This long letter was sent in by our correspondent Roger Arthur who analysed the Cameron leaflet sent out two years ago in support of staying in the EU. Given the current state of the EU it makes one shudder to think what our country would look like today without Brexit. One year before we’re OUT, one way or the other, it provides useful material in the arguments against the Remainers who still think they can thrash the vote of 17.4 million people:
I have carried out an assessment of the No 10 leaflet, issued by Cameron before the referendum and the result is below.
The No 10 Leaflet
No 10 issued a leaflet on 6th April 2016 recommending that voters should opt to remain in the EU. It did not provide an impartial assessment of the pros and cons of EU membership, but it did make commitments, as indicated below:
- We will not join the Euro.
- We will keep our own border controls
- The UK will not be part of further European political integration.
- There will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system
- We have a commitment to reduce EU regulations.
Of course no government can bind future UK administrations, particularly as Parliament itself has already been emasculated, to the extent that most of its vetoes have been removed, and that EU regulations cannot be proposed by MPs nor MEPs.
As we have seen, the EU is very good at using the “ratchet effect” to drive towards ever closer union and the UK with its reduced influence, can’t stop it. The UK has not managed to slow down the relentless increase in EU regulations and there is no sign that the unelected EU officials who propose regulations are going to be reined in.
Sadly the leaflet relies on snapshots rather than trends. For example, it fails to mention that our exports to the EU have fallen to around 44% (compared with 52% in 2005) while exports to the rest of the world have continued to rise. Clearly, decisions should be based on trends and in context of the EU’s own falling % contribution to world GDP.
It mentioned 500m EU customers, omitting the 7,000m elsewhere in the world, where wealth and demand is being created at a faster rate than in the EU.
It states that over 3m UK jobs are linked to exports to the EU when those job numbers have themselves reduced due to our falling exports to the EU. To imply that 3m jobs are at risk from Brexit was irresponsible because, as Cameron said, “of course trading would go on” after Brexit. He could have added that over 5m EU jobs depend on it.
The leaflet cited that the UK Services sector contributes around 80% of UK GDP, but failed to put that into context with the fact that only around 10% of UK GDP is exported to the EU. That left voters to conclude that 80% of GDP would be at risk if they voted to leave.
The leaflet suggested that Brexit would result in a higher cost of living, without any reference to the fact that we currently pay through the nose for imports from beyond the EU, because we are inside the protective Customs Union.
It suggested that a vote to leave would result in an economic shock and a reduction in investment, whereas Foreign Direct Investment tripled in the six months after the referendum and there was not a severe economic shock.
The leaflet totally omitted the enormous direct and indirect costs of the UK’s membership, including the 6% of GDP cost that UK businesses carry in order to comply with EU regulations, as covered in a 2005 Treasury report.
Spending £9m on an unbiased, balanced cost/benefit analysis of EU membership, might have been justified, but that is not what the booklet provided. In fact, it misused taxpayers’ money in an attempt to brainwash them – but it failed.
- The Government was in no position to make the commitments on page 1 of the leaflet, without binding reform.
- The leaflet relied on snapshots rather than trends and it omitted to demonstrate the increasing trend in and potential for, exports to the rest of the world.
- The linking of 3m UK jobs to EU membership would have led many to conclude that most of those jobs would all be at risk, from a vote to leave.
- In implying that living costs would increase, due to Brexit, the leaflet omitted the reduction in the cost of imports from beyond the EU, outside of the customs union.
- By citing that the Services sector contributes 80% of UK GDP, the leaflet left voters to deduce that 80% of UK GDP would be at risk, from a vote to leave.
- The leaflet failed to mention the enormous cost of compliance with EU regulations, estimated at 6% of GDP in a 2005 Treasury report, equating to around £110bn pa.
- Perhaps most serious of all, the leaflet did not ask whether or not voters wanted ever closer union when that will be unavoidable without binding treaty change.
This retrospective analysis might help in the ongoing debate with the Remainers.
Respectfully, Roger Arthur