At last the people of England will get the opportunity to vote on whether to remain in the EU or leave in the 2016/17 referendum. Its been a long time coming and we can be grateful that we are able to put our case for withdrawal. There is no doubt that David Cameron will try to secure some cosmetic changes to a number of EU treaties or at least some changes that will enable him to convince the public that it is worth staying in; which he clearly wants to do. However whatever cosmetic changes he manages to make it is clear that the relentless march to ‘ever closer political union’ will continue to proceed. We need therefore to make a strong case for withdrawal and demonstrate that as a nation we are better out than in. We need to demonstrate the benefits to the people of England of complete withdrawal.
The ‘Yes Campaign’ have already started to promote a scaremongering scenario in which the consequences of leaving would be disastrous for our country. The following myths promoted by the Yes Campaign will no doubt be peddled constantly over the next year or so and therefore its important to address these myths and be able to refute them.
We are grateful to the ‘Better Off Out’ group for their work on these issues.
One common objection to leaving the EU is the argument that England would lose three million jobs. As Better Off points out England would not cease trading with the EU. It would maintain trade with the EU via a UK/Free Trade Agreement. It is a little known fact that the EU sells much more to us than we sell them. According to Better Off: ‘In 2009 there was a trade deficit of £34.9bn; in 2011 it was nearly £50bn. In a bizarre, hypothetical scenario if trade were literally stopped with the EU, the UK would lose 3 million jobs which are dependent on trade with the EU. The EU however would lose 4 million jobs, so it would be nonsensical for them not to trade with their biggest customer’
The Lisbon Treaty also states quite clearly that the EU must make trade agreements with countries which leave the EU!
It is often said by the ‘Yes’ campaign that England would be excluded from trade with the EU by tariff barriers. This is nonsense. The EU has up to 53 trade agreements with countries which overcome such tariffs and at present is in the process of negotiating a further 74.
Another objection to withdrawal is the argument that England cannot survive economically outside the EU in a world of trading blocs. This is a somewhat odd argument given that Japan, which is the worlds 3rd largest economy is not in any trading bloc! In any case the EU is not the economic area in which most of the worlds economic growth is taking place. According to Better Off Out; the ‘EU’s share of world GDP is forecast to decline to 15% in 2020, down from 26% in 1980’. It makes sense therefore to establish trading relationships with countries outside the EU such as the former Commonwealth countries.
As Better Off point out; ‘Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU, yet they export far more per capita to the EU than the UK does; this proves that the EU membership is not a prerequisite for a healthy trading relationship’ It must also be stated that England’s trading relationships are largely outside the EU with countries such as the USA and Switzerland.
We often hear that if we leave the EU England will have to pay £billions to the EU but have vey little influence whilst having to put in place all the EU’s regulations. The UK only has 8.4% voting power in the EU anyway which does not enable it to have any real influence. The UK has 73 MEPs which represents a small minority in the European Parliament with its 751 MEPs. Every time a new country joins the EU there is a further decline in the UK’s influence.
There have been repeated claims that the EU has had a positive impact on the British economy. In fact fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have already been devastated by the EU. There is no question that being a member of the EU costs billions of pounds and lost jobs. It has also been claimed that Britain would lose much needed foreign direct investment if we left the EU. However this is simply not true! Again from Better Off ; ‘In a 2010 survey on the UKs attractiveness to foreign investors, Ernst and Young
Found Britain remained the number one Foreign Direct Investment destination in Europe owing largely to the City of London and the UKs close corporate relationship with the US. EU membership was not mentioned at all in their table of key investment factors, which were: UK culture and values and the English language; telecommunications infrastructure; the quality of life; stable social environment, and transport and logistics infrastructure’ .
Many from the ‘Yes’ Remain in the EU Campaign argued that Britain will lose all influence in the world by being outside the EU. However Britain has an impressive ‘portfolio of power’ which includes membership of the G20 and G8 nations. We also have a seat on the Security Council and seats on the International Monetary Fund. As Better Off states; London is the financial capital of the world and Britain has the sixth largest economy. The UK is also in the top ten manufacturing nations in the world.’
In fact it could be argued that the EU is preventing the UK from increasing its influence!
The EU is moving towards the UK’s position on cutting regulation and bureaucracy
The Better Off response to this myth is as follows:
EU directives are subject to a ‘ratchet’ effect- i.e. once in place they are highly unlikely to be reformed or repealed.
Less than 10% of Britain’s GDP represents trade with the EU yet Brussels regulations afflict 100% of our economy.
80% of England’s GDP is generated within England so at least 80% need not be subject to EU laws.
In 2006 it was estimated that EU over regulation costs 600bn Euros across the EU each year.
In 2010, Open Europe estimated EU regulation had cost the UK £124 billion since 1998.
Whilst Red Tape savings are not direct cash savings, deregulation would result in a ‘bonfire of regulations’ that could fund either sizeable tax cuts or additional public spending.
The EU has brought peace to Europe
Even now, the EU is only 28 nations of the 47 European nations listed as national members of the Council of Europe.
The forerunner to the EU, the Common Market, didn’t come into existence until 1958, and then only with 6 nations, and yet there was no war between European countries from 1945 to 1956 (except the Hungarian revolution). Whilst peaceful international cooperation is welcomed at all levels, to say the EU is the sole guarantor of peace is an extreme exaggeration that is dishonest in its application. Examples of wars since include Serbia & Croatia, the Balkans and Yugoslavia.
It is NATO, founded in 1949 and dominated by the USA, and not the EU, that has really kept the peace in Europe, together with parliamentary democracy. Both of which are being undermined by the EU.
The former German President Herzog wrote a few years ago that ‘the question has to be raised of whether Germany can still unreservedly be called a parliamentary democracy’. This was owing to the number of German laws emanating from the EU- which he assessed at some 84% of laws.
The break up of Yugoslavia was a major test of the EU’s ability to keep the peace. It was EU interference that helped trigger a major civil war and its dithering contributed to deaths of some 100,000 people. It was only decisive action by the US/NATO forces that stopped the violence. Peace was established by the US-brokered Dayton Agreement.
It is often argued that the EU has been good for English Industry. However as many sources note including the Better Off group:
BRITISH INDUSTRIES SUCH AS FISHING, FARMING, POSTAL SERVICES AND MANUFACTURING HAVE ALREADY BEEN DEVASTATED BY BRITAIN’S MEMBERSHIP OF THE EU.
EU membership costs England billions of pounds (£55 million a day) and large numbers of lost jobs thanks to unnecessary and excessive red tape, substantial membership and aid contributions, inflated consumer prices and other associated costs.
The Common Fisheries Policy has cost UK coastal communities 115,000 jobs (Lee Rotherham, 10 years on)
Britain cannot leave the EU
Technically, Britain could leave the EU in a single day. Legislatively, this would be achieved simply by repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and its attendant Amendment Acts through a single clause Bill passing through Westminster.
If the English people voted to leave in an In/Out referendum or by voting in a party with EU withdrawal on its manifesto, Parliament ought to respect the Will of the People and there would be no justification for delay or obstruction in either House.
However, the process of setting up a replacement UK/EU Free Trade Agreement will take longer, though there would be no need for time-consuming negotiation of tariff reductions if the UK/EU Free Trade Agreement merely replicated existing EU trade arrangements.
In addition, even the Lisbon Treaty’s Article 50 enshrines the right of member states to leave the Union, albeit with strings attached. The same article requires the EU to seek a free trade deal with a member which leaves. Greenland established a precedent for a sovereign nation by leaving the EEC in 1985, and is prospering well outside of it. With Westminster still sovereign (for the moment), it is the British Parliament which will decide how and when the UK leaves the EU.
There is also the second option for England to leave the EU. If the United Kingdom is dissolved then we are automatically out.
The case for staying in the EU is weak and certainly does not serve the interests of the people of England. However the case for withdrawal is very strong indeed and does serve the interests of the people of England.