Alerted by a rather simplistic, often factually inaccurate article over on Liberal Conspiracy, I’ve ended up checking out the new British campaign for a referendum on continued British membership of the EU, The People’s Pledge. More to the point, I’ve had a quick look at its five key arguments:
The choice concerning our relationship with the EU is now clear: either we accept being primarily and increasingly governed from Brussels or we decide to abandon membership and negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and, where this makes sense, voluntary co-operation.
Herewith, a very quick and dirty demolition of their “5 key reasons why we must have a referendum on Britain and the EU”, originally written as a comment under that Liberal Conspiracy piece:
Update: The People’s Pledge campaign has responded to this post. Needless to say, they aren’t overly impressed with my responses to their claims – and I’m not overly impressed with their attempts to counter my arguments. I’ve started responding to their (long) response in the comments – and will add in links to the relevant comments below, as and when I finish replying to each point.
1) No one under 54 has had the chance to vote on our relationship with Brussels.
- And no one – full-stop – has had the chance to vote on the role of the House of Commons, House of Lords, Cabinet, Prime Minister, Civil Service, etc. etc. etc. On pretty much any aspect of the British constitution, in fact, since the Acts of Union 300+ years ago.
2) The European Union now makes a majority of the laws we must obey
- This is simply bollocks. See, for example, the recent House of Commons Library paper (PDF) on the issue, or my old What percentage of laws come from the EU post. The true figure is more like 10-20% of laws, with regulations coming in at around 20-30%. Both figures are declining year on year.
Update: Response to the People’s Pledge objections to this point, plus part 2 (on EU regulations) and part 3 (on UK Statutory Instruments).
3) The UK has less than 10% of the votes in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament
- Our representation is (approximately) in line with our population size – with population taken into account on many votes in the Council, giving the UK a very strong position. Would anything other than that be fair on the other member states with whom we are cooperating? And how much relative say do we have in the WTO, NATO or the UN?
4) The EU is costing Britain more and more money
- This is justified by the classic £48m a day claim (it used to be £40m, but the exchange rate’s got worse), which is abject nonsense, based on gross rather than net, and rounded up, as shown in this old post – and is backed up by some nonsense about the cost of the Greek bailout (ignoring the British investment money that would be lost if Greece/Ireland/Portugal had been allowed to go bankrupt), and in any case ignores the wider impact of EU membership on the economy as a whole. Simplistic tosh.
5) The EU wants to give itself new powers of “economic governance”
- Erm… For the Eurozone. Of which Britain is not a member. Britain would only benefit by her neighbours (and major trading partners) being economically more stable and prosperous.
Utter rubbish, all five of them.