I expect a lot of your readers will have received the first edition of the Europe and You through their letterbox by now.
As the leaflet is from the ‘Stronger In’ campaign, it is not surprising that the key ingredient of the document is fear – to make us feel that we might be running terrible, yet un-named, risks in going our own way outside the EU.
To help support its claim, the leaflet lists six key facts. I would like to point out a few points on some of the claims.
Fact one: The campaigners say that over 3million jobs are linked to our trade with the EU.
They don’t say that they are dependant on the UK being an EU member.
Remember, this same argument was used when people argued we should join the Euro.
It is patently obvious that the decision to remain out of the Euro has probably preserved millions of jobs.
Fact two: They say that being in the EU means lower prices in the shops because it’s cheaper to trade.
They don’t say that this trade has to be with the EU and, in fact, a lot of the food and items we buy comes from outside the EU.
We would and should be supporting our own industry and farmers.
Facts three and six: They say that the benefits of the EU are worth £3,000 a year to the average household and we get £66 million every day from the EU.
They don’t say that we give practically double that amount to the EU.
Channel 4’s FactCheck, which is completely independent of either side of the in/out campaigns, subjected the £3,000 figure to analysis and concluded “this very precise number is not based on any real evidence”.
It may surprise you to know that Britain’s payments to the EU have just passed the £500billion mark.
The cost has risen from £1.9billion in our first year to £19.1billion last year.
The annual cost, adjusted for what Britain gets back in farm and regional subsidies, has risen from £1billion to £9.9billion.
A former banker stated that we get back about half of what we pay to the EU. And this is supposed to be good for the UK?
As Dominic Lawson said: “It is as if he had lent me £100, I pay him £50 and then tell him he would regret ending our financial relationship.”
David Charter wrote in his book that the EU budget for 2007 to 2013 calls for a common agricultural policy contribution from the UK of 41.1billion Euros, of which 32.5billion will return to British farmers and landowners.
That means the UK’s contribution or subsidy to our competitors was 8.7billion Euros over the budget period, or 3.4 million Euros per day.
I feel that this money would be much better spent in the UK.
Fear-based arguments are at the heart of the campaign, so be prepared for more of the same.