or stream the video here: Brexit – the movie
This movie revealed an EU that is relatively undemocratic, frustratingly opaque, often unaccountable and hopelessly bureaucratic. The EU’s accounts have not been transparent enough to be signed off by an independent auditor for years, which means it could also be corrupt. I was appalled to discover that democratically elected MEPs cannot suggest or initiate legislation (that can only be done by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats) and neither can they repeal legislation once it is on the statute books.
On the business side it covered the enemies of a successful economy: lack of competition, restriction of free trade, excessive regulation and (again) bureaucracy. All areas in which the EU excels. The EU has restrictions on trade with countries outside the EU and this stifles competition. It is also damaging the economic growth of poor African countries by preventing access to the EU markets for their farming produce. The examples of it gave of free trade and lack of Government control and regulation unleashing an economic miracle in post-war Germany, whilst the UK economy drowned in Government regulation and bureaucracy (i.e. socialism) was compelling. As was the example of the huge economic success of Switzerland, which is outside the EU and free of its regulation, bureaucracy and general centrally controlled interference and incompetence. Switzerland also has some of the lowest levels of social inequality in Europe.
The film also made the excellent point that we don’t need trade agreements with other countries to trade with them. In fact the UK trades with many countries without a trade agreement. In the same way my company doesn’t need a contract to sell products to our customers. They just buy according to our standard terms and conditions.
However, I thought their emphasis on Tate and Lyle and the decline of the British fishing industry was weak, as these are relatively old and small industries. Examples of biotechnology and technology industries would have been more compelling. The huge success of the Swiss pharmaceutical industry, despite being outside the EU, was briefly mentioned and should have got more prominence. There should also have been some debate on the effect of EU membership on quality and quantity of scientific research in Europe. And everything said by the editor of The Sun newspaper lowered the tone of the debate.
Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England thinks the economic impact of Brexit or remaining in the EU will be broadly similar:
All in all, I’m not convinced there will be an economic disaster if the UK left the EU. The CBI, IMF and other so-called economic experts have all been wrong before. Very recently the IMF and EU said George Osborne’s economic plan for Britain would cause a major recession and mass unemployment. They were wrong. UK has the strongest growth in the developed world and low unemployment. The EU economy is a disaster, particularly in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Unemployment levels are high and their youth unemployment levels are scandalous. High European unemployment is predominantly caused by restrictive labour laws i.e. bureaucratic, Government intervention in the employment market. Perhaps the UK’s economy is doing reasonably well despite, and not because of, EU membership. Maybe we would do even better without the EU.
In any case there is also the future possibility of rejoining the EU, perhaps even negotiating better terms.
Even if it is proven that the EU gives specific economic benefit it would have to be huge to compensate us for not having a democratic and accountable Government making our laws.
If the Brexit debate is just about the economy why don’t we just sell our freedom and sovereignty to the highest bidder? China may be prepared to pay us a lot more than the EU for the rights to make British laws.
The one opinion I really value is The Economist newspaper, which I have read religiously for over 25 years. I generally find their views agree with my own. They are very much in favour of staying in the EU, which is why I am still wavering.