The main lies concern three major question:
- Britain's Contribution.
- Turkey's 'impending' membership.
The Brexiteers claim that it costs Britain £350 million a week in EU contributions. This is a lie. After the famous Thatcher rebate of £100 million and after the amount the EU gives back to finance regional development, improved transport infrastructure, etc, this falls to £161 million or $23 million a day. This is 1% of total government spending!
This figure is our net contribution. It buys us access to the single market which gives us a much larger local economy than if we were outside it. A good analogy is paying the costs of travelling to and from work. It would be economic madness to decide not to go to work because you don't like paying the costs of travelling there and back!
But the contribution works in our long-term interest anyway. It is used to develop the emergent economies within the EU and bring the former Communist dictatorships of eastern Europe up to the same standards as Britain, Germany, France, etc. This in turn helps grow the internal market for British goods. The increased growth in an already larger economy more than pays the contribution in a higher tax return than if Britain were outside the single market and not benefitting from the expanding market.
The Brexiteers always imply, without spelling out the details, that somehow this 'saved' contribution will be used to finance the NHS. Firstly, the Brexiteers are not in a position to say what it would be used for since they are not, unlike the opposition in a General Election, a government in waiting. But Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, John Redwood and their friends on the Thatcherite Europhobic right of the Tory Party have a record of hostility to the NHS, not of advocating increased expenditure. Their preferences have always been to cut the higher rates of taxation and to cut welfare spending.
These are not people who have had a Damascene conversion to Keynesian economics and who suddenly want to spend more on the NHS. These are still the champions of the rich and dry as dust Thatcherite monetarists; people who would cut spending to the bone and privatise as much of the NHS as the could politically get away with. If there were a surplus of tax revenue following a Brexit, and were these people in charge of disposing of it, it would not be spent on welfare or on improving the lives of ordinary people. What really exercises the minds of these Europhobes is not the cost of membership but the improved employment rights for working people and the improved consumer protection that membership of the single market insistes on. Priti Patel, for example, is on record as saying she would like to remove at least half of these employment rights.
But that situation will never arise anyway. The loss of EU spending in the UK, the loss of tax revenue resulting from a smaller economy and the increase in spending on unemployment will not only more than absorb and 'saving' but may well require an increase in taxation to fill the hole in government finances. This would be further exacerbated by the loss of tax revenues from EU immigrants if immigration were severely reduced - more on this later.
Brexiteers claim that Turkey will enter the EU in the next few years and that this will result in a flood of Islamic Turks coming into Britain. This is a lie. There are long-term plans for Turkey to join the EU but any one country can veto that. There are a list of 35 policy areas (read: conditions) that candidate states must meet before they are allowed in. So far, in the last ten years, Turkey has managed to achieve just one of those conditions - on science and research. At the present rate of progress it will be sometime next century or longer before Turkey meets the entry requirements.
But what are the objections to Turkey's membership anyway? Turkey would be the largest member state by population and would be the first predominantly Muslim state but Turkey, ever since the modern Turkish Republic emerged from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WWI, has been the most European, western-facing, 'Islamic' state, and I enclose 'Islamic' in inverted commas because Turkey is constitutionally secular.
Turkish membership of the EU would send a signal to the rest of the Islamic world that the EU is not a 'Christian' state but a secular state where religious freedom is guaranteed and religious diversity is tolerated and encouraged. Turkey sits as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East and between Europe and the former Soviet transcaucasian states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
If Turkey meets the entry requirements for human rights, democracy, environmental and consumer protection, what will be the objection to membership?
But that is a question for future generations when we simply do not know what the situation will be. This is a decision that can be, and should be, left to future generations and it would be wrong to take Britain out of the EU over an issue that simply does not arise. The Brexiteers are playing on xenophobia and paranoia by creating the illusion of a problem which simply does not exist. Turkey will not be a member of the EU in the next few years, there will be no massive influx of Islamic Turks into Britain - and our government has a veto over Turkish membership anyway, just as every other member state has.
Brexiteers claim leaving the EU will give the UK control over immigration, which is 'swamping' Britain and putting an intolerable strain on public spending. This is also a lie. More than half of current immigration into the UK is from non-EU countries. Leaving the EU will not affect that in the slightest. Net migration to the UK in 2015 was an estimated 185,000, or about 0.3% of the 60 million population. The contribution to the UK economy of immigrants from EU member states is overwhelmingly positive. On average, EU migrants pay more in tax than UK-born residents and take less in welfare. EU migrants work disproportionately in the NHS and public services compared to UK-born residents. It would cause huge damage to the NHS if all EU migrant workers were sent back, not to mention the net loss of government revenue from loss of the tax they pay.
There is no evidence that EU migrant workers take 'British' jobs. Employment in the UK is at a historical high and unemployment is at its lowest since about the early 1970s. EU immigration has had no statistically significant effect on these figures. Meanwhile UK firms are free to recruit anywhere within the EU - as South Central Ambulance Trust did recently when it recruited paramedics from Poland because there were not enough home-grown paramedics to fill their needs. 41% of EU migrants have a job to come to and a further 32% are actively looking for work. A further 15% come to study. Only 7% accompany someone else. There is no evidence that migrants are attracted here by free health care or because the welfare benefits are better.
Britain currently has a pension and health-care problem cause by two things:
- an increasingly aging, non-productive population with an increased life-span.
- a falling birth-rate following the immediate post-war baby boom.
Immigration fills that gap! Immigrants are overwhelmingly young, economically active and productive workers. Without immigration, the UK economy does not have a large enough population of productive workers to sustain current levels of expenditure on health care or high enough pensions to provide decent living standards for the elderly. This will impose a burden on families with many women needing to give up work to help care for elderly parents - with a further loss of productive labour.
But, if Britain wants access to the single market - and without it we lose 40% of our exports! - the issue of immigration from EU countries will not be affected by our exit anyway. What the Brexiteers don't tell us is that a condition of access to the single market is acceptance of free movement of labour. Norway, which is not in the EU but has a negotiated access to the single market, is obliged to allow immigration from EU member states. It is inconceivable that the UK could negotiate better conditions than Norway or better conditions than EU member states. So, we either wreck our economy, or we have the present level of EU migration.
Britain has nothing to fear from EU-immigration and everything to gain from it. To end it would be economic madness. To leave the EU in the belief that this will somehow solve this (non-existent) problem would be an act of immense stupidity and gullibility!
So, what is behind this campaign of lies and disinformation? Why should people like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage be trying to deceive people into voting to leave the EU? If they really believed Britain is worse off inside the EU than outside it, they would tell the truth about it wouldn't they? They would be telling us the facts that convinced them of that, wouldn't they? Why are they not doing so? Because the facts don't help them!
Very clearly, they have an agenda that depends on people believing things they know to be untrue.
Boris Johnson, who until days before he announced he was for exit was assumed to be pro-EU based on the many pro-EU speeches he had made, can barely conceal his ambition to be Prime Minister, neither can Gove. Gove has had a personal grudge against his former political best friend, David Cameron, ever since he was demoted in the last reshuffle because he had been too openly maneuvering against Theresa May over the Tory Party leadership. The leadership of the Tory Party has been a major feature of internal Tory Party politics ever since Cameron announced that he would not serve more than two terms as PM. Gove, like Johnson, sees his best chance of winning the leadership is to force Cameron to resign after losing the EU referendum.
Neither of these two comfortable multi-millionaire are at all bothered about you and me and the UK economy. For both of them, the prize is Number 10 Downing street. The rest of us can go to hell in a handcart!
The same goes for Farage who has never yet managed to fool an electorate into giving him a seat in the UK parliament but whose ego is probably larger than the entire EU, will stop at nothing to be Prime Minister of an extreme right-wing Little England government. His naked ambition and willingness to generate and feed off xenophobic paranoia can be seen in his latest campaign poster. He released this the day campaigning resumed following the pause to respect the murder of MP Jo Cox by a right-wing political extremist who had obviously been radicalised by the lies and disinformation being promulgated by UKIP and their allies on the political right.
Millionaire former banker Farage, of course, has no conscience about what his and his allies' lies are doing to UK politics. After all, radicalisation is the entire point of it! Farage and his allies want people to be paranoid enough to imagine a major problem requiring extreme action, with all the country's ills blamed on minorities, just as the German National Socialist Party did in 1933.
This is the man who predicted that migration from Romania to the UK would exceed the population of Romania (sic) when Romania joined the EU. In fact, migration from Romania actually fell. No lie is too big or too small for Nigel Farage.
There is no truth agenda in the Brexit campaign. The real agenda is a political one the Brexiteers are too ashamed of to admit to openly because they know no-one would vote for it.
We can be sure that amongst the first actions to be taken of by a government of Brexiteers in a Britain outside the EU would be the removal of employment rights, the removal of human rights, the removal of consumer and environmental protection. And of course the removal of anti-discrimination laws so that minorities can be persecuted, victimised and turned into scapegoats as the economy nosedives, productivity falls and investment capital flows out of what remains of Britain and into a growing and expanding EU from which Britain will be forever excluded.
But one of them will have the pleasure of winning the prize of the key to Number 10 Downing Street and they will be free to blame the minorities of their choice unencumbered by EU laws compelling them to treat all people as full human beings. And the Little Englanders will have 'their' country back, free to treat 'their' workers how they please with no jonnyforeigner telling them their workers are human being too.