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WEEKEND WEB: Free Press letters

John Elson's Free Press cartoon
John Elson's Free Press cartoon

Your views on Brexit and railways

Accept and respect the outcome of the referendum

Unlike your letter writer Mr Meekings, and the Treasury, those of us who look forward to Britain being an independent, self-governing nation once again do not base our economic case on just one model or scenario. Our case is supported by multiple models, scenarios and strands. But, it is also about much more than just pure economics. It is also about freedom and liberty, democracy and accountability. On all these fronts the EU is regressive, not progressive.

However, regarding economic modelling, I say – when will they learn that if you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out? We witnessed the ‘Gravity Model’ in action with ‘Project Fear’ and as we know it was a work of fiction then, just as we all know it is a work of fiction now. It predicted an economic meltdown if we defied the all-knowing ‘Gravity Model’ and its promises of doom and plague on all our houses if we had the temerity to vote to leave the EU.

Worse still, in their modelling they never include the far more positive outcome it would forecast if we successfully agree a Canada-style, plus, plus, plus Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU.

However, Economists for Free Trade is not alone in blowing apart the myths of Project Fear. The World Bank and Capital Economics have produced the only truly independent analysis of the impact of a vote to Leave the EU, which suggested that the impact – even with no FTA – would be minimal. This boost to the economy or minimal impact assessment – even without a FTA – is supported by many other eminent economists and organisations.

Fortunately, the British people are smarter and wiser than some of our political masters give us credit for.

So why is the Gravity Model, even without a UK/EU FTA scenario, so flawed? Because it fails to take into account the dynamics of a modern global economy in which the world has shrunk so much that distance, oceans and borders are no longer the barriers to global free trade that they were when this model first emerged in 1962.

This dinosaur of an economic model was at the very heart of ‘Project Fear’. On that basis the ‘Gravity Model’ was wrong on every measure – its forecast was so inaccurate as to be seriously embarrassing. Wheeling this same model out again is an insult to the intelligence of the electorate.

Britain’s economy is significantly different today than it was in 1962. Manufacturing now represents just 10 per cent of our economy, in 1962 it was over 40 per cent. Some 90 per cent of the British economy is now in services where distance is not a major factor.

Another serious flaw is that it works on the basis of immigration continuing to increase year on year at unsustainable levels in the UK. It works on the absurd assumption that if we take back control of our borders, and immigration falls below the Government target of less than 100,000 a year our economy will cease to grow. Tell that to Australia that has benefitted from the longest run of unbroken economic growth in its history. Controlled immigration that allows the world’s brightest and best to live and work in the UK with the right mix of high earnings, high skills and experience will boost our economy.

Likewise, Mr Meekings is wrong about our trade with China. It has more than doubled and Britain is now China’s second largest trading partner within Europe – after Germany. GB did a massive £55billion of trade with the eastern giant last year, and is now Beijing’s eight largest economic partner in the world. When we sign Free Trade Agreements – we can do that from 2020 onwards now that we are leaving the EU - with China, we are confident that we will not just catch up, but overtake Germany.

Please note Mr Meekings, we have already – in June 2016 – had a vote on the deal offered by Brussels. David Cameron went to Brussels to negotiate ‘a new settlement’ and he came back with the EU’s offerings and it was given short shrift by the electorate by a decisive margin. This is not Greece or Ireland where if the EU does not get the answer it wants, it says “keep trying until we get the right answer.” Please Mr Meekings, just accept and respect the outcome of the referendum as you said you would.

Craig Jackson

Vote Leave Constituency Co-ordinator

Reversing the descision now would be excruciating

In reply to Mr Meekings’ letter of February 20, to demand another referendum at the end of Brexit negotiations, apart from weakening the negotiators hand, would be like changing your mind after the surgeon has opened your chest for major surgery: the worst part is nearly over.

It is common for Europhiles to force another vote until they get the ‘right’ answer. We do not take kindly to bullies.

No one should have expected there would be no pain leaving the EU after over 40 years. A reminder; with the coming of every joy there is pain. The pain of reversing the decision would be excruciating – probably fatal,

Richard Fairman

via email

There’s no evidence unicorns exist

It’s great when Brexiteers like Mr R Garner (Letters, February 27) and John Hayes MP (last week’s Hayes in The House) rail against me for presenting uncomfortable facts and evidence about Brexit, as they simply give me further opportunities to point out the fundamental flaws in their beliefs and assertions.

This time around Mr R Garner says: “Isn’t it time for Mr Meekings to down his angry pen and look to a brighter future?” Short answer: no. Why would I believe in the economic equivalent of unicorns, when there’s no evidence unicorns exist?

To be fair, John Hayes does quote at least one bit of evidence in his latest weekly column, namely “research from Economists for Free Trade.” Unfortunately, John Hayes must have missed my earlier letter in the Free Press on February 20 in which I explained why this “research” is fundamentally flawed. So, I now challenge him to give me any credible evidence from leading economists who support the findings of the tiny band of “Economists for Free Trade”.

Even John Hayes’s own Conservative government’s Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) recently produced a cross-departmental briefing paper showing that all Brexit strategies would make the UK worse off.

Twenty months after the EU Referendum and eleven months after the government triggered Article 50, Theresa May’s Cabinet still don’t know what sort of Brexit they’re seeking or likely to get.

How do I know this to be true? Because John Hayes and 61 other Conservative MPs have recently sent Theresa May a letter, described by most commentators as a “ransom note”, setting out the six ‘red lines’ of the hard-right Conservative European Research Group.

We can either have Brexit, which will cripple our economy, or we can get back to having the fastest-growing G7 economy, which we had back in 2016 and which will allow us to build a fairer, more just, more equitable society in the UK, backed by the financial capability to address pressing social issues.

I wonder how John Hayes is happy to waste his whole ‘Hayes in The House’ column to advocate Brexit, rather than addressing the very real issues people locally are experiencing on a day-to-day basis.

Moreover, John Hayes concludes his latest weekly column by saying “Now, to finally thwart the snarling and whining of the Brexit deniers and unrepentant Europhiles, the people must triumph again.” So, let’s bring it on, John. Let’s have a referendum on the terms of Brexit negotiated by your Conservative government. This is exactly what democracy demands.

Alan Meekings


Rail traffic was always going to increase with this plan

Thank you for publishing details of the 2003 rail plan for Spalding on your letters page.

This was before I lived here but I did write to the Labour Minister of Transport when the plan was announced to suggest a new line be constructed from Donington to around Littleworth to bypass Spalding. This would have enabled the now -orgotten new food processing centre to have its own loop and enhanced commuter use on the existing line. Given the Lincolnshire County Council submission to Network Rail’s 10 year plan, this was probably doomed from the start.

I attended a Network Rail presentation on the plan where they stated there would be four trains per hour and because of the state of the art signalling system the crossing gates would only be closed for one minute per train . No councillor commented on this. The investment in the plan was to promote a modal shift from road to rail and so rail traffic was always set to increase.

Network Rail said they would overbridge to avoid congestion – the current proposal to do this is short sighted and will not solve Spalding’s traffic problems. A traffic island exists in Surfleet that could be extended to take traffic off existing link roads to the A1, keeping HGV traffic well away from residential areas.

Do the residents near the proposed bridge along the Venatts have any idea of how noisy HGV traffic 20 metres high on a bridge will be?

Douglas Dickens



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