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Boris’s tendentious ten

by Jack Schickler | 10.05.2016

Boris Johnson gave a characteristically colourful speech yesterday – at one point even breaking out into song. His recollection of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy was impressive, but not much else was.

“The House of Commons Library has repeatedly confirmed that when you add primary and secondary legislation together the EU is now generating 60% of the laws passing through parliament.”

No. The Library says 13.2% of primary and secondary UK instruments passing through parliament are EU-related. The figure of 62% is reached by sweeping in all EU regulations – including those which do not pass through the UK parliament, and many of which do not apply in the UK.

“We find ourselves hard pressed to recruit people who might work in our NHS, as opposed to make use of its services”

Actually, 9% of NHS doctors are from other EU countries. Rather than putting “unfunded pressure” on the NHS, EU migrants pay more in taxes than they claim in welfare.

“As far as I can see we still have not secured consent” to cut VAT on tampons

Look no further, Boris: the agreement of all other 27 EU leaders is recorded here.

“Our gross contributions to the EU budget are now running at about £20 bn a year … the net contribution is £10 bn”

In 2015, we sent Brussels £12.9 billion, and the best figure for our net contribution is £6.3 billion. The Chair of the UK Statistics Authority described the £20 billion figure as “potentially misleading” and the Office for National Statistics has promised a further clarification on May 25 and May 26.

“We are outvoted far more than any other country – 72 times in the last 20 years”

Since 1999 we have been outvoted 56 times in the Council of the EU. But we have been on the winning side 2,466 times – a good score in any sport.

“The EU has done trade deals with the Palestinian Authority and San Marino. Bravo. But it has failed to conclude agreements with India, China or even America.”

Johnson mentions just two of the tiniest of the fifty-odd countries with whom the EU has trade deals – he might also have mentioned Switzerland, Turkey or South Korea. EU trade or investment talks are on course with India, China and America. A go-it-alone UK might not do any better: Barack Obama has said we would go to the back of the queue.

The costs of [EU] regulation are estimated at £600m per week

Johnson remembers the cost of EU rules but forgets their much greater benefits – £1.1 billion a week. Many of these rules – such as climate change or post-crisis banking laws – would not change post-Brexit.

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    We will recapture or secure our voice in international bodies such as the WTO or the IMF.

    The UK sits on the IMF board; the EU does not. The EU would like unified IMF representation, but for the euro zone, not the UK. It is not clear why Johnson sets such store by recapturing our World Trade Organisation voice when, in the words of its ex-head Pascal Lamy, “there has not been a major WTO deal in 23 years.”

    This thing has moved on from what we signed up for in 1972”

    Actually, the institution we joined in 1972 already had powers on trade, customs, competition, agriculture, fisheries, consumer policy, transport, energy, and indirect taxation, while EU environment policy dates back almost as far. It is true that monetary policy has moved to the European Central Bank, but the UK has stayed out of that. Searching for examples of alleged EU expansion, Johnson mentions tourism, culture, and youth, none of which are major areas of EU action.

    The European Court of Justice ..  [is] now freely adjudicating … whether or not this country has the right to deport people the Home Office believes are a threat to our security”

    Johnson appears to be referring to a recent case involving Abu Hamza’s daughter-in-law. Under the court’s preliminary opinion, the UK could still deport those who present a serious threat. Press watchdog IPSO described media reporting to the contrary as “significantly misleading”, and ordered a correction.

    This article was amended to add in material on the ECJ case concerning deportation. Vote Leave did not respond to InFacts’ request for comment. 

    Edited by Sebastian Mallaby