Vote Leave serves up fiction as it asks for economic facts

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 05.06.2016

The Leave camp’s latest open letter to David Cameron and George Osborne pretends to ask them to confirm a series of economic facts about what would happen if we remain in the EU. It contains at least 18 logical or factual errors. Here are just four.

Crocodile tears

The Vote Leave bosses – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart – cry crocodile tears about youth unemployment of over 50% in some euro countries. What they don’t mention is that Britain has the best of both worlds: it has full access to the EU’s market without being part of the euro. As a result, our youth unemployment is only 13.7%.

They also fail to mention that the best way of securing high youth unemployment in Britain is to quit the EU. This could trigger a recession – and, in recession, youth unemployment tends to rise roughly twice as fast as general unemployment.

Vote Leave also pretends the EU is shrinking. They write that: “Unless the EU reforms, it will continue to decline with damaging consequences for all its members.” In fact, the eurozone economy is forecast by the OECD to grow 1.6% this year, not much less than the UK’s 1.7%.

Johnson et al also ignore the fact that, if the EU did start shrinking again, we would be hurt even if we left. We could only insulate ourselves from such a potential shock by cutting trade ties totally – and inflicting on ourselves a massive shock.

Eurozone bailout baloney

Vote Leave’s three Brexiteers say: “The public cannot trust EU or government promises that we won’t be paying for eurozone bailouts given the history and how we can be outvoted.” They add that Britain was forced “to pay unexpected bills at the demand of the European Commission”, citing the 2015 Greek bailout as an example. The snag is the UK never handed over any cash in 2015 nor was it ever on the hook for suffering losses.

Five Presidents scare story

The Brexiteers’ next scare story is what they call: “An official plan and timetable for the Eurozone’s next wave of centralising power in Brussels, described in the Five President’s Report.”

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    What they don’t say is that the report focuses on measures to shore up the eurozone, which we are not part of. While there are some measures to deepen the single market that would affect Britain, these are things we have long called for. Finally, Johnson et al don’t acknowledge that the report is languishing on the back burner because euro governments can’t agree what to do.

    Doing down European entrepreneurs

    The trio grumble that “there have been no EU equivalents of Apple, Uber, Amazon, Netflix, Google or Facebook”.

    Maybe these venerable politicians are not big users of technology. Otherwise, they might have played Angry Birds (Finland) or Minecraft (Sweden), streamed music through Spotify (Sweden), made a call over Skype (Luxembourg), or bought a curry through Just Eat (Denmark).

    But Johnson et al are right to say the EU could be do more to support tech companies. That’s why the UK has championed the Digital Single Market, which aims to give our start-ups the large domestic consumer base that helped Amazon and Google. To leave just when this plan is coming to fruition would be perverse.

    Vote Leave did not respond to requests for comment.

    This article was corrected on June 6 to take account of the latest OECD forecast


    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    4 Responses to “Vote Leave serves up fiction as it asks for economic facts”

    • the mistake you are making is that you preaching yo the converted and wafling a lot instead of statig the facts and giving a short reference as to where people can check for themselves,if they so desire.

    • I’m seriously tired of hearing journalists, politicos, pundits and pseudo-economists say that youth unemployment in the EU (or the Eurozone) is 50%+ or atrociously high

      for one thing, the basic premise of 50% of youths in unemployment is FALSE, a Myth peddled by misreporting economic statistics :
      1) youth unemployment is meant to follow 15-25 years old who are able to work, not in education and actively looking for employment …. except that 70%-80% of European youths aged 15-25 ARE NOT LOOKING FOR JOB BECAUSE THEY ARE IN EDUCATION !!!!
      2) that means that any youth unemployment % only affects the remaining 20%-30% … who, unsurprisingly are also often with low acadmic achievements or professional training, very often having started in manual labor sectors (such as construction), highly vulnerable to economic shocks and seasonal activity

      …. 50% of youth unemployment when 80% are in education, actually means only 10% of all youths are unemployed !!! not so scary a number anymore !!!

      for another thing, please compare apples with apples, rather than with pears or carrots
      1) all national statistics do not use the same methodology when recording unemployment (or GDP for that matter)
      that’s why Eurostat compiled national data to make them comparable


      if you want to compare the ratio of youths in unemployment (such as the 13.7% for the UK used in this article), then please also compare it to the YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATIO in the EU too (around 10%, and rather better than the UK one), rather than the unemployment youth %

      Best regards,

      • The Eurostat link was very helpful in distinguishing youth employment participation rates in the working population as a whole from unemployment among young people who are actually seeking work but cannot get it. “Unemployed” young people are not NEETs and the two should not be confused. A very elegant post if I may say so.