I must respond to the letter you published last week from Sylvia Walker.
When a fact inconvenient to the Brexit campaigners is presented, their reply is to either to claim that it is spreading fear or that the source of the fact has an ulterior motive.
There are many positive reasons for us to remain in the EU – for example, to have the best chance to grow our economy, to have an effective voice in the world, to have access to a huge resource of expertise to address collectively with our neighbours, climate change, security, innovation, defence, immigration and refugees and, of long run importance, to continue the unprecedented period of peace across the continent underpinned by the interdependence and common purpose brought about by the EU.
But to address Ms Walker’s assertions in turn. Firstly the CBI is a body which represents businesses and reflects their views. Are all these businesses in the pay of the EU? More and more organisations are declaring in favour of remaining in the EU. Are they all doing this because they get money from the EU? I think not; they recognise the benefits of being in the union.
It is completely untrue to say that the UK has had to give up its trade with the Commonwealth; we share preferential trade terms with all Commonwealth countries.
Yes, we do share common cause with all EU countries in seeking to reduce global warming – indeed, we have led the way on some occasions. The EU does require countries to levy minimum energy taxes, but successive Governments in this country have chosen to levy taxes higher than these.
Far from the EU preventing us supporting our steel industry, our Government could have followed other EU countries in the steps they have taken to protect theirs.
Moreover, our Government exercised our sovereignty in preventing the EU from introducing heavy tariffs on China’s dumped steel!
Of course we will continue to trade with European countries, but the terms will be very different if we leave the EU. Brexit supporters seem to believe that we are such an important country that the likes of Germany, France etc will still let us have EU trade terms without the consequent regulation which they place on their own industries. Really?!
We do control our borders, contrary to the fear being spread by Brexit supporters– everyone entering the UK has to show a passport. We can, but chose not to, stop all non-EU people coming into the country. We can, and do, stop entry of people who have serious criminal records wherever they come from. A number of independent studies show that EU immigrants as a whole give us a net benefit economically as well as providing staff to safeguard many of our public services.
The House of Commons Library makes it clear that only 13.2 per cent of our laws are affected by the EU. Of course, our elected Government runs the UK.
The net contribution we make to the EU is £3.8bn per annum or £63 per person.
We pay less proportionately than Germany or France and it is estimated that we get at least £300bn in financial benefit of our access to the single market – a minimum rate of return of 800 per cent per annum.
Let’s conduct the EU Referendum discussion on the facts, not assertions!
The Old Barn, Skirpenbeck