Dominic Lawson today gives a helpful summary of yet another demonstration of Lib Dem untruths about the EU:
‘Back at the end of June, at the height of the row over the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker to the presidency of the European Commission, [Danny] Alexander asserted in a speech (which he helpfully leaked in advance) that ‘over three million jobs’ were at stake if Britain left the EU. He attributed this to ‘the latest Treasury analysis’, adding: ‘That is the measure of the risk that isolationists would have us take’…
…the Open Europe think-tank on June 26 submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for release of the ‘latest Treasury analysis’ purportedly demonstrating the risk to ‘over three million jobs’. And now, the best part of two months later, the ‘Information Rights Unit’ of Her Majesty’s Treasury has responded.
It admits that ‘the full source’ of Alexander’s claim is a Treasury assessment done in… 2003. So much for the Lib Dem Cabinet Minister’s assertion that this is hot news of imminent employment disaster in the event of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Even more devastatingly, the official response to Open Europe’s FOI request goes on to point out that this 11-year-old research ‘is not an estimate of the impact of EU membership on employment’. All it did was to suggest — in a very rudimentary piece of analysis — that approximately three million jobs were involved in our trade with the EU.’
Here is what Alexander originally said:
“Indeed, the latest Treasury analysis shows that 3.3 million British jobs are connected to Britain’s place in Europe. That is the measure of the risk that isolationists would have us take.”
Weasel words – where the Lib Dems used to say “depend on”, they have at least now been forced to say “connected to” – but he still merrily makes the assertion that leaving the EU would “risk” those jobs. The Open Europe FOI response shows how false this is – the statistic is 11 years old and did not, even at the time of its inception, make any estimate of risk at all.
Say it loud: the eurofanatics’ three millions jobs claim is not true.
For those jobs to be at stake in any way would mean the EU ending all trade with a post-Brexit UK – something which is not only fantastical, but which would devastate the economies of Europe to a far worse degree. It couldn’t happen and it wouldn’t happen. There is more chance of Danny Alexander becoming Prime Minister, X Factor winner and the heir to the throne all at the same time than there is of this bogus claim coming true.
And yet the pro-EU fringe movement continues to repeat the claim – no doubt, even though the Treasury have unambiguously stated that it is not true, they will continue to do so. The last thing any of us would want is for it to live on into the 2017 referendum, used as a scaremongering source of doubt.
They would have no statistical or factual basis for doing so, but we shouldn’t put it past them.
The best way to prevent the endless recurrence of the lie would be for the Treasury to carry out a proper cost-benefit analysis of our EU membership and of the various post-EU relationships. Ken Clarke didn’t want to carry one out in the ’90s, Tony Blair wouldn’t let Gordon Brown carry one out in the following decade. The probable source of that reluctance tells its own tale.
George Osborne should go where his predecessors would not tread and set the stattos of his department loose on the acres of red tape, the protectionist barriers to trade and meddling edicts from Brussels. I suspect Danny Alexander would be less keen to reach for “the latest Treasury analysis” in that circumstance.