Commenting, Vote Leave Chair Gisela Stuart MP said:
“This is not the facts, it is a misleading government propaganda campaign paid for by hard-working taxpayers who would rather see their money spent on their priorities. The public want an honest debate conducted by two competing sides, not an attempt by the Prime Minister to buy the referendum result with the public’s money. We already hand Brussels £350 million a week without having to pay more just to bail out David Cameron’s failed renegotiation and the floundering remain campaign.”
The Government’s £9.3 million document is propaganda and contains a number of false claims.
Thanks to those who signed the petition to STOP CAMERON spending British taxpayers’ money on Pro-EU Referendum leaflets, which has now surpassed 100,000 signatures by quite a margin.
False Claim 1: ‘The UK has secured a special status in a reformed EU’.
- Despite the Government’s claims to have secured a ‘special status’ in the EU, this term is nowhere used in the Decision of the Heads of Government.
- It does not bind the European Court, which will continue to treat the UK as it treats every other member state. In 1979, it stated that ‘the equality of Member States before Community law’ was ‘at the very root of the Community legal order‘.
- The EU is fundamentally unchanged. Even if promised changes to the Treaties were made (and there is no guarantee of this), the Treaties would remain 99% the same as they were before the renegotiation.
False Claim 2: ‘We will keep our own border controls’.
- Every EU citizen will retain the right to enter the UK, including serious criminals.
- The European Court is undermining what limited checks we can still carry out. In December 2014, it decided that the UK could not require third country nationals who are married to EU citizens to obtain a permit from UK authorities to be able to enter the UK. The British Government is instead obliged in principle to accept as valid permits issued by other EU countries. This is despite the fact that Mr Justice Haddon-Cave had found that forgery of such permits was ‘systemic’. This decision makes it easier for terrorists and criminals to enter the UK using forged documents.
- EU law also prohibits the UK from automatically denying EU citizens who lack travel documents entry into the UK, and forbids the UK from checking on a systematic basis whether EU citizens are lawfully resident in the UK. EU law requires the UK to admit EU citizens who can produce an EU passport. Yet we have no control over the way other EU countries issue their passports. Some EU member states even sell passports to the highest bidder.
False Claim 3: ‘The UK will not be part of further political integration.’
- Such claims have been made time and time again by successive British Governments. On every occasion, they have been proven to be false.
- In 1971, the Heath Government claimed that ‘there is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty‘.
- The Wilson Government claimed in 1975 that the UK’s sovereignty would not be compromised because ‘it is the Council of Ministers, and not the market’s officials, who take the important decisions. These decisions can be taken only if all the members of the Council agree’.
- John Major even claimed that British sovereignty had been enhanced by the Maastricht Treaty, asserting that ‘the very centralising tendency that many are so worried about was addressed and corrected at Maastricht’.
False Claim 4: ‘there will be tough new restrictions on access to our welfare system for new EU migrants’.
- The Government admitted after the European Council that these proposals may never come into force, stating: ‘Details of the proposals for restricting in-work benefits for EU nationals will be subject to further negotiation and we cannot speculate on these’.
- The 2015 Conservative Manifesto stated ‘We will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years’. This promise has been broken. The denial of ‘non-contributory in-work benefits’ will ‘be graduated, from an initial complete exclusion but gradually increasing access to such benefits to take account of the growing connection of the worker with the labour market of the host Member State.’ This makes clear EU migrants will be able to claim in-work benefits during their first four years in the UK.
- Even if these proposals do come into force, they are far short of what the Prime Minister promised. The OBR has said they will have ‘not much’ impact on migration.
- The emergency brake can only be invoked ‘during a period of 7 years’. This means that the UK will not be able to use the emergency break after 2023. The emergency brake can only be invoked ‘on a proposal from the Commission’ by the EU Council. The Decision states that ‘the Council could authorise’ the brake, not that it will. The UK has no right to activate the emergency brake by itself.
- In November 2014, the Prime Minister rightly dismissed ‘some arcane mechanism within the EU, which would probably be triggered by the European Commission and not by us… some sort of EU led, EU determined brake, which would be determined and applied probably by the European Commission, I don’t actually think that would be effective’.
- Since child benefit, unlike certain tax credits, is not a ‘non-contributory in-work benefit’, it would appear the emergency brake will not apply to it, contrary to the Conservative Manifesto.
False Claim 5: ‘The EU is by far the UK’s biggest trading partner. EU countries buy 44% of everything we sell abroad’.
- You do not have to be part of the EU to trade with the EU. As the Prime Minister has accepted: ‘If we were outside the EU altogether, we’d still be trading with all these European countries, of course we would… Of course the trading would go on. Sometimes … There’s a lot of scaremongering on all sides of this debate. Of course the trading would go on’ (The Andrew Marr Show, 6 January 2013,).
- The UK’s trade with the EU has been in decline over the last decade. It is down from 52% in 2005.
- Switzerland sells more to the EU as a proportion of its exports than we do, but is not part of the EU.
False Claim 6: ‘By contrast, leaving creates uncertainty and risk.’
- Even the Head of the IN campaign has admitted this claim is false. Lord Rose of Monewden has said that ‘nothing is going to happen if we come out of Europe… It’s not going to be a step change or somebody’s going to turn the lights out and we’re all suddenly going to find that we can’t go to France, it’s going to be a gentle process’.
False Claim 7: The Government cites industries it claims would be affected by a leave vote. In each sector, it is in the EU’s interests to maintain access to the UK’s markets or in the UK’s interests to escape from EU red tape.
- ‘Aerospace’. The vast majority of British exports of aerospace are sold to countries outside the EU. The ONS notes: ‘In 2013, non-EU exports accounted for around 74% of total aerospace exports, with EU exports making up the remaining 26%’.
- ‘Chemicals and pharmaceuticals’. In 2014, the EU sold the UK £11.0 billion more in chemicals than the EU sold to the UK. In the same year, the EU sold the UK £4.7 billion more in medicinal and pharmaceutical products than the UK sold to the EU.
- ‘Financial services’. The Head of the IN campaign has admitted that: ‘We are very good at what we do in terms of financial services. They cannot do without us‘. According to the Bank of England, in February 2015, 75 banks located in the European Economic Area ‘passported’ their services into the UK, including ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale . According to the Bank of England, over 800 insurance firms in the EEA could passport their services into the UK as of September 2015. There is no prospect of EU firms choosing to cut off their access to the world’s greatest financial centre. Deutsche Bank alone employs 8,000 people in the UK and has chosen ‘to base its largest investment banking operations in the City of London, a centre of global flows of trade and wealth’.
- ‘Food manufacturing’. In 2014, the EU sold the UK £14.6 billion more in food and live animals than the UK sold to EU.
- ‘IT and telecoms’. In 2014, the EU sold the UK £4.5 billion more in food and live animals than the UK sold to EU.
- ‘Transport’. In 2014, the EU sold the UK £46.5 billion more in machinery and transport equipment than the UK sold to the EU.
False Claim 8: ‘The Single Market makes it easier and cheaper for UK companies to sell their products outside the UK, creating jobs as a result.’
- It is widely accepted that the costs of the ‘single market’ outweigh the benefits. As the UK Government admitted in 2005, the ‘single market’ ‘could cost Europe’s consumers up to 7 per cent of EU GDP’. In 2004, the incoming European Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson, admitted that the cost of EU regulation was as high as 4% of GDP, twice the estimated benefits of the ‘single market’.
- The European Commission claims (in a document which says the single currency has boosted GDP by 3.6%) that the single market has raised GDP by 2.13%, without making any attempt to quantify the costs.
- Just 6% of British businesses export to the EU.. Nonetheless, 100% of British business must comply with EU law.
- EU legislation costs British businesses at least £33.3 billion per year, over £600 million per week.
- There is no evidence that the single market has been of macro-economic benefit. Countries outside the ‘single market’ have seen their exports to countries in the EU rise faster than those within the ‘single market’. As the pro-EU commentator Wolfgang Münchau has noted, ‘The single market had no discernible impact on aggregate productivity’.
False Claim 9: ‘Being inside the EU also makes it more attractive for companies to invest in the UK, meaning more jobs. Over the last decade, foreign companies have invested £540 billion in the UK, equivalent to £148 million every day.’
- This is extremely misleading. The Government counts every single pound invested into the UK over the last decade from every country, regardless of whether the country is in the EU or not. It is ridiculous to link all investment into the UK to the UK’s membership of the EU.
- The Head of the IN campaign has admitted this argument is ‘all a red herring and it is just scaremongering’, stating: ‘The reason that people want to come to this country is because we have a flexible workforce, because we have stability, because we’ve got a growing economy, because we’ve got strong IPR, because this is a place to do business. I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that everybody is going to suddenly go offshore, I don’t believe that for one moment and to make sure that that doesn’t happen we have to ensure that we continue to have the right environment, an environment which is invested in, i.e. let’s invest in infrastructure. To make sure that we’ve got the right tax regime, to make sure that corporation tax is attractive to people who invest here. To make sure that we invest in the right number of people so that we’ve got these apprenticeships, we’ve got these people who are fit and ready to come into the workforce, that will dictate whether people want to have their businesses domiciled here so I think this is all a red herring and it is just scaremongering’.
False Claim 10: ‘Over 3 million UK jobs are linked to exports to the EU’.
- The Government deliberately conflates trade with countries in the EU with EU membership. It is not necessary to be part of a political union to trade freely with the EU. Many countries around the world have free trade agreements with the EU without accepting the supremacy of EU law or paying billions to the EU. We will strike a free trade deal.
- The Executive Director of the IN Campaign, Will Straw, has admitted: ‘We have not and have never claimed that 3 million jobs would be lost if we left the EU‘.
- The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has accepted trade would continue, meaning jobs would not be put at risk. He said: ‘If we were outside the EU altogether, we’d still be trading with all these European countries, of course we would … Of course the trading would go on … There’s a lot of scaremongering on all sides of this debate. Of course the trading would go on’.
- The ‘3 million jobs’ figure was invented by the pro-euro campaign group, Britain in Europe, in 2000, as part of their attempts to scrap the pound. The economist whose work they traduced, Dr Martin Weale, has dismissed the figure as ‘pure Goebbels‘, stating that ‘in many years of academic research, I cannot recall such a wilful distortion of the facts‘.
False Claim 11: ‘If the UK voted to leave the EU the resulting economic shock would risk higher prices of some household goods’.
- The Governor of the Bank of England, Dr Mark Carney, refused to agree with the claim that leaving would lead to an economic shock, despite being asked his view several times during a recent Treasury Committee hearing.
- The Governor confirmed that: ‘the global risks, including from China are bigger than the domestic risk‘.
- The pro-EU CBI released a report that states ‘our model estimates suggest that total real UK GDP could be around 36-39% higher in 2030 than in 2015 in the two exit scenarios’. The paper also admits that growth will continue in the short term and that, in the long term, economic growth will be stronger outside the EU compared to remaining inside.
- The independent House of Commons Library has concluded that EU membership actually increases the costs of consumer goods, stating that the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy ‘artificially inflates food prices‘ and that ‘consumer prices across a range of other goods imported from outside the EU are raised as a result of the common external tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade imposed by the EU. These include footwear (a 17% tariff), bicycles (15% tariff) and a range of clothing (12% tariff).
False Claim 12: There would be ‘pressure’ on the value of the pound.
- The UK recorded a current account deficit of £96.3 billion in 2015. This could be substantial reduced if we Vote Leave. In 2014 (the last year for which data are available), the UK recorded a £12.3 billion balance of payments deficit with the EU institutions. This means we could substantially cut the current account deficit if we Vote Leave.
- The EU-funded Oxford Economics group has concluded that if the UK voted to leave the EU, ‘In most cases… the UK’s trade balance improves’.
- There is no evidence that the increased prospect of a leave vote is having a substantial effect on the currency or is driving movements in the foreign exchange markets. The pound has been strengthening against the US dollar over the last month from $1.3871 on 26 February to $1.4013 on 6 April. This is despite the fact that the polls have shown a consistent improvement in the leave campaign’s position.
False Claim 13: ‘A vote to leave could mean a decade or more of uncertainty.’
- Greenland left the EU in less than three years. It voted to leave the then European Economic Community on 23 February 1982 and the new Treaty was signed at Brussels on 13 March 1984. It entered into force on 1 February 1985 and provided for the abolition of tariffs, quotas and measures equivalent to quotas on Greenland’s principal export, fish; Protocol (No 34) to the EU Treaties.
- The US-Australia Free Trade Agreement was concluded in less than two years. Formal negotiations for a free trade agreement began in Canberra on 18 March 2003. The agreement came into effect on 1 January 2005. The US Government states that: ‘as a result of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, tariffs that averaged 4.3 percent were eliminated on more than 99% of the tariff lines for U.S. manufactured goods exports to Australia’.
- The Switzerland-China free trade agreement was negotiated in a little over two years. There were 9 rounds of negotiations between April 2011 and May 2013 which ‘produced a deal praised by both sides for its quality and its breadth, covering goods, services, investment, and competition. The agreement entered into force on 1 July 2014.
False Claim 14: ‘From next year, mobile phone roaming charges will be abolished across the EU, saving UK customers up to 38p per minute on calls.’
- The Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP (who supports the IN campaign) has admitted that market access in telecommunications would continue if we Vote Leave. He has said that if ‘we were to withdraw from the European Union, I still think that British consumers would benefit. It is dangerous for any government Minister to comment on what may or may not impact on people’s views when they vote in this referendum. As we experienced with the Scottish referendum, it may be that everything, including the kitchen sink, is thrown into the argument and that roaming charges become part of that debate, but my instinct is that, should the British public decide to leave the European Union, that will not impact on their roaming ability in Europe‘.
False Claim 15: ‘Canada’s deal with the EU will give limited access for services’.
- The Government has already admitted that: ‘The EU will open its market in services significantly for Canadian firms’.
- The Canadian Government states that: ‘CETA covers all aspects of our broad trading relationship with the EU, including goods, services, investment, government procurement and regulatory cooperation’.
- The deal includes services, financial services, mutual recognition of qualifications and procurement.
False Claim 16: ‘Our EU membership magnifies the UK’s ability to get its way on the issues we care about.’
- The UK has been outvoted every time it has voted against an EU measure – 72 times in total. 40 of these defeats have taken place since David Cameron became Prime Minister. This costs the UK taxpayer £2.4 billion a year. We do not get our way on the issues we care about.
- Since the UK joined the EU in 1973, it has lost 101 out of 131 cases before the European Court, a failure rate of 77.1%. Since David Cameron became Prime Minister in May 2010, the UK has been defeated on 16 occasions: a failure rate of 80%.
- EU rules mean that we don’t have the power to intervene to get our way at home. The Government has acknowledged that its scope to intervene in the steel crisis is limited by EU state aid rules. The Business Minister, Anna Soubry MP, has said ‘We have to be very careful because we have to be compliant with state aid rules.
False Claim 17: ‘EU cooperation makes it easier to keep criminals and terrorists out of the UK.’
- The EU’s own Frontex Agency has recently concluded the EU makes us less safe. Frontex has said that: ‘The Paris attacks in November 2015 clearly demonstrated that irregular migratory flows could be used by terrorists to enter the EU… there is a risk that some persons representing a security threat to the EU may be taking advantage of this situation… there is clearly a risk that persons representing a security threat maybe entering the EU’.
- EU law makes it much harder to remove suspected terrorists. Where the Home Secretary believes a suspected terrorist should be excluded from the UK, but believes disclosing the case to the suspect would damage national security, the European Court of Justice has ruled that: ‘the person concerned must be informed, in any event, of the essence of the grounds on which a decision’ against him is taken. The Court of Appeal has since ruled that these rights under EU law ‘cannot yield to the demands of national security’. This means the Home Secretary either has to disclose information that might prejudice national security or allow suspected terrorists into the UK.
- EU law prevents the UK from removing violent criminals. EU law prevents us from removing serious criminals, such as violent killer Theresa Rafacz, a Polish national who killed her husband, including by kicking him in the face with a shod foot while he lay on the ground defenceless and drunk. Mr Justice Hart ruled the offence involved ‘gratuitous violence’. She was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. Nonetheless, Mr Justice Blake later ruled that EU law prevented her removal, stating that there was ‘no basis’ which could ‘justify her deportation on the grounds of public policy’.
False Claim 18: ‘Since 2004, using the European Arrest Warrant, over 1,000 suspects have faced justice in UK courts and over 7,000 have been extradited.
- This deliberately conflates EU membership with the ability to have working extradition agreements. We have extradition agreements with many countries around the world, including the United States, without accepting the supremacy of US federal law.
- Recently, we extradited a murder suspect from Ghana in just a few weeks.
- The UK could continue to be part of the European Arrest Warrant if we Vote Leave. As the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, has confirmed, police and security cooperation would continue if we Vote Leave. Asked: ‘But we could still have tools like the European Arrest Warrant and sharing of databases even if the UK left the EU?’, David Anderson replied: ‘I think that’s very likely’ (BBC Daily Politics, 1 March 2016).
- The European Court has just made it much harder to extradite suspects, ruling they cannot be removed to face trial because of prison conditions in another member state.
- If we end the supremacy of EU law, we could also stop the European Arrest Warrant being abused by foreign prosecutors which is currently illegal under the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
False Claim 19: ‘[the EU] also guarantees many employment rights.’
- If the Government are claiming that employment rights are at risk, they are effectively claiming that the Prime Minister cannot be trusted to protect your rights at work if we Vote Leave.
- The UK introduced employment rights before it joined the EU, for instance, the right to strike (1913), the right to paid holiday (1938) and the right to equal pay for equal work (1970).
- Leave campaigners have been clear, employees’ rights will be protected after we Vote Leave.
False Claim 20: ‘EU membership brings economic security, peace and stability’.
- The Governor of the Bank of England, Dr Mark Carney has said: ‘we do think there are risks from remaining in the European Union and risks particularly related to the development of the euro area’.
- Leading historians, including the former head of history at Cambridge University, Professor David Abulafia, have dismissed the claim that the EU has brought peace to Europe. Instead historians have shown that it was NATO that was responsible for peace in Europe.
- The Secretary of State for Defence during the Falklands War, Sir John Nott, has pointed out that: ‘The only time the EU actually took charge of security was during the Bosnian War. Its mishandling of that crisis led to more than one million people being displaced and up to half a million being killed or wounded‘.
- The EU has handled the situation in the Ukraine extremely badly. Leaked telephone conversations have shown that US officials have taken to requesting that the EU is excluded from the whole process.