Old fashioned ideas?
The AA, that old and respected motoring organisation, has come out with the most preposterous piece of Brexit scaremongering yet. We must be ready for more of this nonsense in the next few months, but so far this surely takes the top prize for egregious nonsense. Mr. Edmund King, President of the AA, warns that the price of petrol at the pump could rise by 18.7 pence a litre within days of Brexit. For good measure, he adds that this could cost the average motorist an extra £494 a year.
Not “Could rise significantly”. Not “May increase by up to 20p”. No. A precise amount, to three significant figures. 18.7p a litre. The exactitude is designed to give a spurious air of precision to a wild and politically biased finger-in-the-air guess. Not an estimate. A guess.
How do they reach this extraordinary result? First, they take the view that Sterling may fall by 20% (another “precise” guestimate). OK. They could be right, but I suspect that few economic analysts will agree. If you want my guess, then yes, there will be a short period of unpredictable turbulence immediately after the “Leave” vote, until pessimists and scaremongers notice that the sky hasn’t actually fallen. I suspect that there will then be rather little impact on Sterling, perhaps for a couple of years. But in the medium term, as our economy improves compared to the continent, I would expect to see Sterling strengthening. Tough for exporters, but good for motorists at the pump. Bear in mind that a key reason for wanting to leave the EU is the economic benefit that will result from independence.
But then, says the AA, the price of oil is at an historic low, and could go up as much as three times. Indeed it could, but that has absolutely nothing whatever to do with British membership of the EU. It may happen if we leave, but it would equally happen if we were to stay. They toss it in purely to exaggerate the headline figure – a dishonest piece of propaganda.
Finally, they don’t seem to have taken account of the probability that domestic oil production (which would be unaffected by the exchange rate) is likely to increase in the medium term. Perhaps they haven’t read about the Gatwick Gusher and the large oil on-shore reserves identified in The Weald. Mr. Edmund King may like to reflect that the UK is the largest oil producer in the EU.
I suspect that most people who join the AA are looking for roadside assistance, insurance, motoring advice and so on. I’m sure that very few of them are looking for profoundly biased and misleading political propaganda. My only regret is that I am not an AA member, so I can’t have the satisfaction of quitting in protest.