EU REFERENDUM: IS IT REALLY THE ECONOMY, STUPID?


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Welcome back to Moraymint Chatter (especially readers of The Northern Scot newspaper)!  Post # 2-of-4 on the subject of the EU Referendum: how will you decide which way to vote?  A Punter’s Guide.

Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening.  This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.

Jean Monnet, Founding Father of the European Union

The European Union must take a decisive step towards a federal economic government.’

Andrew Duff, British Member of the European Parliament 1999 – 2014

The Culture of the European Union

In my first post last week I invited you to bear in mind when contemplating the merits of Remaining in, or Leaving the EU, the culture of that organisation and, by association, the behaviour of our own Political Class.  I pointed out that the history of the EU shows quite categorically that the organisation was founded upon, and operates to this day on the basis of deceit; ‘The Great Deception’ as Booker & North call it in their book of the same name.  You will of course decide for yourself whether the EU is indeed a Great Deception, or a paragon of political virtue.  In any case, for this and subsequent posts we should consider some of the hard factors affecting how to vote in the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.  This week we’ll look at the economics of EU membership and the pros and cons of Remaining in, or Leaving the EU.

It’s the Economy, Stupid

If you look at the debate thus far (if you can call it a debate), the Remain campaign, led by The Political Class is a one-trick pony: the economy is all that matters when making your decision in June.  Or as an American President once said, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’  Now, if you bear in mind the overall strategy of the European and British political elites it is indeed to keep us plebeians focused on economic matters.  Glance back to the top of this post at Jean Monnet’s words and you’ll realise that disguising everything with an economic purpose is precisely what the European project is all about.  After all, it’s human nature to concern oneself with life’s basics, not least matters of employment and financial security.  The Euro-elites play on this base human instinct.

The Remain campaign asserts, for example, that if the UK left the EU it would trigger an immediate recession; adversely affect UK output to the tune of more than 1% per year for the next decade; put millions of jobs at risk; provoke a balance of payments crisis with sterling plunging 20% or more; raise inflation; erode real incomes and poleaxe Britain’s credit rating.  Ergo, you would be mad to vote Leave.  QED.

Thus [on 18 May 1955, through the Benelux Memorandum] did the central deception of the whole story become established.  From now on, the real agenda, political integration, was to be deliberately concealed under the guise of economic integration.  Building ‘Europe’ was to be a matter of trade and jobs.

‘The Great Deception’, Booker & North, Bloomsbury, 2005

Use Your Common-Sense

In fact, nobody really knows what would happen economically if the UK left the EU.  The key to understanding the economic impact of a British exit (Brexit) from the EU is to look at the facts as we know them today and make reasonable, common-sense assumptions about the likelihood of one scenario or another.  Trust your judgement.  At root you have to ask yourself whether it could possibly be the case that the UK – the 5th largest economy in the world and a nation with a global trading history stretching back centuries – would really disintegrate overnight if it left a sclerotic trading bloc?  Over 60% of the UK’s export trade is not with the European Union, but with the rest of the world.  More EU countries sell their goods and services to the UK than vice versa.  The UK’s combined trade and current account deficits with the EU amount to some £150 billion per year.  Why would other EU countries commit economic suicide by refusing to trade with the UK were we to be outside of the Union?  Do you think other EU politicians believe there to be votes in their own countries by crippling their trading relationships with the UK purely out of spite for Brexit?  How could they do that anyway when the Lisbon Treaty stipulates that the EU must make a trade agreement with a country which leaves the EU?  Use your common-sense.

Powerful Inside The EU – Weak Outside The EU

Look at this another way.  The Eurocrats tell us that if the UK pulled out of The Lisbon Treaty, it would be curtains for the European Union.  The UK is such a significant player in Europe, the second largest contributor to the EU budget, that if we left the EU there’d be economic and political mayhem on the continent.  Deutsche Bank’s Chief Economist said recently, ‘If Brexit were to occur, continental Europe would be relegated to second-rank status.’  On the other hand, the Remainians tell us that if the UK pulled out of The Lisbon Treaty then, er, we’re such an economic and political minnow we’d be ruined.  Both arguments can’t be right.

It Makes No Difference Either Way

Capital Economics, one of the world’s leading independent economic research companies prepared a report recently for a UK Fund Manager (Neil Woodford) who concluded that ‘it’s really hard to see any significant credibility in any argument to stay or leave that’s constructed around economics.  We think it’s a zero-sum game … if we stay or leave, the fundamentals of the economy will be relatively unmoved.’  This is at odds with The Political Class who would see us all having a fit of the vapours over the UK’s economic prospects on leaving the EU (some people are calling this ‘Project Fear’).

[The UK’s exports] will go down to almost absolutely zero if we come out of the EU.

Anna Soubry, Conservative Minister for Small Business

Are you surprised at this fear-mongering, bearing in mind that The Great Deception is predicated on always playing on the economic fears of you and me?  Fear not.  When it comes to the referendum on 23 June, you can safely assume that if you vote for Brexit the world will carry on much as before as far as the UK economy is concerned.  Indeed, shorn of the bureaucratic trading strictures of the European Commission, the chances are that the UK will not only survive but thrive as the global trading nation that we’ve always been.  Use your common-sense.

Is There an Economic Upside to Brexit?

Graham Richings of Guildford, Surrey wrote the following letter to The Daily Telegraph recently:

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is prophesying doom and gloom in Wednesday’s Budget with cuts in spending because of a black hole in our finances and outside factors.  Yet Britain pays some £55 million per day to the EU, of which we only ever get back about £22 million.  This is a net loss of £33 million per day.  Where is the logic in this when we could vote Leave, save that amount of money and spend it on our sovereign nation?

Mr Richings has a point.  According to Full Fact (an independent, non-partisan fact checking charity), the EU costs the UK some £9 billion net per year in membership fees.  This is a staggering amount of taxpayers’ money to subsidise a trading bloc where 94% of British businesses have no trading relationship whatsoever with the EU – but who have to bear the burden of the suffocating red tape that comes with EU membership.  Over 70% of the UK’s GDP is generated within the UK – but is nonetheless subject to EU law.  According to Open Europe, an independent, non-partisan, think-tank, the annual cost to the UK economy of EU red tape is over £33 billion.  So, yes there is an economic upside to Brexit: it adds up to around £42 billion per year before we get out of bed in the morning.

Any More Where That Came From?

As Capital Economics has pointed out, recent growth in UK exports has come largely from non-EU countries.  Also, the rest of the world is forecast to grow more rapidly than the EU in the coming years, not least because of a combination of the dead hand of EU bureaucracy, the growing pressure to integrate the EU into a superstate (‘ever closer union’) and the hugely damaging effects of the euro currency on many of the countries which are forced to use it.  Andrew Lilico, Managing Director of Europe Economics, an economics consultancy, makes the point that ‘if the eurozone is to continue to work, then the economic logic demands that there will have to be a political union among the eurozone members.’  The European Union is heading in the wrong direction economically; the EU’s share of world GDP is forecast to decline to 22% by 2025, down from 37% in 1973.  At the same time, Europe itself is fading in relative importance in the world.

There are many other reasons to think that the UK would be able to prosper outside of the European Union – this list is most certainly not exhaustive:

Other major economies, not least Japan, are not in trading blocs.

Norway and Switzerland are not in the EU, yet they export far more per capita to the EU than does the UK.  EU membership is not a prerequisite for a healthy trading relationship.

The UK’s best trading relationships are with countries outside of the EU, eg with the USA and Switzerland.  The largest investor in the UK is not an EU country – it’s the USA.

Research by the consultancy Ernst & Young concluded that the UK remains the number one Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination in Europe owing primarily to the City of London and the UK’s close corporate relationship with the USA.  EU membership was not mentioned at all in their table of key factors affecting the investment decisions of those surveyed; the UK’s culture was the most important decision-making factor.

The Business Community View: Blue Chip Man

By and large the business community – ‘big business’ in particular – argues in favour of Remain. Why?  Well, because the guys you hear on the radio and see on the TV exhorting you and me to vote Remain have a duty to their shareholders: that duty is to maximise profits.  Blue Chip Man has no significant public interest in the political and social dimensions of EU membership.  As far as Blue Chip Man is concerned, unfettered immigration to the UK is a godsend.  Usually the greatest cost on a business’s profit-and-loss account is the cost of labour.  Blue Chip Man cherishes the prospect of tens if not hundreds of thousands of, for example, relatively poor East Europeans arriving on our shores seeking work.  It means that Blue Chip Man can hire labour cheaply, constrain his costs and maximise profits.  When Blue Chip Man maximises profits he secures his own employment and share options.  When it comes to arguing for or against membership of the EU, Blue Chip Man has a conflict of interest.

Lord Stuart Rose is a fine example of Blue Chip Man: he’s the former head of Marks & Spencer and now Chairman of ‘Britain in Europe’.  Recently, Lord Rose was asked by a Parliamentary Select Committee ‘if [the] free movement [of labour] were to end following Brexit, is it not reasonable to suppose that we could see increases in wages for low-skilled workers in the UK?’.  Lord Rose replied by saying that ‘if you’re short of labour, the price of labour would go up.  So, yes.  But that’s not necessarily a good thing.’  Blue Chip Man says that low-skilled workers earning more money is not a good thing.  Better to have 335,000 immigrants arriving in our society every year and workers earning less, than it is to recover our sovereignty, control our borders, ease the pressure on our public services, housing and so on, and generally govern our society ourselves.  You get the idea about Blue Chip Man?

Who Speaks for Business?

The mouthpiece of Blue Chip Man tends to be the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).  The CBI has declared that ‘it will not align itself with one side or the other in the Referendum debate.’, whilst in the same breath announced recently that it ‘would now set out the economic case for the UK remaining in Europe ahead of the referendum on 23 June.’  The CBI also said, ‘it is not our place to tell people how to vote.’  In the period 2007 to 2013 the CBI received  €1,153,931 of EU funds.  The EU is one of the largest contributors to the CBI’s coffers.

The bosses of 36 FTSE 100 companies wrote to The Times newspaper recently urging voters to support EU membership.  Between them those 36 companies spent  €21 million lobbying Brussels institutions – and received in return some  €121 million in EU grants; that’s a pretty impressive payback.

You make up your own mind about the relationship between big business-related organisations and the European Union.

It’s Not The Economy, Stupid

As voters in the EU Referendum, what we have to remember is this.  The deciding factor in whether to vote Remain, or Leave is not purely economic; that’s precisely what The Political Class and the business community want you and I to think and where they play on our (unjustified) fears.  We are supposed and, indeed, are directed by The Political Class to think that all that matters about membership of the European Union is this: if we Remain we’re safe financially; if we Leave, we’re doomed.  Economics is the be-all and end-all of the UK’s membership of the EU.  It’s hysterical nonsense of course.  The Political Class’s argument for the UK Remaining in the EU is a deliberate combination of extreme risk aversion, fear-mongering, talking down our great nation and, most important of all, compliance with The Great Deception.

No, the deciding factors for you and me in the Referendum should be largely political and social.  These are the areas which – precisely because The Political Class doesn’t want us to go there – we should investigate in some detail.  These are the factors affecting our way of life which The Political Class is reluctant, if not terrified of us investigating and taking into account when we vote on 23 June.

We should finish with the words of Andrew Lilico who argues that outside of the EU the UK has ‘new possibilities out in the wider world.  We could form new deep alliances with Canada and Australia.  Or we could play the Great Game with China, India and Brazil.  Or we could do something else entirely unforeseeable.  The future is an undiscovered country.  Of course we can’t know what we might do after Brexit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be reasonably sure whatever it is that we do could be turned into something good.’

When it comes to the economics of EU membership, don’t succumb to Project Fear.  Use your common-sense.  Trust your great British judgement.

Coming Next

In the next post we’ll look at the politics of the European Union.  Please comment on this post, challenging my own views if you wish.  Indeed, why not link this post to your MP, your MSP, your MEP and your local councillor?  Ask them for their views.  Share it with your family and friends.  Share it on Twitter.  Share it on your Facebook page.  Get the word out.  Show The Political Class that they don’t have a monopoly on this debate.  Remember that despite the best efforts of the Prime Minister (who is at the vanguard of The Political Class) to dictate a single view, you and I have a choice here.  Don’t be intimated; trust your great British judgement.

Look to the right of this web page and you’ll see a section ‘FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL’.  Enter your email address in the box, click on the ‘Follow’ button, follow the on-screen instructions and you’ll be alerted to the next post in this series.  All the best for now and many thanks for taking the trouble to visit Moraymint Chatter.   Remember, the future of our country is at stake.

Finally, please take a moment to watch this brief video.  The economist Professor Patrick Minford explains what life could be like for the UK outside of the EU

——

Postscript

A friend of mine asked me recently, ‘How do you fit blogging in with your day job?’  I replied, ‘I get up at 5.00 am most days.  By 5.30 am I’m at my desk with a mug of strong breakfast leaf tea.  At about 8.30 am I start my day job.  I finish work most days at 5.30 pm. In the evenings, I don’t watch TV.  Mrs Moraymint and I sit together, she doing her cross-stitch, or similar, and me indulging my journalistic pursuits.’  OK with that?

20 comments

  1. A Rodriguez · ·

    I have not read such biast and misinforming dribble for a very long time. Please talk to the mirror and see your face during your dribble. It will make you ashamed.
    Fortunately the public is not stupid enough to believe your rubish.
    Better luck in future

    Like

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thank you for your comment Mr/Ms Rodriguez. If I may say, yours is not the most constructive contribution to this important debate, but at least you’ve made it clear that the facts as I’ve stated them in my post above don’t appeal to you particularly.

      I do wonder – especially when folk make comments like yours – just what the economic arguments for the UK to remain in the EU are exactly? Do you know?

      All the best …

      Like

  2. Good post.

    On balance I do not think we will see much difference in GDP growth following Brexit since all trade deals will be grandfathered on exit. In fact a weaker £ will probably be of benefit in the shorter term.

    In the longer term, once the UK negotiates new deals with countries that the EU has dragged out negotiations with (e.g. China), we can probably expect circa 1-2% pa additionalGDP growth from not being shackled to the EU’s failing states.

    Page 5 of this research paper gives a good chart of the long term GDP impact:
    http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06730

    Perhaps the other issues worth looking at re the referendum in the coming weeks are:
    – Trade deal options following Brexit – why can’t we have a deal like Canada has with the EU?
    – Security and intelligence – the UK is a world leader and if we remain our core strength will likely be handed over to the EU.
    – Immigration impact & whether it will change with Brexit.
    – Energy costs & energy security – will Brexit really lead to higher costs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks quercus; some good points there. I’ll look at your link. Also, I will be dealing with some (possibly all) of the points in your list in due course.

      In terms of planning for, and dealing with Brexit, this might be of interest.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheshireman · ·

    As you may know, I’m no lover of the EU, but I was interested to read this summary of outcomes from a subscriber to Fuller Treacy Money

    ‘The only reason I can see to leave the EU is that the EU looks like a doomed political project. I can therefore imagine 4 scenarios for the EU and the UK:

    I) Brexit wins + the EU collapses. Entails global prolonged recession and geopolitical chaos.

    II) Brexit wins + EU mends itself. ‎It would mean a relative deterioration of Britain vs. rest of Europe.

    III) Britain remains in EU, and EU collapses. Entails global prolonged recession and geopolitical chaos and implies brexit.

    IV) Britain remains in EU, and EU mends itself. Not very likely at this point, but I believe the most positive scenario.’

    I leave the likelihood of each to your own thoughts, but there has been lots of time for (iv) already and it hasn’t happened up to now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Thanks and that’s interesting. Increasingly I’ve been thinking beyond the Referendum in the sense of what if the UK votes to stay in the EU? At the moment that’s arguably the most likely result, but I do think that anything could happen on the day and it could well come down to who can be bothered to get out and vote on 23 June (a sad prospect in itself). At the highest level of consideration I think the portents are that the EU will go the way of the USSR. As time passes, the inconsistencies, the paradoxes, the inward-looking, empire-building, self-serving focus, the lack of a European demos and so on and so forth will mean that eventually the EU will simply implode. The question is how long would such a scenario take to unfold and, moreover, what would be the financial and human costs?

      That the European Union is such a total economic, political and social shambles a generation after it was created speaks for itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cheshireman · ·

        You missed ‘corrupt’ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed, I happen to think that our long-overdue referendum is now a sideshow to the main event, which is that the EU simply *cannot* be held together. The empire-building hubris of the Eurocrats will be their downfall. Had a secure eastern border been fixed (from lets say Stettin to Trieste), then greater economic integration in the West could have taken place without the level of mass migration that has happened.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The real issue is unrestricted immigration and we all know that it is, the increased competition for jobs and housing having put downward pressure on living standards for the plebs. 12 years ago, prior to the accession of the former Soviet Bloc countries, there was little demand for Brexit. Blue Chip Man (as you have identified) and Blue Chip Woman, for there are plenty of those nowadays, can also hire tradesmen cheaper. For White Van Man, that creature loathed by the Guardian-reading ‘liberal left’, he has faced increased competition for work.

    Bur fear not, the EU will collapse anyway, because a political union of more than two dozen countries, many with no common language, culture or history, *cannot* be held together, even by dictatorship.

    PS I had the ‘Better in Europe’ propaganda leaflet delivered on Wednesday, which I promptly tore up and stuck in the recycling box, in time for its fortnightly Thursday collection. I’m hoping that the binmen feel the same way as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. flyer · ·

      Yes aa agree. I’ve always be very keen on helping out the Third World and was once invited to write a PHd proposal on the subject. Unfortunately, the way things are being handled, instead of us dragging the Third World up, it’ll drag us down.

      I’m not a religious person, but the bible does contain numerous references to: ‘putting your own house in order first.’ I take that to mean that you can only help others from a position of strength.

      I was taught to rescue people from the depths of the ocean and the golden rule was: ‘the rescuer has the first priority or else there will be two casualties rather than one.’

      Unfortunately, this isn’t about helping the Third World it’s about power. Don’t believe the Politically Correct propaganda: it is just that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Independence Day · ·

        One of the growing army of excellent bloggers did an article on the EU and Africa, it makes interesting reading:

        http://thebrexitdoor.com/2016/02/26/the-eu-keeping-africa-poor/

        Liked by 1 person

        1. moraymint · ·

          Great, will take a look; thanks. If you look at my ‘BLOGS I FOLLOW’ on the right, the first two sites are well worth a visit. Ha! Just realised that you’ve connected from The Brexit Door!

          Like

    2. moraymint · ·

      I’ll be addressing the immigration issue in the 4th post when I look at the societal impact of the UK’s membership of the EU.

      Like

  5. Robert E Lee · ·

    Reading your comments mm, I’m minded of an acronym used by our maths lecturer when demonstrating a proof on the blackboard, (as it was in 1981), when I was a student on the GD Aerosystems course at RAF Cranwell). IPOTARTP. “It’s patently obvious to all right thinking people.” QED.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. flyer · ·

    As much as I agree with your arguments mm, to me they’re irrelevant. I don’t care what happens to the economy, Id rather live in a tent and eat hedgehogs than be part of the European Union: I need no further convincing. I realise that the EU is about power and nothing else, having watched the lies, subterfuge, gerrymandering and even outright criminal behavior that this organisation has used to gain power. What kind of people must these Eurocrats be? These people make my skin crawl, I can’t believe anybody in their right mind would want to be ruled over by them.

    I love Europe, I’ve always thought it was such a beautiful and unique place: nowhere else in the world was there so much cultural diversity in such a relatively small space. Learning to ski in France and Switzerland and enjoying the fine food, are memories I’ll always treasure. It breaks my heart to see Europe and the UK subjugated by the EU and invaded by Islam. I suppose it won’t be long before London is like Beirut and they’re firing Rocket Propelled Grenades at each other across the Thames.

    It’s been many years since I’ve set foot in Europe or the UK, indeed, I have a policy of staying out of the Northern Hemisphere. I wish I could just get on with my life of hunting, fishing, flying and scuba-diving, but I can’t seem to detach myself from the country of my birth, where I grew up and lived a large part of my life. Instead, I watch events unfold in Europe with ever greater intensity and I boil inside.

    As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, I was in our capital city recently, only to discover that the !!!!!*****!! European Union had opened an office! It’s at times like these that I gain insights into the minds of terrorists, I know what I’d like to do, but I won’t (no need for the SAS), I’m too level headed. I’m a long way from Europe and I’ve realised that if the EU isn’t stopped, it’ll become a problem to us all.

    My thoughts on the European Union or SPECTRE as I call it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      Yes, I understand your sentiments flyer.

      What I’ve noticed over the past year or so, however, is that otherwise perfectly intelligent and rational people hold the view that there is just one factor in deciding whether to vote for or against the UK’s continued membership of the EU: the future of the UK economy. Moreover, those same people have fallen victim to the supremely clever propaganda machine that props up the European Union and which says: the UK is toast if it leaves the EU.

      Having researched the matter in some considerable detail for over a year now, I can find no evidence categorically one way or the other. In other words – as I reflect in the post above – the effect of the UK leaving the EU will be at worst benign in the medium- to longer-term, and at best the UK will not only survive, but will thrive. That’s what the evidence suggests.

      The EU propaganda machine, however, tells us that we’re stuffed if we pull out. A quick re-read of my first post on this subject explains why the EU asserts that the UK (or indeed any withdrawing nation) is dead without the EU. It’s because the odds of the EU collapsing rise very significantly on the day the UK exits the EU. If that day comes to pass, and I hope fervently that it does, Britain will once again have been responsible for rescuing the peoples of Europe from themselves. What goes around, comes around.

      Like

      1. flyer · ·

        I agree,we’ll be perfectly fine without the EU, much better in fact: the EU does propaganda much, much better than it does business and economics. The EU is an economic disaster that will take us down with it.

        It’s just that I can see through the EU propaganda and don’t need to think about it anymore: my mind is made up. The EU propaganda is like water of a ducks back to me, I hope others realise what’s happening too: before it’s too late.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I would venture that the tragic migrant crisis is evidence of the failure of the EU to live up to its political ideals. The crisis didn’t happen out of the blue, and the big EU players were unable to get their act together and come up with a coherent strategy to manage it.

    In fact, as with so many other European issues, such as the lack of connection between France and Belgium over terrorist intelligence, old hatreds triumphed over EU ideology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. moraymint · ·

      The term ‘it’s like herding cats’ comes to mind.

      Like

  8. Peter · ·

    What is really difficult to take, is hearing a succession of Lord Haw Haw type idiots on the radio or TV, purporting to represent some organisation or other, talking down our fantastic country. They say we are a bunch of losers and that we owe our entire economic and cultural success to some clapped out political union. They say we can’t agree trade deals, we cannot cooperate on security matters and absolutely incapable of collaborating in any way on climate, science, aid, and the like.

    They say when we leave the EU we will have no friends and no one will talk to us. It will be like lining up against the wall at school to play football. We will be picked last and told to go in goal, while France,Germany and the other leading EU countries will play up front and take all the fancy free kicks.

    Well I believe none of this propaganda, I just want what other countries have. National independence, and democratic accountability. What the hell is wrong with that?

    Liked by 1 person

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