to say ‘…3.3 million jobs were created net between 1997 and 2013. ….immigrants took most of these jobs,…’

He describes the claim of lack of democracy in the EU as ‘exaggerated’, pointing out that the European Council comprises national leaders, all of whom are elected. There is no mention that the powerful EU Commission contains no elected members. And it is the Commission that proposes new laws.

In fairness he does point out some negatives of being a member: the 39% of the EU budget that goes on the Common Agricultural Policy, which is ‘bad and ugly’; the massive administration costs (estimated to be over 40 billion euros between 2013 and 2020); high EU tariffs on imported agricultural produce to protect EU farmers which inflate food prices for UK consumers; EU Regional grants have been wasteful and misguided (e.g. Portugal received 68 billion euros in regional grants and a quarter was spent on roads with the result that Portugal now has a glut of motorways). Small wonder that the Court of Auditors have not give the EU accounts a clean bill of health for decades.

He mentions several times that the CBI support continued membership – but no mention that that CBI receive significant funding from – you guessed it – the EU!

I could continue in this vein. Putting aside all the detailed arguments, the two over-riding questions I ask myself are these:

“Where do I want the parliament that governs me to reside: Brussels or Westminster?”
“Do I want people who propose laws that affect me to be elected (UK system) or unelected (EU system)?”

I will be voting to leave the EU.

Dr Robert Davison
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on 17 June 2014
The In/Out Question, by Hugo Dixon, is an excellent treatise advocating the continuing active participation of the UK in EU institutional structures, as opposed to unilateral secession from this indubitably grandiose European "Super State" project. A cursory reading of the book will reveal that the cornerstone of Mr Dixon's argument for continuation in the EU is economic considerations, and that secession from the EU would usher in a new era of economic and fiscal instability for the UK. One contention is that the UK will be denied from accessing the putative "Single Market" or that the UK's access to same will be circumscribed by unreasonable tariffs on UK exports to Continental Europe, amongst other considerations. Admittedly, endeavouring to extricate the UK from the European project would be eminently difficult, considering the vast legislative and regulatory framework that has been incorporated into British law since accession in 1973. However, an inevitable temporary shrinkage in GDP is surely a worthy price to pay for a "negotiated withdrawal" from the EU as opposed to permitting the egregious, insidious erosion of UK political and economic sovereignty. Safeguarding the UK's cultural and legal heritage, relatively robust monetary regime, common traditions and conventions is a justifiable reason in my opinion for opting for an orderly extrication from the EU rather than permitting the subsumption of the UK into a potential EU Super State with its concomitant divestiture of political and economic sovereignty as well as an ineluctable diminution in global prestige and standing. It is my considered opinion that the European project does not serve the UK's interests in the long run, irrespective of the economic considerations which will undoubtedly be bleak upon secession. Ergo, I am intrigued by Mr Dixon's economic arguments for continuing to remain within the EU, but I also firmly believe that the UK can forge its own destiny, political and economic, without being an "integral member" of the EU power bloc. The UK survived during World War II in the face of Continental fascism, and I am confident that the UK will chart its own course once again under its own sovereign impetus. So, yes, an interesting book from Mr Dixon; well-worth reading for sure; but I remain unconvinced.
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on 13 June 2014
Well written and well developed arguments, but hardly representing both points of view as the title suggests. Very readable and a good volume for those who want to know the advantages of staying in, although a disappointment for those who want the opposing view. Has it changed my mind? No, but it has encouraged me to take into account issues other than those which are promoted in media headlines.
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on 29 May 2016
The edition I bought covers quite a range of aspects, but fortunately the margins around the pages afford enough space to any well-informed (about the EU) reader to pencil comments about the misleading way in which some of the figures are presented. For example, the oft-quoted statistic that 44% of the UK's exports go to the EU omitted to mention that this had declined from 55% in 2008 and that the percentage is still falling.

Also I could not find any mention of the EU Commission report ‘Completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union’ (aka the 'Five Presidents Report'). The EU is primarily a political project (despite what some would like voters to believe) and that the proposals, if implemented, would have consequences for the UK. To ignore one of the most important documents relating to the 2016 EU referendum is a very serious omission.

Rather than encouraging me to support the case for the UK to remain in the EU, this book has reaffirmed my resolve to vote for the UK to leave the EU.
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on 24 April 2016
Is a straightforward advice on staying in the EU so it's not impartial. It is an easy read and recommended for Remainerrs and also 'don't knows'.

However, it's not over the top and admits Britain would survive outside the EU but there would not be much to gain. . There would be tariffs when trading with the EU if Britain doesn't negotiate a deal. Otherwise if staying in the Single Market like Norway, which is not a member, tariff free trading plus continue of rights of Britons working anywhere in the EU would continue. But the loss would be Britain would no longer have a say at the table.

It does mention other options if voters vote to leave - a look at Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
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on 4 July 2016
Sadly, most people will not read this book. It doesn't adopt the line that the EU is all bad or all good. It takes a well argued balanced view, which is why I found it so helpful in deciding which way to cast my vote.

There were clearly lies told on both sides which is why I researched the issue for myself. While some books I read seek to persuade, this one clearly sets out the arguments using fact instead of rhetoric.

I just wish another 2 percent of voters had read it before voting.
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on 8 March 2016
This book preaches to the converted. The arguments in favour or against Britain membership get completely diluted in Dixon's needs to convinced himself that his soliloquy is in anyway coherent. He contradicts himself countless times and his handling of statistics and numbers in general are loose at best. His main arguments in favour of a membership of the EU are based of all the transformations that needs the European Project in the future and not in the facts and the way the EU is operating right now, therefore all gains are hypotheticals. Even more he fails to understand what do Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande mean as 'closer union'. He doesn't take in account the current tendencies. So what does the future hold? The fact is IN or OUT, both, are uncharted territories.
As a fellow journalist I appreciated the fact that he is honest enough to start this book declaring himself in favour of the membership, in consequence there is no surprises that he reaches his conclusion even though he falls in every single trap that logic demands. As well, as a fellow, I must express my disappointment to his language that goes from patronising to right down offensive to anyone who reads. He makes headline after headline, his style is frankly irritating.
He backs his arguments quoting Lady Margaret Thatcher so many times that I lost count. I have nothing against Baroness Thatcher, in fact I do admire her and I acknowledge her as one of the most polarising characters of the 20th century politics. But she lived in the 80's, near enough 40 years ago, and the world she lived in was a completely different place that we live now. So whatever she said on the matter of Europe's affair is completely irrelevant.
I approached this book in the search for arguments that helped me to make a educated decision and as I finished it I concluded that if I thought to stay in I had enough to drown myself, if I though we should get out I have no doubts about it and I'll close the Eurotunel tomorrow and if I where a Thatcherite I'll probably toast to her memory.
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on 11 April 2014
This is a great example of taking something complicated and making it simple without losing content. Ever wanted to know more about Britain and Europe, but had no idea where to start? Hugo Dixon has spent time absorbing a very large amount of information and boiled it down to the essentials.

This is an unashamedly optimistic book - about both Britain and Europe - but it shines a strong light on some of the things that make the EU look so bad - the often wasteful spending and the symbolic but hugely inefficient decamping of the European Parliament form Brussels hundreds of miles to Strasbourg every month, to highlight two of the most egregious examples.

If there is to be an in/out referendum, the eventual 'yes campaign' will need thousands of campaigners to go out and make the argument. They will need a crib sheet. This book would be ideal - it's honest, funny and well informed.

And our mainstream party leaders could do a lot worse then cut and paste his proposals for reform of the EU (more trade, a smarter commission, less ideological baggage...) into their own party agendas.
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