We are consistently and repeatedly told by a scolding establishment that the economic benefits of the EU are simply beyond question. No, they say, to calls for a cost-benefit analysis, it is beyond question that EU membership is essential to the British economy. At least, that's what we've been led to believe.
What I would ask though, is, if the economic benefits of being in the EU are so self-evident, why can no-one outside of the Westminster bubble see them? If they are obvious to everyone, why are they even being asked to publish them - and why would they refuse? Why is the evidence secret? It hasn't been named. It hasn't been published. Not even those who claim they've seen or heard of it can so much as quote a single word or paragraph. Not that we should take this as proof that it doesn't exist, of course. Brian Cowen, former Taioseach of Ireland, did admit that he hadn't read another important EU paper, the Lisbon Treaty, before ratifying it, and that document was very real. But not revealing evidence, especially if you claim it will 'prove' you are correct, is highly suspicious, and it would be right to assume that it does not exist. It certainly should be inadmissable in an argument.
Let's get on with our side of the argument, shall we, whilst the federalists are sorting out theirs?
'Of course, Britain could survive outside the EU...we could probably get access to the Single Market as Norway and Switzerland do' - Tony Blair, British Prime Minister
If we could get the same trading benefits from being outside the EU without paying a single penny towards the EU budget, why do we insist on settling for a growing trade deficit with them, at the cost of £7.6 billion pounds a year in net membership fees alone? The trade deficit - where we buy more from them than we sell - itself costs around £30 billion. What are we paying the additional money for? Bragging rights? The EU is the only economic region where such a trade deficit exists, and it is the only one which we pay to enter. I'd like to say that's a monument to colossal stupidity, but, for the sake of clarity, I'll just say that it's a pretty poor deal.
But, of course, federalists would rightly point out that only by being a member of the EU will we have access to such a lovely trade deficit. We simply must pay for the privilege if we want to buy their stuff. Not only is that blowing their own foot off with a shotgun, it's also fundamentally untrue. Can you name a single country that trades with the EU without paying for it? I can. There are around a hundred and seventy of them. They include China, Japan, America, Mongolia, Angola, and the Central African Republic. In fact, every other country on the planet trades with the EU. And they do not have to pay. They sell to the EU. The EU buys their exports. They cost the EU money.
We're a cash cow for France and Germany. Why would they suddenly stop selling to us, a major export market, if we left the EU? Why would they cut themselves off from a major source of income? The claim that somehow we'd lose access to European markets if we left the EU makes sense, only as far as the listener is willing to abandon everything they know about economics and money to make it so.
Ah, but the money the UK receives from the EU, for public services, how could I have forgotten that? Out of the gross £15 billion we pay to the EU, we get £6.4 billion back. And you know what that pays for? It pays for lovely, essential things that the people want, like public services and educational projects. Well, thank you, European Union, for giving us some of our own money back. But if you like the benefits of that money, there's an easy way to double it: simply don't give it to the EU in the first place. Keep our national income for ourselves.
One billion pounds would pay for:
34,585 police officers
58,736 army privates
Think what we could do with £1 billion. Now times that by seven, for the membership fees. Now double that, as that's the money we pay in. Now take into account the £28 billion that comes from the over-regulation of businesses (source: Bruges Group, a biased source, yes, but one which neither the EU nor the UK governments have any evidence to refute). Add another £16 billion for the Common Agricultural Policy, £2.35 billlion for the Common Fisheries Policy, and the other costs of EU membership and it adds up to a ridiculous sum of money. This is every year. We've been in the EU since 1975. It hasn't always cost us anything like this amount, but that money adds up. Hundreds of billions of pounds must have been poured down the drain that is the European Union since then, for no economic benefit whatsoever.
Think of the jobs and the services that are about to be cut: how many of them could have been saved if the UK was not a member of the European Union? How many people have been blocked from going to university because of the budget cuts? How many are unemployed?
As Gerard Batten says, 'the question is not whether we can afford to leave but how we can afford to stay in.' And the answer is: 'we can't.'