European referendum – The TIPPing Point

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European Referendum – The TIPPing Point.

(Once you have finished reading this article – such has been the response that I have had to write this follow up – The EU Referendum – Rushed, Ill Thought Out and Extreme!)

Also see this Fishing for Brexit

And a recent edition especially on the democracy aspect – The Dangerous Democratic Deficit – Scotsman Article – June 9th 2016

The time has finally arrived.  Its not been an easy decision.   I can see good points on both sides.  Emotionally, politically and socially I am inclined towards a pro-EU position.  At the last referendum in 1974 as a 12 year old I was opposed but then I left the Labour party and joined the SDP partly because I listened to David Owen, Roy Jenkins and accepted their pro-EU positions.   Today I see that David Cameron, Hilary Clinton, Jeremy Corbyn, all the Scottish political leaders, most of big business, the BBC, and President Obama are all opposed to Britain leaving the EU. The case for staying in the EU is strong, but in a world of soundbites and political celebrity endorsements it appears as though facts and reasonable arguments are hard to come by. So for a number of weeks I have been trying to find out as much as I could before finally making up my mind.  What I have discovered has astounded me – and also disturbed me how little of this information is actually being discussed in the public square.

What follows is my own personal opinion and understanding of the facts that I have managed to find. It is not the opinion of Solas or the Free Church, and I am not claiming that it is what God says. Indeed one of the more bizarre things that this EU referendum has thrown up is that the Church of Scotland has an official position on the EU. Quite how the Church of Scotland feels able to tell us that God is for the EU but against the teaching of Jesus on marriage, is something I don’t quite grasp!

The Case for Remaining in the EU.

  • Peace – The EU has been a source of security, peace and prosperity for many years. After centuries of wars in Europe, and the two world wars of the 20th Century beginning there, it is noticeable that there has been peace in Europe for the past 70 years. The EU is surely a significant factor in that.  Furthermore the EU provides us with more security against Islamic terrorism.
  • Prosperity – The EU has been a source of economic prosperity for all within. If Britain were to leave the Treasury estimate that it would cost each family £4,300 per annum by the year 2030. That is a massive hole left in most budgets.  Plus 3 million jobs in the UK are dependent on being in the EU.
  • Borders – Freedom to travel without passports. The removal of borders. The right to live, work and study in any other EU countries. These are surely great benefits.  I love being European. I consider myself European and I loathe what is sometimes called the ‘Little Englander’ mentality.
  • Influence – The EU is one of the major trading blocks in the world and therefore one of the major political powers. Britain is a key part of the EU and so gets to have a stronger say in world affairs. As someone once said we are ‘better together’!
  • Human rights. Hasn’t the EU been a bastion of human rights and workers rights? Despite its weaknesses the European Charter on Human Rights has been a positive thing.
  • President Obama – ok perhaps he shouldn’t have come here and interfered in our affairs, but perhaps his warning is apposite. If Britain withdraws from the EU we cannot be guaranteed favourable trading arrangements with anyone.

 

The Case for Leaving; given the above can there be any case for leaving? Lets look at the same subjects and I will ‘score them’.

  • Peace– The ‘outers’ would argue that whilst there has been peace within Europe (if you leave aside the small matter of the Balkans) this has been guaranteed more by NATO and the need to stand against the communist Eastern Bloc than anything else. Besides which European nations have been involved in more than 100 wars throughout the globe in the past 70 years. As for Islamic terrorism they would point out that this ‘security’ does not appear to be working too well at the moment, and with the arrival of millions of Muslim immigrants it is more, not less, likely that Islamic terrorism will increase within Europe. The almost inevitable defeat of Islamic State, will not kill of Islamist terrorism, it will only make it more resentful and more deadly.

 Score: Overall I think this is a win for those who want to stay in. European nations acting together are more likely to maintain peaceful relations and deal with Islamist terrorism.

  • Prosperity – As regards prosperity they ridicule the Treasury figure of £4,300. The Treasury’s ‘report’ was as The Spectator observed ‘perhaps the most dishonest document ever produced by HM Treasury’. It dressed up GDP as household income in order to deceive people and avoided the real figure of £1,480. However even that is a meaningless figure. Chancellor George Osbourne keeps bringing forth Treasury projections for which he now has a 100% record. Of failure. As he admitted in 2010 the Treasury is not much good at economic forecasting.

The Outers argue that Britain would be freed from EU bureaucracy and regulations and would be able to trade both with the EU and with the wider world and that we would be better off. Food and fuel would almost certainly be cheaper and the British government might actually be able to do something about saving the steel industry, if they wanted to.

Furthermore there is the not insignificant fact that we pay £13 billion into the EU treasury each year and get £4.5 billion back (that is with our rebate – without it we would be paying £18 billion). Whilst there are risks in leaving, what seldom seems to be mentioned is that there are as many if not greater risks in staying. The Italian banks have a 360 million Euro black hole, the Greek economy is still devastated and Spain and Portugal are not much better.   How Much Does Britain Pay into EU

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Some more facts. 79% of business activity in the UK is internal. 11% of our GDP is with the rest of the world (and increasing) only 10% with the EU (decreasing). No one believes that this trade would cease. The EU is a declining market – from 36% of the worlds GDP in 1973 (when we joined) to 17% now.   The EU determines who we trade with elsewhere in the world and on what terms, because individual countries are not allowed to do so. Note this simple point – for the sake of 10% of our business we have to apply 100% of EU rules to 100% of our business.

What about the three million jobs that are dependent on being in the EU? Daniel Hannan points out how deceitful that claim is: Over 3 million UK jobs are linked to our trade with the EU.’ The dishonesty of this claim is staggering. It is based on the same false idea that Britain would stop trading with the EU if it were not a member. Why? No one argues that we have to form a political union with, say, Brazil or Russia in order to do business with those countries. The economist from whose work the figure was taken, Dr Martin Weale, has said: ‘In many years of academic research, I cannot recall such a wilful distortion of the facts.’”

I loved this question/answer given from a member of the audience in BBC’s Question time

 

Score: This one is a draw for the Inners in the short term and a win for the Outers in the long term.  Most of the stories of economic decline seem to be scare stories put out by those who have a vested personal and corporate interest in keeping the EU gravy train rolling.
What about the farmers who currently receive £2.9 billion in EU subsidies – some 55% of their income?  Indeed.  Britain puts in over £4.9 billion so we could pay the farmers and have plenty left for the NHS!

  • Borders – This is probably a clear win for the Outers.   There is no way that Britain can control its own borders if it is within the EU.   The freedom to travel, live, work and study does not just apply to the Western European nations but now to the Central and Eastern European nations which make up a significant number of the 28 member countries. This has already had a significant impact on Britain and will continue to do so. The millions of immigrants/refugees are one factor but by far the biggest factor is the proposed entry of Turkey.   This has been hastened by the refugee crisis and the difficulties of Merkel and the German government, who’s commendable but ill thought out policy as resulted in some quick back tracking and some hasty promises to Turkey.

Score: A win for the Outers.

4) Influence: This seems a no brainer. You can’t influence something if you are not in it (although that doesn’t seem to have stopped President Obama trying!). But just how influential is Britain?   The Americans want us in because they see us as their insider representatives. The American poodle Britain) was able to get Europe to take a strong stance on the Ukraine for example. But in reality our influence is very limited. We have been outvoted 40 times in the past five years and we only have 3.6% of EU Commissioners.   In fact we have voted 70 times against proposed EU legislation and we have lost 70 times. Some influence! David Cameron’s EU renegoiations got almost nothing. As regards influence we now have no vote and no voice in the vital World Trade Organisation – where instead we are represented as one 28th of the EU by a Swedish sociology lecturer!

The EU is not just a market – it seeks to be a superstate and has increasing regulations that affect everything. Just think of this one (of thousands of examples) – the British parliament wanted to stop charging VAT on sanitary towels (as it was quite reasonably pointed out they are not a luxury item), but were told that they could not do so because it was against EU regulations.   This in the very week that David Cameron was negotiating for a new deal!

Score: A win for the Outers. Britain’s influence in the EU would self-evidently decline, but I suspect that it would increase in the rest of the world.

  • Human Rights – There are of course quirks in the European Convention on Human Rights but overall I think it is a good thing. But here is the surprising thing for many people. It is not a product of the EU but rather of the Council of Europe, which if Britain left the EU, we would still belong to, and therefore we would still be a signatory to the ECHR. That simple fact destroys the In argument.

Score: A win for the Outers.

Overall my score is 4:1 in favour of leaving. Before we come on to point six, which for me was the tipping point, let me mention a couple of other reasons that it is very difficult to support staying in the EU.

Democracy – Anyone who believes in democracy cannot vote to remain in the EU, at least not without shutting their eyes and crossing their fingers. The EU is fundamentally NOT a democratic institution. Indeed it is anti-democratic. The power in the EU lies not with the parliament but in the unelected EU Commissioners.   Twice in the past five years the EU has removed a democratically elected government (in Italy and Greece) and appointed Brussels-approved technocrats. Tony Benn got the situation spot on. Once you have rulers who you cannot get rid of then you no longer live in a democracy. The lack of democracy means that there is a lack of accountability and therefore greater opportunity for corruption.

 

Another aspect of this is the astonishing fact that David Cameron and others are actively campaigning for Turkey to become part of the EU – despite its lack of democratic credentials. As President Erodgan shuts down churches, locks up political opponents, the German Chancellor supports a German comedian being prosecuted in Germany for insulting the president of Turkey and the British Prime Minister says that Turkey deserves ‘a top seat at the table’! Cranmer on Cameron and Turkey

Corruption – Corruption is rife within the EU.   The EU accounts have not been properly signed off for 19 years – As recorded here in the Telegraph.

More than a thousand EU officials earn more money than David Cameron. All officials working for EU institutions are exempt from national taxation – they pay a flat rate of 21%.   Whatever happened to our high earners having to pay 45%? Don’t even get started on their pensions! The Euro gravy train is not a myth.

But its not just about officials – its about how democracy is conducted. The EU is a lobbyist’s paradise. There are 25,000 of them in Brussels. The EU hands out largesse to organisations which then unsurprisingly support them. So for example I was told that several large NGO’s supported Britain in the EU. That’s interesting I thought, independent Non – Governmental Organisations must have good reason for so doing. Indeed they do. Action Aid, the NSPCC, One World Action and Oxfam received over 43 million Euros between them from the EU. Little wonder that these ‘independent’ charities support the EU.   Likewise the Confederation of British Industry have received one million Euros, and British Universities have received almost 900 million. It is little wonder that they are all enthusiastic campaigners for staying in. The whole system is corrupt to the core.

One more example. The EU is so corrupt that the Commissioners feel free to ignore its own major rules, whilst imposing the smallest of them on every small business. Article 125 of the EU treaty states “‘The Union shall not be liable for, or assume the commitments of, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State.’ Angela Merkel went on to declare in 2010 “‘We have a Treaty under which there is no possibility of paying to bail out states.’” And yet that is precisely what happened.

The European political system is based on a lie. Apparently this is ok for the current President.

‘When it becomes serious you have to lie.’ —J(EAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER Luxembourg prime minister 1995–2013 and president of the European Commission 2014– , 20 April 2011).

Perhaps the cynic might observe that British politicians lie to – but at least we can vote out our liars!

But lets come on to point six. Doesn’t President Obama’s intervention make a difference? Yes it does.   I was swaying towards ‘leave’; Obama’s intervention has tipped me over the edge. Here’s why.

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His intervention is enormously significant – not because his points have any substance (as we shall see), but because of the fact that he made them at all. Such a direct intervention in another countries internal politics is almost unprecedented. Why did he do it? I was amazed at how many people were naïve enough to say that ‘he’s just expressing his opinion and everyone is entitled to do that’. No. He is the President of the USA and his concern is with the USA. He was not doing David Cameron a favour; he was looking after his own and his countries interests.   There are two reasons why it is important to America that Britain remains in the EU.

Firstly we are America’s voice in the EU. America says ‘jump’, and we ask ‘how high?’. The ‘special’ relationship has become a subservient one. Obama came as the Master to threaten us and tell us what to do.   I think this wee Hugh Grant clip sums it up quite well!

 

Secondly Obama was representing the interests of corporate America. Perhaps because he believes that is best for his country and the world. Perhaps because corporate America funds corporate politics in the US, and Obama owes them.  So the question is why would corporate America want Britain to stay in the EU? It all has to do with TTIP. Obama wants it passed, ASAP, so that it can become his legacy. He made this quite clear.

“Our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement”.

I am astonished that so few of our media picked up on the main issue here.  They have presented it as though we already have a trade agreement with the US (at least through the EU) and they regard President Obama’s threat as somehow substantial. Anyone reading the papers or watching the BBC would think, ‘oh no, the Americans will withdraw from trading with us and we will all be worse off’.   The only problem is that we currently don’t have a trade agreement with the US, and we NEVER have! And yet trade goes on. We have lasted 60 years without one – and we will continue to trade without one. If we are at the back of the queue for a TTIP style agreement, so what? (By the way could you tell me when a US president ever used the word ‘queue’? It couldn’t be that Obama was using words drafted for him by the British government? Or is that being too cynical?). Obama is now in Berlin trying to sell this deal to the German people. It is clearly very important to him – and to the American political and economic establishment? Why?

What is TTIP? It is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which cuts tariffs and regulatory barriers between the US and Europe. Sounds good? Think again. This is, as John Hilary, director of War on Want, says

“An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

The negotiations have been conducted in secret with what we know coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests. This is big business in league with big government (whom they pay for – especially in the US) trying to circumvent democracy and the rule of law.   This is what it means and why it is such a threat to Britain. (The following is from a report in The Independent The Independent – What is TTIP

but it is backed up by other sources – this is something I have been watching for a few years and along with others trying to raise awareness of the drastic implications).

 

1 The NHS

One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to US companies. This could essentially mean the privatisation of the NHS.

2 Food and environmental safety

TTIP’s ‘regulatory convergence’ agenda will seek to bring EU standards on food safety and the environment closer to those of the US. But US regulations are much less strict, with 70 per cent of all processed foods sold in US supermarkets now containing genetically modified ingredients. By contrast, the EU allows virtually no GM foods. The US also has far laxer restrictions on the use of pesticides. It also uses growth hormones in its beef that are restricted in Europe due to links to cancer. US farmers have tried to have these restrictions lifted repeatedly in the past through the World Trade Organisation and it is likely that they will use TTIP to do so again.

The same goes for the environment, where the EU’s REACH regulations are far tougher on potentially toxic substances. In Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US the opposite is true: any substance can be used until it is proven unsafe. As an example, the EU currently bans 1,200 substances from use in cosmetics; the US just 12.

3 Banking regulations

TTIP cuts both ways. The UK, under the influence of the all-powerful City of London, is thought to be seeking a loosening of US banking regulations. America’s financial rules are tougher than ours. They were put into place after the financial crisis to directly curb the powers of bankers and avoid a similar crisis happening again. TTIP, it is feared, will remove those restrictions, effectively handing all those powers back to the bankers.

4 Privacy

Remember ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)? It was thrown out by a massive majority in the European Parliament in 2012 after a huge public backlash against what was rightly seen as an attack on individual privacy where Internet service providers would be required to monitor people’s online activity.  Well, it’s feared that TTIP could be bringing back ACTA’s central elements, proving that if the democratic approach doesn’t work, there’s always the back door. An easing of data privacy laws and a restriction of public access to pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trials are also thought to be on the cards.

5 Jobs

The EU has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the US, where labour standards and trade union rights are lower. It has even advised EU members to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment.

6 Democracy

TTIP’s biggest threat to society is its inherent assault on democracy. One of the main aims of TTIP is the introduction of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if those governments’ policies cause a loss of profits. In effect it means unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments.

ISDSs are already in place in other bi-lateral trade agreements around the world and have led to such injustices as in Germany where Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for billions of dollars over its decision to phase out nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Here we see a public health policy put into place by a democratically elected government being threatened by an energy giant because of a potential loss of profit. Nothing could be more cynically anti-democratic.

This is the issue. We don’t get to vote on TTIP. We can’t vote on it. And in the EU our elected politicians can’t vote on it. Obama came here, at the behest of his corporate paymasters, to try and save an agreement which will bypass democratic governments and hand even more power and wealth to the big corporations.

Where does all this leave us?

My view is that the Inners will win. They have all the resources of government propaganda (the £9 million tax payer funded leaflet being only one example), they have most of big business and they have the vested interests. Most of all they will win because of Project Fear.   Watch out for a series of reports/studies/deceits telling us that mortgages will go through the roof, terrorists will run amok and the sky will fall in.   The kind of deceit that David Cameron practiced when he promised that he would advocate leaving if he did not get a substantial changed deal and yet when he got nothing (what Boris Johnson described as ‘two thirds of diddely squat’) he pretended it was something, and hoped that no-one would notice!).

I think another reason that they will win is the compliant one party state type politics that exists, at least in Scotland. I don’t mean by this that the SNP are a one party state, but that there is a general narrative amongst the governing elites which means that anyone who questions the EU is considered ‘not one of us’. People so easily buy into myths that are spread – such as ‘the Scottish people’ are opposed to leaving the EU and it is only UKIP type Little Englanders who want to do so. Sadly Scottish politics has become much more about this, than it is about actual policies and their impacts. Lets just examine the political parties stances on this.

The SNP – I am still waiting for someone, anyone in the SNP to explain why they want to be independent from Westminster control (an aim I share) and yet under Brussels control. ‘We will have a seat at the table as an independent nation’ they opine, before going on to say that Britain would have no influence in the world as a much larger independent nation.   Scotland has far more say in the democratically elected United Kingdom parliament, than it ever will in the EU.   A Scottish Commissioner (if we were ever accepted) will have almost no influence or say at all). And why are the SNP supporting TTIP?  Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson has a far more interesting and balanced viewpoint – but I suspect it is a view which would get him deselected in todays SNP!   Some accuse the SNP of being Stalinesque in terms of their party organization and discipline.   That accusation is given substance by the fact that so far not one SNP MP or MSP has spoken out against the EU. Not one. I know many SNP supporters who will vote out (I am one of them), but within the party itself, no discussion is permitted, no dissent. All and one, and one is all.

Labour – The Labour of Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn has truly gone. Now we are in the New Labour world of spin, liberalism and avoidance of any socialist principles. But Corybyn is the leader? Yes and he has been against the corporate, undemocratic EU for his entire political career – until now. Either he is learning how to play the game of deceitful politics (trying to keep his party together) or he has given up on his principles. Either way it is to my mind incredible that the Conservative government are relying on Labour to win this referendum. Not all socialists have drunk the kool aid though – Why Brexit is the Left Wing Option

The Tories – Most Conservative party members, and probably most MP’s are opposed. Cameron was genuinely shocked (and furious) when Michael Gove and Boris Johnson came out as Outers. By far the best thing I have read on this subject comes from an intelligent, somewhat maverick Tory (whom I often disagree with), Daniel Hannan. In Scotland of course our right on, mega hip, totally cool, wanna be opposition, Tory leader Ruth Davidson is of course an Inner.   At least the Tories in Scotland allow people to disagree.

The Lib-Dems – are of course pro-EU. It is an article of faith for them – even when the EU is going in such an anti-liberal, undemocratic direction.   But wait. There is a real shock here. One of my political heroes, Lord David Owen, founder member of the SDP, Europhile has announced that he is an Outer! David Owen Wants Out of the EU

That is like Nicola Sturgeon announcing that she wants Scotland to remain in the UK! IF David Owen wants out of the EU, we need to ask why!

UKIP – I suppose we have to say something about UKIP. Of course their raison d’etre is to leave. But in Scotland they are irrelevant – mainly because their leader David Coburn is such a caricature that he makes Donald Trump seem real. If UKIP were the reason for leaving, I would be a total Inner!

The Greens – Actually have some interesting views and policies on Europe. Not least because they argue against free trade and for real subsidiarity. But because they want to stay in, then it is unlikely that their policies will ever be put into practice.

The Inners will almost certainly win.   80% of referendums result in the status quo.  People are scared of change and Project Fear plays on that. Michael Gove complained that the Treasury were treating us like children. But maybe that is because politically it is what we are. Or maybe they have underestimated us? Maybe the political chattering classes will really have got this one wrong. Maybe the proles will rise up against their rulers and corporate paymasters.  Maybe people will come to understand that the choice is not between the status quo and the risk of leaving. If we stay in, the status quo will not remain. Crisis within the EU will be met by a demand for more centralization, more regulations and greater political union. Again Hannan sums it up well:

A vote to stay in, in other words, is not a vote to hold our ground. It is a vote to acquiesce in what is coming. When the EU demands, whether by majority vote or by a judicial decision, that the United Kingdom join in more bailouts, or increase her budget contributions in line with other members so as to fund the new fiscal transfer mechanism, or accept a quota of non-EU migrants who have entered other member states illegally, we shall be in no position to say no – politically, legally or morally”

As a democrat – I hope that we leave the EU. Democracy is not perfect, but it is the best system of government we have. An ever-decreasing British democracy combined with an ever-increasing Euro-technocracy, will be a disaster for freedom.   Because I want democratic Europe and not corporate Europe, I will be voting out. In my view any socialist, liberal, conservative, nationalist, green democrat should vote to leave. Only those who believe in a corporate European state, run by and for the big corporations, and are prepared to hand our NHS over to those corporations, should vote to remain.

As a Scot – I want my country to be governed by those who live here, and by those who can be voted out of power. So I will vote leave.

As a European – I want a Europe of peace, prosperity, trade, diversity. I believe that the EU by seeking to create a Euro Super State will ultimately destroy what is good about Europe. I don’t want to belong to a world power, or a giant trading bloc. I want to belong to a Europe where diversity and difference are celebrated.

As a Christian – I don’t know what God wants. To him the nations are as a drop in the bucket. I pray for kings, politicians, bureaucrats and all in authority, that we may live peaceable and godly lives. I pray for a renewal of Christian Europe, whatever the outward system of government – and I will work with the biggest, most radical and most diverse organization within Europe (the church) to achieve that. Without righteousness Europe will never prosper and never know peace. Lord, have mercy.

If you have managed to read this far and still want more I would recommend the following two articles from The Spectator which are fascinating.

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/michael-gove-why-im-backing-leave/

Will the Swedes follow a Brexit? http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/swedes-tell-britain-if-you-leave-the-eu-well-follow/

I have read many articles and a few books on this issue.   If you only have time to read one I would strongly suggest  – Daniel Hannan’s ‘Why Vote Leave?’.

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A footnote:  I have received an enormous reaction to this blog.   Thanks to those of you who have found it helpful and to those who have corrected my errors.  Perhaps I could offer a word of advice to those who seem emotionally committed to staying in the EU?  It does not help to name call and attack people – I don’t care about Farage, or Gove, or Hannan – I care about their arguments and the facts.   Some of the responses I have received from Inners have been thoughtful, reasoned and helpful.  But far too many have been abusive, ignorant and at times ridiculous.  There have been some extraordinary claims – we won’t be allowed to trade with anyone, or enter Eurovision, or send missionaries to France!  For me the most incredible have been the claims that the EU Commission is more democratic than the UK parliament, that it has no more power than the British civil service and that TTIP is an open and democratic negotiation.  These things make me despair of the level of political discourse in this country.  It seems as though people take a position and then become emotionally committed to it and just filter out anything that disagrees with it, and then accept everything that agrees.  I realise of course I face the same danger – which is why I have taken so long reading and thinking before writing this blog.  Of course I could be wrong….and I hope I am open to persuasion.  But I need facts, reasons and logic – not just emotive soundbites or ad hominem abuse of others.

If you want an example of the way that EU propaganda works I was sent this invite to a meeting for impartial and authoritative advice on the EU – hosted by organisations who are all funded by the EU – complete with EU flag invite!

And a shortened version of this was published on Christian Today

 

 

 

 

 

144 thoughts on “European referendum – The TIPPing Point

  1. Such an article deserves many thoughtful comments. So far there haven’t been any, thoughtful or otherwise. Maybe they will come later. Personally, I am an Outer. I’m not going to go into lengthy reasons but offer a few examples of why I think that the EU has become too powerful and is undermining our own democracy. Firstly, if people can remember the floods which took place in Somerset. It was pointed out that the severity of the flooding was due to EU rules preventing the dredging of the drainage channels. Secondly, I recently bought a car seat for a child. I was informed that there were to be new rules coming into force on such seats. Who by? The EU. Now, I ask you, what have these matters got to do with the EU? Why can’t each EU country decide for itself whether or not they dredge drainage channels? Why can’t each EU country decide for itself what rules to create regarding child seats in cars? But this is the EU we have today. An EU which is constantly wanting to interfere in things which should be left to each country to decide. And I haven’t even got started on the EU push regarding abortion and homosexuality.

  2. Security – not an area which I follow in detail. However, my understanding from those who follow such matters more closely is that EU was seen to have been a failure in those horrible Balkan wars. As I understand it the EU took the international lead. It seems hard to argue that those were not failures. Similarly Ukraine. The EU policy there does not seem to have worked out very well.

    None of this absolves recent US and UK wider global international activities.

    However, if looking at the EU specifically, it seems that their international lead has not achieved peace where they have taken the lead.

  3. Good article as always David. But it seems you have picked 6 points arbitrarily. What about workers rights (European Working Time Directive), freedom of movement and of labour and support for agriculture? I, too, am deeply suspicious of the EU and its militant free-market ideology and am seriously considering voting against it. But the leave campaign is all about one key issue and always has been – immigration.

    1. Calum- the six points were not picked arbitrarily. They are the main points – could you let me know any I have missed? I did mention workers rights (under human rights) and freedom of movement and support for agriculture. I won’t repeat what I said about them again. Suffice it to say that there is no reason that a democratic government in Britain could not determine workers rights just as well as an undemocratic EU. And it is an exaggeration, which does not help the discussion to say the Leave campaign is all about immigration. That is a key issue but it is not the only or even the most important issue. Democracy, the economy, regulation and freedom are all just as important – at least in most of the material I have read. If we are going to argue for or against a particular position, we need to be very careful not to misrepresent those we argue against.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts David. Although I don’t agree with you on a number of points it makes for interesting reading. One angle I’ve been viewing this from recently is with the question, ‘how will ‘Brexit’ affect the advance of the Gospel?’ I wonder if you had any thoughts on this? After all there are 1000’s of Christian workers across Europe wholly reliant on their right to move and work elsewhere in Europe; a right that is under threat should we vote to leave.

    1. Peter – Thanks. The right to move and work elsewhere in Europe is NOT under threat if we leave the EU. That is one of those myths from Project Fear. In Britain we already have to use our passports entering and leaving the country. One thing I have noticed is that Christian workers coming from the US, the Commonwealth, Africa and Asia are far more restricted coming into Britain now than they were – and I think a major part of that is the EU. I would be interested to hear about the points you disagree with and why? I am totally persuadable!

  5. Thanks, as ever, for a thoughtful analysis of the issues. For myself, democracy is the issue which trumps everything else and I would genuinely prefer to pay a little more in tax and for the nation to have a lower standard of living if that is necessary for a stronger democracy. I am not saying those things would happen if we left the EU – which I am in favour of doing – but it is, in my opinion, a price well worth paying.

  6. Thank you David. I am sure you didn’t really mean to say “the EU is one of the major trading blocks in the world” – you did get the spelling right later on- but you were right as highlighted in today’s article in the Telegraph. UK taxpayer’s money is being used to keep poor African farmers poor so that continental farmers can be subsidized to produce food we will never eat.

    For me however the main thing is the democratic deficit. JS Mill, not a noted theologian I think, said “no man is good enough to govern another without the other’s consent”. I am an outer (and I’ll be flying back from Europe solely to cast my vote on 23 June).

  7. The SNP are voting “stay” on the chance that England might vote “leave”. In which case Sturgeon would get another referendum on Scottish independence.

    Or am I being just too cynical?

    1. Yes – you are being too cynical. That is not the issue. The SNP have argued for a long time that independence would be within the EU – if such a thing is possible!

  8. Some strong arguments there and a lot in it.

    I doubt if I could be as thorough in engagement so I will leave it there with thanks for a challenging and thought provoking blog entry as usual.

  9. I disagreed with Tony on most things, but here he is spot on. These are Tony Benn’s Democratic Principles

    “What power have you got?”
    “Where did you get it from?”
    “In whose interests do you use it?”
    “To whom are you accountable?”
    “How do we get rid of you?”

    And for these reasons I will be voting out.

  10. Good article and a fair treatment of the issues. I am very much in favour of leaving the EU and have alot of time for Daniel Hannan. It’s certainly true that the status quo usually wins but I suspect that the number of leavers has been underestimated due to the pro EU bias in the media,political bubble. Time will tell. I’m glad you pointed out the SNPs incoherent position on this issue. I suspect alot of their support won’t toe the party line on this issue.

  11. Why is nobody giving us a level-headed assessment of the problems that the EU itself is facing over the next decade or two, and whether we in the UK need or want to be distracted by them? All the In and Out arguments seem to assume that the EU is a stable entity for the future. But it isn’t.
    The bankruptcy or near-bankruptcy of Greece (and Portugal and Italy?) is a major issue for the Eurozone and, while we are not directly involved, we would be very naive to presume that the fall-out from the eventual solutions will not affect all EU countries.
    But there are other big issues – the growing tensions from the disparity between the ‘wealthy industrial northern countries and the expensive agrarian-based southern countries’; the disparity between the wealthy western countries and the poor ex- Soviet Union states that are joining and attracting huge EU funds; the growth of nationalistic parties in Germany, France, Spain etc (in part a reaction to the above?); Russian aggression to Ukraine, Poland etc and the EU’s eastern borders; advent of Islamic Turkey to EU membership; increasing drive to federalism.
    As British Christians don’t we have a first responsibility for building God’s kingdom where He has put us – in the UK. I fear that all the above big issues will unnecessarily and damagingly distract our and our government’s attention in the future.

  12. Thank you, David.
    I’ve been thinking for some time that only signed-up, EU insiders will be able to reform the EU and, perhaps conversely, only convinced and convincing pro-Europeans could bring us out of the EU. Your post is the first to make me suspect that my Churchillian reason for staying in – that jaw jaw is always better than war war – might just be inadequate.

    My justification of the EU as a perpetual peace conference was acting as a dam to hold back some pretty skeptical questions: If Brexit is going to be so financially ruinous, how could a responsible government ever have risked the referendum in the first place? In bringing out these threats again that were counter-productive to the point of disaster in the Independence Referendum, are the Government so convinced that fear will trump thrawnness every time? Isn’t it time to pay more heed to Euro-skeptics who at least believe their own, possibly-mistaken views for leaving than we do to Euro-cynics who don’t really believe their own arguments even when they are probably right?

    Furthermore: Could it be that my liking for political appointees – in the House of Lords as well as on the European Commission – just may be overdependent on a disgust for the X-factor/Britain’s-got-talent misimprovement of democracy that Britain is enthralled with?

    I need to sleep on it but your post might well be for me, not so much a tipping point as a dambuster.

    Yours,
    John/.

    1. I’ve slept on it and the dam is most definitely burst, but not with the result I expected would follow if that happened. The perpetual peace conference defence is broken for me because I don’t really believe that Europe will be less safe from internal conflict if we leave. Similarly, so different are the other Euro-skeptic parties from the cross-party Euro-skeptic consensus here, I don’t think they’d gain any real momentum or advantage from Brexit.

      I find myself in agreement with Alistair Christie that we ought to either be 100% in or 100% out and it sticks in the craw that the in campaign seems to be dominated by Euro-cynics who, if they really believed in Europe, would never have promised a referendum to ‘unite’ their own party. (Some unity.) I also really don’t like the use of fear tactics by either side and the in side have been much more blatant. Since my main reason for staying in is gone, I really should be voting to leave, fully persuaded.

      Mind you, I’m not convinced at all by the democracy argument. ‘Democracy’, like ‘free speech’ is a difficult thing to be at all negative about, no matter how restricted the criticism but it ought to be clear that there are limits to its usefulness. If nothing else we should be more aware than we are generally that we are an oligarchy rather than a democracy except on those few occasions when the Patricians grant us a plebiscite. The Commissioners are political appointees rather than elected representatives, true, but that gives the opportunity for us to appoint statesmen rather than novices to the role. Replacing the Commission with the European Parliament would increase ‘democracy’ but, for me it would be like replacing the Nobel Committees with Eurovision Juries. The most avid Unionists in Westminster would be seeking to grant independence even to Fife and Cornwall so that we could set up our voting bloc.

      Ultimately, though, I have loyalist reasons for voting Remain that call on me even after your wonderful post, David. It seems to me to have been a well-nigh miraculous providence that put the Christian Democrats into power in France just when they were needed to form the beginnings of European cooperation. Faith in God to bring lasting peace rather than faith in man has been vindicated for even as their vision has been distorted and purloined by others – as the French Christian Democratic Party itself was very quickly by De Gaulle – continued peace is their legacy to us all. Many people, not just members of the Democratic Unionist Party, have assumed that this Christian Democrat influence must mean that the EU is a papist plot. In fact the Dutch Anti-Revolutionary Party which was confessionally Reformed was an enthusiastic participant in the project.

      So, almost persuaded to vote Leave, David,
      but not quite.
      Yours,
      John/.

  13. Thought provoking post – I was leaning strongly to remain and now I’m wobbling!! Two points:

    1) I am concerned about the impact of leaving on the border in Ireland. It would be difficult to police a reinstated border and would be a sad and retrograde step in the relations between the two parts of the island.

    2) I’m not sure how you can say “The right to move and work elsewhere in Europe is NOT under threat if we leave the EU”, surely visa/residence permit requirements will need to be decided country to country? If leaving the EU will enable the UK to control immigration from the EU surely it will also enable the EU to control immigration from the UK? Have I missed something?

    1. Elizabeth – there is no need for there to be border controls reinstated between Northern and Southern Ireland.

      Yes – there might be some changes in the right to move and work elsewhere in Europe – but there does not have to be, and if there are any they will be very limited. It will be like the situation with Norway today – if there are jobs, homes etc I am sure we will be welcome!

      1. As the border in Ireland would become a border between the EU and the UK it concerns me that it may not remain as is. There would appear to be uncertainty at the very least, even among ‘leavers’ – I’ve linked to an article below which quotes Nigel Lawson as saying the border would be reinstated. That was also the view I heard articulated by the pro-leave interviewees on a Newsnight debate recently though I appreciate Theresa Villiers holds the opposite view.

        http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/eu-referendum/leaving-eu-will-mean-return-of-border-posts-in-ireland-warns-lawson-34615093.html

        The following is an extract from a recent speech to the Dail by the Irish minister for foreign affairs and I think is worthy of consideration albeit that the Irish government does have a vested interest in the UK remaining in the EU

        “The border between north and south is an open border between two EU member states with all that has to offer. Today, this practically invisible border is a major symbol of normalisation and development in north-south relations.

        Any implications for the current border arrangements would only arise if the UK voted to leave and, in that event, their future would depend heavily on the terms and conditions of a new relationship between the UK and the EU.

        In other words, the border’s destiny would not be determined by the sole wishes of the Irish and British governments. The outcome would be the result of a wider negotiation involving all of the EU and therefore no-one can say with certainty that nothing will change with the border if the UK votes to leave.

        If anyone needs proof of that uncertainty, they need only look at two official reports published in recent months by the UK Government.

        The UK Treasury report on “the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives” states:
        “Outside the [EU] customs union, goods being exported across the border could be subject to various forms of customs controls and their liability to duty determined according to complex rules of origin. This would affect the current high level of cross-border activity and trade flows.”

        Another earlier report from the UK Cabinet Office referred to implications for the border and for EU funding. It said:
        “if the UK left the EU, these arrangements could be put at risk. It is not clear that the Common Travel Area could continue to operate with the UK outside the EU, and Ireland inside, in the same way that it did before both countries joined the EU in 1973”.

        In the event that the UK voted to leave the EU, customs posts would not of course be set up overnight. A negotiation period of two years or more would apply. Ireland would work hard with the UK and with our EU partners to avoid customs posts being established and to preserve the benefits of the Common Travel Area as a whole.”

  14. If we stay or if we go both sides of the argument has positives and negatives but it all boils down to this, if we stay we have to become 100% in ! No wishy washy outside member picking and choosing what we accept and don’t accept when Brussels order changes on us,We will adopt the Euro and we will accept TTIP and we will also accept into to our community millions more EU migrants and refugees, we will gladly pay for the monetary increases that Brussels will inevitably demand on us over the years and we will without saying increase our taxes to pay for the extra money needed to pay for Housing,Schooling and Social Services ,and lastly our NHS we will have to see this go through collapse and rebuild because of the huge increase in numbers that enter the country and the infrastructure breaking under the pressure! The only way this can be rebuilt is with vast amounts of money and that will come from 2 ways your tax or private investment ? my guess TTIP private money, and these people look at profits not at patient care ! You can see a vote to remain in and we will see huge changes to our lives and communities, You have to understand that to vote to remain does not mean we stay as we are, this is a very false belief and you will be greatly disappointed in the future ? If we leave we leave 100% no re negotiation , are their negatives leaving ? yes of course there are, I think you will see the true side of some members of the EU who will try and make things difficult for us ,however we are to big a trading nation to let that effect us economically, and the whole world understands that its consumer power that runs economies not the politicians ! Their are stories out there that our economy will collapse if we leave well I know the British people are not that stupid to believe that , What will happen is that will will go on to become stronger and more successful as a free trading nation with the world to include Europe and we will govern our own future a future that we the British control ! I see the future being good and bad for whatever side you vote . I myself will vote to leave because my family over the centuries made this country what it is today and I find it very difficult to see others who have the same family history voting any other way ! Being Islanders gives us this independence and the whole of Europe see this with envy ! I will vote on the 23rd June to end the continued road to complete Dictatorship that the EU pushes on for , I want the freedom of Democracy and the ability to sack my Government if they do us harm every 5 years. This is true Democracy. To all those who vote to remain or are undecided please answer me this, why can we the people not do this to Brussels when they do us harm ?

  15. Hi David,

    I’m a Scottish missionary working in Glasgow with an organisation called Josiah Venture. Our mission field is in Central and Eastern Europe working with local churches to reach youth. I was pretty sure I was voting “in” before reading your article with Freedom of movement being the deciding factor. I’m going to Slovakia for 10 weeks this summer and considering moving out there full time and for that end being in the EU makes it a lot easier for me. If we aren’t in the EU I would need to get a Visa to live there and having talked to some of my American colleagues, it’s a nightmare to acquire one. However, reading this blog has made me really question my viewpoint. If what you are saying is true then do you think it is justifiable to vote “in” for ease of missionaries going out long and short term or do you think that what is going on in the EU is too unrighteous? Also, I’m going to be out there during the referendum. What will happen to Brits living in Europe if we leave?

    1. Dan, thats an interesting question. You would not necessarily need to get a visa – in fact that is the most likely scenario. Do you need a visa to go to Norway or Switzerland or to work there? If we vote to leave there won’t be a mass explusion of Brits from European countries! And I assume we will still be a member of organisations such as EFTA?

      1. Well, until Slovakia joined the EU, you did (for a while) need to get a Visa — and Slovak visitors to the UK needed one to come here. My wife is Slovak, and so far has retained her Slovak citizenship, because being in the EU, it makes very little difference whether she has British or Slovak nationality. But if we leave, then that may well change.

        Even if (as we’ve been told) pre-existing immigrants from EU countries won’t be “booted out”, I presume she will have to get her current passport stamped with “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (as she had to do a year after our marriage, which was prior to Slovakia joining the EU). That will presumably cost us money every time she needs a new passport (just to get the new one stamped). Or will she have to re-apply at the full £1500 cost every time? Or she could apply for British Citizenship, at £1236… Either way, it looks like it’ll be costly 🙁

      2. Martin, these are the kind of things that people from all over the world have to face in this country. It may well be costly but that is not really an argument against a country being independent and making its own laws, is it?

      3. Dear David,

        Martin and Dan are quite right to raise the question of free movement of workers. If we vote to leave the default (and legally correct) assumption is that there will be no free movement for work. This will have to go into negotiations with the EU over free trade. We may get it, we may not. We are highly unlikely to get unrestricted free movement for Britons without offering reciprocal rights. Would the UK government be willing to accept this given immigration being such an issue in the referendum? The potential social consequences of restrictions on free movement would likely be the biggest noticeable change for the average person.

        There are many arguments for and against staying in the EU. It is hard to untangle the economic arguments (economics being a discipline sitting somewhere between voodoo and verruca treatment). I do not see either of the UK or EU governments as morally better than the other. I am not being asked to choose between totalitarianism and freedom (however you define that).

        So, how to decide? As a Christian I am to ask the question: which seems better for the gospel? As things stand we have large numbers of EU citizens coming to the UK which provides a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with them. We are also free to move to any country in Europe to strengthen and plant churches. We both grew up under the shadow of the Cold War and to suggest back then that there would be such freedoms for the gospel with Poles, Slovaks and others would have seemed unbelievable.

        From a personal perspective I freely admit I am delighted that so many EU citizens come to the UK to work. I travelled extensively in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s and like East Europeans! I do not see immigration from these countries posing any threat to our way of life.

        You have pooh-poohed threats to the existence of missionaries in France in your summary at the top of the comment section but this is a genuine concern. True, missionaries to France will not cease to exist but it will likely be harder to send them and not all might be allowed in. The UK has seen issues with non-EU citizens failing to get visas to come and study at Bible colleges (EMF this year, I also know the challenges that exist for LTS) and in short-term and probably long term roles. The church where I serve as an elder has looked at an American candidate for the pastorate and the costs involved for visas were very significant indeed, quite apart from whether or not we would have succeeded in getting the visa.

        That leaves me making a decision on the referendum which potentially pits economic benefit (if the Brexit case is correct) against gospel opportunity. Put that way, the decision is not hard.

        One last comment: TTIP. As someone who works in ‘big business’ we are aware that this will be a treaty negotiated by the US and EU. No one from big business will be in the room. Insofar as it promotes free trade it is a good thing but even ‘big business’ is concerned that things creep in to agreements like this that are not thought through. I do not share the narrative that evil corporations control the world grinding individuals to dust to extract every last penny. That may be a popular conspiracy theory now that we don’t have the Soviet Union around to exist as a stock baddie. Those of us who work every day in ‘big business’ are trying to produce products useful for society. It’s not ‘just about money’ any more or less than it is ‘just about money’ for an individual to take a better paying job, or to buy a bigger house. And where a corporation and a ‘democratically elected government’ come into conflict, it might be because what a ‘democratically elected government’ decides has broken the law. Lex Rex not Rex Lex. Now, where did the man who said that come from?

        It would be wrong to finish this overlong comment without expressing appreciation for your blog post and the debate it has engendered as we approach the referendum.

        Yours in Christ,

      4. No -one from big business will be in the room? That is naive in the extreme – many lobbyists from big business have already been in the room….and your quotation of Lex Rex is completely wrong. The Lex there is the law of God – not the law made up by corporations in alliance with governments.

      5. Dear David,

        thank you for your reply. When TTIP is negotiated it is done by the trade negotiators of the US and EU. I repeat: there will be no non-governmental representatives in the room.

        Though Rutherford may have been referring to the Law of God, nonetheless the law we all live under also serves a role under God’s providence. Both states and corporations and individuals have a responsibility before God to abide by it (insofar as it is not requiring sin). States may transgress it and so be rightly held liable.

        There is nothing like working in ‘big business’ to show up the laughability of the conspiracy narrative so many seem to love to buy into…

        In Christ,

      6. James,

        Who makes the laws? Rutherford did not means that unelected judges could just make up the law. He was talking about the law of God. When the Supreme Court of the United States says that elected representatives have no right to ban same-sex marriage, because they are now saying it is the law, although it never was before, then we are in a situation not of democracy but of autocracy. That is the great thing that bothers me about the EU.

        We already know that non-governmental representatives have played a significant part in the TTIP negotiations – and whilst they may not be in a particular room at a particular time, there is no doubt that corporate lobbyists have been the main driving force behind these negotiations.

  16. Many thanks for all you have put into this. I was not aware of some of the points.

    A few weeks ago I was asked my view by friends after they had already expressed their opinion without discussion, by impuning the personalities of the exit protagonists. They, “played the man, not the ball.”

    They were surprised when I quoted Tony Benn. and went on to briefly mention the supremacy of Parliament, with the checks and balances of the seperation of powers, between the Executive, the Legislature (including the House of Lords where there is frequently a higher quality of debate) and the independence of the Judiciary.

    I am aware of the difficulties in the application of this democracy model, but to my mind it is far superior to the EU model of government, while both systems are operated by fallen humanity.

    Integrity is essential , but it would be naive to assume that we in the UK are above Junker’s attitude towards lying in politics or elswhere, as the Hillsborough, “Truth and Justice” campaign so poignantly demonstrates.

    There’ is so much bubbling under the surface in the EU, it’s expansion, Greece and other country’s finance, which hasn’t gone away, ever more integration.

    But to me the most important issue by far is the beneficial or detrimental effect or influence either “in” or “out ” decision is likely to have on Christianity in the UK, and to remember the Sovereignity of God in and through it all.

  17. Sorry,

    Should have watched the Tony Benn link at home first. The quote I’d made from him to friends was made at the time of the first referrendum, I think. Joining the EU would be “cutting the umbliical cord between the electorate and parliament.”

  18. I’m afraid that much of what is written in this post is inaccurate and doesn’t chime with the stated desire to interrogate the facts fully. I have responded in detail on my own blog: https://nevercruelnorcowardly.com/2016/04/27/fisking-anti-eu-myths-a-task-canute-would-wisely-avoid/

    I hope you will consider what I have to say, and that this article is not the end of your search for the “facts and reasonable arguments” in this referendum campaign.

    1. Tom,

      I don’t have the time to respond point by point in detail to everything you say. Thanks for taking the time to do that to mine. I am very happy for people to read your response because in a strange kind of way it proves mine! If people believe, as you do, that TTIP is an open process, and that the EU is more democratic than the UK, then I guess there is nothing more I can say. Its impossible for me to argue against such blind faith. But I suspect most readers will have more sense than that.

      If you don’t mind I don’t have the time to respond to everything – however I will try to quickly go through your post. That seems only fair.

      1) I don’t agree the BBC is neutral and I think any analysis of their coverage of this issue would show that.
      2) I have read the speeches by the leaders you mentioned – indeed my post was largely inspired by them. They are largely meaningless rhetoric.
      3) Thanks for pointing out the things wrong with my summary of the positives of the EU – I did that later but its good to have it reinforced. The main one being of course that voting to leave the EU does not mean abandoning human rights.
      4) Thanks for pointing out that Osbourne set up an independent office for budget responsibility, but you forgot to mention that he did not use this ‘independent’ source for his figures, but his own department. Instead you assure us that the Treasuries figures are based on ‘rigorous research’ and ‘complex economic modelling’. I love your faith in Osbourne – not something I share. But I also note that you use the typical language of people who want to assure us that everything is fine in the EU. You make an assertion and when asked to back it up with some kind of evidence, just make another assertion. And then just to back that up – you use ad hominem (Spectator= right wing = therefore do not listen to anything they say)…. Lets go on to look at some of your other assertions (I am struggling to find any backed up by any actual evidence – which given you took 6,000 words to respond is actually quite a feat!).
      5) Yes – we do trade with other countries – more than we do with the EU – and that would continue. I stated that. So why do you use it as though I were stating the opposite. What I did state is that we are NOT allowed to have separate trade agreements – all those have to be done through the EU and apply to the whole EU. And yes – this does mean that we cannot trade with other countries outwith the EU on our own terms. Sometimes your argument borders on the fanciful – but it is directly contradicted by the law!

      6) This would be the end of British agriculture? Evidence? Paddy Ashdown says so! Guess that’s it then. Don’t bother pointing out that before we entered the CAP we had British agriculture, or that we pay twice as much in subsidies to the CAP than we receive.
      7) I never suggested we should receive more from the EU than we give. I pointed out the imbalance in order to deal with the number one argument of Project Fear – we will be worse off if we are out. I notice that the government and their establishment supporters then change the subject and make it sound as though giving to the EU is like supporting a charity for the poor – rather than financing Brussels bureaucrats and EU corruption.
      8) Not quite sure I get your point about the economy. Yes we do buy more from the EU than we sell. Your point? Do you think they would stop selling to us?!
      9) You state re the video ‘the statement this man makes has no relevance to anything’. That’s just another assertion – again without evidence. If you restricted yourself to avoiding the assertions your post would have been a lot shorter. His statement is directly relevant to the question of the deficit. He may be wrong but for you to be so dismissive indicates a real weakness in your argument.
      10) We don’t control our own borders. We cannot decide to close them to EU members. That may or may not be a good thing. But it cannot be described as being in control of our own borders. Its like me saying to someone – you can have access to my home and bank account whenever you want – but because I gave you that access I still control my own home and bank account. Please don’t play with words if you are seeking to convince.
      11) Another tactic is to ignore evidence. You say that Turkey is less likely to come in – another assertion with no evidence – when I provided evidence that Cameron amongst others wants Turkey in.
      12) I did read British Influence’s report. And I was not convinced. Again assertion seems to make up a large part of it. My figures still stand – in 40 years we have not been able to bring about any meaningful reform in the EU – we have as much influence as Slovenia!
      13) You miss the point about the tampons. It is not that the EU finally acted (whether to help the UK or not) – it is that it is ridiculous that we couldn’t act on such an issue without approval from the EU. That is micro management of the economy by unelected bureaucrats on a ridiculous level. Basically you are defending the fact that elected British MPs cannot set the VAT rate on tampons, but unelected EU commissioners can!
      14) Your point about human rights (I can’t remember a single time when a Remain campaigner used this) reminds me of the football manager who just ‘didn’t see whether it was a penalty or not’. This argument is used all the time – not least in the latest viral video ‘what has the ECHR ever done for us”
      15) And I love your version of history. Russia of course did not invade Ukraine, it was Russian Ukrainian patriots, nor take over Crimea, it was a spontanteous uprising against oppression. And the EU did not overthrow the governments of Greece and Italy and form technocracies. It was the spontanteous working of the Greek and Italian political systems! Again assertions (in the face of facts) without any evidence.
      16) But then we move into the realm of complete fantasy – ‘The EU is more democratic than the UK’. I had to read that twice because I thought it was a misprint. Its even better when you provide your ‘evidence’ a blog which makes Pravda seem truthful and based on fact! Anyone who asks ‘Ask yourself, do you believe that Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson are acting in your interests or in their own?” as a reason for their assertion has already lost the argument. Apart from the fact that he is asking people to make a judgement based entirely on feeling about people they do not know – the same could be applied to David Cameron and Osbourne!

      17) But if all else fails – bring faith. The EU is corrupt but just have faith that we can change it. End of story.

      18) Re your defence of President Obama – could you let me know any time that a democratic leader has sought to interfere and publicly expressed views seeking to influence an American election, based on their trade arrangements with Canada, Mexico, or China?

      19) It is accepted by us, and by the rest of the EU, and openly touted by the US that we are their ‘friends’ in the EU. Is there anyone who disputes that?

      20) TTIP is not speculation. Obama has stated that he wants it. Indeed he stated that was one of his purposes coming here. And again you didn’t answer the question about trade. We currently don’t have a trade agreement with the US – and we never have. So why would trade not continue?

      21) If you can’t present evidence then just argue against what is not being said. You argue against things I did not say about TTIP. What I did say you can read for yourself, but to sum it up….TTIP is a secretive deal which will hand power to corporations rather than peoples or states.

      22) And another assertion. TTIP is misunderstood. Evidence – a leaflet from the EU Commission! That noteworthy trusted democratic body! But the fantasy is in deep – did you know that we have ‘already’ voted on TTIP by voting in a British government committed to the EU? Try to unpack that ‘reasoning’. It goes along with the TTIP is ‘transparent’…Orwell’s 1984 use of language comes to mind. I have read by the way many things on TTIP, including the propaganda you put forward.

      23) You accuse me of not seeking out the ‘facts’ about the Lib-Dems and David Owen. I never said he was a Lib Dem. I mentioned the fact that he formed the SDP (which eventually merged with the Liberals into the Lib Dems), because he was so pro-EU. And now he is against. He is a thoughtful and interesting politician. You don’t have to agree with him, but just simply to cry ‘Judas’, weakens your already weak case.

      It was very kind of you to write 6,000 words in order to correct my ‘myths’. But you wasted your time because with a couple of exceptions you have provided only assertions without evidence. Once you are reduced to ‘its true because Paddy Ashdown says so’ ‘TIPP is transparent’ and ‘The unelected EU commission is more democratic than the UK’, you have lost your case. Which is a shame, because I could be persuaded on this. It has taken me a long time to come to my position and I have changed several times in the course of that. If you had provided me with evidence, reason and facts then you could have won me over. But instead you have provided bluster, assertion, very little evidence, ad hominem, nit-picking and general fantasies. When I began to look at the evidence for all of this, it was your kind of reasoning which has driven me more and more to realise that both the UK and Europe would be better if the UK was out of the EU superstate. Thanks for confirming my ‘final’ decision.

      1. Thanks for reading and commenting, David. I have to say I don’t think you have really tried to engage objectively with the points I have made, but I appreciate the effort you have gone to in responding. I will try to respond to your points in as clear a way as possible, although comment systems are never that conducive.

        “1) I don’t agree the BBC is neutral and I think any analysis of their coverage of this issue would show that.”

        It’s good to have that confirmed. That’s an assertion, not evidence. I think that most people would agree that the BBC at least attempts neutrality on most issues – far more than the few publications you cite (such as the Spectator). The fact that you choose to dismiss the BBC out of hand suggests that you are willing to dismiss carefully written and well researched journalism.

        “2) I have read the speeches by the leaders you mentioned – indeed my post was largely inspired by them. They are largely meaningless rhetoric.

        3) Thanks for pointing out the things wrong with my summary of the positives of the EU – I did that later but its good to have it reinforced. The main one being of course that voting to leave the EU does not mean abandoning human rights.”

        If that’s the case, you should have based your post on the actual arguments being put forward by proponents for EU membership, rather than a caricature of their position.

        The reason I chose to point out what was wrong with your summary of the positives is that you were setting up a straw man. Instead of honestly representing the Remain campaign’s position, you claim that it is suggesting we would abandon human rights by leaving the EU. That is a total misrepresentation.

        The reason people are defending the ECHR and warning that we are risking abandoning human rights is because the current government has stated its intention to withdraw from the ECHR – SEPARATELY from the wider EU referendum. So it is an even more real danger than the danger of Brexit. We are fighting on two fronts because we have to.

        “4) Thanks for pointing out that Osbourne set up an independent office for budget responsibility, but you forgot to mention that he did not use this ‘independent’ source for his figures, but his own department. Instead you assure us that the Treasuries figures are based on ‘rigorous research’ and ‘complex economic modelling’. I love your faith in Osbourne – not something I share. But I also note that you use the typical language of people who want to assure us that everything is fine in the EU. You make an assertion and when asked to back it up with some kind of evidence, just make another assertion. And then just to back that up – you use ad hominem (Spectator= right wing = therefore do not listen to anything they say)…. Lets go on to look at some of your other assertions (I am struggling to find any backed up by any actual evidence – which given you took 6,000 words to respond is actually quite a feat!).”

        I have no faith in George Osborne. The Tories are one of the reasons we are in this mess in the first place – their obsession with Europe has wasted huge amounts of time on something that is ultimately irrelevant in comparison to domestic issues and other foreign policy matters such as the threat of a powerful, aggressive dictator on Europe’s doorstep.

        You are actually accusing me of doing exactly what you are doing. You make no effort in your original blog post to analyse the Treasury’s detailed output. Instead, you rely on commentary by a publication that is (in contrast to the BBC) avowedly non-neutral.

        Like you, I have limited time, but for the benefit of anyone still reading they can read the full Treasury document here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/517415/treasury_analysis_economic_impact_of_eu_membership_web.pdf

        Anyone who chooses to actually read the Treasury’s document in full will realise that the final numbers are less important than the argument that is being made, which is detailed, nuanced and complex. That is unsurprising given the complexity of international economics. Let’s be serious about this. You are an important figure in this discussion, and you have power to sway others. If you intend to use that power well, you should seriously engage with all the arguments being made, in detail.

        “5) Yes – we do trade with other countries – more than we do with the EU – and that would continue. I stated that. So why do you use it as though I were stating the opposite. What I did state is that we are NOT allowed to have separate trade agreements – all those have to be done through the EU and apply to the whole EU. And yes – this does mean that we cannot trade with other countries outwith the EU on our own terms. Sometimes your argument borders on the fanciful – but it is directly contradicted by the law!”

        My point is that no one in the Remain campaign is claiming we don’t trade with other countries, nor that we require trade agreements to do so. It is the Leave campaign that keeps talking about creating new trade agreements.

        It is also completely untrue that we are not allowed to have separate trade agreements done bilaterally rather than the EU. Please give a source for this claim, as it flies in the face of the evidence. Just look at our recent dealings with China (which I mentioned in the post) for some of that evidence.

        “6) This would be the end of British agriculture? Evidence? Paddy Ashdown says so! Guess that’s it then. Don’t bother pointing out that before we entered the CAP we had British agriculture, or that we pay twice as much in subsidies to the CAP than we receive.”

        Don’t take my word for it. Have a look at what the head of the National Farmers’ Union has to say about EU membership: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3555458/Sorry-Boris-Brexit-WON-T-make-food-cheaper-Farmers-leader-EU-need-migrant-workers.html

        He gives a very balanced but ultimately pro-EU view.

        “7) I never suggested we should receive more from the EU than we give. I pointed out the imbalance in order to deal with the number one argument of Project Fear – we will be worse off if we are out. I notice that the government and their establishment supporters then change the subject and make it sound as though giving to the EU is like supporting a charity for the poor – rather than financing Brussels bureaucrats and EU corruption.”

        Being worse off is not merely financial, although you haven’t seriously engaged with the economic arguments raised by the Treasury as discussed above. The amount we pay in and get out is a very bad measure of the benefits of EU membership. It is like comparing the amount rich people pay in tax to the amount poor people pay in tax, and concluding that rich people get a bad deal.

        I have been open about the fact that the EU could spend its money better and more transparently, but there is a reason lots of Central and Eastern European countries are desperate to join – it is because the money they receive is essential in moving their economies forward. You only need to look at the improvements in Poland’s economic performance, for example, to realise the power of EU membership. Similarly, going across the border from Croatia to Bosnia makes the difference painfully apparent.

        8) Not quite sure I get your point about the economy. Yes we do buy more from the EU than we sell. Your point? Do you think they would stop selling to us?!

        Again, the point I am making is in response to the farcical claims from the Leave campaign that the EU will be falling over itself to do a deal with us post-Brexit. They make this claim based on the fact that we buy more from the EU than we sell to it. It is like saying I buy more from Sainsbury’s than they do from me so they will be desperate to keep my business.

        We need a deal with the EU post-Brexit – everyone acknowledges this – but it is an open question as to what kind of deal the Leave campaign actually wants. Michael Gove, for example, recently suggested we could have a deal similar to Albania’s (https://next.ft.com/content/d0e88d1a-0624-11e6-9b51-0fb5e65703ce) – hardly something that fills me with confidence.

        That I have to explain this suggests that you have not yet fully grasped the key issues at the heart of the referendum campaign – on either side.

        “9) You state re the video ‘the statement this man makes has no relevance to anything’. That’s just another assertion – again without evidence. If you restricted yourself to avoiding the assertions your post would have been a lot shorter. His statement is directly relevant to the question of the deficit. He may be wrong but for you to be so dismissive indicates a real weakness in your argument.”

        It’s a video showing a quote from someone whose credentials we have no idea about and whose workings we also cannot unravel from his brief comment. It’s a nice soundbite, at best. I’d love to be able to take it seriously, but come on. Let’s get real.

        “10) We don’t control our own borders. We cannot decide to close them to EU members. That may or may not be a good thing. But it cannot be described as being in control of our own borders. Its like me saying to someone – you can have access to my home and bank account whenever you want – but because I gave you that access I still control my own home and bank account. Please don’t play with words if you are seeking to convince.”

        Leaving the EU is unlikely to change the amount of control we have over our borders. Look at Norway – they are in the European Economic Agreement and they have not only accepted free movement of labour but they are actually part of Schengen. They are not EU members but have less control of their borders than we do as part of it. The same is true of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.

        The Leave campaign has regularly suggested that we would replace our EU membership with an agreement similar to Norway’s – that might mean more EU immigrants coming here. I’m not sure that’s entirely what many people in favour of Brexit expect or would want. Do you?

        11) Another tactic is to ignore evidence. You say that Turkey is less likely to come in – another assertion with no evidence – when I provided evidence that Cameron amongst others wants Turkey in.

        There’s a difference between wanting Turkey to join the EU – as I do, and as many leaders in Europe do – and actually being able to make it happen. Your post suggested their accession was imminent, so I provided evidence against that view. Feel free to explain why you think a lengthy negotiation process that has proved tortuous to date is suddenly going to accelerate.

        Either way, if we want to stand up to Turkey’s human rights abuses – and we should – then encouraging the fragmentation of the EU is hardly going to help.

        12) I did read British Influence’s report. And I was not convinced. Again assertion seems to make up a large part of it. My figures still stand – in 40 years we have not been able to bring about any meaningful reform in the EU – we have as much influence as Slovenia!

        Your figures are meaningless. I could just as easily provide figures showing that the EU has voted with the UK on countless occasions. The question is whether we are able to get things done in the EU or not. There’s a good article out today on Politico that addresses this question and, surprise surprise, it shows the UK is one of the leading nations in the EU in terms of influence: http://www.politico.eu/interactive/power-matrix-charting-the-eu-players-by-country-european-council-national-capitals-leaders-ambassadors/

        13) You miss the point about the tampons. It is not that the EU finally acted (whether to help the UK or not) – it is that it is ridiculous that we couldn’t act on such an issue without approval from the EU. That is micro management of the economy by unelected bureaucrats on a ridiculous level. Basically you are defending the fact that elected British MPs cannot set the VAT rate on tampons, but unelected EU commissioners can!

        No. Your point was that we couldn’t do anything to change the tax on tampons. My point was that we could, and did.

        It isn’t at all ridiculous that it required action at the EU level. VAT rules are an EU-wide matter and part of the single market, for obvious reasons – it’s a form of sales tax. This has always been the case. The reason it’s complex when it comes to the UK is that we have a far better deal on VAT than most other countries, including being able to vary the rate for certain goods and services!

        14) Your point about human rights (I can’t remember a single time when a Remain campaigner used this) reminds me of the football manager who just ‘didn’t see whether it was a penalty or not’. This argument is used all the time – not least in the latest viral video ‘what has the ECHR ever done for us”

        I’ve addressed this already – see point 3 above. It is you who is (apparently deliberately) conflating the EU and the ECHR. That viral video even goes to the trouble of explaining that they are separate!

        15) And I love your version of history. Russia of course did not invade Ukraine, it was Russian Ukrainian patriots, nor take over Crimea, it was a spontanteous uprising against oppression. And the EU did not overthrow the governments of Greece and Italy and form technocracies. It was the spontanteous working of the Greek and Italian political systems! Again assertions (in the face of facts) without any evidence.

        Can I just confirm: are you seriously claiming that the EU overthrew the Greek government it was dealing well with, and installed Syriza, a radical left wing government that overturned much of the previous government’s policy?

        It’s not on me to provide evidence that the EU is responsible for coups in two of its member states. I would be DELIGHTED to see evidence for your assertions that the EU is actively involved in regime change, especially when it runs counter to its own goals.

        And what has Russia to do with anything? Again, you are misrepresenting me.

        “16) But then we move into the realm of complete fantasy – ‘The EU is more democratic than the UK’. I had to read that twice because I thought it was a misprint. Its even better when you provide your ‘evidence’ a blog which makes Pravda seem truthful and based on fact! Anyone who asks ‘Ask yourself, do you believe that Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson are acting in your interests or in their own?” as a reason for their assertion has already lost the argument. Apart from the fact that he is asking people to make a judgement based entirely on feeling about people they do not know – the same could be applied to David Cameron and Osbourne!”

        Again, you’ve apparently deliberately failed to address the facts. I’ll repost them here in case you missed them.

        “ALL members of the EU Parliament are elected by a proportional voting system to represent all the viewpoints of the citizens of Europe; the House of Lords [MORE THAN HALF the members of the UK Parliament] are UNELECTED, and the remaining members are elected by a highly disproportional system that gives complete power to Parties that have support from a minority of the population.

        The “Cabinet” of the EU is made up of elected heads of government of all the member states; the Cabinet of the UK is appointed on the whim of the Prime Minister and can even include people who have not been elected at all (usually by granting them an instant peerage).

        In the EU, the top civil servants, the Commissioners, are appointed by democratically elected governments and are accountable to the elected Parliament; in the UK, top civil servants, the ones known as mandarins or Sir Humphreys, are unaccountable and appoint themselves.

        The board of the European Central Bank are appointed by the Heads of Government of the member states, after consultation from the European Parliament. The Governor of the Bank of England is appointed “by the Prime Minister” though as this is on recommendation from the Bank, effectively the bank selects its own governors.”

        As such, the EU has a strong case to be considered more democratic than the UK itself. Would you care to address this?

        “17) But if all else fails – bring faith. The EU is corrupt but just have faith that we can change it. End of story.”

        I am able to admit that the EU is not a perfect institution. There is much that I would love to see changed about it. What I do know is that it won’t change any faster as a direct result of the UK leaving. We also know that the UK has its own problems when it comes to corruption – often legalized and government-stimulated corruption – so let’s not pretend we’re able to condemn the EU out of some great sense of moral superiority.

        “18) Re your defence of President Obama – could you let me know any time that a democratic leader has sought to interfere and publicly expressed views seeking to influence an American election, based on their trade arrangements with Canada, Mexico, or China?”

        That is not equivalent. The clue is in the name: United States of America. Were a state like California, Texas or New York to try to secede from the US, I suspect world leaders might have a thing or two to say about it. But they don’t, because an arrangement that combines federal coordination with local autonomy suits them well. Interesting, eh?

        “19) It is accepted by us, and by the rest of the EU, and openly touted by the US that we are their ‘friends’ in the EU. Is there anyone who disputes that?”

        That wasn’t the claim you were making. Of course we are friends with the US; they are our long-term allies. You claimed, though, that we are actively pursuing American policy in the EU. I refuted that claim. You seem to have forgotten what you originally said.

        “20) TTIP is not speculation. Obama has stated that he wants it. Indeed he stated that was one of his purposes coming here. And again you didn’t answer the question about trade. We currently don’t have a trade agreement with the US – and we never have. So why would trade not continue?”

        Trade would continue with the US. But it would be threatened by a EU-US trade agreement making it easier for goods and services to be traded between the two large blocs. If we are not part of that agreement, we probably need one of our own. Markets function better when there are fewer ancillary costs to trade; unless we can make ourselves as attractive as the EU, we risk being left behind. That is what Obama is openly stating in his comments.

        “21) If you can’t present evidence then just argue against what is not being said. You argue against things I did not say about TTIP. What I did say you can read for yourself, but to sum it up….TTIP is a secretive deal which will hand power to corporations rather than peoples or states.

        22) And another assertion. TTIP is misunderstood. Evidence – a leaflet from the EU Commission! That noteworthy trusted democratic body! But the fantasy is in deep – did you know that we have ‘already’ voted on TTIP by voting in a British government committed to the EU? Try to unpack that ‘reasoning’. It goes along with the TTIP is ‘transparent’…Orwell’s 1984 use of language comes to mind. I have read by the way many things on TTIP, including the propaganda you put forward.”

        You can’t have it both ways. It can’t be both secretive AND the subject of propaganda. Which is it? Do you want the EU Commission to produce information on the negotiation of a trade agreement, or not? The leaflet from the EU Commission refutes all the points you made in your post – and reveals them for the myths and spook stories they are.

        Reading “many things” is not a substitute for actually addressing the evidence made available about TTIP by the people involved in negotiating it. We are in the realm of conspiracy theory here.

        “23) You accuse me of not seeking out the ‘facts’ about the Lib-Dems and David Owen. I never said he was a Lib Dem. I mentioned the fact that he formed the SDP (which eventually merged with the Liberals into the Lib Dems), because he was so pro-EU. And now he is against. He is a thoughtful and interesting politician. You don’t have to agree with him, but just simply to cry ‘Judas’, weakens your already weak case.”

        You talked about David Owen in the context of the Liberal Democrat position on the EU. The obvious implication was that this senior political figure is associated with the Lib Dems. He isn’t and never has been. That was my point. I also question whether someone who has actively opposed electoral reform in the UK is really the kind of person whose authority you want to appeal to, given your stated commitment to democracy.

  19. Great article David, this needs much wider circulation. Is there anyone out there who can make this happen? Our nation is in such a slumber and needs to be awakened.

  20. A great commentary on the UK EU referendum that exposes the truth and reveals the essential tipping point. Both the historic changes within the EU and the prospect of closer integration, and partnership with corporate US persuade me to Vote Leave.

  21. One other point which I think is important but not yet mentioned in this discussion is the European Arrest Warrant. In this country, we are used to a system of trail by jury, and no detention without charge — deemed essential for around 800 years to protect the people from an state tyranny (in the form of magistrates).

    https://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/files/ConorBurns_EAW.pdf

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/10962834/The-European-Arrest-Warrant-would-compromise-Britons-civil-liberties.html

  22. Interesting article, I agree TIPP is pretty worrying. I am just not sure about your conclusion. Surely an alternative response to TIPP is to instead of voting to leave the EU, and allowing the conservative government to renegotiating our trading arrangements, we could choose to stay in the EU and vote for a party that opposes TIPP (http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/manifesto/all)

    1. Ben,

      That’s what we call faith! There is no chance of the Labour Party being able to prevent TTIP – even if they genuinely wanted to. Britain will have very little say in this – and the same old arguments will be used. We are in it to reform it, and in the future we will be able to do so. Meanwhile the corporatism and the powerful elites continue to rule us with threats and promises. I want out!

  23. Thank you for all this info. I don’t believe that the government is being honest for its reasons to stay in the EU.
    As a daughter of a farmer, how sad it made me feel to watch gallons of milk being tipped down the drain because of EU stipulating how much milk a uk farmer can sell.
    Small holdings were being driven out.
    I know that this is only one tiny area that the government is not sharing with ordinary folk like me. Why can’t the facts be laid out the true positives and negatives and then the UK can make an informed decision. I vote to leave and put the GREAT back into Britain!

  24. An interesting and cogent argument. I will be voting to remain in the EU though as I see it as something positive that can be changed (a no greater leap of faith as it were than believing in an independent Scotland as we both do).

    Both sides have their optimistic views of what will happen if they win. I find the belief that the UK will have any real influence in the world laughable and a determined belief that the British Empire can somehow be reformed. We have two things that make the world pay attention to us. The City of London (both the welcoming estate for foreign criminals and the wild lawless virtual financial world) and nuclear weapons. Neither are solid things to build influence upon. Within the EU we are a larger player in a global bloc.

    There are laws in the UK that have only come about because of the EU. Indeed they were resisted by the Conservatives – things like the working time directive. The good of the EU will be thrown away with the bad if we leave. I dont believe the bad is worth that. We will lose other things like movement across the continent – it is a peculiar British mentality that thinks things like that will be maintained because we want them. We will not have any of the current rights when we leave. We are going back to a blank slate. I am not sure that is useful.

    Finally, your fear of TTIP may be correct but I cannot see a UK government doing anything different. Unless we dont actually want a trade agreement with the US?

  25. Well done on writing such a long and thought-through post.

    I’ll make one comment on the economics although please forgive me for not taking time to expand. I was at the Royal Economic Society annual conference last month and in a session with approx 500 economists mainly academics but also those from policy institutions, think tanks and other organisations. There was a straw poll asking who believed there would be both short and longer term costs in leaving – about 95%+ put their hand up.

    The point is that there is near universal consensus amongst economists that leaving would be costly in both short and longer term. Although a nice soundbite, statements from people like the ‘economist’ on question time are simply not very credible.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. The question is whether statements from any economists are credible! How many economists saw the great crash? There are far too many variables for economics to be any kind of science. And there are senior economists who disagree with the mainstream – Economists for Brexit

      1. Thanks for your reply. The ‘not predicting the financial crisis’ is the obvious argument against the credibility of economists – this was a major failure in understanding the nature of systemic risk but is not especially relevant here. There are a few exceptions to the consensus view, but more often those that analyse the most likely impact of leaving the EU on trade and investment is that there will be significant costs to UK households.

        I agree with much of what you argue through the article, and have to weigh up these arguments against the feeling that we should some how be ‘pulling together’ at a time when there is such disunity. So there is much to put in favour of leaving but I’m not sure prosperity is one of them. Of course, who knows what will happen in the long-term, but on balance the evidence suggests that the costs of leaving will outweigh any benefits. You quote the Treasury numbers then counter with articles from the Spectator, some individuals, and some facts; but exports to EU is about 44% of total exports -imports from EU is about 53% of total imports – these numbers seem to be missing. So to does the point that most economists working in the area agree leaving will be costly, saying ‘Most of the stories of economic decline seem to be scare stories put out by those who have a vested personal and corporate interest in keeping the EU gravy train rolling’ – this is simply not true.

  26. It strikes me that, whilst the economic arguments are interesting and relevant to an extent, what the EU is primarily, is a political entity. That being the case, our attention should focus on the philosophy and drivers which led to its formation. It is quite clear, when you study the background, that the key impulse behind it was derived from Enlightenment utopianism, morphed via a version of Marxism. As Christians we ought to have profound reservations about political systems constructed on this kind of foundation:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Monnet

  27. David,
    I’ve just read your footnote and I’m mortified if it is my second comment that you are referring to as saying that Brexit would mean expulsion from Eurovision. That’s not what I meant.
    Yours,
    John/.

    1. Don’t worry – it wasn’t you! I have received many messages – I assume the Eurovision one was a joke – but it is indicative of the kind of scare story/nonsense that is getting passed around. Your points were much more serious and worthwhile!

  28. No matter how strong and detailed the analysis is, as is yours David, I suspect that most votes will be based on that terrible combination of fear + self interest, regardless of which category (ies), such as economics, (some based on mathematical models and greed which brought the banking crisis) seems to be most prominent or important in voter’s thinking and based on their philosophical, big or small, “worldview” no matter the language used. That is not to discredit in any way, your hugely valuable contribution, David

  29. For me the key issues are democracy, safety and immigration, none of which are improved by belonging to the EU. , also, unfortunately, I think a large proportion of the electorate are under the mistaken impression that things will stay as they are, whereas, of course, in a volatile organisation like the EU who knows where it will lead!
    I am 81 years old and have no desire to live out my remaining years under a totalitarian regime.

  30. One of the issus I have with Brexit is that it seems so xenophobic. It is not simply a matter of econmics. It also calls into question the idea of what sort of society do we want to have – one that says “we are different from other people and somehow better without them”? This does not sit cmfortably with my convictions as a Christian.
    Another issue is that I am Welsh, and come from a position of having been denied my identity for many centuries by English domination. Although we are now given the status of a nation, it is only a recent concession. Being a small fish in the European Union is less of a threat to my identity than being dominated by the English. Wales has never voted for a Conservatve government but seeing the domination of a bigger nation would consign us to a future of denied democracy. Our own capability of self sufficiency was taken away when our coal mines and steel manufacturing industries were nationalised and the money invested in south east England. Thus many areas in our country are now econmically more poor than many Eastern European countries. Even now the investment in Wales does nt even give us the infrastructure for being one nation. The rail connection between North and South Wales is nt there – e hav to travl through England if we want to connect. There is no motorway between North and South Wals. Therefore, leaving the EU would leave us prey to Westminster who seem to have no interest in giving us support. Whilst there are many faults with the EU, Westminster has not been kind to my nation.
    The other concern, and maybe my biggest concern as a Christian, is what effect leaving the EU would have on our ability to send missinaries to EU countries. I admit that I have a vested nterest, in that I have a daughter who is involved in mission in Europe, and travel myself to Eastern Europe to help churches and Christan movements there. We do nt know what effect leaving the EU would have on our ability to contnue with this work

    1. Dafydd – These are legitimate concerns and well expressed – that is why the issue is complex, not black and white. However I would suggest that the charge of xenophobia can be used on both sides and it is a bit of an ad hom argument. As a Scottish nationalist I don’t accept that it is xenophobic wanting your country to be independent. In Wales it just means you are ‘prey’ to both London AND Brussels.

      There may be an impact on missionaries both leaving and staying. If Britain becomes independent it does not mean that we are not going to be allowed to travel, work and live in other countries! There were missionaries to the EU beforehand and there will be missionaries afterwards. Meanwhile have you thought about what restrictions on missions work might be put in place if Turkey joins or if the EU Commissioners decide that all mission work should be banned because it is anti-homosexual ‘hate speech’?

  31. I was certainly one who was sitting on the fence. After reading this summary I now have a much more informed view. If only other Britons would read this, I am sure more would vote to come out of the EU which is what I will now be doing. Thank you for setting out the issues in such a comprehensible manner

  32. Interesting and thought provoking article. The key issue for me is democracy and in particular TTIP/ISDS. Even if all the dire prophecies of doom being peddled by the inners turn out to be true (pretty unlikely) I would still vote to leave rather than be a party to the UK national sleepwalk into the corporate totalitarianism that TTIP will bring. Not only will corporations be able to sue governments that pass legislation which impact on their profits, but the very existence of such legislation will influence governmental activity. New Zealand have shelved plans to introduce plain cigarette packaging in the light of the legal action taken by Philip Morris against Australia. So Philip Morris get the result they want against NZ without lifting a finger.

  33. Thank you for this. Free movement of missionaries really concerns me. We mustn’t forget that it’s not just about Brits going to Europe as missionaries, but also about those from other EU countries involved in mission work here being able to stay here. I have a friend from another EU country who has been here for many years working for various churches but who may not be able to stay post Brexit because a number of years of work have been voluntary, so he does not yet have leave to remain. If we had not been in the EU, there is no guarantee that he would even have been here in the first place.

    Free movement of workers always gives us a chance to move between EU countries for the sake of spreading the gospel, even where we would not be able to move as full time missionaries; we can always seek secular work in another EU country as a way in. This is much more straightforward than seeking a visa in a post EU situation.

    And as for Brussels imposing things seeking to prevent free speech about the gospel, recent history in the UK shows that of course a UK government can do this too!

    1. Clare – I am intrigued as to why I have received so many comments on what is a very narrow aspect of this whole debate – and dare I say it in the context of the gospel as well. It is very Euro-centric. What about all those missionaries from other parts of the world who we desperately need in Europe – our de-christianised continent? And why could we not seek secular work in the same way as we do in other countries in the world. I think a far greater fear for the Gospel (as opposed to individual workers we may know) is that of fortress Europe. I agree with your latter point.

    2. Though you would, of course, still need to try jump through the hoops and pay the cost of getting a work visa. Church work takes time, and being one of two working full-time elders of a church which is looking for a minster, what we desperately need is time.

      And is it narrow to look at the vote and ask: what do the options mean for the gospel? Many of the issues raised seem gospel-neutral. Free movement seems to me to be a gospel concern.

      ‘Totalitarianism’ is raised as a concern by a number commenting, and they are right to be concerned. But do we really see a British government as a bastion of Christian freedom in the face of a totalitarian EU? The ‘named person’ issue is entirely home grown, as are various high profile cases affecting freedoms for Christian employees. And it was the Conservative government in Westminster who introduced gay marriage as ‘the conservative thing to do’. I’m not saying the EU would necessarily be better in these areas, but it would not certainly be worse.

  34. I feel we should vote out ! Then look very closely at our relationship with the whole world ! If we get a hit economically it won’t be a large one certainly nothing that will have a huge effect on our day to day living! But it will give back our international identity as Great Britain not as a state of the eu ! I feel the depth of our identity within the world is being eroded if we stay in ! We’ve always been fighters for our own beliefs not those of Europe we will get by ! We must all hold our nerve and believe in our own strengths and identity!! That’s it I’m voting out! Good luck with your own decisions !!!!!!! Regards me !!

  35. Dear David,
    An interesting fact based article. However l would like to know what effect an out vote would have on expats. Whilst there are many points I could raise the one that most if not all expats will worry about is their Uk sourced pensions. I believe there are over 1 million expats in Spain and 450,000 in France and thousands of others in Europe. Surely this would have an effect on which way the individual would vote if the pension was affected.

    1. Toby, why do you think that this would affect those who have UK pensions? They would not stop receiving them – that is an economic not a political arrangement.

      1. This is an extract that I have found which has a lot of information of what could happen. It does make me think that to protect the status quo of living within the EU and not suffering the fallout of a Brexit regarding the devaluation of the Pound, should this happen. Also the pension value does seem to be directly associated with the decision to remain or leave. It could also be frozen which will cause a lot of hardship, especially on those with a low income. It also refers to the ‘in work benefits’ and foreign investment which could fall and the loss of UK jobs as Companies relocate staff or pull out of the UK. Travel rules could also be changed albeit this would not doubt be negotiated as not to harm the travel industry. All this is not directly associated with any of our current or future trade agreements. Thus making this a wider viewpoint on whether it is a good move to pull out of the EU, or accept there will be changes and hope all will change for the better if we do remain within the EU.

        How could Brexit affect expatriates
        February 18, 2016

        It now remains for final issues to be thrashed out at the meeting of the European Council, a strategic body that comprises the leaders of member states. If the deal is agreed a referendum date could be announced shortly afterwards, with Mr Cameron thought to favour June 23 this year.

        The issue said to be the trickiest to iron out relates to restricting the right to ‘in-work benefits’ for new arrivals from the EU for up to four years. There is speculation that this measure could also be applied to British expats returning from the continent.

        Several readers have been asking about the possible effects of a Brexit on expat Britons in France.

        While there remains great uncertainty over the precise effects because the UK’s future relationship with the EU in the event of a Brexit is still unknown – this would depend on treaty arrangements to be agreed with the remaining EU states – some areas which might be affected can be identified.

        One point that has emerged in recent weeks is a possible slump in the value of the pound, with major banks predicting that it could tumble by as much as 20%, significantly reducing the spending power for British pensioners in France.

        Multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs warned its clients of a possible 15-20% drop if foreign investors shy away from investing in the UK because of the uncertain economic outlook that would result.

        Large Japanese bank Nomura also predicted a decline of as much as 15%, which they said would fuel inflation and lower UK house prices by about 10%, taking about 2% off the country’s GDP. This is because overseas investors might be unwilling to finance the UK’s large current-account deficit, Nomura said (this refers to a situation where the value of goods and services imported exceeds the value of those it exports).

        Meanwhile Bank of America has stated that a Brexit would lead to many banking and financial services leaving London for EU countries and HSBC has said if there is a Brexit it will move part of its activities to Paris – about 1,000 jobs.

        The likelihood of economic effects for the UK was also suggested by a recent poll of 700 British and German companies operating in the UK which found that that almost one in three would consider reducing jobs or relocating in the case of a Brexit. Having said which, not all bosses agree – the chief executive of one of Britain’s largest manufacturers, JCB, said a Brexit would “not make a blind bit of difference” to trade with Europe.

        The impending referendum has already seen the pound’s value to the euro drop 8% in the last six months, meaning British pensions, rental income or inheritances buy less in France than they would have done last year.

        It should nonetheless be borne in mind that Britons in France have already coped with lower pound values – they approached parity with the euro a few years ago.

        What is more, double tax relief would continue to be available as the treaties – on death duties, income and corporation tax – already exist.

        However in most other respects matters would be subject to renegotiation, with the proviso that if the UK chose to (and was allowed to, which is uncertain) remain in the wider European Economic Area most current advantages for Britons would be maintained.

        In an extreme scenario, it is possible that while new treaties are worked out, which could take years, British residents and visitors could be treated like nationals of certain African or south American states that have no bilateral agreements with France. British residents could – in theory – even need visas to visit France, though this situation would probably be rapidly resolved so as not to harm tourism.

        While potential impacts on Britons in France will be on many minds, the French media have also raised the question of the rights of the 200,000 French people who live in London.

        This morning TF1(French Television Network) stated that a Brexit would represent a ‘deconstruction’ of Europe which they said was also threatened by issues such as Greece’s possible exit from the Schengen zone.

        Presenter Arlette Chabot described the UK as “a pain in the neck country since its entry into the union, which has multiplied its requests for exceptions”…. however she said “everyone says that if a powerful country like this leaves the EU it will be weakened.”

        French business representatives Medef said today a Brexit would represent “a major regression for France and the Europeans”, calling Mr Cameron’s reform ideas ‘useful’. They said the UK remaining would help both the UK and other EU members “seize opportunities in a changing world” and face problems such as terrorism and increased migrant flows, as well as mounting extremism and xenophobia.

        Below we list some further areas which might be affected for Britons, which we have considered with input from Franco-British honorary avocat Gerard Barron. However we stress again this are only issues which could be affected and nothing is certain at this stage. It is also worth emphasising that many Britons lived happily in France before the EU.

        • Britons might need to apply for fixed-term carte de séjour permits to live in France and then reapply for renewal on a regular basis. They may need to fulfill certain conditions such as proving a required skill or having sufficient wealth not to be a burden on social security. It is possible that Britons would be asked to take a language test and be required to take lessons if their level was not sufficient, as is required for some non-EU citizens (though rules on this vary according to the person’s situation and the grounds on which they are applying for residence rights). The EU rule that people become ‘permanent residents’ after five years may no longer apply to Britons.

        • If this was the case, Britons would probably benefit from a transitional period in which they could if they wished sell up and to back to the UK. Values of properties in popular expat areas – especially for holiday homes – could therefore drop due to over-supply.

        •******* It is possible that, as with many other parts of the world, British state pensions for French residents would be frozen. If there was no ‘EU pension’ arrangement, a Briton’s pension for a period worked in France could be worth less when claimed.******

        • Various UK benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Employment and Support Allowance may no longer be ‘exportable’ to France.

        • Britain would no longer issue S1 forms allowing British pensioners to have French healthcare paid for by the UK. This might mean they would have to take out private health policies (whose cost would be likely to rise steeply), or it could mean tougher checks on pensioners’ means to make sure they are not a ‘burden’ to France, before allowing them to join the French system on the basis of paying in 8% of their income above €9,611.

        • If the S1 system stopped then British pensioners in France may no longer be able to obtain ‘free’ NHS healthcare on visits back to the UK. French residents may not be able to benefit from using an EHIC on visits to the UK, so would need high quality travel insurance instead because they may face charges for many types of care (though not, under current rules, for GP visits and for accidents and emergencies). The EU directive that permits French residents to travel to the UK for many healthcare procedures (apart from certain ones deemed very costly or requiring in-patient stays) and be reimbursed by Cpam with no prior authorisation may no longer apply. In general it may be hard to obtain Cpam authorisation for care in the UK to be reimbursed, as the EU S2 form authorisation system may not apply.

        • If they did not have S1s then British pensioners in France might have social charges at 7.4% levied on all British pension income.

        • Similarly, if they had had no S1s then British retirees living in France might not have qualified for refunds of social charges at 15.5% on income from capital and investments in 2012-2015 under the recent ‘De Ruyter’ ruling, as they could not have used S1s to show a lack of affiliation to French social security. (UK residents with French property might also not have qualified for any refunds, since the refunds result from an EU law on coordination of countries’ social security systems. UK residents may also have to once again pay a ‘fiscal representative’ to calculate their capital gains tax when selling French property).

        • Britain might no longer be bound by the EU directive that will shortly require its banks to allow residents in other EU countries, such as France, to open new accounts.

        • Sending a letter between the UK and France might cost more and using a mobile phone, whether for calls or internet, could cost more if using a French mobile in the UK.

        • Air travel could become more expensive. The chief executive of easyJet, Carolyn McCall, recently said a Brexit could cause a return to the days when flying was “reserved for the elite” because she said Britain’s influence in Europe had played a key role in keeping fares low.

        • It may no longer be possible for French residents to do a year in the UK as part of the Erasmus university exchange scheme and students wanting to do full courses at UK universities might be charged high international rates.

        • Britons may not be able to vote in local mairie elections or become councillors and they could not vote for or be represented by a French MEP.

        • British people in France would for official purposes be considered étrangers (foreigners) and not Européens or communautaires.

        • British Prime Minister David Cameron and former UK ambassador to France Sir Peter Ricketts say there is a risk that ‘the Jungle could move to Dover’, because the strong UK-France cooperation at Calais relating to migrants seeking access to the UK may be disrupted. Sir Peter said France deploys 1,000 of its top riot police there. He said: “We get a secure border and the French carry a lot of the load. They are doing it because they see us as a very important ally in the EU. If that stopped, the incentives change for France.” Alternatively if France ceases to police the tunnel and port the burden may be placed on the ferry companies and Eurotunnel to prevent migrants boarding, which would put up ticket prices.

        • British driving licences may only be valid in France for one year before having to be exchanged.

        • Donations to British charities might no longer be tax deductible.

        • It may be harder for UK qualifications to be accepted, as EU mutual recognition rules would not apply and access to certain professions may be more limited.

  36. Thank you for your thoughtful argument on so many critical subjects. It seems that on every topic there are experts and “facts” that are diametrically opposed. I note just one such contradiction: the current governor of the Bank of England (Mark Carney) is in favour of us staying in the EU, whereas the previous governor (Mervyn King) advises us to leave. Then ask yourself which of them is more likely to be independent-minded: Mark Carney, ex-Goldman Sachs, appointed by and – although independent on interest rates – still beholden to George Osborne? or Mervyn King, an academic and/or public servant for most of his life who is not answerable to, and whose continued employment does not depend on, any politician?

  37. Thanks for all these. My own research has been down the route of law – and the fundamental differences between Napoleonic EU law and British Common law. Alfred the Gret5a began writing English law in the 890s, and over 1100 years it had been developed into a constitution which is based on government by consent, with ordinary citizens having a voice in its formulation. Many people over many centuries have given their lives to achieve the blend of “fairness” and justice which is such a characteristic of the British way of life. The Napoleonic law which governs Europe derives from Napoleon’s Civil Code of around 1800, barely 200 years old, and the product of one man’s ideas and discussions. Very useful at the time to create order from the chaos of the French revolution etc of those days, but a million miles away from democratic government by consent.
    Both De Gaulle and Churchill knew that Britain and Europe had legal, geographical and governmental cultures and structures which were incompatible, and only after they had both died did Britain choose to ignore their wisdom. There are a thousand reasons why Britain and the European nations can be allies, friends and enjoy each others cultures and nations, but, in exactly the same way that the USSR didn’t work, there are a thousand reasons why history says a political union of European states is destined to fail. For Britain to disengage with Brussels now, and be ready in a respected position of strength to help, as it has in the past, when this complete disintegration finally happens is, I believe, the right way forward.
    Incidentally, the £4,300 deficit claimed by the Chancellor assumes that there will be NO new trade with the rest of the world countries after Brexit – read it ! I did especially to find out. It is a mischievous claim to say that our prosperity through trade is in great danger. Of course there will be new directions for Britain which bring challenges, but Britain has many friends in the world, and many will say that trading openly with seven billion people throughout the world is a better prospect for Britain than trading with the half billion in the EU Single Market.

  38. Excellent written analysis of the debate. The EU and all the things that come with it are an affront to democracy as power is moved further and further away from the people. When former Europhiles such as Dr David Owen of the SDP tell you to vote to leave then for me that is a wake up call. TTIP is looming large and if the UK votes to stay it will be full steam ahead on this project, which will threaten the fabric of the the things we hold dear such as the NHS, an inclusive legal system where the rule of law is above that of a corporation.

    Goldman Sachs et al are self serving & wait in the wings passing money to the remain campaign to supplement the 9 million of tax payer money David Cameron shamefully used to print spin and propaganda.

    There are unknowns and voting leave will be a brave decision, however the notion that the UK cannot govern its won political affairs is laughable. Moreover a vote to stay, is in reality a vote for more integration and more USSR styled centralised government and will usher in the age of the corporation, with TTIP and other anti-democratic agreements.

    One has to only look at that the tragedy which is Greece or Spain to understand that the EU is not working, in an age of devolution i.e. Scottish Parliament, regional assemblies its seems diametrically opposed to advocate a centralist structure of governance.

    I think ultimately the money being passed to the remain campaign, together with the backing of remain by the leaders of all UK parties bar UKIP, will result in a Yes vote. Unlike the Scotland independence vote which resulted in more powers for Scotland a Yes vote is the green light to even more integration, even more centralist control, more transfer of legal power from member states to the EU.

    I really hope I am wrong, fingers crossed for 23 July 2016, spread the word Vote to leave and a new chapter in the life of the UK and Scotland

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