What has the #EU ever done for Us? #leaveEU #Brexit @independent


Picture taken from the linked article.

In the Independent, there is this article which talks about Boris Johnson being as trustworthy as David Cameron. Aside from the obvious joke about trusting politicians, there’s an interesting gallery entitled “What has the EU ever done for us?” and which lists seven things, as follows:

  1. It gives you freedom to live, work, and retire anywhere in Europe.
  2. It sustains millions of jobs.
  3. Your holiday is much easier and safer.
  4. It means you’re less likely to get ripped off.
  5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people-traffickers, and cyber-crime.
  6. Our businesses depend on it.
  7. We have greater influence.

First off, numbers 1, 3, 4, and 5, are all essentially ways of saying the same thing – that you have the ability to move within the EU for any reason and there are support structures in place that will make you safer. This is true. There’s no doubt about that. The question, though, is whether those benefits, and the cost we pay for them, are in proportion. The answer is no. Yes, Britons travel to the EU for holiday, and probably in great numbers. I count myself and my family among those numbers. However, just because we’d not be in the EU doesn’t mean that traveling to France on holiday or working in Spain will somehow become impossible or dangerous – that’s just ludicrous. Plenty of people in the US travel to Mexico for holiday, and without the US and Mexico being anymore than trading partners, the vast majority – in fact I might daresay all – of the US vacationers in Mexico make it home without issue. Plenty of people from the US work in Mexico, or Canada, or Japan, or Europe, or the UK, without issue. People from the UK move to and work in Norway, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. It’s a function of modern society. Consular assistance is a time-proven tradition for people in other countries, and while there might be more paperwork should the UK leave the EU it’s got to be better than the billions of dollars we’re paying in for whatever supposed support structures which will supposedly vanish with our expensive dues.

The quote for “it sustains millions of jobs” mentions a study in October of 2015 (how timely) that shows 3.1 million UK jobs are tied to UK exports to Europe. Um, and that will change how if the UK leaves Europe? Will we suddenly stop exporting to the continent? Will the EU suddenly employ tariffs on exports from the UK, or will we end up like Norway and Iceland which trade with the EU with very little issue? I’m guessing the latter.

Scare-mongering seems to be the go-to trope for the “In” campaign, and the idea that many Britons are at risk from “people-traffickers” is almost on the edge of ridiculous. While there are legitimate threats, and terrorist, paedophiles, and yes, even people traffickers do present a risk (albeit, very very small) I’m not sure how the EU prevents any of these things in the UK. Inter-country efforts in this regard are not going to significantly change with a Brexit. Many of these things Britain is isolated from in the first place due to, well, being an island. Inter-governmental cooperation happens regardless, just as the UK and the US are not part of a super state and yet cooperate through the “Five Eyes” programme. (Australia and New Zealand are in on that too, so clearly being in the EU is not required for intelligence sharing.)

That they list cybercrime as being potentially lessened from being in the EU is laughable – the one instance where being an island is not relevant is in cyberspace. Britain has been in the computer revolution since it started (perhaps you may have heard of a gentleman named Alan Turing) and the surveillance state here is in full gear and supposedly protecting us all from cybercrime. Insofar as they could, anyway. It’s not like the UK or the EU have stellar cybercrime track records. (For that matter, few countries do.)

It also doesn’t mention the potential downsides of security issues from staying in the EU. If the stories are to be believed, there are towns in Sweden where refugees are regularly attacking women. There are stories of this happening in Germany, and even Europe is considering at least temporarily suspending Schengen. While I suspect much of this is overblown, to ignore the potential perils of staying in while trumpeting the supposed benefits of inclusion is disingenuous at best.

British businesses supposedly depend on being in the EU, but number six is a bit of a rehash of number two. (So, counting 1, 3, 4, and 5 as saying the same thing, and 2 and 6 as the same thing, means this list is really only three items long, not seven.) The chart they use in the gallery looks like this:


Picture again taken from the linked article.

According to that chart, we have a negative trade balance overall, and a negative trade balance with Europe, but not with non-EU countries. So how does that add to their position that trade with Europe is a good thing? They quote a survey that 71% of some organization and 65% of small-to-medium sized businesses think staying in is good. One survey does not a convincing point make, especially when they leave out the big businesses!

Finally, they talk about influence. Supposedly, Britain, a “declining power in the world” (um, maybe compared to 1945, but certainly not compared to 1975, for instance) has quite a bit of influence in the EU. Is that true? If that’s the case, would David Cameron have had to negotiate so hard to work out concessions, or would we have had favorable terms in the first place? Surely all this money we’re contributing means that we should have influence a priori and that needing to go hat-in-hand to negotiate better terms proves the exact opposite.

The fact of the matter is that Britain contributes BILLIONS more per year – almost £250 million per week, so about £35 million per day into the EU over and above our rebate and the money the EU spends on us.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the fullfact.org page with the numbers.

How does that equate to needing to negotiate influence?

Clearly, whoever wrote this in the Independent didn’t really think it through, or check their charts, and it should be obvious to anyone that as put, these are clearly not reasons to be staying in the EU. There really aren’t any, and that’s why I’m strongly in favour of Brexit – Britain leaving the EU.

(We’ll get to the glorious agorist future faster that way too.)