Anyone out there still planning to vote Leave tomorrow? Let’s have a look at the big arguments for Brexit ….

 “There’s too much immigration from the EU”

  • In 2015 the number of immigrants from the EU was 270,000, fewer than the 297,000 people emigrating from the UK to other countries. In a country of 65,000,000, is that a big deal?
  • There are 3 million EU citizens living here – and 1.2 million British people live in other EU countries.
  • Then EU immigrants pay £20bn more into the country in tax than they take out in benefits.[1]
  • Britain is a nation of immigrants, formed by people from Germany, France, Scandinavia and many other countries. England takes its name from Germanic settlers called Angles, and 30% of white Britons have German DNA[2].
  • Britain has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees – Jews fleeing Hitler, Vietnamese boat people, Kenyan Asians, Bosnians, Syrians, etc. Should we stop doing that?
  • If we leave the EU but want to retain access to the single European market we will have to accept freedom of movement anyway – as Norway and Switzerland do.

“We can take back control of our laws” 

  • ‘Taking back control’ is a twisted way of saying pulling out of agreements to ensure all EU countries play by the same rules.
  • We are part of something called the ‘single market’. It means that we trade with 27 other countries in a duty-free zone. The single market has laws to create a level playing field – common standards for product safety, workers’ rights, labelling etc – so countries can’t undercut each other with shoddy products or bad working conditions. If you belong to the club you have to follow the rules.
  • EU laws are not made by ‘unelected bureaucrats’, but by elected politicians in the Council of Ministers, supported by elected MEPs.
  • There are many EU regulations on everything from recycling to chemical safety – designed to maintain common standards, but a House of Commons analysis showed among Acts of Parliament over two decades only a quarter were in some way affected by EU obligations and only 1.4% were passed only to implement EU law.
  • Countries sign up to international rules all the time. The Foreign Office says that since 1834 Britain has signed up to 13,200 international treaties and agreements[3], ranging from defence pacts and arrangements for fishing rights to treaties marking UK accession to the UN and NATO. All of them mean giving up some control but as part of a deal where Britain gets benefits in return.

 “We’ll be better off because we give £350m a week to Brussels”

  • The actual figure is more like £160m when you subtract the UK’s rebate and what it gets back in EU grants. Typically that’s around £8-9bn a year.
  • In 2015 net transfers to the EU were around £9bn – out of total public spending of £669bn. That’s just 1.3% of the total British public spending. It compares with around £100bn for the NHS and about £50bn for education.
  • Britain’s leading tax think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, says leaving the EU could knock £20-40bn off government finances – meaning we’d lose more than we gain. That’s because of lower growth, falling investment and trade.
  • If Britain leaves the EU, the UK Treasury estimates that it would be poorer by the equivalent of £4,300 per household by 2030. There would be an even greater impact if the UK did not seek participation in the EU single market. But if it does want to keep access to the single market it will have to accept EU laws and free movement of goods, products, money and people.
  • In other words you can’t have it both ways. There is no such thing as a free lurch.