For some the most important argument for withdrawal from the European Union is the patriotic and democratic case for us being a self governing nation. For others it is the more practical economic advantages. They point to our extortionate membership sub. There is some dispute about the figures. The gross amount is £19 billion. I think it is reasonable to knock off the rebate – £4.2 billion.
What is unreasonable is to knock off another £4.0 billion for UK spending in the EU – we don’t decide what it is spend on and much of it is wasted. (I taken my figures from the Treasury – see Annex C1 Table) So leaving would mean we would have around £14.5 billion more to spend on our own priorities – or of course to reduce the tax burden. That’s £279 million a week. There would also be the economic advantages of being able to negotiate more open trading arrangements and not having damaging and unsuitable regulations imposed on business.
Less attention is paid to the moral argument.
Brexit would help the poorest the most. One example is allowing the money we spend on Overseas Aid to be more effective. Chris Mullin, the former Labour MP, was an International Development Minister. in his diaries he says of Clare Short, when she was International Development Secretary:
“She was very critical of the EU, through which we are obliged to spend a third of our aid budget. ‘very inefficient. Even when committed the money can’t be spent and much of what is spent goes on political gestures rather than help to the poorest.’ “
Repatriation of Aid spending from the EU was in the 2005 Conservative election manifesto. But this was not secured – or even sought – in David Cameron’s renegotiation. Nor did we get any restoration of power in other other areas. How many lives would be saved if the £2 billion a year of British taxpayers money spent on Overseas Aid by the EU was instead spent directly by the British Government on effective development projects? Much of the EU’s Overseas Aid spending goes to wealthy countries. It is rife with corruption and maladministration.
How many lives would be saved if the Fortress Europe trade barriers were removed and trade allowed to expand with developing countries?
In a letter to The Guardian recently Sam Akaki, the Director, Democratic Institutions for Poverty Reduction in Africa, reflected that “the EU imposes stiff tariffs on African agricultural imports, thus making it impossible for Africa to trade itself out of poverty.”
What about helping the poor in our country? Daniel Hannan – in his excellent book Why Vote Leave – offers ample evidence that the EU hits the poorest the hardest. That is because it pushes up the cost for the basic essentials – food and heating. Hannan says:
“Leaving the CAP would see our food prices fall back towards non-EU levels as tariffs and quotas are dropped and we return to global trading…
“Where I live, in beautiful countryside on the Hampshire-Berkshire border, upper-class welfarism is surprisingly widespread. The talk at parties will often turn to, say, how you can get £30,000 a year from the Government by installing a woodchip boiler, which can then conveniently be used to heat your swimming pool. Because most alternative energy schemes benefit people who own land, woods and suitable sites for wind farms, they end up becoming a form of regressive taxation.
“People on low and medium incomes pay higher electricity bills to subsidise landowners — who, in many cases, then become part of the powerful and articulate pro-Brussels lobby.”
The Eurocrats on their six figure tax free salaries do very well out of the EU. So do the lobbyists who know how to work the system to maximise corporate welfare. Substantial donations from Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are funding the “Stronger In” campaign. It is the campaign for the corporatists – the crony capitalists. But the moral crusade is for opening up the world to opportunity and competition. That is the way to defeat poverty – at home and abroad. The UK’s departure from the European Union is part of that mission.