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Time for Vote Leave to face facts

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 13.04.2016

Vote Leave is now the official ‘Out’ campaign, with access to public funds in the form of a £600,000 grant, and a free mailout. Let’s hope from now on it will begin to rely more on facts than fiction. It would be a good start for the campaign proper, if it corrects five prize errors it has continually made in the past few months of “phoney war.”

Error 1

Vote Leave says we send £350 million to the EU each week. Thanks to the UK rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher, this sum never goes to Brussels. This £350 million figure has been comprehensively refuted by neutral experts, as Vote Leave’s principal campaigners are well aware. Yet they repeat it with mischievous regularity. The net cost of membership was £6.3 billion a year last year. That’s 26p a day for each person in the UK; just two pints of beer a month.

Error 2

Vote Leave understated the impact of leaving on British trade. If there’s a Brexit, we wouldn’t inherit most of the trade deals the EU has already signed with other parts of the world, as Vote Leave’s Nigel Lawson maintains. The Leave camp also obfuscates about what Brexit would mean for access to the EU’s single market. It pretends that this is just a free trade deal (which we presumably would be able to sign). In fact, a free trade deal would be inferior.

Error 3

Vote Leave describes EU law as “untouchable”. The EU scrapped 6,145 legal acts between 2005 and mid-2014.

Error 4

Vote Leave downplays British influence. It says the UK can only rely on 8 per cent of votes in the Council of Ministers; actually we have 12.7 per cent. It says we have been “outvoted every single time” we vote against new EU laws. Actually we vote on the winning side 87 per cent of the time.

Error 5

Vote Leave says EU regulation costs UK businesses over £600 million a week. The Open Europe research it has based this on shows the same regulations bring benefits of over £1 billion a week. That’s a net gain to Britain of £487 million a week.

Play fair

Vote Leave will now be receiving public funding. If it believes Britain is better off out of the EU, it should no longer rely on fiction, but should start to build its case on facts.

This article draws on previous InFacts research.

Edited by Victor Sebestyen

2 Responses to “Time for Vote Leave to face facts”

  • You say in error 4 that vote leave is wrong to claim that we have been outvoted every single time we have voted against EU laws. But it’s not clear to me that the evidence you provide to the contrary (that we vote on the winning side 87% of the time) is relevant. Could both facts not be true?
    Best regards

  • Vote Leave, now that it is official and financed by public funds, will also, I assume, not be allowed any further pretence at anonymity in distributing leaflets such as (Not) The Facts.

    With regard to Error 4, I believe the seven institutions of the EU are: 1/ The EU Parliament, 2/ The EU Commission, 3/ The European Council (Heads of Government) 4/ The Council of the European Union (Cabinet Ministers in their portfolios) 5/ The Court of Auditors 6/ The European Court of Justice 7/ The European Central Bank. Where this article refers to the Council of Ministers, I assume it means the Council of the European Union.

    Vote Leave is careful to refer only to the Council of Ministers/Council of the European Union. How are votes represented in the EU Parliament or the European Council with Heads of Government? What is our influence on the ECJ? How many judges are supplied by the UK?

    Furthermore, if Vote Leave thinks we lack influence, can they explain why so few British Citizens are employed in the Commission in “influencing” positions, equivalent to, eg, British Civil Service Principals and Permanent Secretaries? The British payroll in Brussels has plummeted in the last decade.