“Brexit will cost £4,300 per household”
The Treasury has fired its big bazooka. It is publishing a substantial report and economic analysis concluding that Brexit would reduce GDP by 6% by 2030 (on where it would have been), and so cost every British household £4,300 a year. Bear in mind that the mastermind behind the Treasury’s elegant façade is none other than arch-Remainian George Osborne, so never mind 200 pages of analysis – what this boils down to is Osborne’s opinion. Both the Times and the Telegraph lead on the story.
The technique is reminiscent of that used by Lord Stern in his deeply misleading “Stern Report” on Global Warming. And it’s very simple:
1 You look at all the conceivable downsides
2 You ignore any possible up-sides
3 You wilfully exaggerate the possible impact of the downsides
4 You add up all the negatives, and Bingo! You prove your point. Or as the Romans used to say, Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
Has the Treasury looked at the benefits of reducing excessive regulation? Of implementing rational energy policies for lower prices? Of eliminating the EU’s Common External Tariff? Of setting up tailor-made trade deals between the UK and fast-growing economies around the world? I suspect not.
For balance, let’s remind ourselves of Professor Patrick Minford’s analysis in his book “Should Britain Leave the EU?”, published by the highly-respected Institute of Economic Affairs, which estimates a Brexit benefit of £9,200 per household. And Professor Minford’s offering comes with the added bonus of freedom, self-determination and democracy.
Ministers call for Cameron to stay on after a vote to Leave the EU
Perhaps surprisingly, two pro-Brexit Ministers, Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers, have called for Cameron to stay on and lead the Article 50 negotiations if/when Britain votes to leave the EU. This contrasts with Ken Clarke’s proposition that “Cameron wouldn’t last 30 seconds” in the event of a Leave vote.
Of course Cameron won’t stay on – Clarke (for once) is right. We need someone to lead the Leave negotiations who understands the issue and supports Brexit. Cameron fails on both counts. It became a joke recently to say that Cameron’s so-called “renegotiation” of our membership terms demonstrated that he was much less successful negotiating in Brussels than Turkish President Erdogan, who got €6 billion and promises of visa-free travel and accelerated EU accession in exchange for nothing very much.
Cameron would give way on free movement, on paying for “access to the Single Market”, on accepting EU rules and “legislation by fax”, until we looked like a larger version of Norway. We have to have a lead negotiator who understands that we are an independent country and a major economy. A negotiator who understands that WTO rules, the Lisbon Treaty and sheer economic and commercial imperatives require the EU to negotiate a fair free trade deal with its largest external customer. If it can’t be Nigel Farage, how about Liam Fox or Boris Johnson?
I know that both Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers (who served as an MEP alongside me for several years) are persons of integrity. But I can’t help wondering if their call for Cameron to stay on was made with one eye on their future career prospects in the Conservative government.
Grayling: “Obama doesn’t understand the UK/EU relationship”
Grayling is prominent in the news today: he has said, rightly, that US President Barack Obama simply doesn’t understand the UK/EU relationship. If he did, he would see that such a relationship would be anathema to the United States, and he would understand our desire to leave.
First government minister to share a platform with Nigel Farage
Grayling again. The Indy reports that today he will become the first government minister to share a platform with Nigel Farage. In the same report, it says that French Minister Macron has said “You (UK) will never be able to do a trade deal with China because your domestic market is very small compared to theirs”. In terms of people, Minister Macron, maybe. But not in terms of money. And maybe you’d like to explain how Switzerland (pop 8 million) and even Iceland (pop 323,000) managed to do their own trade deals with China?
The Indy article covers a lot of ground, and mentions that Boris has described David Cameron’s EU “renegotiation” as “perfunctory”. An understatement, I’d say, Boris.
The Express reports that Nigel Farage will warn of “a tidal wave of new laws if we vote to stay”. He is absolutely right. In an earlier Debrief I mentioned how I had heard Commissioner (and Commission Vice President) Sefcovic promise “a tsunami of new legislation”.
71% of voters say we have too many migrants
The main story in the Express is a new poll which found that 71% of voters believe we have “too many migrants” in the UK, and only 12% think that “EU citizens” should have a right to come to the UK. It reports Priti Patel as saying “The truth is that for as long as we remain a member of the EU we are completely unable to control the numbers of people coming to this country. And with another five countries — Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey — in the pipeline to join the EU the problem is set to get even worse”.
“The EU is killing refugees by neglect”
The “i” newspaper (I understand it doesn’t yet have a web-site) devotes its front page to the striking claim that “The EU is killing refugees by neglect”. The Express has the same story. It quotes a report by a Charles Heller, “Death by Rescue”, saying that the EU’s current rescue mission is deploying fewer boats, and has resulted in an additional 1500 deaths. (A purist might argue that the migrants and traffickers are responsible for the deaths, not the rescuers). Personally I’m in favour of rescuing all the migrants we can on the high seas – and returning them to their starting point.
No thanks to the EU
Christopher Booker’s column in the Sunday Telegraph should be required reading for Brexit campaigners. He points out that many of the policies for which the EU claims credit are in fact made by the institutions of global governance (UN, WTO etc etc). And many of the benefits which the Remain Camp tell us we would lose by Brexit would in fact remain in place under international rules.
Two good examples. One of the great “benefits” claimed by the EU is the end of mobile phone roaming charges. But these, says Booker, were driven by the International Telephone Users’ Group (INTUG), by the OECD, by the International Telecomms Union and the WTO. Far from driving the programme, the EU dragged its heels and only gave way late in the day after pressure from these international institutions.
The Remain Campaign says that disabled rights would suffer after Brexit. But these (says Booker) are enshrined in the 2010 Equality Act which gives effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled – nothing to do with the EU.
You may say “So even if we leave the EU we’ll still be stuck with a load of international rules?” To an extent, yes. But at least we’ll have a seat at the table (as in the WTO, for example) where today we are represented by Brussels – and our national interests go by default.