Response to Government leaflet from the UK in a Changing Europe

number 10

UK in a Changing Europe, director, Professor Anand Menon, said: “The government’s leaflet illustrates all too clearly why voters won’t get all the facts from anyone engaged on one side of the debate or the other. The document is factual but partial. It doesn’t tell the whole story, and deliberately so. It’s probably true, for instance, that at least three million jobs are linked to exports to the EU. That doesn’t mean those jobs would necessarily cease to exist if we left. Voters deserve all the facts, and for that they need to come to a truly impartial organisation – The UK in a Changing Europe.”

Senior fellows of the UK in a Changing Europe also commented on the leaflet

Professor Damian Chalmers, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “It’s a little slippery on jobs and borders and very narrowly focussed. There’s nothing on the better consumer protection, data protection, equality or green laws we now have because of our membership of the EU. If the Government do not believe in these, then why was there no attempt to renegotiate them back in February? Or if they do think they’re a good thing, then why were they not mentioned in the leaflet?”

Professor Simon Hix, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “Looks to me like quite an effective piece of rhetoric. I’m not surprised the Leave folks are fuming. It’s difficult to know whether it will have any effect, though, particularly on turnout amongst younger voters – which will be key.”

Dr Jo Hunt, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “It’s a very narrow write-up of the EU. There’s no mention at all of areas of EU activity with impacts on the UK and its citizens, such as protection of the environment, rights at work, and consumer rights. This silence reflects a lack of agreement domestically about whether the EU or UK should regulate such matters.”

Jonathan Portes, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “I’d describe it as a mixture of facts, fair points, some dubious assertions and straw men. There is almost nothing new or interesting in it. Most of the specific quantitative claims are either straightforward and correct, or go over well-trodden ground. Then there are some things that are perhaps pushing it, or at least phrased very strangely.

“For example, ‘For every £1 paid in tax, a little over 1p goes to the EU.’ This seems to me an odd way to describe the net contribution after all UK receipts – as opposed to saying ‘We pay £x million net of our rebate to the EU and we get £y million back in receipts.’ But mostly it stands up, and the assertions are either vague or couched in ‘The government judges’ terms.”

Dr Angus Armstrong, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “I thought the economy and trade bit was fair and reasonable apart from the mention of the three million jobs linked to EU exports. It’s not clear what that means – what does ‘linked’ mean?

“If it’s connected to the four million jobs on the opposite page, then there’s even more confusion. It is not as though all of the output of these sectors is exported to the rest of the EU. “While I have no doubt that export sector jobs would be lost, the way the argument is presented is a bit slippery.”

Professor Matt Goodwin, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “It is clear that, when it comes to the difficult issue of immigration, the government is trying to talk more about ‘border control’ and less about the trickier issue of numbers, on which the room for government influence is much smaller.”

Professor Richard Whitman, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “There’s a bit of a disconnect between the tick boxes on the final page and the contents. The ‘security’ argument that Cameron’s pushed hard on, and which gets a tick, isn’t really developed in the body of the booklet.”

Professor Michael Keating, UK in a Changing Europe, senior fellow, said: “This is the most minimal account of Europe, amounting to little more than a reiteration of UK free trade policy for the last century and a half (apart from the 1930s). It gives a rather misleading idea of what the EU is all about, recalling the ‘we thought we were only getting into a free trade deal’ line which has been presented by some Eurosceptics.

Since the EU is still more than a free trade area, they will be able to make the same argument after this referendum. There’s also a presentational issue: the comments on the first page about the Euro and control of borders have nothing to do with the re-negotiation but refer to existing opt-outs. We will be out of the Euro and the Schengen zone whichever side wins the referendum, so this does not provide a positive reason to vote Remain.”

Disclaimer:
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative.

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