The latest news from the EU is that Britain has been, yet again, shafted by a stitch up between EU finance ministers who have kindly obliged us to cough up yet another £25 billion. At least according to this Blogger and I, for one, have no reason to doubt him.
The reason was to save the Euro!
The question, however, goes beyond ‘why are we helping to save a currency in which we have no stake?’ onto ‘why on earth are we in the EU?’ The majority of people in the UK loathe it, it costs us far more than we get back and it is run by unelected bureaucrats who love meddling in the minutae of our lives.
The answer the politicians all trot out is that over 50% of our trade is with EU countries and so it would cost 1,000s of jobs if we left.
Is that true?
Well let’s look at those exports in more detail:
Hmm if we look at the graph (above) of UK exports then we can see that most of our largest trade partners are indeed in the EU. In fact the graph paints a pretty cosy picture (it should do, it was shamelessly stolen from the Guardian). But when one looks at the underlying balance of trade figures things don’t look anywhere near as cheery.
As this graph (from HERE) demonstrates we have a substantial balance of trade deficit with the EU. Moreover it is one that has fairly stubbornly remained at –£2 billion/month since Labour came to office. And a lot of our exports were North Sea oil and gas (plus associated products) so it’ll get a LOT worse as the North Sea reserves run out.
OK so what about the claim that over 50% of our trade is with EU countries that politicians love to bandy about. Well that was true when Tony Blair oozed into power. In fact as recently as 2001 we were exporting £20 billion more goods and services than we imported from the EU. But that has declined year on year so it now stands at around 40% (and declining) of our exports going to the EU – despite the enlargement – the remaining 60% (and rising) of exports are sold to our previous export markets and this trend is continuing (figures from the Office of National Statistics).
The politicians then tell us that if we leave we’ll lose those exports to the EU to which the reply has to be ‘rubbish!’. Do they honestly believe that the EU would be so protectionist that’d they’d give up on those exports (including our sweet crude oil) to them at which point we’d naturally give up theirs? In fact if we rejoined EFTA we’d have the very trading and customs union that we thought we were signing up to way back in the early 70s. They even have an agreement for the free passage of goods and people with the EU and we could still own property anywhere in Europe.
We’d lose very little, in fact we’d gain our £6.4bn contribution back – equivalent to about £260 per UK household (up from £4.1bn in 2009/10 thanks to Tony giving away our rebate in order to become the first EU President – how did that work out btw Tone?) plus of course the £25 billion (that we don’t have) that we are now obliged to throw into the PIIGSty.
So why are our politicians so in favour of an undemocratic institution that costs us money every which way and lumbers us with 1,000s of new laws? The cat was let out of the bag by Lord Tebbit on his blog – worth a read btw) where he stated that (I’m obviously paraphrasing here):
The Conservatives love it because it favours protectionism.
Labour loves it because it promises yet more anti-competitive employment laws.
The Lib Dems like it because they like French cafés.
And the chattering classes (like dear Polly) love it because it means one can have a villa in Tuscany without some ‘racist’ Nu-Labour local law that makes owning property there difficult.
But by far and away the biggest reason all the parties love it is because they can pass nasty laws and yet at the same time throw their hands up and say it’s an EU directive and so, sadly, we have to implement it. Indeed that has been a favoured tactic of Nu Lab; they come up with a bright idea for restrictions on personal liberty which they then coerce their fellow EU members to adopt in return for us supporting one of their Stalinist laws.
So the answer to the question of why we are in the EU is:
Because it allows our politicians to duck difficult decisions and pass authoritarian measures without seeming to get their hands dirty.
Which, even the most rabid Europhile must admit, is a pretty small return for the getting on for £10 billion it costs us every year.
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- May 11, 2010 at 18:20