Today I felt like demolishing ten brexit myths as pointed out to me by a nut case on Twitter going by the name of @DancerGuard. He proudly points to them from his profile page, along with his funky dance moves.
I’d say that rather than proving to be myths, they are quickly turning to grim daily Brexit realities.
FIRST MYTH: BRITAIN WOULD LOSE THREE MILLION JOBS IF WE LEFT THE EU
First of all it is worth pointing out that the three million job loss figure originates from an official Government answer to an Open Europe ‘Freedom of Information’ request(FOI). The official answer actually said that approximately three million UK jobs were “linked”to trade with the EU. Brexit might put these jobs “at risk” most remainers naturally said, which is of course rather different from claiming they’d disappear ‘overnight’ after after Article 5o was triggered as the Sun and arch leavers like Ian Duncan Smith would have you believe. Cameron actually was very careful with his words, said nothing of the kind. Yet this is how a Brexit myth is created. Apparently we should not take Vote Leave promises of 350 M. extra to the NHS on the side of busses too literally but when it comes to Project Fear’s indirect references to 3 m. jobs being put at risk, we should interpret that as “disappearing overnight” ?
Don’t know about you folks, but from the daily stream of Brexit attributed UK job losses I see, I feel this ‘Project Fear’ prediction is actually already in full swing, even if we are still two years away from leaving.
But this is not my argument with this myth. It’s the use of the word “imposing”. Imposing suggests the use of threat or force. What? Are they suggesting UK sends in the gun boats to demand Free Trade like they did at the time of the ‘Opium Wars‘ with China? Are they planning to block the Suez canal again to get their promised Free Trade Agreements?
Of course in this section they mention their dreaded EU-UK trade deficit again, but I have debunked that particular excuse of a negotiating strength so many times on IdentitySpace I am not going into that here again. Remember buying from abroad is the easy bit. Selling your wares abroad takes more than bleating “We buy more from you, than you buy back from us”. Slapping your closest customers in the face and threatening to sell more to your far away ‘Commonwealth’ friends is a playground argument and doesn’t cut it.
SECOND MYTH: BRITAIN WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM TRADE WITH THE EU BY TARIFF BARRIERS
Actually the main threat to UK jobs from Brexit derives not from new tariffs but non-tariff technical barriers to trade after Brexit. Filling in customs forms for everything we ship to the mainland and customs inspections in Calais are examples of such technical trade barriers. Neither ‘Services’ or complex customs procedures are covered by current so called ‘Free Trade Agreements’. But you can argue this till the cows come home with these Brexit types. They just see lorry queues on the M20 approaching Dover as a new business opportunity to sell waiting drivers cups of tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches.
-The EU has free trade agreements with over 50 countries to overcome such tariffs, and is currently negotiating a number of other agreements. Brexit Britain just doesn’t have the manpower, the required number of trade negotiators to replace the EU agreements it currently benefits from.
True, the EU now exempts many goods from duties anyway using a quota system. So as a whole customs duties might average out to 1.76% on non-EU imports. This does not mean that the EU Common Market is basically redundant as a customs union with tariff walls. On specific goods that UK exports rely on for foreign revenue and UK jobs the percentage is much higher. So UK Nissans attracting an extra 10% could well kill that trade and 50% on Scotch Whiskey would also put a huge damper on sales of that popular aperitif in France and Italy. Welsh lamb would attract an extra 67% according to an NFU document I recently read.
THIRD MYTH: BRITAIN CANNOT SURVIVE ECONOMICALLY OUTSIDE THE EU IN A WORLD OF TRADING BLOCS
Regional trading blocks are actually all the rage according to the WTO. With Brexit Britain is going against the flow. More than 250 RTAs notified to the WTO are in force today, and around 30 new trade agreements are under negotiation. With the exception of Mongolia, all WTO Members have notified participation in one or more RTAs. Brexit UK is about to leave one of the most successful ones! I can’t figure out how this benefits UK, unless it wants to be more like Mongolia.
FOURTH MYTH: THE EU IS MOVING TOWARDS THE UK’S POSITION ON CUTTING REGULATION AND BUREAUCRACY
The main argument here is that over 70% of the UK’s GDP is generated within the UK, but still subject to EU law. Leaving the EU would lead to a true ‘bonfire of regulations’. But this simplistic view sort of assumes that consumers in the UK don’t need the same level of protection as our more sophisticated EU neighbours. Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is on record saying “Britain could slash environmental and safety standards ‘a very long way’ after Brexit”. He was exposed to a barrage of ridicule for suggesting we could lower our standards to those in India. What is clear is that for the 30% of our economy that would like to continue exporting to EU markets it would be a nightmare having two set of regulations to comply with. Imagine two production lines for everything? One demanding quality controlled one for EU and one producing seconds shite for dumb local folk?
The whole idea that regulation hinders trade and slows the economy is a false one. International standards are essential so we’re not constantly worrying if things made abroad are safe to use or eat. By representing a powerful economic block the EU has more chance of influencing international standards than UK by its lonesome self.
FIFTH MYTH: IF WE LEAVE, BRITAIN WILL HAVE TO PAY BILLIONS TO THE EU AND IMPLEMENT ALL ITS REGULATIONS WITHOUT HAVING A SAY
I have not heard one serious politician say that Britain should not settle it’s bar bill as it leaves the EU Golf Club. Our credit rating would be slashed to Zimbabwean levels if we took the approach to just walk away. I am sure accountants can work out the exact amount of the bill owed to our neighbours. No need to speculate about how high the bill will be, until they have done their job totting up liabilities and assets.
By the way, in this section ‘Better Of Out’ still propagates the contention that as an independent sovereign nation and the world’s 5th largest economy the UK would have more influence in the world if it wasn’t part of the EU. It seems that it has escaped their attention that the very act of contemplating Brexit already made the UK’s economy drop two places in the World’s GDP league table. The drop in the value of the pound means that both France and India have recently overtaken the UK, so we’re now number 7. In percentage terms that’s just 4% of global GDP. That’s just not as impressive as the EU’s 25%!
It seems ‘Better Of Out’ supporters are not content that the UK currently has only 8.4% of voting power in the EU. Surely the rules were clear and agreed when they joined? Do they not want to belong to a club unless they are automatically elected ‘Head-Boy’ or ‘Head-Girl’?
The same people that moan about lack of influence vote for UKP MEPs that have some of the lowest attendance rates on record in the EU parliament. And when they vote they always vote ‘no’ as a protest vote, even when it goes against UK interests!
Let’s not forget that the expansion of the EU with the former Communist East-Block was one of Britain’s pet ideas to try and dilute the Franco-German power axis they saw as a threat in the early days of the EU. Now they complain it also dilutes Britain’s vote? Please!
SIXTH MYTH: THE EU HAVE BROUGHT PEACE TO THE EUROPEAN CONTINENT
Here we have the old NATO brought peace in Europe, not EU bug-bear again. Well call me an old hippie, but NATO is a fighting force and ‘fighting for peace’ to me is like ‘fucking for virginity’. NATO is our insurance policy against the outside world. EU keeps the peace inside EU borders because people that trade generally don’t fight.
SEVENTH MYTH: THE EU HAS A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE BRITISH ECONOMY
‘Better Of Out’ would have us believe that British industries such as fishing, farming, postal services and manufacturing have been devastated by Britain’s membership of the EU. I have in this blog argued that on the contrary, it was Britain’s disastrous decision not to join the Eurozone that was the final nail in the coffin of UK Manufacturing. Now Brexit threatens our Financial Service industry in pretty much the same disastrous way. How can Vote Leave argue that a low Euro benefitted German Manufacturing in a competitive sense, but that same benefit would have eluded us in the UK? Why do they think the EU will let us keep our profitable London based Euro clearing business after brexit? Keep EU agencies that other member states pay for in the UK? Why do leave voters insist on drawing parallels with Greece’s economy rather than Germany? Are we a poor mediterranean country?
The UK fishing industry was already on it’s last legs due to overfishing and the aftermath of the Icelandic ‘Cod Wars‘. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has been amended and fine tuned so that today we have returned to a sustainability of North Sea fish stocks that benefits all EU fishermen. As an Island Nation the UK in fact has/had one of the highest fishing quotas of the EU. You can’t blame it on the EU that UK fleet owners sold their quotas to the Dutch and the Spanish with full support of the UK Government. Again a case where leave voters simply don’t realise who’s screwing them.
The Common Agricultural Policy presents a similar story. People forget that in the immediate post war years food was rationed. Providing food security was one of the primary objectives of the EU and a complete success story. OK in the past it was sometimes too successful, but butter mountains and wine lakes are now a thing of the past.
The EU’s agricultural subsidies have many benefits. Our food is plentiful and of a high standard, the envy of the world. It doesn’t have to travel expensive air miles from places on the other side of the world to get to our plates. Remember long supply lines are vulnerable supply lines. We know this from WWII food convoys and from the fuel crisis in the seventies.
A second benefit is that farmers are the custodians of the countryside we love to holiday in. Once a farmer packs it in, watch how quickly things deteriorate. The single farm payments allow for land to be set aside for wildlife, while if push came to shove and there was a food shortage, it could quickly be brought back into production. Theresa May has assured UK farmers that these payments would continue after Brexit. Why if they are such a bad idea?
And it’s not true that in the EU we can’t get cheap New Zealand lamb. In fact New Zealand has a sizable tariff free EU export quota, which for years it has not fulfilled.
EIGHTH MYTH: BRITAIN WILL LOSE VITAL FOREIGN INVESTMENT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF LEAVING THE EU
That this is not a myth has been clearly demonstrated by the assurances the UK government had to give to Nissan UK to keep producing in Brexit Britain. Japan has warned UK Government enough times it could move factories to mainland EU countries.
NINTH MYTH: BRITAIN WILL LOSE ALL INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD BY BEING OUTSIDE THE EU
This myth can easily be debunked by pointing out that even within the EU Britain has managed to maintain a substantial ‘portfolio of power’ in its own right, which includes membership of the G20 and G8 Nations, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (one of only 5 members) and seats on the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors and World Trade Organisation.
-The UK also lies at heart of the Commonwealth of 53 nations. Moreover, London is the financial capital of the world and Britain has the sixth largest economy. The UK is also in the top ten manufacturing nations in the world. Despite being in the EU or because of being in the EU?
-Far from undermining British influence in the world, the EU seems to amplify it!
Looking at the above migration Graph, it is clear to see that up until about 2010 UK migration to EU countries roughly mirrored EU migration into UK. The UK was swapping retired inactive citizens looking for a place in the sun for young economically active EU workers filling in labour shortages in the UK. It is only since the UK pushed for enlargement of the EU with former Communist countries (without using the migration restrictions that the EU had actually allowed for but UK chose not to use) that this trend seems to have been reversed. But all along migration from outside the EU surpassed that of EU migration!
The Commonwealth is not discriminated against by the EU policy on visas. They simply do not enjoy EU freedom of movement EU citizens because they are not EU member states. The majority of UK immigrants are not from the EU; they are more likely from the UK’s old Commonwealth partners. This has a lot to do with the right to family unification afforded, which is a UN right, not an EU right. I’d go as far as to say that with freedom of movement and cheap air fares in the EU there doesn’t seem to be such a need for family unification. Why bring your Mom and Dad or Mother in Law over when you can buy them a cheap RyanAir ticket to visit you? There is a big chance that many hard working EU immigrants will end up retiring in their country of origin rather than suffering Britain’s inflated real estate prices. Families that settle from Pakistan are more likely to stay.
TENTH MYTH: LEGALLY, BRITAIN CANNOT LEAVE THE EU
Funnily this last myth may actually turn out to be closer to the truth than any of the other nine preceding ones. We’ve had of course the Gina Miller High Court challenge, but that may not be the end of it. Similar challenges are under way in Dublin and in France a lawyer is challenging brexit on the grounds that EU expats were illegally denied a vote in the UK’s EU referendum. I don’t believe the interpretation that Article 50 is revocable is challenged any more. This was confirmed by Barnier, Kerr etc. SO I end with a block quote from Rosie Slowe’s UK human Rights Blog: Article 50 Notice and Implied Conditionality
A general election [now called by Theresa May] or a second referendum is not beyond the realms of possibility, and a difference in public and/or Parliamentary opinion ought not to be ruled out.
The question then arises as to the consequences if the constitutional requirement of Parliament’s express statutory approval is not satisfied upon conclusion of Article 50 negotiations. The Three Knights Opinion contends that, if Parliament is unwilling to consent to the negotiated agreement, or approve of withdrawal without any agreement in place, the notification issued under Article 50(2) would either lapse or could be unilaterally withdrawn. In such circumstances Article 50(3) would not automatically expel the UK as no Member State can be forced to withdraw otherwise than pursuant to a voluntary decision taken in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”
Why do I write these blogs? Because it’s not too late to reverse Britain’s disastrous Brexit decision. The UK’s EU referendum was deliberately made ‘not binding’ for that very purpose. Sir Humphrey left the emergency exit open. Let’s use it! Vote tactical in the next election and stop this madness. Do what’s best for Britain and click here!