Frederick Forsyth’s latest fiction

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 13.03.2016

Frederick Forsyth is well known for spinning works of fiction. Appearing on the BBC’s Marr show this morning, the author of the classic spy novel “The Day of the Jackal” was at it again: with several fanciful arguments for quitting the EU.

The EU smooths trade

The referendum won’t be about economics, Forsyth told presenter Andrew Marr: “We’re always going to trade with Europe. We always have, we always will. As for tariff barriers, they’ve mainly been abrogated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).”

While the WTO limits the tariffs the UK would face in trade with the EU, it does very little about the non-tariff barriers – things like different product regulations, or restrictions on recognising professional qualifications – that the EU does so much to remove. If we left, these would pose a real problem for the UK, particularly to the services industries such as finance that account for 78% of our economy.

Hardly undemocratic

The referendum is “about two clashing governmental systems”, Forsyth continued. “Ours is parliamentary democracy, and Europe is a non-parliamentary non-democratic Commission of bureaucrats”.

The EU has a parliament composed of elected Members, with the ability to block laws proposed by the European Commission. This ability is shared by a council composed of ministers from the 28 elected governments. Both the parliament and the council need to approve legislation.

Those same governments choose Commissioners and set the political direction of travel for the EU. While the EU might not be a perfect democracy, it’s hardly a technocratic bureaucracy.


Moving on to security, Forsyth said the “discovery of this enormous list of ISIL terrorists” was “nothing to do with the EU and therefore, were we not in the EU, I don’t think there’d be any damage to our security system”

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But cooperation with our continental cousins allows us, for instance, to extradite and prosecute criminals under the European Arrest Warrant, and will allow us to access air passenger data. Saying we work well with non-EU countries, as Forsyth said, is hardly an argument in favour of leaving. It’s not an either/or choice.

Forsyth described Turkey’s potential EU membership as a “major security problem”. If our government agrees with his analysis, it can veto Turkey’s accession – so long as we’re still a member.

Edited by Hugo Dixon