The Economic Sky Won't Fall Down After Brexit

22/05/2016 21:36 | Updated 22 May 2016

The pro-EU lobby has brought out the big guns in their campaign to get the UK to stay in Europe. They have told us the economic sky is going to fall down if we leave the EU, and have thrown financial forecasts from the Treasury, think-tanks, and even a sitting US President in the arena.

But none of the parties above can be trusted to give impartial advice: they all have vested interests in trying to provoke fear in voters' minds.

Let's take Chancellor George Osbourne. His Treasury calculation that every household in the UK would be £4,300 worse off if we leave the EU assumes the economy will shrink by 6% by 2030. Is this really the case?

Well, it's impossible to say. But putting an exact figure on this is simply ridiculous. No one can forecast this with any degree of accuracy - but if the Treasury hadn't "sexed up" the stats Osborne wouldn't have his headline grabbing figure.

What can be said with a great degree of accuracy is that Britain is around £8.5bn down on its net contributions to the EU this year. We send £13bn and we get around £4.5bn back, mostly on payments to farmers and the poorer regions of the UK such as Wales and Cornwall.

In other words, already this year £1,851 has been given to the EU for every adult in the UK. And that figure will be considerably bigger by 2030.

In addition to saving all that money, we could reduce net migration into the UK from EU-mandated 329,000 to around 185,000 a year, which would put a lot less pressure on our public services.

Post-Brexit, we would have three possible scenarios for trade:

1. Becoming a member of European Economic Area, like Norway.

2. Negotiate a bilateral deal, like Canada.

3. Or have no specific agreement with the EU and rely on securing access through individual negotiations, like any other member of the World Trade Organisation.

These are not bad options, and we should not underestimate our power in the market: we imported £5.3bn worth of goods from Germany in February 2016 alone and £2.3bn from France. No German Chancellor or French President will want to harm the trade with the UK by starting a trade war. If the prices of French and German goods are pushed up by trade tariffs, UK consumers will simply not buy their products.

The Paris-based think tank The Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) also says Brexit spells financial disaster for the UK. They estimate GDP would plunge by 3.3% by 2020, lowering annual household income by £2,200.

But the OECD receives millions of Euros a year from the EU, and it also recommended that Britain join the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which cost the British tax payer £3.3bn on Black Wednesday in September 1992. So perhaps we should take their advice with a pinch of salt.

Another 'big gun' was the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who weighed in last week saying the UK would be significantly weaker outside of the EU, and trade with the USA would suffer as a result.

Trade with the USA is a major consideration: we are a net exporter to the USA, unlike the EU, from which we are a net importer. But we don't need to be part of the EU to trade with the United States. We can forge our trade deals with America more easily without having to put agreements through the turgid bureaucracy of Brussels.

The bottom line is that it suits US interests for the UK to remain in the EU - but remaining involves the UK making agreements that the American government would never consent to in a million years. They want us to have open borders, yet they strengthen theirs and Donald Trump even proposes building a wall all the way across the US - Mexican border. So yet again it's a case of do what we say and not what we do.

And all the time that we stay in the EU it's the UK taxpayer who gets sent the bill. So if we stay in that's another £1,851 cheque you'll need to make out to Brussels next year.

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