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Dan Hannan’s problem with the truth

by Charlie Mitchell | 29.11.2016

Dan Hannan has a problem with the truth. The arch-Brexiter – who is back in the news with his book, What Next: How to get the best from Brexit – keeps getting his facts wrong on his pet topic. Here are nine errors and disingenuous remarks the Tory MEP has made in recent months.

1. Wine tariffs

In October, Hannan disputed a British Retail Consortium claim that Chilean wine would be 14% dearer after Brexit, tweeting that it is currently subject to a 32% tariff which could be scrapped. He subsequently corrected himself, saying the EU tariff applies to all New World wine except Chile’s, since that country has a free trade agreement with the EU. This too was inaccurate since New World wine is not subject to a 32% tariff. Both his tweets have since been deleted.

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2. Free movement

In February, Hannan claimed that it’s “nonsense” to say that “countries that want free access to Europe’s market of 500 million have to accept free movement”. He is being disingenuous. Every country with full access has signed up to free movement, including members of the European Economic Area (EEA) like Norway.

3. Deeper integration

Hannan wrote in April that Brussels is pursuing fiscal and political union, with pooled decision-making on national budgets for “all 28 states not just those in the euro”. In fact, they apply only to the eurozone, and would not have included Britain.

4. Greek bailout

Hannan said in April that the UK was “dragged into the third Greek rescue package”. This is disingenuous because, as the Treasury financial secretary told parliament last year, we “successfully secured safeguards…ensuring that non-euro area Member States, including the UK, will carry no liability for assistance to Greece in case of a default”.

5. EU army

On the EU army, Hannan asked in April: “what are the odds of Britain being able to resist this process if it votes for continued EU membership on the present terms?”. On this issue, the Treaty on European Union notes: “Decisions relating to the common security and defence policy…shall be adopted by the Council acting unanimously”. So the odds were excellent, as the British prime minister, who attends the Council, could have vetoed any EU army. If we quit the EU, the odds of being able to resist one, if the other countries want one, would be nil.

6. Shrinking Europe

Hannan declared in April that while the EU remains “convulsed in the euro and Schengen crises”, the rest of the world is growing. In fact, according to the IMF, the EU grew 2% last year, and the euro area grew 1.6%. In addition, it predicted that both would grow at around the same pace this year and next.

7. Commonwealth

Hannan tweeted in February that the EU is engaged in trade deals with just two Commonwealth countries – South Africa and Canada. According to EU Law Analysis, in November 2015, 32 of the 50 Commonwealth nations had trade deals in force or agreed with the bloc, while it was negotiating or planning them with 13 more. That leaves just five Commonwealth states without plans for an upcoming deal.

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8. £350m a week

In a January Telegraph column, Hannan mentioned “the £350 million that Britain sends to Brussels each week”. As InFacts has repeatedly shown, we do not send the EU £350m a week because of the budget rebate that Margaret Thatcher negotiated.

9. Rural England

Hannan’s errors don’t just concern Brexit. On 12th October,  the MEP tweeted: “15 miles up and down over Hampshire’s sloping fields, pausing for a pie @vinehannington. God, I love England in May”, along with an accompanying photograph. It transpired afterwards that the photograph was actually taken in Wales in 1998 by photographer John Ball. The tweet has since been deleted.

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InFacts reached out to Daniel Hannan for comment, but received no response.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: , , Categories: Articles, Brexit

7 Responses to “Dan Hannan’s problem with the truth”

  • Hi Hugo and Charlie,

    Daniel Hannan is one of the most pragmatic sensible people who has the countries welfare at heart. He entirely understands the EU and the issues which affect us. To nit pick 10 points where he may have got his facts slightly incorrect is disengenous. For instance, whether we had veto rights or not on a European Army we would have inevitably got dragged into what ever the other members of the EU were doing.

    This is a rubbish article, you and Infacts can and should do better.

    • Sadly, James, the facts are against you. Daniel has considerable “previous” (remember his total misrepresentation of the NHS when Obama was seeking to introduce medical care for all in the United States?), and even his closest friends would not describe him as “pragmatic”, let alone “sensible”. In fact, he himself would hate both descriptions, seeing himself as a radical free-thinker, always prepared to think outside the box, and to ignore received wisdom, expert opinion, and scientific consensus. Whenever you hear those close to him discussing him, they always preface their remarks with some phrase like “making allowances for his many bees in the bonnet…” or “he has a few bats in the belfry, but he often manages to capture the popular mood”. His influence on Cameron, in particular in the early years of Cameron’s leadership, was malign and cast very long shadows. In the dying days of his premiership, Cameron is said to have ascribed the failure of his attempts to obtain a genuinely game-changing agreement from our European partners to one seminal event, namely his ill-judged decision to follow Hannan’s urging to pull the Tory MEPs in the European Parliament out of the EPP, and the legacy this left in terms of antipathy and even resentment. This was frequently thrown back in his face during his forlorn attempts to build new bridges whilst seeking an acceptable settlement to put to the people, something he realised he could have done over all the years of his leadership at the regular group meetings, where he would have been getting to know and understand his political partners. He could even have got to know Barnier, the EPP’s long-standing Vice-President! The sad irony is that many of those most closely involved in those negotiations say now that they feel Cameron appeared to have had something of an epiphany and woken up to the real interest for the UK in staying in the Union, having finally understood how it really worked, but too late to change the outcome of the referendum.

    • The Remain campaign is quite rightly scared of Dan Hannah as this nit picking demonstrates. It’s hardly relevant that a library picture of Wales was mistakenly posted instead of one of England.
      I’d like to see a convincing rebuttal of his core arguments, so far I’ve seen no one better him a face to face interview.

      • Denis, I think the point is, that if he is being dishonest on such a little thing, what about bigger more important issues. Why would he make a post like this? 15 miles up and down and a pie break and a tweet in the middle using his phone. How long do you think he was walking around in the country site? And has he got a time machine and a teleportation device build into his phone? He never was there in the first place. Why lie about that?

  • Australian government says that EU tariffs add 25% to the cost of their bulk wine exports to the EU. Also that New World wine from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Argentina is subject to the same EU tariffs with only Chile & South Africa having tariff-free access.

    http://dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/aeufta/submissions/Documents/australian-grape-and-wine-authority-eufta-submission.PDF

    Even if Chile & South Africa have tariff-free access there is no suggestion there’s is free movement between those countries and the EU. All in all, Hannah is more accurate than you are when it comes to both tariffs on wine and the relationship between free trade with the EU and freedom of movement.