In or out of the EU?

23 May

There is much talk about “facts” and the case for remaining in the EU or going with the Brexit arguments.

Fact 1: Britain has the 5th largest economy in the world.

This is true, in that the base figure for GDP in 2014 put Britain in 5th place, though we were about to be overtaken by France.  It is a fact, but one that needs to be qualified. The measure used by the UN and most international agencies is GDP (PPP), a corrected figure allowing for the cost of living in the country. By this measure in 2014 Britain comes 10th in the list.

Fact 2: The EU is the largest trading block in the world.

Top of the list in both GDP and GDP (PPP) is the EU. That is a fact. The largest trading block in the world is the EU. The EU is out largest trading partner. Is it wise to risk out trading relationship with our largest trading partner and the largest market in the world?

Now not even the most bone-headed of Bexiters thinks that we can stop trading with the EU. The most frequent line given is that as they still want to sell us BMWs and olive oil, trade will carry on. That is correct, but the sub-text goes unmentioned. Prices will rise and there is no guarantee that they will want to buy stuff from us. In fact, if we seriously piss them off, our trading partners will probably mention words about sex and travel if we try to renegotiate terms.

Of course we could always try to negotiate independently with China and the US and others. That might work. Or it might not. It might be quick and easy, or it might not. There are no guarantees, nor even enough data to make reasonable predictions about what might happen. It could be utterly disastrous. That is a distinct possibility. What is utterly nauseating is the attitude of many Brexiters who tell us not to worry, that it will all result in some sort of golden age. These shall henceforth be known as mindless optimists.

Another argument is that we could do as Norway or Switzerland do and remain out of the EU whilst remaining in a free trade area. That is certainly a possibility. Under the terms of such an agreement the UK would have to allow the free movement of EU citizens throughout the free-trade area. In other words, we would still have to obey the same rules. There would be no curb on EU immigration into the UK. Moreover, we would have no input to any decisions made, such as letting Turkey join the EU. We would not be represented on any governing body of the EU. We would still have to take on board EU directives as well, so, double whammy. Oh, and we would still have to make financial contributions to the running of the EU.

If we do vote to leave, the negotiations will be complex and protracted, and there will be no sudden changes. It may not be noticed for years.

The EU is only partially democratic. Directives discussed by the EU Parliament are not initiated there. In contrast, our present government was elected by 23.7% of those entitled to vote in the UK. Moreover the use of statutory instruments to get laws passed without full discussion in parliament is just about as anti-democratic as it is possible to get in our current system. So much for democracy.

To summarise, we could vote to leave, but it will almost certainly have no effect on our ability to control EU immigration, it will leave us with les power and control, not more and there is a very high possibility that it would be disastrous to our economy.

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