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.
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.
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.
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.
InFacts reached out to Daniel Hannan for comment, but received no response.
Edited by Hugo Dixon