William Coles who writes for Politics Students has written a piece entitled “The EU: It’s getting ridiculous now” where he outlines some of the most crass myths about EU membership. Here I will offer a quick response to some of his points.
He states, “A constantly repeated fact about Britain’s membership of the EU is that the cost totals at £50,000,000 per day…why spend it on our membership of this union? That public money should be doing better things such as going towards schools, the NHS and local authority services”
I say this misses the point (for I do not deny that our membership of the EU is expensive). This point he misses is the fact that the net contribution that our membership gives to our economy is massive. As David Mackie, Chief European Economist at JP Morgan has said: “In the great scheme of things, our net contributions [to the EU] are so small as to be trivial. There is no doubt in my mind that the net benefit of membership of the EU is by many orders of magnitude above our net contribution to the EU budget.”
William Coles goes onto say, “75% of British laws are made outside of the UK in the European ‘Parliament’. To add insult to this injury, the British voice in Europe is worth around 11% of the total number of MEPs. This means that many EU policies affect ordinary people within Europe in the form of EU regulations that attempt to impose a single standard across Europe”
I say that this is inaccurate. Our friends over at Liberal Conspiracy do a great job at illustrating that his (and UKIP’s) estimate of “75% of laws are made in Brussels” is a huge over estimate and that no one really knows the true figure. The politically independent House of Commons library though puts the figure at 9.1%. Who would you trust, UKIP or the House of Commons library? For a reasonable argument on this figure – check out this blog. Equally, statements like “laws made in the European Parliament” smack of a lack of basic understanding of the European Union and the decision making process.
To finish his unconnected ramblings he throws in “When John Hirst (A man who bludgeoned his landlady to death with an axe) took the UK Government to court because he believed that prisoners should have the right to vote; his wish was granted”
This (as he acknowledges) has nothing to do with the EU and everything to with the Council of Europe. He offers no explanation (other than to support his tirade) of why this whole paragraph was included.
He finishes by saying, “The Prime Minister has said that we in Britain should try to change the EU rather than leave it; I say to him, how on earth can we do so with only 11% of the European voice“.
Once again he fails to acknowledge the UK Government’s role in the Council, Commission, EEAS etc… Anyone who honestly doesn’t think the UK is an influential actor within the EU clearly has not spent anytime engaging with any of the EU institutions.
Still interested? Here are my reflections on why the UK has such an antagonistic relationship with the EU.