By Peter Sain Ley Berry, Treasurer of the European Movement Council of Wales
We must beware of the Leavers labelling our warnings as ‘Project Fear’ which implies (to their troops) that we are only scare-mongering. I like to call these warnings, ‘Project Get Real’.
I have watched last evening Patrick Minford debating with Peter Hain on The Wales Report on BBC Wales. Minford, a macroeconomics professor in Cardiff, got away with all sorts of assertions, the nub of his argument being we can be free-trade Britain and anyone who says differently is scare-mongering. These people need to be pinned down and made to spell out their policies. It takes two to make a trade relationship (or any other relationship). They cannot be allowed to assume that our free trade proposals will be signed off by the other party, or that we would not have to abide by EU rules if we wanted to sell there. It is not a question whether we want to trade freely. We are not going to put a tariff on French wine and cheese or German cars; but when we want to sell them our goods and services then we shall run up against the EU’s external tariff barrier.
Minford also kept saying how strong the UK economy was and how weak was the rest of the EU. With its high debt, budget and trade deficits, Britain’s economy is actually not in a good position at all! A real case of the pot calling the kettle black. I keep coming back to the thought that if leaving the EU is such a good idea, why isn’t Germany leading the way? Germany contributes far more to the EU budget and it exports far more. Germany could survive outside the EU much better than us, so why do the Germans want to stay? Possibly because they actually do rather well out of the EU.
Another of his arguments was that we were constantly outvoted in the EU’s decision making. Really? It is Britain that is pressing for a unified European capital market and the completion of the digital services market, both of which would benefit the UK greatly. Just as with the Single Market itself, far from being outvoted, it is actually the UK that is leading the way.