EU referendum : facts, facts and more facts

The vote is to leave the EU.
Just over half of the 72% who voted wanted to leave.
So, just over 35% of eligible voters made this happen.
Yet when it comes to trade union votes for strike action, the rules say about 60% of eligible voters have to agree.

THE END This page is not longer updated, and has been replaced by the EU exit diary.

This page will consist only of facts advantageous to the 'remain in' campaign.
Plus my opinions, thoughts and inspirations, which for the present exercise are as good as the so called facts put out by the Tories (inners and outers) and the leavers (if only they would).

We need foreign workers
I have just read a piece about a man near Ross on Wye who has acres of vast polytunnels growing strawberries. He believes his business will suffer badly if we vote to leave the EU. He currently employs 350 Romanians to pick his fruit. No way could he get UK citizens to do the work he believes.

What's in a name?
Why do foreign sounding names dominate the leave campaign?

UKIP's Nottingham Chairman is Francesco Lari, and their leader is Farage, not forgetting Boris.

Vote Leave co-chair is Gisela Stuart (Germanic).

This is getting even sillier
I have not written anything for a while now as this whole thing seems far too silly to get involved in. Rather than just ignoring them, Cameron promised a referendum in order to stop UKIP taking Tory votes. And look where it has ended up : with the real prospect that we might actually vote to leave. What a mess.

And still no debate.

Every time the remain people argue a case with facts, all the leave people can do is to say the remain people are wrong, or they actually rubbish the person stating the facts. They just say "They are wrong" with no supporting facts or arguments to back up their case.

Still no facts from the 'leave' people
A major report has just been published by the government, showing how much damage will result from a leave vote. And all the 'leave' people can do is to rubbish it and those who wrote it. None of your refuting the arguments with facts. John Redwood, a leader of the 'leave' people even said that he was not going to quote figures. How can you decide if they do not give any figures?

The National Farmers Union are today deciding what their position will be and it was summed up as staying in the EU or taking a chance outside. Taking a chance on our future is just not on. A smaller farming organisation said that it could not argue for leaving without there being a plan in place or suggested for what would happen if we did leave. Which is sensible. All the leave people will say is that we will negotiate trade terms. Nothing about how much the changeover will cost or how long it will take. And nothing about what will happen to education, the health service and so on whilst a change (taking maybe ten to fifteen years)occurs.

And if we leave and it rapidly turns into a mess for all of us, as it will, Boris and his lot will still have healthy incomes as MPs and from their books and newspaper articles. No way will they suffer the consequences.

Balance of payments, trade, in and out ....
So, yet again, more money is leaving the country than is coming into it. All the figures can be very confusing, so I will try to give a simple example.

Imagine a sleepy little village somewhere in England, shall we say. Most unusually, it is pretty self-sufficient, with a baker, butcher, carpenter, garage, greengrocer and so on. Every inhabitant works for someone locally and buys all they need locally. So the money just keeps going around amongst the locals. Some might be inefficient, some might make an excessive profit, but it all keeps going without any problems.

Now, supposing the bakers in the large town nearby were to buy the bakers. The same people would be employed in the bakery and shop, but at the end of the year, the owners would want to be paid their profits. And would take them away to the town. So that although everything seems as normal, the small village would lose a sum of money. And if the garage were sold to someone in town, more money would be lost to the village. There would be less money left for the villagers.

In this example, replace village by UK. Replace town baker and garage by overseas companies. And replace sell by privatisation.

That is why we have a lot of the problems of today. Thatcher and the Tories sold off all our telephones, electricity, gas, railways and so on. Many of which were again sold on to foreign owners. And now all the profits just get shipped abroad. Even if nationalised concerns were to be shown to be less efficient than otherwise, which was not really the case, at least all the money stayed in this country.

If you do not take part, you will not benefit
As I have mentioned elsewhere, the UK governments have never really been interested in the EU and have never played a big part in decisions. If a big problem arises, they never look to the Eu for help. Until it is too late.

Take steel. Other major EU members have had problems with their steel industries, and have found ways around the EU regulations that restrict some forms of aid by national governments. One aid package, for that was what it was, was said to be in order to help the environmental issues of the industry. And so it was allowed. A bit underhand, but necessary. OK, it involved spending a lot of money, which our governments are not willing to do, but it worked.

Put it another way. There is a pretty small but expanding animal charity near here who have a full time member of staff whose job it is to apply for grants. Nothing else, just apply for grants. And they get a lot of money this way.

Why cannot there be a part of the civil service whose job it is to know about every sort of grant and aid available from the EU, and how to apply for it? So that when a problem arises, this approach can be considered? They are not going to offer it. One has to ask.

EU trade facts : Boris is wrong
Boris Johnson has stated that it would be possible to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU within two years of the UK voting to leave.

He also made the following claim: "Don't forget that 70% of our trade currently takes place with countries with whom we have no trade deals at all."

But UK trade statistics don't bear that out. In January 2016, 47% of UK exports went to the EU. A further 9% went to Switzerland, plus smaller amounts to other countries where trade deals are in place.

Only a minority of exports went to countries with whom we have no trade deal.

It was the same picture for imports: 53% of imports came from EU countries plus 3% from Norway, which has full access to the single market, and smaller amounts from other countries where trade deals were in place.

EU fact : the leave people still cannot put up an argument for doing so
On yesterday's 'World at one' there was a long interview with a manufacturing business owner who exports all over the world, but with a good chunk going to the EU. He noted that his company complied with all the international standards and met all regulations of the countries he exported to. So any change would not affect them in this area.

He was then asked why he wanted to leave the EU. 'Well, I am worried about immigration and just feel we would be better off if we left'. Nothing to do with his business, no facts or statistics, just a feeling.

EU fact : Iain Duncan Smith's resignation was about leaving the EU, not disability payments
Basically, Iain Duncan Smith is more interested in leaving the EU than clobbering the poor. At the cabinet meeting before the Budget, he agreed to everything suggested by Osborne rather than resign then, as it would pay him more to do so later.

So, after the budget, as he knew would happen, it was pointed out that the wealthiest would get a 10% cut whilst those on disability benefits would receive further savage cuts the their income. So IDS says he is against this, resigns and is hailed as a protector of the poor, and the poor are meant to thank him and identify with him. And we all know that many on lower incomes are against immigrants, so IDS hopes they will then vote to leave the EU and follow thier protector.

Iain Duncan Smith is only using the less well off to further the aims of the leave campaign, and whether we stay or leave, he will then dump all thoughts of them and get a nice over-well-paid job in the city.

Note : This was written as it happened. Subsequently it appears IDS wanted to clobber the pensioners as well as the less well off.

EU fact : the UK does have an international standing
So, Boris thinks it wrong that Obama should not comment on the referendum. Well, as usual, he is wrong and searching for headlines.

He still believes Britannia rules the waves and what we say will have a great influence around the world. Obama is just stating the obvious, if the UK stands alone, it will have a very weak voice. But if it remains within the EU and gets the EU to move in the desired direction, then the EU's voice is far stronger than a stand-alone UK. Obama is saying 'If you go it alone, few will take any notice of you'.

Not that I consider being 'a world player' is important. It only means fantastic expense on the military that otherwise could go to the health service and the less well off.

EU fact : negotiating trade deals takes a very long time
To get the Canadian deal with the EU the process started with an impact assessment in 2008, reaching a breakthrough deal in October 2013. It is expected to be signed this year and come into force in 2017.

Under a similar timetable the UK wouldn’t be implementing a free trade deal until 2025.

EU : things can be taken two ways
Today's quote from London mayor Trump look-a-like : "It (EU) is 50 years old, it is going in the wrong direction. It is time for real reform. The only way to get that is to leave."

The Scots would say that the union with England was hundreds of years old, going in the wrong direction and want to leave.

Because the Tories are incapable to working with other nations, they just turn their backs and walk away.

EU fact : as of today, neither side is forging ahead using facts
Cameron is about to make a speech which is being trailed as full of facts. We will see.

The leave people have been consistently failing to deliver any facts. This morning one of them repeated that if we leave, we could build a good trading relationship with China. That is all. Pure speculation.

Perhaps he should cast his mind back to last autumn when Osborne made a primeministerial trip to China and came back with billions of pounds worth of trade deals.
1. Being a member of the EU does not prevent us from trading with China.
2. If more deals could have been done, they would have been signed then.

It is time for the leave people to put something on the table. What extra trade with China is possible? Which companies, goods and what volume? If one is to go ahead with this, they should at the very least know who is going to undertake this trade. And if they did, they would be shouting it from the roof tops. The truth is, they just do not know.

EU contribution fact
According to the latest Treasury figures, the UK's net contribution to the EU for 2014/15 was £8.8bn. To put that in context, it is about 1.4% of total public spending - slightly less than the energy and climate change department's annual budget.

And surely you do not consider that a major department with a major budget to spend.

Another estimate drops the £8.8bn down to £5.7bn : The National Audit Office, using a different formula which takes into account EU money paid directly to private sector companies and universities to fund research, shows the UK's net contribution for 2014 was £5.7bn.

Why the drop? Because as it says, it takes into account some of the money we receive back from the EU.

EU fact
When so many people are saying that the result of the referendum will be determined on economic arguments, why is George Osborne almost silent?

He hardly squeaks.

The Treasury is part of the government, and therefore should be putting out facts and figures to support the remain campaign. Yet they have done nothing so far.

Is it because Osborne, were he not Chancellor, would vote to leave?

Or is it because he feels that if he says too much in favour of staying and the vote is to leave, then his hopes of being Prime Minister will melt? If he keeps quiet, and the vote is to leave, he can then say it was all Cameron's fault, he had to pay lip service to the remain campaign, and now he will lead the Tories out of Europe into the glorious sunset.

And maybe sunset on the UK will be the outcome if we leave.

EU fact : immigrants are not a drain on the UK economy
On average, immigrants who arrived in the UK from 2001 to 2011 contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits and other state assistance.

For those only from the EU the picture was most positive: they were estimated to have contributed £1.34 for every £1 they took out.

The same research found those from outside the EU put in £1.02 for every £1 received.

This is only part of the story. Recent arrivals tend to be younger than those who have been here for a longer time, and this can mean they’re less likely to be receiving state assistance. And if people come here when they’re working-age and leave before they get old, they’re much more likely to be putting in more than they take out.

EU facts for Wales
The EU is providing £1.8bn to Wales between 2014-2020 to help economic growth.

EU fact : the leave people cannot back up their trade predictions
If we leave the EU, we will have to re-negotiate individual trade agreements with all the EU countries and possibly others. All the leave people have said is that this is possible.

They have not and cannot say :
1. Which countries will indeed agree to a deal.
2. How long negotiations will take.
3. What terms will be agreed, the same, better or worse.
4. What will happen to the goods we produce in the meantime. And the jobs of those who produce them.

No, just saying we are sure it will be done is not good enough.

EU fact : most of the big companies want to remain in the EU
The figure of about 70% of the larger companies based in the UK (which is not the same as UK companies) wish to remain in the EU.

Why? Because they knows the benefits and put a lot of effort into knowing how the EU works, and thereby get all the grants and subsidies that are available. They participate in the EU, knowing what can be obtained from membership.

On the other hand, a lot of the smaller and medium sized companies (which are still quite large, and not your local builder) want to leave. Why? Because they find the EU difficult. They are too small to employ specialists who know their way around the EU system, and the government does almost nothing to help them. Hence they get virtually none of the benefits of membership that the larger companies do.

Again, it all comes down to the government not wanting to be an active member, except to object. If the government were only to put their all into EU membership, things would be totally different.

And even if we do have money to distribute, it is a total mess. Look at the farm situation at present. There are three government departments involved and they are fighting, without any co-ordination, and just not giving out the money to farmers who need the cash to exist.

The Public Accounts Committee said the Common Agricultural Policy delivery project was beset by a "childish turf war" at cash-strapped farmers' expense.

Common Agricultural Policy delivery project = EU money for UK farmers.

Do you hold the same beliefs as the EU?
Article 49 of the Maastricht Treaty (as amended) says that any European state that respects the "principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law", may apply to join the Union.

By wishing to leave the EU, does this mean the exit people are against such worthy beliefs?

Another EU fact
After Maastricht, John Major and the Tories were all for expanding the EU. Why? Because their only interest in belonging to it was to have access to the vast European market, with minimal paperwork that membership gave.

And now they want to leave, and have negotiations with the other 27 members to re-establish these arrangements. Negotiations that might result in worse terms, given the proven poor ability of the UK to negotiate.

EU facts : ease of exporting goods
The EU’s single market means that UK exporters do not have to comply with 28 different sets of import regulations in other countries. Far from being excessive red tape, this cuts costs and allows faster and freer movement of goods.

If we leave the EU, we will have to negotiate with each EU country for each category of goods we wish to sell to them. And we all know how long trade agreements take. Years and years. If agreements are not in place if we vote to leave, and they will not be, and trade stops, which it will, it will take years to recover. Look at how long it took for the British beef trade to recover after the BSE crisis.

Another positive EU fact : science
Some of the most prestigious and valuable research grants in Europe are awarded by the European Research Council, an EU initiative. Not only do these launch the best British scientists onto the world stage, but British scientists have earned more back in grants than the UK has contributed in every year of the scheme’s existence.

Then there are the EU Marie Slodowska-Curie mobility fellowships, which support EU scientists to come to Britain as postdoctoral fellows – the main drivers and heroes of bench science in many disciplines. British labs were awarded over €1bn between 2007 and 2014. Again, we receive more than we put in, as we received almost double the amount of money than the next best funded country, Germany.

What about the UK's standing in the world?
I polled neighbours and telephoned friends this afternoon, and none could care less about our standing in the world. Nobody could envisage the UK being taken notice of if we left the EU. America, China, Russia, the EU and then the weeny little UK demands to be taken seriously? Never.

Our 'standing' is a thing of importance only in the minds of Tory politicians, the military and the media.

Have you noticed that once a party leader becomes Prime Minister, they abandon any interest in domestic politics and start telling the rest of the world what to do? Preferably starting a war : Thatcher, Blair, Cameron.

And all this world leader stuff costs money. Money on the military as one cannot rule the world without an army. Better have an air force and navy as well. Shame there is no discount for having three.

No, it would be sensible and certainly cheaper to remain in the EU. That way we will only try to be the big military power within the EU which must be cheaper than trying to be the same in the whole world.

Yet another positive EU fact
The United Kingdom is the biggest receiver of international direct investment in all of the single market, bigger even than Germany.

Another positive EU fact
West Wales is one of the areas which receives more from the European Union per head than it pays in.

EU facts : Neil Kinnock says :
"For instance, people don't generally know that there are no out of work benefits claimable as of right, by immigrants generally, including EU immigrants," he said.

"So what we are talking about only, is in work benefits, that's to say tax credits and anything associated with being eligible to claim a supplement to your wage.

"But by definition of course, you have to be working before you can make such a claim ...."

Got that?
Immigrants with no job = no money from the UK taxpayer.
Immigrants with a job = benefit the UK and pay tax, and because they are paid so poorly, are eligible for top-up benefits.
Meaning, the UK taxpayer subsidises poor paying employers. (Or as they would put it : the poor employers who have to pay their workers something.)

The R'dum
Why, oh why are we still trying to look like America?

They have film stars as President, so we have to have 'personalities' as politicians. Well, the media think so, and as doing so helps to sell newspapers and so on, then they are all for it.

Today, the media love Boris Johnson. But let me point out what is so obvious to anyone with a brain. Outside of London, nobody gives a whatever for Boris and what he says. Acting and looking like a scruffy three year old might be considered photogenic, but for those of us living north of Camden, he is the pits.

Even before Cameron went to argue for his 'reforms', all in the Tory party knew which way they would be voting in the R'dum. So why did it take all weekend for Boris to state his views? Because it was good for Boris. All that publicity. Of course he knew months ago, but could not resist having his picture taken again and again.

It will be interesting to see how many 'facts' appear over the next few months. I would quite like to know :
1. How many UK citizens work in the EU, and whether an exit would affect their jobs?

2. How much do we get by way of subsidies, to farming for example, and other benefits. Indeed, do we come near the top of the recipients for any benefits?

I have just found a quote from Neil Kinnock who was against the EU years ago :
As the years have passed it's become increasingly obvious, not only because of the regional development fund which obviously assists Wales substantially, but also because of investment decisions made more broadly that have made the UK the biggest receiver of international direct investment in all of the single market, bigger even than Germany.

3. How many large companies will be more than likely to move from the UK if we leave?

4. How long will it take to negotiate trade deals for individual products with countries in the EU? There will almost certainly be a couple of years gap, so how will our manufacturers exist during this period?

5. If there is to be so much uncertainty, how will we be able to afford the Trident renewal?

And so on.

Oh, what a lovely referendum
So, there is to be a referendum.

Why?

Because before the last election, UKIP so worried Cameron that he was forced to offer a referendum in order to keep the Tory party together.

This is the only reason.

And if the vote is to leave, and everything goes wrong, as it will, it will be because an effort was made to keep the Tory party together.

Nothing to do with the pros and cons of being a member of the EU, just plain party politics put before the good of the country.

The question
Don't forget, slogans such as In/Out, Yes/No will just not come into it.

The ballot paper will ask :
“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

You will be expected to mark either :
“Remain a member of the European Union” or “Leave the European Union”.

Remain or leave? That is the question.

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