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8 porkies Gove uses to build Brexit case

by Jack Schickler | 19.04.2016

Michael Gove was in fighting form on BBC Radio this morning. The Vote Leave campaign chair warned darkly that to stay in the EU was to be “hostages, locked in the back of the car, driven headlong towards deeper EU integration”. Such imagery comes from a person who accused Remain campaigners of frightening people with “bogeymen”. Putting that aside, we counted 8 untruths in just a few minutes.

EU “clear it wants more power over our taxes and our banks”

Gove cites the recent EU Five Presidents’ report on economic and monetary union. In fact, those proposals on banking and fiscal union apply to the euro area, not the UK. Gove quite clearly says he believes it will affect “our” taxes and banks, even if this word is left out of the Vote Leave transcript. In any case, we maintain our veto on tax matters.

“Britain hasn’t been able to shape the single market in our interests”

Gove cites “80 occasions when we have voted against” measures in the EU Council, losing each time. Since 1999, we have voted Yes 2,466 times and No just 56 times.

“We can take back the £350 million we give to the EU every week”

This figure is incorrect, as previously stressed by InFacts and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. When presenter Nick Robinson pointed out that Gove’s number doesn’t take account of the budget rebate negotiated by Thatcher which is never sent to Brussels, the Vote Leave boss countered that the rebate “could be whittled away”. In fact, the UK has a veto on any changes to it.

What’s more, Brexit is likely to knock the economy so badly that there will be less money for domestic priorities like the NHS, not more – £36 billion a year, according to the government.

We are “on the hook to pay more in 2020”

In fact the 2014-2020 EU budget represents a real terms cut on the previous period. House of Commons research shows we are due to pay less to the EU budget in 2020 than this year.

Outside the EU, we “wouldn’t have all the regulations which cost our economy £600 million every week”

Gove ignores half the picture. The 100 most burdensome regulations have a benefit of £1.1 billion a week, according to the same research that Gove used for his figure. That gives a net benefit of £487 million a week.

As EU members we have to accept that “anyone, even someone with a criminal record, can breeze into Britain”.

The UK can refuse entry on the grounds of public security, including to EU citizens who are serious or persistent criminals – and we have done so thousands of times.

“It wouldn’t be in [European countries’] interests to erect trade barriers, because…. there is a trade deficit” with EU

Gove is specifically being asked by Robinson about non-tariff barriers in financial services, Britain’s biggest export, on which we have a trade surplus with the EU.

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“We would still benefit from the free trade zone which stretches from Iceland to the Russian border”

Gove can’t have it both ways. The countries in that zone don’t have the rights which Gove claims we would enjoy outside the Union. Iceland and Norway must accept free movement of people, EU budget contributions and regulations – all things Gove dislikes. Turkey cannot pursue its own free trade deals. And so on.

Asked if he would resign were there a vote to Remain, Gove merely said: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. This suggests Gove, in the words of the same Bible verse, is taking “no thought for the morrow”.

Michael Gove and Vote Leave did not respond to our request for comment. On June 15, figures on losses and wins in the EU Council were updated for consistency.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

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13 Responses to “8 porkies Gove uses to build Brexit case”

  • I urger eally the Remain campaign to start using a positive argument. A very big positive argumnt is the concept of “estended sovereignity” for each UK citizen, that means that at the cost of just a little more than 10% of UK sovereignity, each UK citizen can enjoy and exert the sovereignity on 27 other EU nations with same rights and obligations as the local population (apart from State election rights). This is good for youngsters for University (for example Erasmus programmes only available for EU students plus the chioce between the mere number of just the UK Universities compared to the vastly bigger number of other EU Universities, to add on top of the UK ones – not mutually exclusive but inclusive), work (to do whatever UK inventiveness can achieve, not only in the UK but throughout the EU), settling (Madrid? Paris? Berlin? the Spanish and Italian shores? The Alps or Pyrenees?. All of these are open for grabs for every UK citizen, adding to London, Manchester, Edinburgh – inclusive not exclusive). This is good for pensioners for retiring in places with much better warmer climate than the UK (same choices as for youngsters), easily in areas, a bit more secluded but equally stunning and in particular much much cheaper than in UK (for example in less known Italian countryside and beachisides yet still nevr far away from services like Hospitals, Public Offices, etc). Boris Johnson says he wants to have and eat a cake. Yes, but it will be just one cake, also not knowing how and who will bake it. Instead with the concept of “extended sovereignity” UK citizens, apart from a UK cake can have other 27 cakes to feast upon, baked in 27 different ways. So to consider this as a message to start to spread as a positive, passionate and emotional message for the IN campaign. For the brexiters: why you want to negate all these huge benefits to yourself, but more and most importantly to your children and grandchildren? Remember: A RESTRICTED IMMIGRATION IS A RESTRICTED EMIGRATION.

    • Mario – thank you for reminding us that the argument for EU membership is much wider than sterile trading of statistics. The Remain campaign needs to start publicising the everyday benefits of EU membership as you have done. And forcefully remind people of all the things they’ll be losing by leaving. I like your line: A restricted immigration is a restricted emigration!

  • What about his claim that the City of London is doing well because it’s outside of the Euro and regulation from EU? I’d argue that it’s doing well because Europe gives it special treatment. Just watch the American Banks leave Britain if we leave the EU. They’ll all upsticks and set up in Frankfurt to get access to the more lucrative European markets. Also our City ‘does well’ in large part because of the amount of tax havens we have, not subject to EU regulation. Is that something we are proud of????

  • That Michael Gove supports Brexit I can understand although I do not share his point of view. But why does he seem to want to exult so in what he and his supporters consider will be the break up of the entire Union if the UK leaves? Not only is this unutterably arrogant but it is a childish and petulant example of schadenfreude that I would not have expected of a man whose intellect I formerly admired.

  • In the section discussing cost and benefits of regulations, you say that the research on which Gove draws for his figure of costs of £600 million a week also shows benefits of £1 million a week.

    Are you referring to the Open Europe research at http://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/britain-and-the-eu/top-100-eu-rules-cost-britain-33-3bn/ ?

    If so, shouldn’t you also mention that the research says that “However, £46bn of this benefit stems from just three items, which are vastly over-stated. For example, the stated benefit of the EU’s climate targets (£20.8bn) was dependent on a global deal to reduce carbon emissions that was never struck. In fact, Open Europe estimates that up to 95% of the benefits envisaged in the impact assessment have failed to materialise.” ?

  • Thank you infacts.org, i am off to bed in a minute, i woke up this morning and made the mistake of listening to R4 . . . I realised why I stopped listening after a little while. I have spent most of the day trying to shoe-horn my life into the Gove style political system and frankly I felt really upset that my achievements seem to be worthless if I measured them by that lying so and so’s standards, which wipe the floor with my lies (before my past points this out) . I am 58 and very very used to it! Unlike the nations kids who are suffering in their blessed thousands because of disregard to the rights of children. Anyway back to the thanks infacts you have cheered me up by reminding me that it’s not just me. By ‘eck they’ve got some neck!

  • I hate Grove but this is hardy a list of facts. More a slippery spin of a bitter, short sighted, pro remain campaigner. Picking and choosing half truths to paint a distorted view of the real facts. With rubbish like this on either side it’s no wonder the public turn off.

    • To show this is “hardly a list of facts” you need to show that either Gove didn’t make these claims or that they are not false. Anything else, I agree with you, is slippery spin. Unfortunately, by your own definition, so is your own comment.