LEICESTER – England – Gordon Brown’s speech today claims that remaining in the EU means more jobs, lower energy prices, a clampdown on tax avoidance, stronger workers’ rights and greater security. He is wrong on all counts and has been wrong before on the EU.
Responding to Gordon Brown’s speech at Leicester on the European Union, Vote Leave Chair Gisela Stuart said:
‘We had an opportunity to get positive changes out of the EU but David Cameron blew it with his failed renegotiation. Labour voters have seen through the spin of the Government which is why they are rejecting the IN campaign and no amount of hastily cobbled together relaunches will change that.
‘As my own experience with the EU constitution taught me, Brussels only heads in one direction seizing more power and money from member states at every opportunity. If we want to take back control of our borders, economy and democracy, if we want to stop handing Brussels £350 million a week and if want to create a fairer Britain, we have to Vote Leave on 23 June.’
- The UK has gone further than EU law on workers’ rights. Further harmonisation of social legislation poses a threat to the UK’s more generous protections.
- The EU has destroyed jobs. If we Vote Leave, we can create 300,000 new jobs through new trade deals.
- The EU keeps fuel bills high through VAT which we will scrap if we Vote Leave. This will benefit low income households in particular.
- The European Court facilitates tax avoidance. HMRC could have to pay out £43 billion to big businesses by 2021 due to its rulings.
- The EU and the European Court are undermining the UK’s security, by keeping dangerous people in the UK and weakening our border controls.
- Gordon Brown broke many promises on the EU when he was in Government.
The UK has gone further than EU law on workers’ rights. Further harmonisation of social legislation poses a threat to the UK’s more generous protections.
The Wilson Government passed the Equal Pay Act 1970 before it entered the then European Economic Community in 1973. The Labour Government passed the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, before the first EU Directive on the topic was adopted. There is no need to be in the EU to ensure equal pay for equal work.
The Employment Protection Act 1975 provided that a woman who was dismissed on the grounds of pregnancy was to be treated as unfairly dismissed. This was adopted long before the Pregnant Workers Directive.
UK legislation also gives women the right to receive 90% of their salary during the first six weeks of leave. EU law only requires that the rate of pay be equivalent to statutory sick pay in this period. This is £88.45 per week.
The right of part-time workers not to be discriminated against is contained in UK legislation. The enabling legislation was the Employment Relations Act 1999. This means that protections for part-time workers would remain in UK law if we left the EU.
The EU has destroyed jobs. If we Vote Leave, we can create 300,000 new jobs through new trade deals.
Youth unemployment in Greece is 51.4%. Youth unemployment in Spain is 45.0%.
Average net earnings for a single person without children in Greece fell by 17% between 2010 and 2015.
Control over trade policy could create 300,000 jobs. The EU’s failure to conclude just five trade agreements, with the United States, Japan, ASEAN, India and Mercosur has, according to the European Commission’s own figures, cost the UK 284,341 jobs.
The EU keeps fuel bills high through VAT which we will scrap if we Vote Leave. This will benefit low income households in particular.
European Union law prevents the UK from cutting VAT on household energy bills. The Labour Party’s 1997 Manifesto stated that ‘the tragedy is that those hardest hit are least able to pay. That is why we strongly opposed the imposition of VAT on fuel’.
If we Vote Leave, we will be able to scrap VAT on household energy bills, as the UK will have left the EU’s common system of VAT. Each household on average spends £25.80 per week on electricity, gas and other fuels, or £1,341.60 per year. Subtracting VAT of 5% would reduce this figure to £1,277.70, a saving of £63.89 per household.
Scrapping VAT on fuel will benefit low income households. The lowest decile on average spends 9.1% of average household income on electricity, gas and other fuels. The average UK household spends 4.9% of its income on energy, while the top decile spends just 3.1% of its income on energy.
The EU has admitted its policies increase the cost of energy. The European Commission has admitted: ‘Energy costs [are] to rise in all scenarios’.
The European Court facilitates tax avoidance. HMRC could have to pay out £43 billion to big businesses by 2021 due to its rulings.
The UK is paying billions to big business in tax refunds because of EU law. The sum of HMRC’s liabilities and contingent liabilities for taxes subject to challenge (such liabilities being caused by challenges to tax legislation under EU law) was £42.781 billion on 31 March 2015 (liabilities: £7.181 billion; contingent liabilities: £35.6 billion).
The Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has said the European Communities Act 1972 should be amended after the referendum to end these payouts.
We can also better limit tax avoidance outside the EU. Changes to the UK’s anti-avoidance rules which apply to ‘controlled foreign companies’ were introduced to comply with a 2006 judgement of the European Court. These changes have meant £2.36 billion in lost revenue since 2012 when the judgement was implemented, and a recurring cost of £840 million per year.
The EU and the European Court are undermining the UK’s security. We cannot remove persons involved in terrorism or convicted murderers. The European Court is undermining our border controls.
Terrorists. In 2015, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled the UK could not exclude ZZ from the UK because of EU law, despite the fact that he was a suspected terrorist. The Commission concluded that: ‘We are confident that the Appellant was actively involved in the GIA [Algerian Armed Islamic Group], and was so involved well into 1996. He had broad contacts with GIA extremists in Europe. His accounts as to his trips to Europe are untrue. We conclude that his trips to the Continent were as a GIA activist’.
Killers. In 1995, Chindamo, who is an Italian citizen, murdered the headteacher Philip Lawrence who went to help a 13-year-old boy who was being attacked. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996. In 2007, Mr Justice Collins, sitting in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, ruled that removing Chindamo would be ‘disproportionate‘ under EU law. David Cameron said that Tribunal’s decision ‘flies in the face of common sense. It is a shining example of what is going wrong in our country. He is someone who has been found guilty of murder and should be deported back to his country… What about the rights of Mrs Lawrence or the victim?’. Cameron said: ‘This does seem to be complete madness’.
Border controls. In December 2014, the European Court decided that the UK could not require third country nationals who are married to EU citizens to obtain a permit from UK authorities to enter the UK. The British Government is instead obliged in principle to accept as valid residence cards issued by other EU countries. This is despite the fact that Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had found that forgery of such permits was ‘systemic’. The former Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald K Noble, has noted that: ‘Eight Schengen countries were on the list of the top 10 nations reporting stolen or lost passports in Interpol’s databases’.
Gordon Brown broke many promises on the EU when he was Prime Minister.
He failed to hold a referendum on the European Constitution. Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty (which was almost identical to the European Constitution) on 13 December 2007. This was despite a promise in the 2005 Labour Manifesto that: ‘We will put it [the Constitution] to the British people in a referendum’.
He signed up to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, with his Government wrongly claiming there was an opt out. The Lisbon Treaty included the Charter of Fundamental Rights, although the Government falsely claimed at the time it had an ‘opt out’. The then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, claimed: ‘A new legally binding protocol guarantees that nothing in the charter extends the ability of any court to strike down UK law’. The Charter has been used to strike down the UK’s surveillance regime. In July 2015, the Divisional Court in London annulled the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, for being inconsistent with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, had said the legislation was ‘crucial to fighting crime, protecting children, and combating terrorism’. The European Court will now decide whether the legislation is allowed after the referendum.
He surrendered part of the rebate as Chancellor. Gordon Brown was Chancellor when Tony Blair surrendered half of the UK rebate, despite the Government promising that ‘the rebate will remain and we will not negotiate it away. Period’. Tony Blair’s changes have now cost the UK at least £10.4 billion.
He sold 60% of Britain’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market. From 1999 – 2002, Gordon Brown sold off Britain’s gold reserves at the lowest price in decades. By doing so, Brown lost the taxpayer £2 billion.