Leaving the EU: here comes the backlash


It’s great news that the idea of British independence, and of a referendum, is now well on the table.  It’s gathering momentum, and may be unstoppable.  We could well attain escape velocity.

But of course we are also facing an entirely predictable back-lash from people who ought to know better.  On Wednesday we saw a letter from the Good and the Great, Captains of Industry, organised by (you guessed it) that ubiquitous pro-Brussels panjandrum, Roland Rudd.  Signatories included Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Sir Michael Rake of BT, and others from the list of usual suspects.

I was struck by their comment “The EU remains home to half our exports”.  But the statistics show that in 2010 56% of exports went outside the EU.  Take account of the Rotterdam effect, and perhaps 60% went outside the EU.  Put another way, our exports outside the EU were 50% higher than into the EU (60% against 40%).  These Captains of Industry are supposed to know what they’re talking about, so it’s surprising that they seem to lack any grasp of the numbers.

And they don’t seem to understand, either, what the numbers mean.  They imply that because half our exports go to Europe, that means the EU is important.  They should be asking “Given that the EU represents only around 20% of global trade and GDP, how come UK exports are so grossly biased to the EU?”.  Of course the answer is that EU membership has meant far too much focus on the moribund EU, when we should have been actively pursuing opportunities in the growth markets outside Europe.  That 40% figure is evidence not of success in Europe, but of failure elsewhere, and of market distortion.

And these knowledgeable folk who want to share with us the benefit of their advice make a huge — and false — implicit assumption.  Their (incorrect) assertion “the EU is home to half our exports” is intended to imply “and all this will be at risk if we call into question our EU membership”.

So they need to explain to us how the USA, and Canada, and China, and many other countries trade successfully with the EU, when they try to suggest that an independent UK could not.  It can’t be said too often — on withdrawal, the UK would certainly have a free trade deal with the EU.  No question.  So it is simply dishonest to imply that our trade with Europe would be at risk post-withdrawal.  It may be true that three and a half million jobs depend on trade with the EU.  But the trade and the jobs will continue after Independence Day.

Of course it’s not just our Captains of Industry.  We’ve also had a broadside from President Obama, delivered by Philip Gordon, US deputy Secretary of State for European Affairs.  Obama, apparently wants the UK “to have a strong voice in European Affairs” (although one could make a case that we should have a stronger voice in Europe as an independent nation, rather than as an off-shore province). This has shades of Kissinger’s famous demand for a phone number he could call when he wanted to talk to “Europe”.

Obama is, of course, a Democrat, a leftist, an avid supporter of achingly trendy causes, and of supranationalism (provided it doesn’t apply to him).  Obama would do well to reflect on how the American people would like to see three quarters of their laws made in Ottawa, or Mexico City.

So we need to gird up our loins, and settle our minds.  As time goes by, dire warnings of this sort will become ever more strident.  But we know the truth.  We know that Britain will be Better Off Out. And we shall prevail.  Roll on Independence Day.

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10 Responses to Leaving the EU: here comes the backlash

  1. Phil J says:

    Just spotted this Roger:
    Enoch Powell, 1981 : “There is even more to this process than the entrenchment of power in the hands of an irresponsible elite. It is also to be an instrument for brainwashing the British people into the belief that they are irretrievably and helplessly committed to membership of the Community. There is in Britain a deep and widespread conviction -whether well founded or not, is beside the point – that our safety is dependent on the integrity of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance and Organistion. These have in fact nothing to do with the European Economic Community: they existed before it, and membership of the one is not dependent in any way on membership of the other. If however the Community by being given an external affairs and defence personality can be made, in people’s minds integral to NATO then Q.E.D:membership of the Community can be represented as the test and sine qua non of loyalty to NATO and determination to fight for one’s country. Thus will truth be stood upon its head and the surrender of our national independence be made the condition of maintaining it”
    The sooner we are out the better-never mind Branson et al who can live happily on his island. As a mere commoner I can think of one exceedingly good reason for getting out- £53.3m per day wasted on this EU Titanic!

  2. christensen411 says:

    Sending my most heartfelt wishes for Britain’s independence.

    And regarding Obama, as one headline here in the USA recently read: “Globalism Rules All Else Inside Obama Administration”. There is an agenda.

    Press forward, Britain, “Roll on Independence Day”. — Freedom.

  3. Mike Spilligan says:

    I never believed the 3 millions figure, and if my memory is correct this was a figure invented on the spur of the moment by a minister (irritatingly, I can’t remember who) was caught out when asked the question – so he stated the first large figure that came into his head. In any case, there may well be a large number of pointless, public sector jobs “necessary” for “gold-plating” EU regulations – and which are only a cost not a benefit.
    Every day a new absurdity is highlighted. Today we are told we will go through a tortuous programme of closing prisons while at the same time building a “super-prison” with the intention of saving £68 millions per annum.

    • rfhmep says:

      The 3.5 million figure came from an NIESR report in 1999 http://www.brugesgroup.com/mediacentre/index.live?article=91. But the jobs depend on EU trade, not membership. The NIESR Director angrily and immediately rebutted the “jobs depend on membership” claim — but europhiles have repeated it ever since, including Miliband this week.

      • matthu says:

        And repeated by Nick Clegg on LBC on Thursday morning 10 January.

      • DougS says:

        Roger, we need a new figure – one that tells the EU how many jobs they would lose if they lost the ability to trade with the UK.

        Many more than 3.5 million I think, as they’re running such a huge surplus on their trade with us!

        We could then keep repeating this figure every time the 3.5M got a mention!

  4. Thank you for pointing out who organised this and why they organised it. Europe is turning from a hub into a backwater.
    The only problem is that the government of all stripes, the BBC and I suppose (and do not know) the Civil Service of all departments are all so used to Brussels that they are all in favour of the status quo. And the Great British Public doesn’t seem to care…..

  5. matthu says:

    Very well-reasoned open letter to Philip Gordon US Assistant Secretary for European Affairs. Worth a read:


  6. Hugh Davis says:

    Not 40% of exports, but 40% and falling!
    Note loss of 800 jobs at Honda, Swindon, due to diminishing demand in the EU.
    We need to be looking outside the EU for our markets, and fast!

  7. DougS says:

    We need to be ready for the name-calling when the debate gets fully underway. As a UKIP member I am amazed (and irritated) at how often CallMeDave’s “Loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists” comment gets mentioned during political discussions. I thought that his classical education would have informed him about logical fallacies – ‘argumentum ad hominem’ in this case or plain old ‘name-calling’ for those of us who didn’t have to learn Latin!

    The Europhiles seem to wallow in such fallacies: ‘straw man’, ‘red herring’, ‘head count’, ‘appeal to authority’ etc. – you name it, they use them all.

    Most annoying though, is that so many otherwise intelligent people fall for it, and even worse, are so soft-headed that they are intimidated by stupid ad homs like ‘little Englander’, ‘isolationist’ or ‘Xenophobe’ and keep their distance from UKIP because they don’t want to called any of these.

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