Britain has flourished inside the European Union. Our economy has grown at a rate faster than any in Europe – a cumulative GDP growth of 62% versus Germany's 35% since the formation of the single market in 1993. I have no hesitation in saying that we should remain in the EU and it is being in the bloc that has helped Britain become the 5th largest economy in the world.

There are admirable politicians in the Brexit camp, and we have waited long enough for them to build a watertight case for leaving the EU. But the entire campaign has been based on bogus claims.
Those claims are about British trade, economy, borders, democracy and, overall, the country's sovereignty. There are falsehoods in every one of those claims.

I came to this county from India as a 19-year-old student and I have seen the immense change from the time I arrived in the early 1980s, when it was the sick man of Europe, to today being the envy of the continent. The transformation is remarkable.

Back in the 1980s, this country had a glass ceiling. Today it is a country of aspiration and opportunity where anyone can get to the top, regardless of race, religion or background.

Nations throughout the world, including India, try to emulate our spirit of creativity and free enterprise, which has sustained an economy with one of the highest business start-up rates in the world.

UK trade balance
The EU now accounts for 44% of UK exports and 55% of importsGetty

We have seen the highest cumulative GDP growth rate in the EU since the single market began in 1993. For Britain it is 62% while Germany, for example, sits at 35%. The constraints holding back British businesses are hardly the fault of the EU.

Of course, there are unpopular EU regulations, but our own housing and planning rules, not to mention our overly complex and continually increasing taxation system are self-inflicted by the government. We would do well to shed them, yet these have nothing to do with the EU.

Businesses in this country – which has a flexible labour market and an open economy – benefit from being in the EU, the largest single free trade area in the world. This is the same country that gave me the opportunity to build Cobra Beer from scratch and export it to more than 40 countries worldwide.

Lord Bilimoria
Lord Bilimoria credits Britain being in the EU with helping him to build Cobra Beer from scratch and export to more than 40 countriesCobra

And Britain continues to be the number-one destination for foreign direct investment in Europe, by far, with 60% of companies from outside the EU, having their European headquarters in the UK. In a country with a balance of payments deficit, a budget deficit and high levels of debt, this is essential for sustaining our jobs and our economy.

The Leave camp has made another false claim that leaving the EU would boost our export trade by giving us greater access to Indian and American markets.

The EU currently accounts for 44% of our export trade and 55% of our imports; a portion far too large to jeopardise. Many businesses, including my own, have launched their global trade by doing business inside the EU, and many British businesses rely on trade with the EU.

They would be put at great risk of closure if we were to leave the EU. With the EU, Britain is a Big Fish in a Big Pond; if we we leave we will be a tiddler in an ocean. And if we were to have a deal like those of Switzerland or Norway, we would still have to contribute – maybe not £8bn ($11.75bn), but perhaps £4bn.

Furthermore, we would still have to agree to free movement of people, as a condition of any trade deal with the EU. This is yet another reminder that any true reform of immigration in the UK must come from our own government.

We should start by reforming our attitude to immigration, which has benefited this country hugely over the decades. Despite three million people coming to the UK from the EU, we have one of the lowest levels of unemployment on record.

In fact, we have one of the highest levels of employment on record; in economic terms, we rely on nearly every single one of those migrants from the EU. This all undermines the most emotive claim from the Brexit camp, regarding loss of sovereignty.

What loss of sovereignty? We are in the EU, but not in the euro; we are in the EU, but not part of Schengen; we are in the EU, but we drink our beer in pints not litres; we are in the EU, but measure our roads in miles not kilometres. No one can tell this country what to do.

The EU has been cast as the villain by the Brexit camp when, along with Nato, it is has played a huge role in preserving the peace in Europe. I am proud that we are part of this.

And I am proud of Britain — a country that has given me everything, that is not isolationist, selfish or blinkered. What speaks more about a country than anything else is its spirit and values. British people are respected around the world for their values. They wield enormous power throughout the world. I do not want to see us sleepwalking over the cliffs of Dover to an uncertain fate below.


Lord Bilimoria is Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer, cross bench peer, Chancellor of the University of Birmingham and Founding Chairman of the UK-India Business Council.