19 February 2016

Britain Stronger In: Why can’t the Leave Campaign tell the truth?

By Dominic Grieve

We know that Leave campaigners can be flexible with the facts when it comes to debating the European Union, due in large part to their inability to decide, or tell people what Out would look like and what kind of deal Britain would get. But in an ill-informed ten point plan on this site, Daniel Hannan has outdone them all. He has demonstrated his own ignorance of how Europe works, interested more in rhetoric than reality. Here’s a more realistic version of the ten points he made:

1. The CBI are an independent voice legitimately representing the views of their members. They make an important contribution to this debate. They have conducted an independent review into the benefits of the UK’s membership of the EU, which was updated in February 2016. This review of 12 different studies concludes:

“The body of academic evidence points to an overall net benefit of EU membership to the UK around 4-5% of GDP, or £73bn-91bn per annum in 2014 GDP (£2,700-£3,300 per household).”

The body of expert, independent evidence is clear: EU membership has been positive for the UK economy.

2. The cost of imports would increase by up to £11bn if the UK were to leave the EU and trade under World Trade Organisation Terms. Whilst Daniel Hannan might try to deny it, many of his fellow leave campaigners have suggested this as the options the UK should take. UKIP’s manifestoLeave.EUBusiness for BritainRuth LeaArron BanksDaniel Campbell Bannerman and even Matthew Elliott have admitted this could be the route the UK takes.

Daniel Hannan seems unaware that as things stand the UK trades goods with the EU without tariffs. If we moved on the WTO tariffs would be imposed, which would push up costs for businesses and consumers.

3. Independent experts have repeatedly found that over 3 million jobs are linked to our trade with the European Union. South Bank University, the National Institute of Economic and Social ResearchHM Treasury, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research have all concluded this. It is clear that Daniel Hannan does not like inconvenient facts, preferring instead to base evidence cobbled together by friends of Vote Leave as revealed by the Independent.

4. Daniel Hannan has been a member of European Parliament almost 17 years and still seems unable to understand what the single market is, how it works and the benefits it brings to our country. It means we trade without tariffs and agree common regulations, breaking down trade barriers at and beyond borders. But it comes with conditions attached. All countries that have access to the single market have to accept free movement of people. This is true of Norway and even Switzerland, who only have partial access to the single market. Both have higher rates of immigration than the UK.

If Daniel Hannan could show that we would retain access to the single market while ending free movement, he would, but he cannot. Instead he cites Colombia, whose free trade agreement with the EU does not eliminate all tariffs and will not give Columbia full access to the single market in services. Is this what Mr Hannan wants for the UK?

5. The deputy Mayor of Calais has made clear that the French may rip up the agreement which allows the UK to have border checks in Calais:

“We will have to cancel these agreements, because England won’t be in Europe anymore. So that will really be a foreign country for us.”

Philippe Mignonet, the deputy Mayor of Calais, Telegraph, 9th February 2015

The Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency has also made this point:

“The bilateral treaty takes a lot of work on the French side to maintain and I think it’s almost certain, if we did leave the EU, the treaty would come to an end. It’s not a foregone conclusion but I think it’s fair to the Prime Minister to claim that the French would almost certainly bring it to an end.”

Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive UK Border Agency, Radio 4 Today Programme, 8thFebruary 2016

It is clear that staying in the European Union keeps us safe. It makes it easier to deport suspected criminals and we’re better able to tackle terrorism by working together.

6. Increased competition in Europe’s single market and the elimination of tariffs makes items in UK shops cheaper. Analysis by the CEBR on the tariffs the UK would have faced if we had been outside the EU has found that day-to-day products would be more expensive than they are now – they have gone down specifically because we are members of the Single Market.

Furthermore, the independent Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics estimate UK consumers will save an additional £6.3bn from the trade deals the EU is negotiating with the United States. We also benefit from cheaper flights, reduced cost from using your mobile abroad, and we save on our energy bills all thanks to EU action.

7. Again, Daniel Hannan does not seem to understand how the EU works. Democratically elected UK government ministers negotiate with their counterparts to reach agreement. Unelected officials do not make EU laws. The UK has a veto over vital matters, for example defence, foreign and justice matters. We are not part of the Euro, the passport-free zone, and we have opted out of the migrant quota system. We are an independent nation within the EU, just as we are while in NATO, the UN and the G20. Should we opt out of those also?

8. He could have done some basic research. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics make clear we get £66m per day in foreign direct investment from EU countries. On average from 2004-2014 the UK received £24bn per year from EU countries which is £66m per day. Business is clear that one of the key reasons we attract investment is because of full access to the European Union.

9. This is getting a bit embarrassing. It is unclear how many times Daniel Hannan needs to be corrected about this point. The independent InFacts have taken down this argument. Figures from HM Treasury show the UK’s net contribution to the EU in 2014 was 38p per person per day.

10. The European Arrest Warrant has meant 7,400 suspected criminals have been deported from the UK back to EU countries, and has meant over 1,100 suspected criminals who fled the UK, have had to return home to face justice. One of those was Hussein Osman, the terrorist who attempted to bomb Hammersmith tube station, and was then arrested on a European Arrest Warrant and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Dominic Grieve is MP for Beaconsfield, and a former Attorney General.