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In response to XXX, EU Trade Has Dwindled, Leek Post and Times, 28 February 2018
Instead of blaming the EU for the many genuine problems this country faces, KJ Robinson should look to our own politicians who for decades have used the EU as a lazy excuse for their own policy failures and inactions.
UK trade with the EU has not “dwindled” it has grown. It just happens that UK trade with the rest of the world has grown even faster – hence the percentage of UK trade going to the EU is reduced, that’s how percentages work! This is good news because it demonstrates we do not need to leave the EU in order to grow our trade with the rest of the world, while simultaneously growing our trade with the EU, still our largest trading partner.
The UK economy was a basket case when we joined the EEC (now the EU) in 1973: the UK was in recession with GDP declining by 3.9%; inflation peaked at over 26%, and Britain had to ask the IMF for a £2.3 billion bail out. In 1974 a state of emergency was declared and industry was on a three-day week. Electricity blackouts were common across the country and the Prime Minister was warned that Britain's economy faced "possible wholesale domestic liquidation".
Since we joined the EU per capita GDP of the UK economy has grown by 103%, exceeding that of the US, Germany and France. Not bad when we were a basket case before we joined!
To say the EU is “soon to become a United States of Europe” is simply not true. It would require unanimity in the European Parliament and Council and we, as a full member state, would veto it, as would many other member states. That’s because the EU is a democracy.
He also suggests that when we joined the EEC we turned away from the “English speaking world” in the Commonwealth (India, Singapore, Pakistan, Malaysia?) with which we conducted nearly half our overseas trade. Actually you have to go back to 1950 to see UK trade with the Commonwealth at that level and it has been declining steadily ever since the 1950’s, long before we joined the EU.
The rise of far right, anti-immigration, nationalist parties is something we should all be very worried about, but it is a global phenomenon, not driven by the EU, as evidenced by the rise of the Alt Right in the United States, Australia First and many others outside the EU.
The EU Common Fisheries and Agriculture Policies have seen major reforms and further reform is required. However British catches of fish have been in decline for 118 years, so cannot be blamed solely on the EU, and farmers in Leek have been major beneficiaries having received £1.98 million in 2016 alone. This is a direct injection of cash every year into our local Leek economy, without which many of our farmers would be out of business. If you think these payments will continue after leaving the EU, think again.
KJ Robinson also suggests that the EU wastes enormous amounts of money. Actually the EU budget has been passed as ‘Fair and Accurate’ every year since 2007. On a secondary measure, 'error', used by the auditors, the accounts have indeed been given an ‘adverse’ finding, but that’s not because of fraud, inefficiency or waste. It is an estimate of the money that should not have been paid out because it was not used in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations, and this includes errors made in the UK’s handling of EU funds, so some of it is our own fault!
The EU has been hugely beneficial to the UK economy nationally and locally. None of the many problems we face in this country or our local community will be solved by leaving the EU, they can only be made worse. So stop blaming the EU and start to challenge our own politician's obfuscations and half-truths.
Original Brexiteer Letter:
Cliff Mitchell - letter published in the Leek Post & Times, 28 March 2018