Vote Leave’s 10 unanswered questions

by David Hannay | 07.06.2016

Before general elections, each party sets out a manifesto of policy proposals for the next five years – and their commitments are intensely scrutinised by political opponents and objective commentators. A party which cannot defend and promote its proposals loses credibility.  Ironically, the EU referendum debate so far seems to have escaped that iron discipline, even though the outcome could affect national life for much longer than five years. Here are just a sample of the questions the Vote Leave campaign trails behind it – questions they need to answer.

1. How will falling tax revenues be met?

Most economic forecasts – such as by the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund, and the OECD – foresee both a short term shock and a longer term negative impact from leaving the EU. If borne out – at least in their general thrust – then government revenues will suffer, which would need to be matched by deeper spending cuts, tax rises, or increased borrowing.

2. How would the fall in inward investment be compensated?

Britain depends on inward investment, from other EU countries and global multinationals. Many of those making those investments have said they are predicated on Britain’s single market membership, and hence could be lost after we left.

3. How will withdrawal negotiations proceed?

Will the Article 50 negotiations provided for in the EU treaty be engaged without delay? Or will they be spun out, with the likely consequence that our departure from the EU will also be postponed?

4. How will we trade with the EU?

44% per cent of Britain’s exports go to the EU. How are we to retain that trade, assuming that our refusal to permit continued free movement of people will rule out the access we currently enjoy – free of tariffs, non tariff barriers and customs inspections? How will the complex supply chains British companies have with other EU countries be protected from damage?

5. How will we trade with the rest of the world?

The EU already has free trade agreements agreed or in effect with the likes of South Korea, South Africa, Canada, and many countries in the African, Pacific and Caribbean – and is in negotiation with the US, India, Japan and the Mercosur countries of South America. How would Britain persuade those countries to give priority and a better deal for our market of 65 million, compared to the EU’s 450 million?

6. How will we protect financial and other services?

Roughly 80% of our economy is in services, and we are world leaders in areas such as finance and law. How can we to improve our access, when UK firms may lose their passport to operate in the EU, and most other countries are reluctant to open up?

7. Will we match EU budget spending?

Will the government match the support and protection offered by the common agricultural policy – and how will it retain our growing EU export markets for food and beverages? What about EU support for the UK’s poorer regions – Cornwall, West Wales, Cumbria, the Scottish Highlands and Islands and Northern Ireland? And for science and innovation, from which UK universities and research establishments gain disproportionately?

8. How will we fight international crime?

Leaving the EU could mean losing membership of EU crime fighting agencies Europol and Eurojust, the rapid extraditions offered by the European Arrest Warrant, the European criminal records system and the Schengen Information System for dealing with illegal immigration. How will Britain compensate for this loss in the fight against terror, cyber crime and human trafficking?

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9. What will happen to Scotland?

It is likely that Scotland will vote to remain in the EU, as may Wales and Northern Ireland. If the UK overall votes to leave, what happens to our own Union?

10. What will happen to Ireland?

The Irish Prime Minister and the House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee both believe the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area could be impossible to sustain, if Ireland remained committed to EU freedom of movement while the UK imposed controls. Vote Leave should answer whether they see that as a retrograde step – one which, combined with the loss of criminal justice cooperation, could undermine the Good Friday agreement.

Edited by Jack Schickler

5 Responses to “Vote Leave’s 10 unanswered questions”

  • Vote Leave’s 11th unanswered question. Who pays back the European Investment Bank?
    As far as I can see , it lent us £6 bn in 2015 and claims to have provided £22 bn in the five years to 2015. All this money is going into infrastructure, transport and Oxford University which borrows £200 m to improve its research and teaching. Will we be a good bet for these loans if we leave the EU? How will it affect our credit standing if we get EIB loans as a standalone outsider? If our GDP is impugned by BREXIT where will we get the money to pay the loans back?

    I am in mind of “75 not out” on BBC Parliament on 05.06.16 when Edward Heath, during the 1975 referendum, made reference to all the help we were getting from the EU. To be fair we were a basket case in 1975 and we are not quite so bad now but we need to finance infrastructure – not least housing. The UK seems to have been a strong supporter of the EIB’s latest bond issuance.

    I imagine that, as we are a leading EU member state, the EIB was pleased to have our investors’ money to lend on to good projects, some of which come back here. We really should not be poking our neighbours in the eye with a sharp stick if we want them to help us. If we left the EU we would be queuing up for EIB money with the third world.

  • 1. All these financial organisations have made predictions recently that have been proved wrong. The IMF even had to apologise to Osborne. Clearly such a huge change from being in the restrictive EU to bring free to trade globally will require adjustment. Short term gain for long term prosperity.

    2. A hyperthetical scenario. You say ‘many’ and ‘could’ be lost which makes this statement scaremongering conjecture. At the worst there may be a dip in revenue while Great Britain gears up to develop its global market.

    3. What’s the problem, you’re just inventing one where one doesn’t exist. The important thing is for the “Leave” to win the Referendum and then swiftly put in place new arrangements where needed.

    4. Nothing can change by EU law for two years. It works like this: we sell them British goods and Services which they buy and they do the same to us. It’s ridiculous to create artificial barriers and scare people unnecessarily. If people need to make a living, then they will find a way to trade. Any trade tariffs would be far less than the current EU membership fee. And, in any event, we would be trading far more with the much much larger market of the world. Why on earth would the supply chain be affected? It wouldn’t.

    5. Look, we have unique products that the rest of the world wants ie cheddar cheese, Jaguar cars etc etc. No one is talking about needing priority – that’s something you’ve invented to attempt to give your argument validity. And failed. The EU and the UK will simply trade separately and simultaneously. What’s the problem?

    6. The scenario you describe is pure invention (scaremongering). Again you hedge your bets by saying ‘may’. We’ve a hugely succesful financial services industry which, incidentally, Germany is trying to buy!!! This is not an issue.

    7. Of course and nothing can change for two years. It’s our money in the first place!! Instead of the UK sending billions of taxpayers ££££s to Brussels so that unelected bureaucrats can decide where to spend it as Regional Grants, we can cut out the ‘middleman’. You’re just trying to frighten people in the regions and those in universities, science and research into voting to stay. It’s deceitful and immoral.

    8. We will continue to fight crime exactly as we do now. Why would any of these arrangements change? It’s in everyone’s interest in Europe to fight terroism. You’re just inventing a false scenario to suit your argument – again. Even better we can really control our borders as well as throwing out convicted criminals so there will be a major benefit and huge improvement on the current situation.

    9. It’s entirely up to each country in the Union to determine their own future. We should respect that and their decision. Any other sceanario is pure conjecture. Personally I doubt any would leave the UK.

    10. Ireland is not part of Schengen. Obviously border controls would be introduced – thank goodness.

  • Perhaps you should direct these questions to David Cameron. Who you may note, is the Prime Minister, and will be in charge of the Government. It is his referendum, and should he lose, he will in the short term be taking Brexit forward.

    You should further note, the Leave Campaign is not a political party, it has no manifesto and will not be the Government on the 24th of June.

    I realise Mr Cameron has singularly ignored the possibility that he might be in temporary charge of post Brexit events and has said absolutely nothing about what he would seek to do – but the Remain campaign don’t seem inclined to ask the Government for clarification.

  • Question : Can IMMIGRATION excesses be controlled while in the EU and WITHOUT breaching the FREE MOVEMENT of people rule of the EU? The answer is…YES!!!!! I tell you why (to put the leavers argument on immigration at rest): It can be done extending the scope of what had been done already with the GMC rules on EU doctors (and done similarly in all EU countries Medical bodies): To work in UK (or any EU country) you need certificate of adequate language proficiency. Now this can be extended simply in all levels of working environments (I guess with different language skills requirements: for non skilled, semi-skilled, skilled layers of employments prospects). The Uk can simply (without any EU regulation breaches – as already happening with GMC and similar Medical bodies in the EU) put the barrier lower or higher of language skills to allow a EU (but also non EU) worker to apply to work in UK (so no longer even discrimination between EU and non EU- potentially). Then: no possession of such certificate of language proficiency: no right to work benefit or social housing (therefore to avoid workers getting into the black market) and no rights for their children to a school place. If there is a need of workers in a specific area (layer) the language proficiency barrier can be lowered (or increased if excessive number of migrants arriving). The administraion costs of such tests to fall entirely on the potential migrant (obviously prices to reflect the background economy of the country). Therefore, yes, UK can operate controls on migration levels from within the EU (without hindering the principle of free movement) as it will be only with the barier required (and reasonable) of language skills (proficiency) adapted according to a possible one of 3 layers (non skilled, semi skilled or skilled working environments). NO requirement from the UK to ask EU permission on this (as from the requirement now added to GMC since 2013-2014).

  • Rubbish.
    Brexit doesn’t have to answer these questions. These are the government’s responsibility. Brexit doesn’t mean a change of government. Elections change governments. Another misleading article.