In Depth

Brexit: What are the pros and cons of leaving the EU

The arguments for and against membership of the European Union


Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

For Brexiters, sovereignty was seen as a simple win: few disagree that EU membership involves giving up some control over our own affairs.

Pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey said the EU is "an attempt to replace the democratic power of the people with a permanent administration in the interests of big business".

Those on the right of the Conservative party may disagree with her emphasis, but they agree that EU institutions have drained power from the British Parliament.

"The trouble is that most of us have no clue as to how the Brussels monolith works, or who's in charge," said Stay or Go, the Connell Guide to the EU referendum.

But, it said, we have only ourselves to blame. "We've made it that way" because too many of us "can't be bothered to vote" in European elections.

For those in the Remain camp, EU membership involved a worthwhile trade of sovereignty for influence: in return for agreeing to abide by EU rules, Britain had a seat around the negotiating table and its voice was amplified on the world stage as a result.

"The truth is that pulling up the drawbridge and quitting the EU will not enhance our national sovereignty," warned Labour's Hilary Benn. "All it would do is to weaken it by taking away our power to influence events in an ever more complex and interdependent world."

Nor, said Remainers, will UK sovereignty be absolute out of the EU: the British government would still be bound by membership of Nato, the UN, the World Trade Organisation, and various treaties and agreements with other nations.

Click through to read the pros and cons of Brexit on immigration.

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