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Dominic Cummings trips up on the facts

by Jack Schickler | 21.04.2016

Vote Leave’s Campaign Director Dominic Cummings failed to impress at the House of Commons’ treasury select committee yesterday. For someone on a mission to “restore the sovereignty of parliament”, Labour MP Helen Goodman told Cummings halfway through , “you seem to have some difficulty” with the conventions of a parliamentary select committee.

He might also have paid more attention to his answers. InFacts has highlighted some of his more glaring factual errors below.

We are “represented extremely badly by Brussels” in global banking bodies

When asked about the EU banking rules – which are based on international agreements – Cummings says we should reclaim our seat on these global fora to argue our case directly. Cummings overlooks the fact that Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, chairs the Financial Stability Board which oversees global finance.

The UK’s contribution to the EU budget is “£19.1 billion” per year

Pressed by committee chair Andrew Tyrie, Cummings insists this is the correct figure to use as it is an Office for National Statistics figure. It isn’t: it ignores the rebate we have secured from the EU, and the Chair of the National Statistics Authority has described use of the Vote Leave figure as “potentially misleading”.

“At the European level … we only have about 8% of the votes”

Cummings is wrong. Our voting strength in the EU Council of Ministers is actually 12.7%, and 9.7% of the members of the European Parliament are British.

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“100% of British businesses have to comply with 100% of European Union regulation”

This argument is laughable – a car parts manufacturer does not have to comply with olive oil regulations – and it is also misleading in its implications, as InFacts has written before.

The cost of EU regulation is “£33.3 billion a year”

This figure ignores any benefits of EU regulations and can’t be claimed as a Brexit benefit unless all EU rules were repealed lock, stock and barrel – something not even Cummings has suggested. When Tyrie cites Open Europe, the original source of these figures, as putting the maximum feasible saving at £13 billion, Cummings shrugs off the challenge, saying such figures represent mere “orders of magnitude”.

The Clinical Trials Directive

Pressed for an example of a regulation we might want to repeal after Brexit, Cummings cites the Clinical Trials Directive as “crazy” rules which “most people would say … should change”. You don’t need to vote leave to get this law repealed – legislation to replace it is already agreed and will come into effect as early as this year.

A single market in services would actually be deeply destructive for Great Britain”

Cummings argues harmonisation of rules with countries like Greece would damage foreign investment into the UK. But losing single market access would do great harm to service sectors, including banking. Services represent 78% of the UK economy, and exports to the EU amount to £81.3 billion.

“The EU’s own figures show that since 1999, intra-EU trade has … slightly declined.”

Asked about this statement on the Vote Leave website, Cummings assures the committee they are “official figures.” However, Eurostat, the official EU statistics provider, shows that intra-EU trade in goods rose from €1.5 trillion to €3 trillion from 1999 to 2015. For services, Eurostat data show that between 2010 and 2014, intra-EU trade rose from €733.8 billion to €920.3 billion.

Vote Leave did not respond to our request for comment. 

Edited by Geert Linnebank

2 Responses to “Dominic Cummings trips up on the facts”

  • Cummings also had to apologise for sending out a leaflet with a spoof of the NHS white on blue logo block that was only distinguishable from the real thing by a slight tint in the shade of blue with type italicised on the spoof but not on the real thing. Andrew Tyrie was quite disgusted and made it clear on the TV coverage of the Committee.

    If leaving the EU puts us in the hands of the likes of Cummings,, expect a vote to remain in the EU coming to a referendum count near you soon.

    The argument about the effect of CRD IV and Solvency II on UK banks and insurers arising from our EU membership is not that we are prevented from holding more capital than that if we wish. Any bank is free to do so. We are not in the EURO so what they do is largely up to them provided we have some sort of level playing field to make them pay out the money on any passported deposits they have taken from UK citizens as opposed to EU banks trading in the UK – eg Santander – via establishments registered in the FSCS.

    The argument is about whether our banks and insurers could hold less solvency capital if we left the EU. Be careful what you wish for. It was the US banks with under-capitalised fractional reserve banking in sub prime that blew up the financial system in 2008.

  • Fully agreed, but still is necessary – as to attract young to vote – to be passionate on the positives of being in the EU. One huge argument is what I call the concept of “EXTENDED SOVEREIGNITY” to be exterted by every single UK citizen on 27 countries as individuals (not political or economic entities). I have stated this on the other post regarding the Michael Gove’s porkies (well said with that term “porkies”). The IN campaign could just win with the economic argument but to put the things at rest ther eferendum will not only need to be won but won as big as possible therefore I find FUNDAMENTAL to add the passion for the positive message for any UK citizen about what 27 EU countries can do for these citizens (again, as individual seeking more and more opportunities, on top of those offered in UK and different qualities of life, also to add to the ones already enjoying in UK).