Lies about UK trade with EU on Jeff Randall Live
October 24, 2012
On Jeff Randall Live last night (23 October) the political lobbyist Iain Anderson of the Cicero Group claimed “50 percent of our trade is with the EU”.
It was a barefaced lie – and went unchallenged. Why?
The facts – all taken from the government’s Pink Book and widely known in the media and political circles – prove something quite different.
1. ‘Trade’ is not the same as ‘exports’. Almost 80 percent of our total trade is within the UK. So to talk about “50 percent of our trade” being with the EU is sheer nonsense. Not even 50 percent of our international trade is with the EU, unless we pretend that the huge volumes of exports and imports going through the container ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp – to and from other parts of the world – are somehow magically converted into trade with the EU!
2. Our total foreign trade is approximately 21 percent of UK total trade. In other words, 79 percent of our trade is internal. Hence, the EU contributes less than 11 percent of our total annual trade, made up of goods and services, income and transfers. And after some 40 years of membership?
3. Yet the other 89 percent of UK business – which has nothing to do with the EU – is weighed down with compliance costs which far exceed any benefits, as businessmen attempt to obey over 50,000 regulations from Brussels, and face another 3000 every year.
4. There is absolutely no chance that the companies in other member states would cease trading with British companies when we leave the EU. The balance of trade between us hugely favours the EU. Indeed we are their biggest single market. They need us far more than we need them. We buy a fifth of everything they export. Would BMW stop selling us cars if we were a self-governing nation again? Could it afford to? Would the French refuse to sell us Champagne, camembert and their awful apples, or the Danes their bacon? Of course not. Would the Spanish refuse us holidays in their sunshine? No chance.
Even former EU Commissioner Neil Kinnock admitted as much, on the BBC’s Today programme in reply to a question from Nigel Farage of UKIP. He said “If the UK leaves the EU there will be no trade recriminations.” So the often repeated threat to three million British jobs is a lie as well. Neil Kinnock said so!
5. The UK’s trade deficit with the EU has existed every year since we joined except one – 1975 – which, by a remarkable coincidence, was the year of the referendum about staying in.
Leaving the EU would enable us, free of EU regulations, to revert to what we have done for centuries without any help from Europe – trade profitably and freely and in our own best interests with the rest of the world. At the same time, our growth in GDP, and that of other countries especially in the English-speaking world, would be boosted far beyond the miserly levels it is enjoying (if that is the word) currently.
The UK would also be free to restore its agricultural and fishing industries – based on two of our greatest natural assets – instead of being vulnerably dependent upon the EU for most of our basic foodstuffs.
The rest of the world is a much bigger market, and the UK is a truly global trading nation. Being in the EU prevents Britain from negotiating trade deals with other countries which would be far more beneficial to our interests, to say nothing of our balance of payments. It also deprives the second largest international trading nation of a seat at the WTO. Even Mr Anderson might consider that absurd and intolerable.
Lobbyists like Mr Anderson represent the big hitters. Just look at his client list and the financial institutions who support them. He and others like him are paid to apply pressure on the EU to legislate – that is, add compliance controls to their industries and businesses – which smaller enterprises then find virtually impossible to meet.
Thus is the threat of competition from new enterprises crushed.
You don’t need to be a von Mises to know that lobbying is – by definition – always at the disadvantage of those who at not involved, whatever the reason.
Mr Anderson represented last night the interests of the big international companies who now know that the EU is a godsend. Not because of the alleged good it does, but because they have learned how it can be manipulated to their advantage. He is obviously not averse to manipulating the facts either – see above.
Question to Jeff Randall
Why did you not challenge Iain Anderson with the facts above last night? You cannot possibly not have known them.
Ashley Mote (Independent MEP, SE England 2004-09)
PS : My memoirs A Mote in Brussels’ Eye are due to be published as an ebook before Xmas. The book reports in blow-by-blow detail some of the scandalously prejudiced decisions taken by the EU after lobbying by companies and business organisations trying to protect their own interests – usually at the expense of innovators and entrepreneurs trying to make a difference and a commercial success of their ideas and projects.
No-one and nothing is spared – including me!