Leavers trash UK institutions they claim to want to empower

by Jack Schickler | 24.05.2016

Those wishing to leave the EU speak of restoring power and sovereignty to British institutions – but they show a remarkable lack of trust towards UK bodies such as its Treasury, central bank and parliament.

Yesterday, when the Treasury published a report warning that Brexit would trigger recession, was a case in point. Although Iain Duncan Smith addressed some of the report’s specific arguments, he also attacked the institution itself, noting the Treasury had “consistently got its predictions wrong in the past”. Meanwhile, ex-Chancellor Nigel Lawson also criticised the ministry’s trouble with forecasts”.

Such an ad hominem focus suggests a lack of substance to Leavers’ arguments. And it also begs the question: if Treasury economists were really so incapable, why would returning power to them from Brussels make our lives any better?

Of course, the body Brexiteers really like to talk about returning power to is not the government, but parliament. Unfortunately, they do not seem to show huge confidence in that institution either. They disagree with the clear majority of MPs who favour EU membership. They imply we might be dragged by accident into an EU army or to losing our EU budget rebate, both of which could only happen following an Act of Parliament – and, in the former case, a referendum too.

And they don’t seem overly happy to dedicate time to the institution. In a recent appearance at the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, Vote Leave’s Campaign Director Dominic Cummings complained he had “now missed at least one set of meetings” and was “about to miss another set” in order to give evidence. About halfway through his grilling, during which he was repeatedly accused of failing to answer questions, MP Helen Goodman was forced to remind him of the conventions of the parliament to which he apparently sought to restore sovereignty.  

But at least Cummings showed up when asked. His colleague Matthew Elliott did so only after being issued with a summons under parliamentary order – a rarely-used mechanism to enforce attendance.

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Other British institutions fare little better under Vote Leave’s scrutiny. The campaign group questions the judgement of Bank of England governor when he warns of the economic risks of Brexit. It tells the Office for National Statistics it gets its migration forecasts wrong, and ignores the UK Statistics Authority’s request to stop using “potentially misleading” figures.

Vote Leave accuses the CBI, representing British businesses 80% in favour of EU membership, of persistent error, while Cummings told parliament it was lying and cheating. The overwhelmingly pro-EU consensus of British universities is dismissed by UKIP founder Alan Sked as “political bias”, though those world-leading places of learning are presumably both intelligent enough to decide the balance of their own interests, and democratically entitled to express them.

Paradoxically, in order to argue that powers should be restored to domestic institutions, leave campaigners need to trash those institutions, and their largely pro-EU views.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

10 Responses to “Leavers trash UK institutions they claim to want to empower”

  • On another subject – and I hope you will allow me to use this site as a platform : it seems grossly unfair that Brits who’ve lived elsewhere in the EU for more than 15 years are not allowed to vote in a referendum which could affect their lives radically. If iN Facts agree, why don’t you sponsor one of those public petitions to Government requesting such British citizens to be allowed to vote in the referendum? That is particularly so since non- Brits resident in the UK can apparently do so, arguably with a lot less of a moral or practical right to do so.

  • EU residents cannot vote in the referendum, regardless of how long they have lived in the UK. I am a Danish EU citizen. I have lived and worked here for 30 years, paid my taxes and contributed to this society and I still can’t vote in the referendum.

    • Not entirely so – Commonwealth citizens who are also members of the EU and citizens of Ireland can vote in the Referendum. As do all qualifying Commonwealth citizens who are, of course, foreigners.

      • indeed Margot
        typically, they are irish, maltese or cypriot nationals

        to my knowledge, it is too late now to legally amend the electoral rules on who’s allowed to vote for the June 23rd referendum, so it makes little sense to “sponsor it” now.

        on the other hand, an open signed petition to remind Westminster of all the british nationals who won’t be able to vote because of their expats status could be presented before Parliament
        if the tally goes in the 100′ thousands, it’d justifiably require proper answer from the government (and would most definitely be a media coup)

        Best regards,

  • The immigrants (Eu and also non EU ones) are not seen by the Leave camp, but also by the Remain camp in their entire role as economic contributor in the UK. I mean: immigrants, by their number, not only work and get money (and the vast majority pay taxes) but also spend their money in Uk shops (British and/or non British ones) therefore bringing more revenues to the domestic businesses which will generate more tax receipts for the HMRC. If, for example 2 million EU immigrants, would be removed from the UK, also their spending power will be removed: Uk shops will have 2 million less customers who buy food, goods, etc. If we assume that, for example, each EU immigrant will spend (only for essential needs – excluding rents) 500 pounds/months = 6000 gbp/year (extremely low estimate), multiplying this by 2 million others will mean 72 billion pounds in potential loss income for domestic UK economy (British and non Britis but both UK shops). 72 billion pounds in revenues how much revenues for the HMRC would produce? Again, extremely low estimate: 72 billion x 0.20 (20%) = 14.4 billion pounds for the UK coffers. Now removing all these immigrants from UK, will mean removing customers from the UK businesses and shops and ultimately removing an amount of revenue for the UK coffers well over the potential saving from the EU budget the UK would make after brexit. Has anyone though about this?

  • Another point is the war that will happen inside the Leave factions in case of either a big win for rEmain or a win for the Leave itself. Why that? Well because already there was the threat from Arron Banks to sue after his faction has not been officialy designated but also because the “big 6” tory politicians leading the Leave campaign won’t allow Farage and UKIP to take credit from them for thei campaign (if Leave wins) but Farage and Banks will definitively do not want or accept to be sidelined (thus more economic and social uncertainties and shameful image of a quarreling UK in front the world audience), or conversely Farage, Banks et al. will be recriminating till the end of days about the conduct of the campaign (if Remain wins and the more it would win, the more recriminations there will be among the Leave factions).

  • Errata corrige: in my calculation: 6000 gbp/year x 2000000 eu immigrants is a total revenue of 12 billion gbp (not 72). HMRC rvenue (at the extremely low estimate of 20%) is 2.4 billion pound/year (not 14.4). Apologies. However such estimates are taking extremely low figures (starting from the only 500 pounds expenditure from each EU immigrant a month for essential needs – excluding rent/accomodation costs)-.

  • There is much wrong with this country! although I am a traditional Conservative and Thatcherite, I can no longer bring myself to vote for the corrupt bunch of Crooks who are masquerading as Conservatives whilst selling England by the pound to anyone they can get a bid off of! I want no truck with the Bliarites either, they were more another bunch of crooks. I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn next time, because he SEEMS like an honest man! I hope my trust is not wasted. Yes, there is much wrong with this country, but we cannot begin to put it right until the people of the country are electing the only body that has any say in the matter, we need to take control of our country again, and we desperately need to be out of the EU to let our farmers farm, and our fishermen fish, rather than pay them with our own money not to, so we become a better market for European produce! OUT NOW!!!

  • It’s pathetic that you think it is ok to portray leave voters as Union flag wearing skinhead thugs. This is obviously not just a coincidence you have picked this as a visual all your trying to do is make all those voting to leave look like the idiots at Britain First & other racist groups. This is childish & underhanded. Well done Jack Schickler you have just proved to me exactly how desperate remain voters are.

    • Dear Karl, the intention is not to claim that leave voters are all “thugs”, which is clearly not the case. The picture is intended to illustrate an article about the tendency of some leave campaigners to “trash” UK institutions in making the Brexit case.