Voters who are undecided about the benefits of leaving or remaining in the EU say they just want the facts. There is much to argue in the detail but stand back and look at the broad picture, ask yourself whether the EU is a successful union. Has it fostered growth, employment, civic order and good neighbourliness, as they claim? Or has it beggared some for the benefit of others?
Freedom and Divorce
Dr Michael Fuchs, Vice-Chairman of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU parliamentary party and her close advisor, told BBC Radio’s World at One (29th August) that progress is slow because Britain doesn’t have a plan. “First we have to negotiate Brexit and then we have to negotiate our future relations. It is necessary because we need to know how we are going to divorce.” There is more and more talk of the negotiations being like a divorce; in which case it is like the EU saying we must settle the maintenance payment before agreeing who has custody of the children or gets the house. That’s absurd, both parties in a marital divorce would insist on knowing the give and the take before the decree was signed.
Next he said, “The four freedoms are not negotiable, that would be cherry picking. You can’t eat a cake without paying for it” (nearly Michael, not quite the colloquial saying we use and you obviously can eat a cake for free even if you shouldn’t). Of the four freedoms (the free movement of goods, capital, people and services) the last is just about the most important to the UK – and the least free.
As Fuchs’s boss says, “The main thing is that Europe does not let itself be divided and we will make sure of that via very intensive dialogue.” We think she means, “We have ways of making the others agree with us.”
The IMF and other ‘independent experts’
Before Norway’s referendum on EU membership in 1994 the people were warned the country would lose industry and jobs if they voted ‘No’. Wrong, Norway is doing very well, especially its fishing industry.
Before the Danish euro referendum the people were told ‘No’ would mean fewer jobs, less welfare, higher mortgages and other nasty things. Wrong again, Denmark is one of the more successful EU countries.
Britain was similarly warned about the dangers of leaving the ERM and, later, of not joining the euro and, later still, of voting to leave the EU. Wrong again and again and again.
In return for the World Bank’s chief always being an American the IMF is always headed by a European, usually an elite French politician or Treasury civil servant. These are the people in the vanguard of the mad euro scheme. Look at the achievements of EMU and the euro and you won’t need to be warned by us of the dangers of remaining in the EU, one of whose key objectives is that all member states will eventually join the EMU and adopt the euro as their currency.
How has Remain managed to get away with it?
Astonishingly the Remain camp thinks it has the upper hand in the economic debate despite the obvious fact that EMU has impoverished several countries and EU growth has trailed behind every other trading block. Its problems predate the world’s economic crash by more than a decade so must stem from its own mismanagement, not from unfavourable external forces. Others have managed conditions much better.
Britain was in a hole when it joined the Common Market and only improved when it sorted out its own mess.
Our greatest concern about leaving is that a nation once famous for its diplomatic skill in moulding the world for its own interests may have lost that ability. Naivety in the face of (in particular) entrenched German and French self-interest has cost the UK dearly. Fishing, agriculture and manufacturing have suffered. Since becoming members our fishing industry has nearly been destroyed, agriculture is much reduced and manufacturing has seen almost no growth (unlike in the post-war decades before we joined the Common Market).
Our economy has prospered relative to the EU average through growth of its service industries. The Single Market scarcely applies to services and in fact many non-financial obstacles apply, including regulations that seem designed to damage UK firms; examples include the art and financial markets. We trade our services (and goods) successfully outside the Single Market, we have a positive trade balance with the rest of the world whilst running a deficit with the EU. Year by year the EU represents a diminishing part of our trade.
Does the EU make the world a better place?
Many pro-EU voters feel the Union, for all its faults, is a good thing in principle. So it could be if the faults could be fixed and the project directed towards helpful and achievable goals. However, the direction the Union is taking derives from a rigid and unchanging ideology; as things are the EU cannot be mended; it is static, rigid and irreversible.
The EU is protectionist. As a customs union with a particular bias towards agriculture the EU makes it hard for African farmers to earn the hard currency their countries need to grow out of poverty. It has also managed to displace African fisherman from their native seas and plundered them itself (like it has our own):
What About the Workers?
Greece and Italy were ordered by the EU to undertake “structural reforms” to their economies for breeching fiscal rules and to pay their EU creditors. This was a polite way of telling them to slash pensions, make it easier to sack workers – that sort of thing. France’s then President Hollande tried to cut workers’ generous rights; they rioted of course, they’re French and are threatening to do the same under President Macron, whose popularity has already slumped because of this. But don’t worry, the EU protects our workers rights.
What About the Young?
After all it’s ‘Their Future’. Exactly, but the EU doesn’t care about the young in practice as can be seen by their high unemployment rates, astonishingly high in several countries, and lasting a decade already. This is destroying their future prospects. As usual the EU imposes economic policies to suit its most powerful members and blames any failures on national governments.
Is the EU Democratic?
EU citizens elect MEPs to the European Parliament by a process some are content with while others regard it as remote and unsatisfactory. In any event the Parliament itself has fewer powers than the UK’s House of Lords; it cannot amend laws put before it by the Commission or introduce its own laws. This is a very pale version of a parliament, not comparable with any of the EU’s national parliaments.
Greek and French citizens (if not their politicians) have a lower opinion of the EU’s establishment than the British while Dutch, German, Swedish and Spanish citizens feel about the same as we do. Others vary across the spectrum.
If all citizens had the chance to vote on whether to throw out the current Commission it’s pretty likely they would, just as they regularly do with their own national governments when they mess up. But that would derail the project from its predetermined track so it is not allowed, by deliberate design.
That is undemocratic. The people should have a chance to reset the targets and choose who should try to achieve them – and throw them out if they fail.