EU referendum 2016 guest post: The argument to leave

Posted on Apr 27th, 2016 | News and opinion

On June 23, 2016, the UK will vote on whether to leave or remain in the EU. We invited comment from both sides of the debate.
Below is the argument to leave. You can read the argument to remain here.

longworth1Real love for SMEs, tough love for Europe

By John Longworth, Chair of Vote Leave Business Council

As an entrepreneur I know what it feels like to sweat blood to create and grow a business. The last thing that you need is red tape to tie you up and hold you back. In 2010 the British Chambers of Commerce published a report showing that EU regulation was costing British business £80 billion per year. They gave up publishing because the UK Government was, and is, powerless to do anything about it.

The initiatives that UK Business Department have introduced to cut red tape ignore the constant stream of costly EU regulation. Effectively, Ministers have failed to stem the tide and have sacrificed UK business on the altar of the EU religion.

But of course big business, in which I also have plenty of experience, love EU red tape. It helps to erect barriers to entry so that smaller enterprises cannot afford to compete. As a consequence multi nationals swallow up our best gazelle businesses and our best ideas, never to be seen again.

The bureaucracy of public procurement rules created by Brussels make it practically impossible for small and medium sized businesses to bid in the face of multi nationals who have entire departments devoted to navigating the thicket of complexity, even though SMEs could greatly benefit taxpayers’ with innovation and reduced costs.

But Whitehall and Ministers do not care about this. Multi-nationals are a safe bet and they recognise themselves in the mirror, in the bureaucracy of corporations.

EU rules pervade every aspect of our lives, from control of the VAT on tampons through to restrictions on the overtime people can work, inhibiting the income of British workers and holding back the productivity of British companies. It prevents flexible working which suits many people and businesses, it depresses the wages of workers while depriving businesses of the skills they need through an “out of kilter” and out of control immigration regime.

Nearly 87% of the U.K. economy is not dependent on exports to the EU and yet is burdened by regulations and costs. Much of this is a burden on the enterprising, job creating part of our economy, the SMEs.

Even if we got no trade deal with the EU, the effect on exports would be very marginal indeed, a rounding error in a currency movement. The so called and flawed Single Market was not designed for the UK, whose economy is 80% services, and after all, there is no EU single market in services to speak of. Just think how much more productive the 87% could be without the drag anchor of an EU in relative decline, in addition joining a growing world economy which we are currently prevented from doing and liberating our domestic economy from the technocratic dictatorship of Brussels.

Of course Britain loves Europe. We love to holiday on the continent, we trade, we cooperate across many areas, we invest. None of this will change after Independence Day in June. But we must not confuse Europe with the EU.

The EU is a bit like a Ponzi scheme. Each year Eurocrats steal around £20 billion from our taxpayers’ pockets and gives back around £10 billion, after having first “top sliced” an admin fee for their trouble. They then encourage Brits to spend this money on stuff they often didn’t really want in a way that ties us up in “red tape” (bureaucracy). The other £10 billion goes into the EU machine never to be seen again. It is spent on grand schemes in other countries and funds the thousands of Eurocrats who earn exorbitant wages with generous, index linked pensions, while their masters enjoy chauffeur driven, S class Mercs and regular parties of champagne, oysters and sumptuous spreads. I should know, I have been to many junkets over the years. While all this is going on, year after year, we have the national scandal at home of nearly half a million unemployed under 25s and public services at breaking point.

Other countries in the EU have even more dire stories to tell and it is surprising their peoples have not protested more. Nonetheless, we see the emergence of far right parties in France and Germany with a share of the vote very close to that of the UK’s second largest party, the Labour Party, which should be a warning for our unaccountable and undemocratic masters in Brussels, the ECB and the ECJ. The money the UK pays over to Brussels (a net contribution of at least £175 billion and gross nearly £500 billion since we joined the European Project) could fund tens of thousands of extra nurses, doctors, policemen, teachers and soldiers. It could provide road bypasses, lower business taxes and better digital connectivity. It could fund apprenticeships. But only if we leave the EU.

Of course, we are told that this is the price we must pay for the prosperity and jobs provided by the EU single market. Wrong.

The Single Market has not worked well for Britain. For a start, we have a massive trade deficit with the EU. By contrast we have a trade surplus with the rest of the world. For example, we have a trade surplus in services with the USA, with whom we have no trade deal, twice as much as that with the EU, with whom we have a supposed trade deal! So much for the Single Market. The truth is that the UK is predominantly a service sector economy. We are great at services, world leaders in health, education, IT, financials, business, architecture, security, planning etc. But there is no EU single market in services to speak of and no appetite in Brussels to create one. In fact the EU single market – the common market – is designed for German goods and French agriculture, it is not designed for Britain. And even the free market in goods is unravelling, with over 1000 notifications a year of protectionist laws introduced by member states of the EU.

But of course those who argue to stay say that we need to be a member of the EU for those lucrative international trade deals the EU is so brilliant at. Wrong.

The economies of all the countries put together with whom the EU has signed a trade deal add up to only a fraction of those won by small countries not in the EU, such as Norway, South Korea and Switzerland who have trade deals with countries like China, Hong Kong and Canada and many others. Right now, we have no freedom to negotiate these deals because the EU won’t let us. I know that many Commonwealth countries would negotiate trade deals with Britain in the blink of an eye.

Those who want to stay tell us we must pay the price to be a member of the club and have that all-important seat at the “top table”. Wrong.

This is laughable. We are not voting for the status quo. The Eurozone will integrate to survive. Central bank control, European Court enforcement, more and more tax will be the order of the day. The Eurozone will always out-vote, within the EU, countries on periphery, like Britain. We will be marginalised. We will have to pay up, comply with all the rules and have no say. The Eurozone will leave us, not the other way around. In fact, by staying in the EU, we will face all the things that the Prime Minister wrongly says we will face if we leave, but with none of the freedoms. We have no seat at the top table of the EU and never will. By contrast, little New Zealand has a seat at the World Trade Organisation and access to international standards committees.

The Stay Campaign and the UK Government (same thing really), say that we cannot possibly do as well trading the world as staying in the flawed, so called, Single Market. Wrong.

UK exports to the EU constitute about 13% of UK GDP with 17 % going to the rest of the world. We have a massive trade deficit with the EU (with whom we have a trade deal) and a trade surplus with the rest of the world (with whom for the most part, we have no trade deal). I have found that, by and large, businesses who only export to the rest of the world want to leave the EU, naturally, as they suffer the burdens of EU membership but have none of the supposed advantages. Being in the EU is making them uncompetitive in the world market.

When we vote to leave the EU, Britain – like so often before – will be a beacon of light to like-minded, freedom loving people who want to throw off the yolk of an undemocratic, technocratic political and business establishment and declare an entrepreneurs, tradesman, workers, people’s revolt to shape a fairer enterprising Europe and bring to an end the terminal decline of our great continent.

If we want to be the best place in the world to do business. The most prosperous, high productivity, high wage economy, with the most secure jobs, Britain must vote to leave the EU on 23 June. There might never be another chance for us or our continental cousins.

In or out? Leave your comments below and we’ll publish the best in a follow-up article.

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