It seems that East Midlands Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn has emerged from a long period of quiescence, and promulgated a leaflet (my thanks to Lee Waters of Nottingham for the heads-up). You’ll remember that this is the man who secured his 1998 selection as a Tory MEP candidate by deliberately misleading his audience (in politics, we try to avoid the word “lying”) about his views on the EU. It seems he has not acquired an improved sense of veracity since.
In his leaflet, he refers to EU scare stories that are “more fiction than fact”. And in this context, he explicitly refers to “straight bananas”. But there was in fact for many years an EU regulation governing the maximum curvature of bananas, commonly described by headline writers as “the straight bananas regulation”. Not a euro-myth, Bill. A euro-fact.
Then he derides the proposition that the UK pays “£40 million a day” to the EU. Actually, Bill, it’s more like £53 million, and rising. He argues that we get some money back from Brussels, so the net annual figure is “only” £6.2 billion. Even that would be £17 million a day, which many people might think was a lot of money.
But of course we rightly think in gross terms, not net. There’s no point in my telling you that the tax you pay in the UK is negative, because the government spends more than it collects (you lucky people!). You know that’s nonsense, yet it’s the argument that Bill is trying to make.
The money we get back is spent on projects we might not have chosen to undertake, and much of it is wasted in administration as it’s churned through the mill in Brussels. And no one accounts for the huge amount of time and money and man-hours spent producing lavish 60-page grant applications — most of which fail. I’ve spoken to British companies who’ve received EU grants, and they say “Yes, we got the money. But the costs and hassle of bureaucracy and administration and verification were so high, we simply wouldn’t bother next time”.
The EU gives us back a little of our own money, it tells us what to do with it, then it expects us to be grateful.
But of course even our direct budget contributions to the Brussels black hole are only scratching the surface of total membership costs. The real damage is the cost of EU regulation. Tim Congdon, one of the UK’s most respected economists, has calculated that the total annual costs of Britain’s EU membership amount to an astonishing £150 billion — getting on for 10% of GDP. EU apologists like BND simply never mention these costs — yet they are a fundamental reason why Britain would be Better Off Out. And why an independent Britain would have more jobs, more growth, more prosperity.
There are many reasons why East Midlands voters might choose to vote UKIP in May 2014. But somewhere on the list you’ll find that one reason is the opportunity to end the career of this “useful idiot”, this fully-paid-up fellow-traveller of the European project which is undermining freedom and prosperity in our country. To quote King Lear, “Oh let him pass! He hates him much that would upon the rack of this tough world stretch him out longer”.