The benefits of the EU: unverifiable predictions versus demonstrable facts
Civitas, 10 June 2016
By Michael Burrage
The economic argument for remaining in the EU pivots on the supposed benefits to members of the Single Market. It is because the UK must keep access to this market that it must put up with all the other costs, obligations and inconveniences of membership. And since non-members only have access to this market, while accepting many of these costs, obligations and inconveniences, non-membership is not thought to be a sensible option.
Curiously, none of those who use this argument, including David Cameron, ever refer to the published and readily accessible record, showing the impact of membership on UK trade or exports. The Prime Minister prefers to cite highly speculative forecasts of what might happen in 10 or 15 years time, as if what has happened over the past 23 years is not important.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, might have directed him to the comprehensive database of her organization, but she preferred to tell him, and the British people of her ‘hunch’ that the consequences of Brexit would all be negative.
Shortly before her UK visit, the IMF Direction of Trade Statistics database was updated with the figures from 2015. They are used in the table below which shows the growth in the value of the exports of goods to the EU since the formal inauguration of the Single Market in 1993 to 2015 of forty countries, all of which have been exporting to the EU under WTO rules, which according to Messrs Cameron and Osborne is ‘the worst possible post-Brexit option’.
They have not played any part in setting EU rules, have not concluded any trade agreements with the EU, and have not paid a penny for access to the Single Market. The UK meanwhile has been enjoying all the benefits of membership.