Today, our MEP Gerard Batten starts a series giving you the answers to all the frequently-asked questions you might have about this summer’s referendum.  If you have any further questions, please contact Gerard on

Every effort has been made to answer them as accurately and factually correctly as possible.

The questions that we will endeavour to answer will be:

  1. Would leaving the European Union (‘EU’) endanger jobs and trade, and could the EU put up trade barriers against the UK?
  2. What about the EU’s Common External Tariffs?
  3. Would leaving the EU exclude Britain from the Single Market?
  4. What about international trade deals that the EU has negotiated with the rest of the world – would we be excluded?
  5. Isn’t about 50% of our trade with the EU?
  6. Is it true that 3 million jobs depend on trade with the EU?
  7. If the UK leaves the EU, what would happen to UK citizens living in Europe? Could they be deported?
  8. If I own property in an EU member state, will it be safe?
  9. If the UK leaves the EU, would I lose free access to member states’ services when I travel to Europe?
  10. Hasn’t the EU helped to keep the peace in Europe?
  11. Are we not stronger on the world stage as part of the EU, and would we not lose influence outside it?
  12. Would Britain be ‘isolated’ outside the EU?
  13. Should we remain in the EU in order to influence its decisions?
  14. Why do more countries, for example Turkey, want to join the EU?
  15. If we left, would we lose millions in EU grants?
  16. How much does EU membership cost?
  17. How many of our laws are made by the EU?
  18. Other sources, like Nick Clegg MP, say that a much smaller number of our laws come from the EU. What is the truth?
  19. Haven’t measures such as introducing the European Arrest Warrant made us safer from criminals and terrorists?
  20. I have heard that the courts can prevent extradition if the accused person’s human rights are at risk. Is this true?
  21. Don’t we need to be in the EU to help protect us from organised crime and terrorism?
  22. Why does President Obama want Britain to stay in the EU?
  23. Why are big businesses calling for Britain to remain in the EU?
  24. Haven’t some big businesses threatened to leave the UK if we leave the EU?
  25. Haven’t senior members of the British armed forces said we are safer in the EU?
  26. Some say that if we leave the EU, we would be like Norway and Switzerland, who have to obey most EU laws, pay a contribution to the EU budget, and have open borders. Is this true?
  27. If we left, would we still have to comply with EU rules in order to trade with member states?
  28. Outside the EU, would we lose our Human Rights?
  29. Hasn’t David Cameron ‘renegotiated our membership of the EU’ to deal with all these problems?
  30. Aren’t both the Conservative and Labour parties in favour of EU membership?
  31. Has any other country ever left the EU?
  32. How can we leave the EU? What is Article 50?
  33. What happens if the British people vote to remain in the EU?
  34. But it’s all so complicated. I cannot make up my mind. How can I decide which way to vote?

Over the next few days we hope to be able to give you the answers. The first couple of questions are:

  1. Would leaving the European Union (‘EU’) endanger jobs and trade, and could the EU put up trade barriers against the UK?

When we leave the EU, it cannot put up arbitrary trade barriers against the UK, since to do so would be in breach of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which govern world trade. All EU countries have agreed to follow them. And even if they could do so in breach of WTO rules, why would they want to? We have a massive trade deficit with the EU – they sell us far more than we sell them.

Britain currently exports goods and services to the EU to the value of £228.9 billion, whereas their exports to us amount to £290.6 billion: therefore we have a trade deficit with the EU of £61.7 billion. Germany, Spain, France, Italy, etc. will still want to sell us their cars, wine, holidays, etc. Trade will continue as normal.  (For a full explanation, read Lord William Dartmouth MEP’s The Truth About Trade Beyond the EU.)

Britain’s is the fifth largest economy in the world. We are a world-class trading nation; while we have a trade deficit with the EU, we have a trade surplus with the rest of the world. Our trading success stems from hundreds of years of experience, from English being the international language of business and science and from the trust that foreign companies put in the English legal system and contract law.

  1. What about the EU’s Common External Tariffs?

The EU was formed as a Customs Union, not a Free Trade Area; against non-EU countries it erected certain trade barriers known as the Common External Tariffs. However, the World Trade Organisation has been negotiating down trade barriers internationally for many years and as a result these are now generally low. The pro-EU organisation British Influence states that “UK exporters would still have to pay 15% on average for food and 10% on cars to trade with the EU” (BREXIT: What would happen if the UK voted to leave? British Influence), but this is mere scaremongering. Since the EU sells far more to Britain than we sell to it, it would not be in its interests to impose these tariffs even if it could, since we could impose similar tariffs on the goods it sells us.

The Eurosceptic organisation Business for Britain issued a report stating that if the Common External Tariffs were levied on British exports they would be at an average rate of only 4.3%. Business for Britain calculates that the total cost to business would be lower than the current UK net contribution to the EU budget (which contribution is, of course, ever-rising). When we are outside the EU, it would be cheaper for the British government to pay exporters’ tariffs for them rather than paying into the EU budget as it does now. Even so, it would not be in the EU’s interests to impose the Common External Tariffs on UK exports since, if we did the same thing, the damage to their trade would be more than to ours.

Part 2 will appear tomorrow.

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