Myth Busting

Didn’t the Referendum express the ‘will of the British people’? Most British people did not vote to leave the EU. Many more, 19 million, did not vote at all than voted to Leave. At best the majority were undecided on 23rd June. Remarkably, only 26% of the total population voted to leave.

Must we accept the outcome of the referendum unquestioningly? Fortunately we live in a  democracy which empowers us all to question decisions taken on our behalf. In the 1975 referendum 67% of participants voted to stay in Europe. Despite this resounding vote, the Eurosceptics have been campaigning to leave Europe ever since.

Doesn’t the government have a mandate to take the UK out of all European institutions?  The Single Market and its predecessor the Common Market predated the European Union which was established by a separate Treaty. The referendum only asked if people wanted to leave the European Union. There is no mandate at all to leave the Single Market which was originally promoted by UK PM , Margaret Thatcher.

Mustn’t the UK exit the Single Market’s to stop ‘free movement of labour’ to the UK in order to meet the wishes expressed in the Referendum?  The Referendum did not ask whether abolition of ‘free movement’ should be more important than tariff-free trade with the EU. Surveys show no more than 25% of those voting Leave (4.3 % of UK population) did so because they wanted to stop freedom of movement.

Won’t trade deals with other countries, such as the USA, compensate for the loss of export markets with the EU?  Most agree that UK-USA tariffs and investment costs are already so low further reductions would do little to boost trade or investment. Scope for trade in services could be increased but, according to a government report on the proposed TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership * that would mean giving US corporations rights to take over public services such as the NHS.

In order to take ‘back control’ of our economic policies doesn’t the UK need to leave the EU and the Single Market?  Nowadays international agreements regulate nearly all trading and related policies, covering issues such as state involvement in business, product and environmental safety and government standards. Outside the EU and Single Market, the UK would still have to submit to such constraints from either the World Trade Organisation or countries like the USA. However, the UK’s negotiating position to safeguard our standards would be far weaker than if it were supported by the other 27 EU states.

* LSE Enterprise  (2013) Costs and Benefits of an EU-USA Investment Protection Treaty.