Our MEP Gerard Batten continues with the next few answers to the frequently-asked questions you might have about this summer’s referendum.  If you have any further questions, please contact Gerard on gerard.batten@btinternet.com

  1. Would leaving the EU exclude Britain from the Single Market?

The EU and the Single Market are not the same thing. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the Single Market but not the EU. The EU has 28 members, the Single Market has 31. We do not need to be in either the EU or the Single Market in order to trade with member states. Many countries trade with the EU without finding it necessary to join the EU or the Single Market – for example China, India, Japan, the USA, etc. World Trade Organisation rules prevent the erecting of arbitrary or unilateral trade barriers. Outside the EU, Britain could negotiate a trade deal with the EU from a position of strength.

  1. What about international trade deals that the EU has negotiated with the rest of the world – would we be excluded?

Britain’s is the fifth largest economy in the world. We are a major trading nation. Outside the EU, those countries who have signed trade deals with the EU would certainly want to continue mutually-beneficial trading arrangements with the UK. They would have a great incentive to agree quickly to a continuation of trade on the same, or very similar, terms. When Britain regains its seat on the WTO and control of its own international trade policy, we could also no doubt negotiate better trade deals for ourselves – as we did for hundreds of years before we joined the EU.

  1. Isn’t about 50% of our trade with the EU?

No. This figure is highly exaggerated since it refers only to the proportion of international trade and so excludes all domestic trade, which is much higher.

But even considering only international trade, according to the Government’s Pink Book (2014) (United Kingdom Balance of Payments – The Pink Book: 2014, showing inward and outward transactions, providing a net flow of transactions between the UK and the rest of the world and how that flow is funded.), 44.4% of our total exports in goods and services were to EU countries. That figure is reduced when we take into account the so-called ‘Rotterdam effect’. Exports first landing in Rotterdam are counted as exports to Europe, even when they are destined to pass on to other countries such as China, which are outside the EU. Even a conservative estimate of the Rotterdam effect reduces the total figure to about 42.8%. So it is fair to say that under 43% of our international trade is with the EU.

Figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that only 15.6% of UK businesses are connected with exporting or importing. Of these, no more than 5% of companies trade with the EU (Business for Britain. Change or go. How Britain would gain influence and prosper outside an unreformed EU, pages 122-123). While approximately 20% of our economy is concerned with international trade, approximately 80% of the economy is purely domestic (i.e. within the UK itself). Of the 20%, only approximately half of the exports go to EU countries – and yet 100% of our businesses have to comply with EU laws and regulations.

Britain’s trade with the EU has been declining over the last 25 years. In 1999, 54.7% of our international trade was with the EU. By 2014, that had reduced to about 42.8%. As already shown, while this trade is important to Britain, it would not be endangered when we leave the EU since, as already demonstrated, the EU cannot put up arbitrary trade barriers against the UK.

  1. Is it true that 3 million jobs depend on trade with the EU?

This old chestnut continues to raise its head despite having been discredited long ago. The figure arose from a study by the National Institute of Economic & Social Affairs in 1999. The report calculated that ‘three million jobs’ are associated with trade with the EU.

This report has been repeatedly misrepresented by various people, including former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, who said that three million jobs are “at risk” if we left the EU. The Institute’s Director, Martin Weale, has repudiated the claim, describing the misuse of the report for propaganda purposes as “pure Goebbels” (Europe Doesn’t Work, by Professor Tim Congdon). These jobs depend on the continuation of trade – not on continued EU membership.

Using similar assumptions that arrived at the figure of three million jobs in the UK being associated with EU trade, we can arrive at a figure of 5 to 6.5 million jobs in the EU being associated with trade with the UK (The EU Jobs Myth, by Ryan Bourne. March 2015, Institute of Economic Affairs). Millions of jobs elsewhere also depend upon trade with Europe, for example in China, India and Japan, but those countries do not find it necessary to join the EU in order to trade with Europe.  

  1. If the UK leaves the EU, what would happen to UK citizens living in Europe? Could they be deported? 

About 1.3 million British citizens live in EU countries, while about 3 million EU nationals live in the UK (Daily Telegraph, eurofacts@telegraph.co.uk Asa Bennett 2nd March 2016). The top ten locations for Britons living on the continent (Daily Telegraph, eurofacts@telegraph.co.uk Asa Bennett 2nd March 2016) are:

Spain                  319,144
Ireland              249,392
France                171,346
Germany              99,909
Italy                       65,975
Netherlands       47,297
Cyprus                  38,844
Poland                  35,829
Belgium                24,915
Sweden                 20,839

Most British people living in Europe are engaged in skilled work, own property or are retirees living on their pensions. People who are established and living legally in a country are certainly not going to be expelled. One reason for this is that many retired British people live in European countries (for example, the 18,067 living in Greece) that are either poor or suffering from the Eurozone’s austerity policies; the income they provide is highly valued. People with an established legal residency are not going to be expelled. This prospect is just another example of the scaremongering by the Remain side.

Part 3 follows tomorrow.

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