This morning I was struck by a tweet from #ukip councillor Jim Tucker (@CllrJimTucker) claiming EU membership cost each British family £6,000 a year? Really? I thought, didn’t even know your average UK family had that sort of money laying about. But Jim came armed with a link from an organisation who’s impartiality leaves noting to the kipper imagination. Better off out’s campaign manager Rupert Matthews assures us he got to the truth:
“by studying the figures and making reasonable assumptions we have arrived at an estimate of about £6,000 per family per year!”
Given that at the last ONS count there were 18.2 M. families in the UK, the cost of being in the EU Better of Out must be using must be somewhere in the region of £110 billion. Even Nigel Farage who used to say at every opportunity that the EU cost us £55 M. a day doesn’t use his discredited figure (£20 Billion a year) anymore. Most Eurosceptics have seemed to settle on a net figure of £6 billion a year EU membership would save. This I can accept and gives a cost per family of £330 per year according to my calculator!
Oh well we’ll just have to take Rupert’s word for his £6,000 figure, as usual no hard data on offer for his calculations. It will be all those EU regulations that every kipper moans about, but none of them can actually mention by name, or maybe David Cameron’s elusive ‘powers’ he tells us he wants to ‘repatriate’ but never actually mentions in the company of other EU leaders. A bit earlier in the pamphlet there is an interview with an economist of some repute who should know better. It is of course the incorrigible Ruth Lea (@RuthLeaEcon), the former IoD spokesperson, who years ago used to turn up on virtually every TV and radio debate about the economy until she famously was ‘made redundant’. Today she is mainly paraded by Eurosceptic so called ‘think tanks’ where she is always well-equipped with factoids, like how many billions of pounds more Germany exported to the UK than the other way around. “They’ll trade” is her catch phrase on twitter, as if running a trade deficit somehow makes your supplier countries beholden to you, rather than them worrying if the next UK bill is going to be paid. The Telegraph reports this is already happening, with foreign investors loosing faith in the UK economy mentioning the deficit! But let’s analyse what she is actually saying in this pamphlet. First she quotes Jean Claude Juncker, the EU Commission president, that “Europeans will represent just 7% of the world’s population”. She forgets to mention that the UK will represent just 0.9 % of the world’s population, so the emerging economies of Brazil, India and China, sometimes referred to as the BRIC countries, will take even less notice of Britain outside the EU. The next statement Ruth makes is that after a #brexit “the UK’s default position would be to trade under WTO rules”. So instantly that would mean our largest market the EU levying the 11% common tariff on goods produced in the UK. That’ll go down well with Nissan in Sunderland? She argues that that hasn’t stopped China’s exports:
Trade can flourish under WTO rules. Take, for example, China. China joined the WTO in December 2001 and does not, as yet, have any special trade agreement with the EU. And yet Sino-UK trade has boomed
She forgets to mention that the UK actually exports more to Belgium than to China and that Germany, a Eurozone member, actually exports six times as much to China than the UK.
Kippers think that if we just sign a few bits of paper called a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) then trade to the rest of the world will start booming like China managed. Maybe the uncomfortable truth behind the UK’s poor manufactured goods export performance is that our economy just doesn’t produce the kind of goods at the kind of price that you can sling in a container and export just about anywhere to a ready market? Remember these same kippers will blame liblabcon for running our manufacturing industry into the ground.
So not only trade will start flowing miraculously upon signing an FTA, the factories that make the goods will rise up from the brown field sites like a phoenix? Empty return containers now miraculously will have quality UK manufactured goods in them?
Another problem is that most kipper’s are tweeting percentages they don’t understand. Percentage growth can easy be in double figures if you start from a virtually non-existing base. And the Percentages of Global output ( %GDP) of all trading nations will always ad up to the same 100%, so like the seesaw Ruth must have played on as a child, if one continent’s GDP% goes up the others necessarily must come down. This is not something kippers should lie awake worrying over. Shush! It’s all right. The empire has gone. The EU and USA together used to represent about 50% of global GDP. Those days are over! We can still have absolute growth: 0.5% growth of a $16 trillion economy is nothing to be sneered at. They haven’t all the sudden stopped buying stuff on the continent. Do people like Ruth Lea really think that, on its own, the UK can compete with low cost economies like India and China? What in manufacturing goods like flat screen TV’s? Is she thinking Apple will build iPhone and iPad factories ‘up north’ when we leave the EU? Is she looking forward to our kids working in sweatshop circumstances, jumping of the factory roof tops in despair, like they do in China? I happen to have studied Economics also. My vision of our economy is I think more realistic and desirable than that of Ruth. It is no secret that our economies in the west are more and more knowledge based and services oriented. In these areas Britain actually makes serious money, not in manufacturing. In those economies our kids can find jobs more commensurate with the education we like to give them. I am not thinking of the “would you like chips with that” kind of services. I am thinking of design skills, intellectual property and culture. Here we are still leading the world! We must invest in our kids’ future with better training, education, Research and Development. The things we so successfully in a EU context. Think Airbus, Think European Space Agency. Think CERN. The UK must stay in the EU to complete that all important single market in ‘services’. Not go back to some ‘black country’ vision of Britain from the days of the industrial revolution. Our kids deserve better than that! ukip vision of a Britain prospering as an independent trading nation trading industrial goods with China?