back to article So what would the economic effect of leaving the EU be?

Now that the election's over (result unknown as I write) it's possible to perform for a reader request: what would the economic effect of Britain leaving the European Union be? Given that I'm a known 'kipster I didn't want to do this pre-election: I'm here at El Reg despite my 'kipness, not because of it and thus wanted to …

  1. Harry the Bastard

    as usual, a reasoned piece - though the bit where we somehow become richer is pure fantasy, nice theory but the world has changed, now we get screwed and squeezed, tha's reality even in the usa where these pesky eu rules have no power - but there's more to life than economics

    i do like not gettng messed around over travel, import/export, customs, and access to services in my travels, and do really rather enjoy meeting johnny foreigner wherever i encounter him be it bloomsbury or bruge, it'd sadden me to no longer be part of that, maybe enough to upsticks before an exit

    the uk does not have the greatest employment/human rights in europe, but judging by the venom heaped on the eu 'interference' in this area by various robber barons i have the distinct impression that exit would be followed by an even greater loss of protection for the average person

    i think it's also clear to any reasonable person that a big factor for many, not all, 'kippers is immigration, (and for some, not all by any means, that seems to boil down to simple racism), but what's the impact if we ban/deport immigrants? the average age in the uk is rising, surely we'll need people to keep things running, change our bedpans and wheel us about in our dotage

    the eu has major issues, but i'd rather see an *honest* and sustained go a fixing it, which the uk has never tried, than a sulky retreat into what i'm sure would be a poorer and nastier island

    1. Youngdog

      Re: Harry

      I am so pleased this was the first post to go up so it will be seen and not buried under a pile of replies. Every reason why I would rather stay in Europe is in there. Not such a Bastard after all!

      1. fredsmith999

        Re: Harry

        Missing an even bigger reason. How could we trade freely with Europe if our stuff doesn't meet their (safety) standards? We would still have to follow their standards even outside: that's what Switzerland, etc. do.

        Regardless of whether you realise the sense of coordinating these things so that each eu member doesn't need their own re-invented-wheel standards: its 99% of what the eu actually does: uk civil servants would be doing it otherwise but that would be stupid.

        1. Ilmarinen
          Stop

          Re: Harry

          Europe is not the EU & the EU is not the Common Market.

          People often get this wrong - in the case of Europhiles often I think to spread misinformation to prevent sensible debate about Brexit.

          Europe is a continent, with long history and mostly shared values. The UK landmass is part of that continent, pending a split in tectonic plates.

          The EU is (and always has been) a political construct and is about supranational government, with all the bureaucracy and regulation that big government loves. If we want to get back to being our own masters, a good way to start would to leave the EU. Fortunately, the EU constitution aka the Lisbon Treaty provides a mechanism for this under Article 50.

          The "Common Market" which Brits were sold last time we had a referendum is actually the EEA, of which the EU and EFTA are members. The sometimes quoted point about having to abide by rules and standards without having input to their generation is misleading because most standards are set outside of the EU - e.g. safety standards are ISO, the EN (and BS) versions are subsidiary.

          Leaving the EU, while remaining within the EEA (via the EFTA route) would leave us economically neutral while allowing us to start to regain sovereignty. For instance, we would be able to have our own national representation on international standards organisations, instead of having to rely on the EU to negotiate for us.

          What we are likely to get from the man in No 10 is a fake "renegotiation" plus huge FUD campaign followed by a referendum in which the Europhiles hope the population is fooled into agreeing. We need to inform ourselves better, whether we end up believing In or Out is best, let's make an informed choice and not just accept the propaganda (e.g. "leaving Europe").

          Several commentards below have mentioned Richard North's work, which I would recommend as informed and well thought out. I'd also point people to a speech by Owen Paterson last year "An optimistic vision of a post-EU United Kingdom". Worth a read.

          1. fredsmith999

            Re: Harry

            My point was that 'supranational' standards are good. Why aren't you against the iso?

            1. Ilmarinen

              Re: Harry

              @ fredsmith999

              Your point as I read it was that we would still have to "meet their (safety) standards" - meaning the EU's standards.

              I don't think that anyone (sensible) is against supranational standards. They promote free trade by preventing local barriers. They mean that e.g. you can buy a battery that fits your camera wherever you are in the world - AA size is international.

              The point is that it is not the EU that sets the standards, but the EU gets to interpose itself between the nation states which it governs and the various international bodies that set the standards.

              For example, despite its obvious direct interest, the UK does not get to sit at the negotiating table on the international committee that deals with Fish and Fisheries Products. The EU negotiates for us, as one of 28 member states. Norway by contrast, population 5 million, an EFTA member and in the "Common Market" with the EU, gets its own seat.

              Who is likely to get the better outcome when the standards are handed down?

          2. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: Harry

            Re: the population being "fooled" into agreeing; the latest YouGov polling shows 45% would vote to stay in the EH and only 35% would vote to exit, and this is with only UKIP having done any substantial campaigning on the topic. A Survation poll has results just the other way: 51% for exit, 49% against but found most to be generally ignorant on the EU.

            The UKIP fantasy that a majority wants exit doesn't seem to be evidenced by the polling; there's a lot of educating to do and shifts either way will probably be the result of that. Not of people who don't share your world view — or with mine — all being "fooled".

            UKIP is never going to get what it wants because Scotland is 2:1 in favour of the EU so the UK probably wouldn't survive an exit.

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: Harry

              >>"A Survation poll"

              I'm not sure any polling company qualifies as reliable, but Survation bring a new low. I saw UKIP pamphlets backed up with Survation "figures" showing the huge numbers of people planning to vote for UKIP which turned out to be grossly exaggerated to how many actually turned out. Or if in some technical / wording sleight of hand that isn't what they were actually saying, it was certainly the impression that was deliberately created. I've also heard pretty bad things about their neutrality elsewhere.

              1. ThomH Silver badge

                Re: Harry @h4rm0ny

                I've no independent knowledge; is Survation believed to be ideologically biased or merely highly adaptable based on paymaster?

                Having reviewed my Survation source, it's actually heavily outdated. The story I found that linked to the poll was more recent than the YouGov figures but the poll itself is three years old. So I suggest it's not relevant on that factor alone.

                The YouGov poll I was thinking of is from February and besides the headline figures shows quite a bit of volatility. So I think it's far from a foregone conclusion but wanted to make the point that: it's far from a foregone conclusion.

                i.e. I think it's worth repeating that the idea that a majority of people definitely want out but that our national politicians are the obstacle has no compelling evidential basis.

                1. h4rm0ny

                  Re: Harry @h4rm0ny

                  >>"I've no independent knowledge; is Survation believed to be ideologically biased or merely highly adaptable based on paymaster?"

                  Well I have heard a couple of politicians (different parties) refer to Survation in much the same tones I would use to refer to Visual Basic so I'm partly drawing it from that. Note, this wasn't in an interview or public statement, it was just casual conversation. Politicians actually can be honest when the cameras aren't on them and they know their comments wont be used to attack them next week. It was just that "after hours" sort of chatting if you know what I mean. But the other aspect is their UKIP polling was definitely way off which I saw first-hand. And not in the way pretty much everyone's was off this election, but in a really suspiciously skewed way making it look like UKIP had chances of winning seats that they were never, ever going to come close to. I was suspicious when I saw it, but reserved judgement until after the results came in. It was, imo, definitely misrepresentative.

                  >>"i.e. I think it's worth repeating that the idea that a majority of people definitely want out but that our national politicians are the obstacle has no compelling evidential basis."

                  I get your point now. I may have misread your post. Yes, I don't know any compelling evidence that people would vote to leave in a referendum. However, something like this is notoriously hard to predict. It's actually harder to predict by polling, I have been told, than a General Election. And we saw how well that went. The Tories will do their best to stage manage any referendum and time it to get the result that they want as much as they are able. I am strongly against leaving, though on principle, I have to support there being a referendum, even though it would be nerve-wracking for me.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Harry

                I'm not sure any polling company qualifies as reliable, but Survation bring a new low.

                Wasn't Survation the company that admitted to having a poll which correctly predicted the election result, but didn't publish it because they couldn't believe it was right? If they filter their results via their own biases how can they claim any legitimacy?

            2. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: Harry

              UKIP is never going to get what it wants because Scotland is 2:1 in favour of the EU so the UK probably wouldn't survive an exit.

              Scotland is irrelevant to the debate. It's just a (very) noisy city.

              The UK hasn't survived the independence vote, its only the politicians that don't see it. Scotland stirred up so much ill will during the campaign that there's no going back; And that's before Sturgeons horrors begin their disruptive and devisive politicking at Westminster. The UK in anything like its current incarnation is already toast.

              So, the EU. I could vote either way.... In its current form it simply doesn't work well, but it could work better if reformed and significantly slimmed down.

              Free movement works great if English is your second language (most of Europe), less well if it's your only language (most of the UK). Free movement of criminals (including our homegrown ones) hasn't added value, so there's scope for considerable reform there. Free movement of goods..... not sure about that one yet. On one hand, cheaper stuff, on the other, it's cheaper because its effectively vat free (Amazon Sarl anyone?).

              State pensions... Britain has a full pension after 30 years residency, so economically it makes sense to accrue that then move abroad and contribute to another system. After 50 years working, you'd have pretty close to two full pensions. That seems silly - it'd be better integrated into an EU wide scheme.

              So yeah, EU... I could vote either way, and remain to be convinced. But Scotland... Scotland isn't even part of the debate - there's just too few Scots to matter. Sorry.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Harry

                @LucreLout

                "...move abroad and contribute to another system. After 50 years working, you'd have pretty close to two full pensions. "

                Or you could get yourself a Greek civil service final year pension at 50.

                Personally, when I started my first job I could not believe a mere 6% of my salary (my contribution) was supposed to deliver some high % of my final salary as a pension in 40 years. 30 years on I know it was bollocks - along with endowment mortgages.

          3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Harry

            @ Ilmarinen

            You cannot be part of the EEA without subscribing to:

            1. Free movement of labour

            2. Most of EU environmental regulation and a lot of the economic ones.

            What Cameron and company wants is to restrict these which means _LEAVING_ the EEA period. The Swiss which already heading down that route as a result of a botched referendum and will learn the consequences the hard way next year. One of the reasons why Eu will play hardball on that one is exactly that - Britain. We will all see exactly where happens as a result of restricting labour flow when this happens because Switherland currently has the same problems as UK and will get the same painful awakening which awaits UK in case of Brexit:

            1. Their health system is run on more than 50% Eu labour. It will collapse overnight if this is withdrawn

            2. Various services and non-banking parts of the economy similarly heavily use Eu labour.

            It is all nice to have half of the banks in the world producing GDP (thought they usually hide it instead) when you are in an operating theater and the Romanian anaesthesiologist, German surgeon and Italian head nurse are not there to attend to you. While we can live without Bulgarian and Romanians washing our cars, that particular bit is a bit difficult to live without.

            By the way - I am not being flippant here, when both of my kids were born, I did not notice any British natives at consultant level, there was on trainee doctor and some of the midwives. It was exactly the case of German surgeon, Romanian anaesthesiologist and Italian head nurse. So the observation that NHS is in the same boat (or worse) than the Swiss health service is a first hand one.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Harry

              You cannot be part of the EEA without subscribing to:

              1. Free movement of labour

              2. Most of EU environmental regulation and a lot of the economic ones.

              Which are the good bits, worth keeping

              What Cameron and company wants is to restrict these

              No, those are the bits that Farage wants to get rid of, Cameron & co are happy to keep them, they want to get rid of the political interference, which seems to be pretty much the majority UK view.

            2. Ilmarinen

              Re: Harry

              @ Voland's right hand (Silver badge!)

              1. Yes, free movement of labour within EEA is fine - and part of the deal. Also fine is that movement of non-labour (benefit tourism, etc.) is not free.

              2. Mostly it's *not* EU regulation. It's imposed via the EU but is actually made by and then handed down from international bodies above the EU. Banking regulation derives from the FSB (Google it), not the EU.

              No problem at all with European neighbours - I speak a bit in 6 EU languages, have LT Godson. Several colleagues and neighbours are from EU countries. But EU itself is a bad thing, of which we would better be out.

              BTW: have you read the Patterson speech, or Richard North's stuff? I would be good to know about what you are disagreeing with.

            3. PJI

              Re: Harry

              Quite. I live in lovely Switzerland. But those not blindly following the SVP and even some of those are distinctly nervous that we will lose some rather useful labour. Just who will staff hospitals, many pharmaceutical, bank and industrial departments? Who will serve us in our rather good restaurants, clean the lavatories and generally wipe our noses and bottoms? Worse still, we shall be back to being trapped on our little patch of Europe, where just as immigrants can not get in, we can not get out. I recall clearly some anguished conversations with, for instance, hotel management staff, lamenting in the pre-treaty days that they could not move to London or Paris to broaden their experience. I recall Swiss waiting in long queues at Heathrow and at Dover, being quizzed about their finances, their return tickets, how long they intended to stay. No fun at all.

              My mother, in England, has got a Polish dentist (West of England) and I noticed, last time I was there, a lot of EU citizens making sure services I use are there.

              As for the daft claims about immigration: recent figures I saw (not to hand) showed that about half are not from the EU but from Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Were they serious about immigration, that could be stopped over night. But of course, UKIP and eccentric Tories are not intelligent, clear-eyed or serious.

              Then should GB pull out, will the return of many of the 2 million expats really be welcomed, replacing youngish, educated workers with ageing, often retired and not so well off, miserable people?

              Then again, it is irritating enough for Brits not being in Schengen and so having to show passports when the rest of us do not. Imagine when they are really outside and are trapped on their overcrowded, under-paid little islands. Why would anyone vote to surrender the freedom to live and work anywhere in the the vast area of Europe? Life is about more than business, trade or xenophobia. Business is here to serve us, not the other way around, just as governments and countries are. If we become subservient to them, democracy is dead.

            4. Jess

              Re: Cameron ... _LEAVING_ the EEA period.

              Cameron does not want this (at least publicly). He wants a rearrangement of the structure, and a referendum, to 1. apply pressure for restructure 2. Placate the kippers and 3. Settle the matter.

              The Green Party policy is similar (but for different reasons).

              The Tories basically don't want the EU protecting the little people from their rich mates. Whereas the greens favour decentralisation, (but like the freedom of movement) however, I think we should sort our own democracy out before we start whinging about the EU. (At least EU votes actually elect people).

              What no-one addresses is if the freedom of movement is lost, what happens to all the Brits using it to retire in the warm? I'm sure they won't actually simply be chucked out, but I suspect there would be progressively more expensive annual visas, plus requirements for fluency in the local language. Meaning most will come home in poverty (since their houses won't be worth much). I guess they could move in to the homes vacated by the Euro workers currently here. Who would actually do the work to replace them though, and where would they live?

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Harry

              @Voland

              "... I did not notice any British natives at consultant level, there was on trainee doctor and some of the midwives. It was exactly the case of German surgeon, Romanian anaesthesiologist and Italian head nurse. So the observation that NHS is in the same boat (or worse) than the Swiss health service is a first hand one."...

              1. Yes but non-free flow of EU people will not (hopefully) stop skilled labour from being employed. They will just have to get work visas.

              2. The fact that there are so many foreign people in the NHS is a symptom of lack of investment in training local doctors and nurses - there are always more suitably qualified applicants than there are places for medical students in the UK.

              3. Supposedly it costs UKP250k & years to train a doctor. If we outsource this to Poland, Romainia, India or wherever, are we not leaving these other countries in short supply of staff?

              I don't really have an answer but if everyone that wants to come to the UK, were able to, the locals would be outnumbered...

            6. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Harry

              Indeed. There is more than meets the (casual) eye in this, but bottom line is that if Cameron wants to renegotiate terms to restrict immigration he will not succeed as freedom of movement is a basic principle of the EU and there is simply no way Member States will reopen this issue.

              So if Cameron makes this an absolute must, then the EU will simply say bye bye UK.

          4. Positive Luddite

            EEA is All taxation, No representation. Please don't!

            "Leaving the EU, while remaining within the EEA (via the EFTA route) would leave us economically neutral while allowing us to start to regain sovereignty."

            Norway is part of the EEA, not the EU. We are small. Our representation in the EU would have been minimal. Our chances as an "independent" economic nation outside EEA would be miniscule except for oil, gas, and fish.

            UK has an influence inside EU. (At least when you are willing to play the game). We pay a LOT for our EEA membership. You would have to as well. So the main points of the article stands: If you believe in free trade, you may accomplish as much outside as inside the EU.

            But politically, you are not an empire. You would not feel "sovereign" — just left out. And you would have to play a different game in the world market while STILL playing by EU rules if you wish to be part of the EEA.

            EEA is a solution for small nations which should not be part of the Euro, for example. (Greece, anyone?) But for the UK, look to Norway: High membership fee; No representation; Play by EU-rules anyway.

    2. 9Rune5

      "the average age in the uk is rising, surely we'll need people to keep things running, change our bedpans and wheel us about in our dotage"

      I hear the same argument in Norway, but I fail to see the wisdom. "And then what?" is a question that springs to mind. You increase the population by immigration, and then... Ok, you have a bigger population, now who is going to keep things running, change bedpans, and so forth, for the next generation? You have not solved the problem, only postponed it (while increasing its size).

      I am not familiar with the situation in the UK, but in Norway we have long since passed the point where we can sustain ourselves. Our food industry is now a drop in the ocean and we are dependent on importing food in order to survive. Does it really make sense to move more people here and be even more reliant on shipping food from countries far away?

      Meanwhile the average older person is more capable than the previous generation of old folks. They are able to take care of themselves longer and there is more technology available to us to aid us in our golden years. The need for fresh immigrants to wipe our butts is just not there. (and we certainly have no need for illiterate immigrants – all jobs here require people with a certain level of education anything else provides our social systems with a huge burden that just won't pay off at any point)

      I don't actually mind a more open immigration policy, but I strongly believe it cannot co-exist with a liberal and generous social security system. It is one or the other, but not both. (and fwiw: I will happily sacrifice our liberal social security system)

      1. h4rm0ny

        >>"I hear the same argument in Norway, but I fail to see the wisdom. "And then what?" is a question that springs to mind. You increase the population by immigration, and then... Ok, you have a bigger population, now who is going to keep things running, change bedpans, and so forth, for the next generation? You have not solved the problem, only postponed it (while increasing its size)."

        Life is always a game of staying just ahead of the axe. Are you suggesting we don't deal with this generation's problems because the solution doesn't also deal with the next generations? Who knows what the answer is - maybe one more generation covered will buy us a bit more time to create robot servants and exosuits or improve health after forty for much longer. Who knows.

        >>"I am not familiar with the situation in the UK, but in Norway we have long since passed the point where we can sustain ourselves. Our food industry is now a drop in the ocean and we are dependent on importing food in order to survive"

        Norway has a very low population density. It could easily sustain itself in terms of food if it wishes. The reason it doesn't is because it has a highly educated population and is very modern due to fortuitous oil reserves and therefore it makes far more sense to simply buy in food from abroad. That's what trade is for - so that you can focus on producing the Opera web-browser or whatever it is you do over there, and via the wonder of modern money, exchange high-value exports for cheap imported food and have enough left over for one of the highest standards of living in the world. Do NOT make out that your importing of food is some sort of dire constraint that puts you on a knife edge. You import food for the same reason I buy it at the supermarket rather than grow my own. And if immigration adds to your country's GDP (which it has done by filling jobs the educated and affluent Norwegians done want to do), then that just gives you more money to import more food.

        >>"and fwiw: I will happily sacrifice our liberal social security system"

        I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that you personally don't need social security. So perhaps you should pick a word other than "sacrifice".

        1. joeldillon

          Norway has a low population density because most of it is uninhabited mountains up in the Arctic Circle. It doesn't exactly have a lot of prime farmland!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > Life is always a game of staying just ahead of the axe. Are you suggesting we don't deal with this generation's problems because the solution doesn't also deal with the next generations?

          Quite, but I think the poster's point was that importation of yet more people is not a real answer at all. The solution (even temporary) to debt is never more debt.

      2. NerryTutkins

        The reasoning is that the UK faces a demographic timebomb through an ageing population.

        Immigration allows the UK to increase the working population immediately, without waiting 16+ years and having the cost to educate and provide healthcare to children, all the while they are economically not productive.

        Of course it does not solve the problem unless the long term balance is being addressed by raising the retirement age. That should have started decades ago, but the baby boomers didn't like the idea of working until 70. But it is starting now. Eventually the retirement age will rise to the point where you have a stable population, with few enough retirees that the working population can support them. The general shift in work from manual, physical work to desk and service jobs, plus improvements in health care should mean many people are perfectly able to work until 70 or beyond. Remember that the retirement age of 65 for men was set at a time when life expectancy was less than that. These days, the average person will spend 20 odd years retired.

        Immigration is not the solution, but it is a part of the the solution, in combination with raising the retirement age.

    3. streaky Silver badge

      what's the impact if we ban/deport immigrants

      Very few people are suggesting that immigration stops. The key here is rather than having to support low-hanging-fruit (and it does exist) we can import more stuff from the top of the tree. Immigration might be the same as it is now, but you'd hope to go out and attract more talent.

      Not for nothing the idea that all sorts of generic movement/trade barriers would go up is absurd - at the same time we can do things like go for easier to negotiate free trade agreements with the US/China et al that are less comprehensive and not have the trade barriers to - for example - buying cheap solar panels from China instead of having to overpay for them from Germany.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Do the same as any other country. Enact immigration rules for roles. Whilst Switzerland relies of foreign labour, foreign labourers rely on Switzerland. Do you think a sudden exodus of labourers and a dearth of jobs will be fixed overnight? Of course not, a policy will be put in place and business will resume as normal.

        But immigration will be hosted controlled rather than mandated.

    4. Paul Hampson 1

      Immigration cuts both ways

      There's also the little fact that immigration cuts both ways. When the UK closes its borders and sends all the immigrants home, what happens to the many 1000s of Brits working abroad?

      If these, on the whole, well-educated and internationally experience workers, comfortable retirees have to relocate back to blighty it might be shock to find that the increased pressure in the middle of the jobs market means that those who couldn't compete for jobs with foreign workers (who didn't speak the language and did not have the advantage of a western European education) still can't compete. Plus there same will happen with the housing market.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Immigration cuts both ways

        @ Paul Hampson 1

        "There's also the little fact that immigration cuts both ways. When the UK closes its borders and sends all the immigrants home, what happens to the many 1000s of Brits working abroad?"

        I am amused at the assumption that if the UK escapes the EU that all foreigners will be frogmarched to the shore and pushed off (hopefully onto a boat). Will we also start eating babies and join ISIL? It is more amusing to hear the idea of closing our borders, while it would be potentially opening them up (outside of the white supremacists of Europe if we are exaggerating).

        "If these, on the whole, well-educated and internationally experience workers, comfortable retirees have to relocate back to blighty it might be shock to find that the increased pressure in the middle of the jobs market means that those who couldn't compete for jobs with foreign workers (who didn't speak the language and did not have the advantage of a western European education) still can't compete. Plus there same will happen with the housing market."

        Wait wait wait. Are you claiming there will be more competition because instead of low skilled import we will suddenly import skills? You assume retirees will be kicked out and forced back here (with their retirement pot) I assume because you think the EU countries are evil scumbags who would do that but also the pensioners are too stupid to go to a friendly country? And in your crazy scenario of course the maths issue of massively ramped up immigration (without infrastructure to support it) vs throwing them out to get back the smaller number of brits.

        The picture you paint is an evil and unfriendly EU, stupid brit pensioners, intelligent brit workers you dont want back and immigrants who cant speak the language and have a huge disadvantage but somehow get the job anyway (pay?). YOUR RIGHT! Lets get out of this evil EU while we still can.

  2. slightly-pedantic

    impact of uncertainty

    Whilst in the EU everyone can know with some confidence that the 'bad' things we can do are more limited, particularly with regard to trading with the EU. Anyone choosing where to base their operations then has a choice between a known status inside the EU and one that could take a radical and unexpected stance in an independent uk. Pity the poor middle manager of global co. who suggests they are based in an independent uk ahead of Eire.

    1. ZeroSum

      Re: impact of uncertainty

      Call it Ireland please.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: impact of uncertainty

      What is it with the 'Éire' usage? Do you call Spain 'España'. Best stick to the english unless you are either a native speaker writing in irish or making a point about nation names in 'native' languages.

      (It's bad enough having to lisiten to SF in Ireland occassionally try to speak it (with 'agus' blah blah 'agus' blah 'agus' blah 'agus') they're not doing the language any favours)

      1. Mike Banahan

        Ireland / Éire

        And if you do still choose to use the Irish name Éire for pity's sake use the síneadh fada (the accent above the É). With the fada the word means Ireland, without, it means 'burden' and that's a particular cause of agrravation that takes us far off topic.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Ireland / Éire

          Fisheries would blossom without the EU quots.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Ireland / Éire

            >>"Fisheries would blossom without the EU quots"

            Well yes, they would. For about a year. After which catastrophic collapse from over-fishing.

            1. Why Not?

              Re: Ireland / Éire

              wouldn't we throw the French & Spanish out of our waters? UK fishermen actually record their catches.

              The problem with the EU is it has lots of rules and only the UK seems to obey them.

              A points based Visa waiver system would be fine allowing us to steal pre trained Doctors & nurses whist keeping out European Criminals that seem to like it here (we could keep our native ones to save embarrassment).

              Such a system would slow the dragging down of wages that is happening because accession nation nationals are willing to earn much less, not because they are special , I'm pretty sure if someone paid you the equivalent of £125k to clean tables you would be very willing.

              As mentioned above we are just stacking up problems for the future having bottled it as far as reducing pension demand by raising the retirement age, old age provision etc something we could have done back in the 70s when we first realised the population was changing.

              The argument seems to be if we vote to leave a club that we pay significant membersip fees and buy lots of goods from they will stop selling things to us or buying things from us to spite us. If we try to change the rules then we will be sorry

      2. Uffish

        Re: Eire

        I call it Eire (using the English spelling and pronunciation) and/or Southern Ireland because that was what was marked on the maps when I was at school. The island is called Ireland and has two 'countries' Eire (or Southern Ireland) and Northern Ireland. (FWIW I look forward to there being only 'Ireland' but, at present at least, that is not possible).

        1. mike2R

          Re: Eire

          Sounds like a very old map, was a quarter of the world shaded pink on it as well?

          The state is called 'Ireland' in English. I don't see any benefit in continuing a 1930s era refusal to use that name on the part of the UK government. There's been a lot of water under that particular bridge since then, and it has implications of denying the legitimacy of the Irish state that I doubt you mean to make, given your comment about looking forward to a united Ireland.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Eire

            But the island of ireland which the state of Ireland inhabits is also called ireland which can be a bit confusing.

    3. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

      Re: impact of uncertainty

      Does the world actually work like that though? We have two major banks (Standard Chartered and HSBC) who's fundamental business is in China yet they are based in London, Boots is based in Switzerland (outside the EU of course) and Ford recently moved it's transit production from the UK to Turkey and of course there are all those tax dodging firms based in the channel islands.

      The argument that businesses would prefer some EU location to the UK because of the EU presumes that the EU would have some kind of substantial trade barrier with the UK, but they don't with Switzerland or Norway and Turkey doesn't get rough treatment either.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: impact of uncertainty

        The companies would move to the Eu, ie move their HQ to a brass plaque in Ireland or Luxemburg.

        But the workers of banks and software companies would stay - after all they speak English and the wives of visiting US VPs need to visit Harrods - and employment law would become more US friendly.

        Manufacturing where you need to ship real stuff to europe would be fscked. Even if you do manage to lower workers pay and conditions in the UK to compete with Ukraine and the Eu don't stick 100% duty on everything and don't demand that your salesman and lorry driver get a visa for each visit. It isn't going to make sense for a Japanese car company to build cars for the Eu, outside the Eu, at UK wages when they can make them outside the Eu in Mexico.

        1. PhilBuk

          Re: impact of uncertainty

          The majority of trade between the UK and the rest of the EU is inwards to the UK. Europe would be shooting itself in the foot by erecting trade barriers against itself. In short, the Germans would lose sales and that is not on!

          Phil.

          1. Burb

            Re: impact of uncertainty

            "The majority of trade between the UK and the rest of the EU is inwards to the UK. Europe would be shooting itself in the foot by erecting trade barriers against itself. In short, the Germans would lose sales and that is not on!"

            You are right about the balance of trade being more inward than outward but our outward trade is nevertheless substantial and we won't improve the situation by cutting it off. The EU is the biggest trading bloc in the world and it's on our doorstep so I'm not sure what is supposed to take up the slack. Europe will be pretty pissed off if we leave the EU so I can't see them being too sympathetic about negotiating favourable trading arrangements for a while. We would not be in a very strong position; we still need to import stuff and, if we choose not to import it from Europe, we are at least going to have to deal with much higher shipping costs.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thought of an unbridled government that does what ever it wants frightens me. With nobody to knock them back we'll have all human rights stripped away from us in record time. They already have the snooper's charter for the police moving nicely forward, If I could I would leave the UK before the stormtroopers land.

    1. Tim Worstal

      Human rights aren't EU

      The Human Rights Act, the European Court of Human Rights, this is nothing to do with the EU. Or at best, something only partially. They actually come from the Council of Europe (which is not the same thing as the European Council).

      You must be in the Council of Europe to be in the EU but everyone in Europe other than Belarus is in the Council of Europe. That's why there are judges from Russia, Azeribaijan and so on who rule at the ECHR on your human rights in Blighty.

      Leaving the EU doesn't change those rights one iota.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Human rights aren't EU

        >>"The Human Rights Act, the European Court of Human Rights, this is nothing to do with the EU. Or at best, something only partially. They actually come from the Council of Europe (which is not the same thing as the European Council)."

        This is sophistry. They are intimately tied together and either you have a very superficial understanding of this or you are deliberately misdirecting.

        The European Council and the European Union are separate bodies, which is as you have stated. But the EU court (part of the EU) is expected to accede to the Convention on Human Rights (what we're talking about) and the Treaty of Lisbon includes binding by the European Council's court. They are meant to work together and this is explicit in the treaty. Signing the European Convention on Human Rights is now a condition of membership to the EU, even though they are separate bodies. One can sign up to the act without being a member of the EU, but the reverse is not the case anymore and has not been for some time.

        All of the above is verifiable fact and your attempting to portray them as distinct is dishonest. They are not the same thing, but they are tied together very closely. And UKIP (your party) has a stated goal of withdrawing from the Convention on Human Rights as well. You're posting things that are factually true but grossly misleading and stripped of context. Which is an increasing occurrence with you.

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Human rights aren't EU

          >This is sophistry.

          Does Timmy ever offer anything else? This is the man who believes economists keep governments honest, because economists never say stupid things.

          Anyway - as a digital trader, I'm thrilled by the idea of having to deal with a whole new set of tariffs and exclusions just to be able to sell stuff to a country less than twenty five miles away.

          Of course someone like Tim who specialises in buying and selling stuff that has be handled carefully to stop it poisoning people isn't going to be too happy about all those terrible safety requirements.

          But what about those of us who already sell to clients in Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, and the rest? Suddenly the shutters come down and we find that - against all reasonable expectation - the UK market on its own is a poor substitute, and the US market has miles of red tape to keep foreign nationals from setting up there. (Delaware LLC? Easy. US bank account? Ha ha ha forget it.)

          And then there are the implications for roaming charges. VPNs. The extra paperwork needed to ship physical stuff. Visa problems with travel. And so on.

          It's strange that someone like Tim, who's such a fan of markets (he says) would be so hostile to the benefits of a huge market on the doorstep.

          Anyway, I doubt it will be happen - not just because it would be incredibly stupid and financially suicidal (never been a problem for Tory economics, that) but because a lot of Tory grandees make a ton of free cash from Common Agricultural Policy handouts, and they're going to be really unhappy about losing those.

          1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

            Re: Human rights aren't EU

            I am an economist, and do say stupid things from time to time.

            For me, the Ukip is just another party blaming a minority for all the troubles. Not that diferent from NSM.

            Of course, most of the things UKIP says are at least partly true, but many are put out of context.

            As for the cost of being out of the EU.. it is not known. But not knowing IS A COST. Money is coward, and if you have to choose between places, not knowing is something that would be on the "cons" side.

            As for trade restrictions, at the beginning there would be none. But then someone would point out, for example, that tomatoes from Spain receive money from the EU, so it might be fair for the UK to put Duty on that product. And lettuce, etc etc.

            The EU might decide to put duty on car parts manufactured in UK, or a transaction fee on uk banks, and so in a few years the UK can't really export without problems to the EU. Both the EU and the UK would suffer.

            Also, the unfair London tax haven would not work anymore.

            I don't see a reason for this not to happen.

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    Economist's predictions

    " Depending on the extent of trade policy isolation, the UK’s real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita would be between 0.6 and 3.0 percent lower in the year 2030 than if the country remained in the EU. "

    When was the last time that an economist's predictions for fifteen years in the future were correct?

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Economist's predictions

      >>"When was the last time that an economist's predictions for fifteen years in the future were correct?"

      Economists make accurate predictions often (though precise is a different matter). However, for every economist there is an equal and opposite economist and they are selected by governments (and journalists) on the basis of which tells you what you want to hear.

      1. billse10
        Pint

        Re: Economist's predictions

        until we have Truman's "one handed economist", anyway ..

      2. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        Coat

        Re: Economist's predictions

        "on the basis of which tells you what you want to hear."

        Try, ....on the basis of which tells you what they want you to hear.

        TFTFY.

    2. dorsetknob
      Megaphone

      Re: Economist's predictions

      They neglect to state what the economic effect on the rest of Europe would be following a British exit

      Maybe our economic performance will still exceed that of Europe

      Conveniently they ignore that after we leave they lose our financial Contribution (we pay in way more than we get out)

      Who steps up to cover that shortfall

      will it be Greece Ireland Spain and the other Net Takers ( The so called Pigs at the Trough)

      or will they collapse as well and also leave or be kicked out

      Then there is the Accession Countries that want in ( all will probably be negitive financial Contributes)

      Turkey is one the Ukraine another

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Economist's predictions

        @dorsetknob

        "will it be Greece Ireland Spain and the other Net Takers ( The so called Pigs at the Trough)"

        While the role of agriculture in Ireland's economy meant that it was indeed a major recipient of EU aid for most of it's membership, it is now a net contributor, despite it's recent financial woes.

        http://money-go-round.eu/Country.aspx?id=IE&year=2000&method=pc

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The UK can leave

    the EU, I will be glad in many ways. It will be more easier imposing barriers to nice practices like the ones that give us the "mad cows". And imposing controls at the City, which were always opposed by the UK. And leaving the EU, it may fuel the independent desires in Scotland. If that happens, bye bye to most of the oil in the North Sea.

    While I agreed that money going to the Mafia's pockets it's not a good thing, going to the City's Mafia pocket's its not good either.

    The EU itself will change, the germans and the more at North countries are doing a big mistake by antagonizing the other countries, and when resentment grows, everyone loses.

    1. lnLog

      Re: The UK can leave

      There are some interesting rules regarding the division of the sea-bed that would leave scotland with somewhat less than most would guess. Couple that with the looming decommissioning problem, the north sea can be viewed as a nice employer (its going to take lot of time and money to remove all of the end of life rigs), but not as a wealth fund for government.

    2. h4rm0ny
      Headmaster

      Re: The UK can leave

      >>the EU, I will be glad in many ways. It will be more easier imposing barriers to nice practices like the ones that give us the "mad cows"

      Incorrect. It is easier to carry out trade barriers when you're a big entity with a lot of leverage than when you're a small one. How many small countries do you recall negotiating on an equal footing with the USA, recently? Bargaining power is why the nations of the world have banded together into trade blocs. In a world where nearly everyone whose anybody has joined a gang, you want to be the only person in the prison without a group of friends.

      Also - sorry - because I cannot help the grammar correction: "more easier" should be just "easier".

      1. Don Dumb
        Go

        Re: The UK can leave

        @h4rm0ny -

        ">>the EU, I will be glad in many ways. It will be more easier imposing barriers to nice practices like the ones that give us the "mad cows"
        Incorrect. It is easier to carry out trade barriers when you're a big entity with a lot of leverage than when you're a small one."

        h4rm0ny - I think you might be violently agreeing with the OP. My understanding of what JahBless wrote is that he/she is not in the UK and would want the EU to impose those barriers, against the UK when it leaves (Rather than the UK doing it to the EU). I think you essentially explained why this would be possible (and why it would be unwise for the UK to voluntarily leave a large and powerful trade block.)

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: The UK can leave

          >>"h4rm0ny - I think you might be violently agreeing with the OP."

          Ah, you're right. I missed that they were talking from the perspective of someone outside the UK. That probably also impacts me correcting their grammar over the "more easier" part too. :(

          Apologies to the OP. I misread your post as being from the British point of view.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The UK can leave

            Yep, not a Brit here. I guess "more easy" its the correct way but literal translation from my native tongue can trick me sometimes.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The UK can leave

        'Also - sorry - because I cannot help the grammar correction: "more easier" should be just "easier".'

        In that case let me correct yours. "everyone who's anybody".

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. h4rm0ny
          Headmaster

          Re: The UK can leave

          I accept the correction without protestation, and tender my apologies. I touch-type and find that my fingers are prone to take their cue from the sounds of words rather than what I know to be correct. I don't know why.

          I now hand you the mortar board in recognition of your greater deservedness. May you smite all who abuse the English language.

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: The UK can leave

      And imposing controls at the City, which were always opposed by the UK

      If we're no longer in the EU you'll find it bloody hard to rein in the City buddy. When the US put controls around certain instruments in the 70's (I believe) it lead directly to a creation of a market in the UK which thrived. Only the Govt. can control that beast.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The UK can leave

        "Only the Govt. can control that beast"

        That is a precise reversal of reality.

    4. dogged
      Stop

      Re: The UK can leave

      > the EU, I will be glad in many ways. It will be more easier imposing barriers to nice practices like the ones that give us the "mad cows".

      I've been staying out of this one but you stepped into an area of special concern for me.

      Bovine Spongiform Ecephalopathy is actually pretty rampant in the EU and first cases were reported long before it became an issue in the UK. But the UK is a pariah because the UK actually enforces EU-mandated animal disposal rules. A farmer in France with a BSE-afflicted animal will simply shoot it and bury it. In the UK, it gets reported.

      Much the same for the good ol' US of States.

      So, are you eating BSE-beef? If it comes from the EU, almost certainly. If it comes from the UK, almost certainly not.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The UK can leave

        No, its not rampant in the EU. Do you want to know how we got the mad cows here? Cows imported from the UK. Now you have cases of mad cows not because they are feed with MBM (nice uh? feeding herbivores with bones and meat? fucking greedy), but its been passed from adult animals to fetus, many are calling it the bovine version of scrapie. Its nice to think that the UK its the only one reporting infected animals, and you want to believe that, but its not true. I understand the downvotes, when someones criticizes our country no one like it. But some are more rational and can live with it.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: JahBless Re: The UK can leave

          "No, its not rampant in the EU. Do you want to know how we got the mad cows here? Cows imported from the UK...." Get a clue! There has always been BSE in Europe and still is (http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Safety-Regulation/Incidents-of-BSE-fall-in-Europe). The practice of feeding cattle with animal-based feed was also common across Europe.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            WTF?

            Re: JahBless The UK can leave

            What you want to state with that article of yours? 2005? And did you even read it? Do you know when the first cases where reported? And do you know the name of the european parliamentary that fingered the rampant cases of BSE in EUROPE? Many tried to silent him but stopped soon the casualties were to high to hide. Take your own advice and get a clue! Here, for your own recreation http://www.bseinfo.org/bseorigin.aspx and http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/biosafety/tse_bse/monitoring_en.htm

  6. Len Goddard

    information free

    two pages to say

    "we don't really know" and "it all depends".

    Helpful? Not really, unless you actually believe what politicians say in which case it might make you reconsider your sanity.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: information free

      >>two pages to say "we don't really know" and "it all depends".

      Actually, I read it more as

      1. "economists say that we'd be poorer out of the UK".

      2. "but they concede that it's not a 100% certainty"

      3. Therefore ignore it and leave the EU.

      It's amusingly similar to climate change arguments a lá "they think a bad thing will happen", "they don't have precise and concrete predictions," "therefore ignore it".

      Which is amusing because I'm actually a semi-skeptic of AGW so it's instructive to see myself from the outside for once. :D I guess it *is* possible to learn something from a Worstall article after all!

  7. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    "The effect of actually leaving is nothing.

    "...What matters is what policies are followed afterwards."

    A fatuous statement akin to "The effectof jumping off a cliff is nothing, what matters is what follows after."

    Does Tim really think that "best practice in the rest of the world" is a good thing? Fewer workers rights, less protection, TTIP which will "harmonise" regulation with the lowest common denominator...?

    Sure, all that is going to be great news for those at the top, lower costs, easier to dump workers which will drive down wage bills, fewer pesky regulations which mean that they don't have to observe such stringent safety precautions in production and product quality, bigger bonuses and trebles all round!

    But, as always, cui bono? Not the poor bloody infantry who will see more money going up the tree and less going into their pockets...

  8. Chris Miller

    The economic argument has always been the minor one, possibly a few basis points either way. As Tim points out, the real threat to any economy is politicians doing stupid things. At least outside the EU, we have democratic process that allows us to get rid of politicians who do this. How do I get rid of stupid fonctionnaires in Brussels who decide these matters for the EU?

    1. vagabondo

      Re: stupid fonctionnaires

      The problem is the relative importance of the EU Commission, and the distance between our Commissioners and the electorate. I can think of two remedies:

      An "EU Office" with a Secretary of State in the UK Cabinet, responsible for the UK government's position in Brussels, and answerable to UK parliaments.

      or

      Making the EU Commission subservient to the EU Parliament.

    2. Don Dumb
      Terminator

      @Chris Miller - "How do I get rid of stupid fonctionnaires in Brussels who decide these matters for the EU?"

      If you want democracy in the EU, let's start with actually having one in the UK.

      How do we vote out the Queen, Prince Charles, and the rest of their family? You can't honestly believe that they have no influence at all. They get weekly access to ministers and the minutes of these discussions are never made public.

      Then let's look at Parliament - The current government (and most of the governments before it) had only 37% of the vote but somehow get a majority in the house of commons. Some parties had millions of votes and yet their representation in Parliament is in the single figures (when there are 650 seats) - a vastly smaller share of power than their proportion of their electorate.

      And once you've sorted the Head of State and the House of Commons, you still have to deal with the House of Lords, for which none have been elected and in fact*, 26 places go to serving Church of England archbishops and bishops. That's right, the Church of England gets 3.2% of the upper house and yet the Green Party had 3.9% of the vote in a general election and get a single seat, 0.15%, in the lower house. You might be an atheist and wonder how an unelected religious group gets so much more power than an elected political party to decide upon legislation in a coutnry that claims to be a democracy.

      If you want to clean up, start at home, until then we're just throwing stones from our glass houses. The EU isn't very democratic and I agree that this should be changed but the EU is depressingly still far more democratic than the UK.

      * - because I've just looked this up and was shocked myself.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Don Dumb

        ".... Church of England gets 3.2% of the upper house and yet the Green Party had 3.9% of the vote in a general election and get a single seat...." Well, maybe that's because the CoE just believes in a fantasy, rather than a fantasy with suicidal implications for the economy as the Watermelons do. But then I'm not surprised you want to try and redirect attention away from the EU given that it one of the few places the Greens have any power, and cutting Britain off from the EU's interference would terminate the Greens in the UK.

        1. Don Dumb
          WTF?

          Re: Don Dumb

          @Matt Bryant - Your comment paints you as a complete loon, devoid of any ability to understand statements made by others or the points they are trying to make.

          Firstly - who are "the watermelons"? I have no idea who they are but well done for using obscure slang terms that completely hide what you are trying to say and who you are actually reffering to.

          Secondly - "I'm not surprised you want to try and redirect attention away from the EU given that it one of the few places the Greens have any power, and cutting Britain off from the EU's interference would terminate the Greens in the UK."

          You know nothing about me and yet are somehow "not surprised" by what you have *assumed* to be my intentions. Why do you assume I am a Green Party supporter?

          I used the *example* of the disparity in electoral support for the Green Party and their parlimentary power, simply because it was an example of a lack of real democracy in the UK, it could have easily been the Lib Dems or UKIP but I chose The Green party simply to serve as an example because the proportion of vote was similar to the proportion of the House Of Lords the CofE controls.

          If you're happy with a particular national religious sect having more control than an elected political party, that's fine. But may I suggest you'd perhaps like to live in Iran?

          No, I thought not (see - I can make sweeping assumptions about you too)

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Don Dumb Re: Don Dumb

            ".....Your comment paints you as a complete loon....." Seeing as El Mod gets his/her knickers in a twist if I even imply a lack of intelligence in anyone else's posts I've reported your post.

            "....Firstly - who are "the watermelons"?..." What, you don't even know that!?!?!? I'd call you a loon but it would be an insult to mildly-aware loons. A watermelon is a pretend "green" who is little more than "red" inside. Typically a socialist too far to the Left and too "hip" for the Labour party (reads The Guardian rather than The Mirror), and still sulking form the fall of the Berlin Wall. Having had The Great Workers Paradise fail left them with no option other than to hijack the green movement, something Patrick Moore (a one time president of Greenpeace) has bitterly commented on for years. Natalie Bennet is actually quite honest about how the UK Greens have gone off (the rails) to the Left, preaching some nonsense about "eco-socialism" which is actually just socialism with some green bunting attached.

            ".....Why do you assume I am a Green Party supporter?...." Well, you do come across as one of those supercilious and quite pretentious Guardian reading types that actually seem to know SFA. Apologies if you're just ignorant rather than "green" and ignorant.

            "....I used the *example* of the disparity in electoral support for the Green Party and their parliamentary (sic) power, simply because it was an example of a lack of real democracy in the UK...." Ironically, Natalie Bennet secured her victory over the previous Greens leader with a hilariously low turn out of only 25.1% in a ballot of Green Party members! Extra amusing considering the only Green MP elected after Bennet's dire "leadership" performance was the leader she replaced, Caroline Lucas!

            "....the CofE...." Which again just displays your ignorance. The UK has an official religion with the Queen as its head, the Church of England. It is not like France where there is complete separation of state and religion, and so the CofE retains some limited power and authority due to its unique history. Given that the CofE does not get either a State handout nor one from the EU (which the Greens do), the CofE is not wasting your taxes as the Greens are.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the Queen, Prince Charles, and the rest of their family? You can't honestly believe that they have no influence at all. They get weekly access to ministers and the minutes of these discussions are never made public.

        And a good thing it is too. It's an essential part of the balance, to have some power in the hands of a group that doesn't need to care about getting re-elected and can genuinely do what they think is best for the country. Neither side has total power.

        Then let's look at Parliament - The current government (and most of the governments before it) had only 37% of the vote but somehow get a majority in the house of commons. Some parties had millions of votes and yet their representation in Parliament is in the single figures (when there are 650 seats) - a vastly smaller share of power than their proportion of their electorate.

        Also a good thing. Can you imagine the shambolic Italian-style results if we had a coalition government whose main members were UKIP, SNP, and the Greens? We'd have a lost confidence vote and a new government every 6 months.

        1. Don Dumb
          Stop

          @AC - >>"And a good thing it is too. It's an essential part of the balance, to have some power in the hands of a group that doesn't need to care about getting re-elected and can genuinely do what they think is best for the country. Neither side has total power."

          If you're happy with that, then fine, no system is perfect. But then you can't criticise the EU for being in many ways no different. We (the British) often complain about the lack of democratic accountability in the EU, while completely ignoring the same thing here.

          My point wasn't to say that we neccessarily change everything, or even perhaps anything, but that we have to be consistent in what we ask for.

          >>"Also a good thing. Can you imagine the shambolic Italian-style results if we had a coalition government"?

          Nothing like Cherry-picking an example is there? What about the "shambles" in Germany, Finland, Denmark, Japan, and so many others?

          It's amazing how insular the British can be in their knowledge (yet we still feel justified poking fun at the US for their knowledge of the world). The British seem to think that we would be inventing Coalition governments in the UK for the first time. They've been going fine in many places for decades, even in places we look up to for good governance. The reason we think of coalition as chaotic is we only ever hear about the chaotic ones, the rest "just work" so don't become newsworthy.

    3. fredsmith999

      After 30 years, the difference between, say, 2% a year and 2.2% would have become enormous

  9. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Hmmm

    At least he admits he is anti EU.

    Actually is sticking with Sterling good?

    1) Gives opportunity for parasites to make money speculating

    2) Increases cost to consumer of Euro imports as importers hedge on currency

    3) Affects exports to Euro areas, due to currency hedging

    Also leaving EU would hurt Ireland. Not being in Euro hurts Ireland as so much Irish Imports from Euro countries are via UK and currency hedged twice! Ireland can do nothing about Manufacturers that continue to regard Ireland as part of UK market and will only appoint UK distributors for Ireland.

    The Anti EU sentiment in UK has some small amount of logic, but in dealing with China, Russia and USA is it better to be alone (62Million approx) or part of EU (500M), and Europe Centric (720M ?)

    Sometimes it seems like UK is the least European part of Europe and thinks it's in the Middle of the Atlantic.

    Anti EU sentiment in UK I think is mostly Xenophobia and also encouraged by USA who didn't mind Common Market but see a better, bigger EU as a threat to their own financial and cultural influence.

    The EU needs to be reformed. The larger EU countries want to do this, UK needs to work as a partner and not throw toys out of pram or sulk on their own. Even some non-EU European countries are more committed and engaged with EU than UK.

    Conservatives need to show leadership, ignore UKIP and Murdoch media.

    1. chris swain

      Re: Hmmm

      Yes, but the Conservatives aren't going to ignore UKIP, nor will the little englanders who make up their membership disregard the right wing press.

      I'm very much against the democratic defecit that is built into the heart of the European project but tend to think that being part of a large, local trading block is probably a positive (would 'Britain takes Google to task over privacy concerns' have the same resonance as the recent EU actions? Assuming it even happened given our government's infatuation with American tech corporations' digital agenda?)

      Hopefully the threat of a 'Brexit' will force the EU to address very valid concerns with how it is run but I suspect we may all be somewhat overtaken by events in the seemingly likely event of a 'Grexit'

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: Hmmm

        Why do eurofanatics always feel compelled to adopt such a sneering, superior tone and refer to anyone who disagrees about the virtues of the EU as a "little englander (sic)"? FWIW I've worked in 15 EU countries, speak fluent French and can get by in a few other languages and manage "hello" and "thank you" in most of them (even Hungarian :). I imagine Tim could say the same, or even more so.

        I'm sure there are quite a few racists and fruitcakes who are members of UKIP, just as there are in Labour and the SNP and practically every political party. But it would do your cause a lot more good if you could achieve a rational argument, rather than resort to name-calling.

  10. Stuart Moore

    The EU has given us a lot of things that may not show up on the economic radar but make a difference to people. E.g. the EU is big enough to force airlines to pay compensation for late/cancelled flights. Good luck forcing that through as a country on your own.

    Also remember the original reaaon for the EU, avoiding war. I worry that if it breaks up then a decade or 2 later someone will have a pop. That scares me more than many other things.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Avoiding war

      That is the most important thing. Yes, many aspects of the EU could be improved, particularly democratic accountability (although if a government that was rejected by two-thirds of those voting in an election is counted as 'legitimate', then who knows what democracy is these days)

      But the most important political aspect of the EU is avoiding war. By binding countries together politically and economically so tightly that war between Greece and Macedonia becomes as unthinkable as war between Yorkshire and Lancashire or England and Scotland. 100 years ago some of the best of Europe's young men (not forgetting the young men of the Empire) were being maimed and killed by the million. 20 years later they were at it again. Never again. I can put up with a few dodgy economic decisions to avoid that.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Avoiding war

        But the most important political aspect of the EU is avoiding war.

        That's nonsense. We've avoided war for the past 70 years due to economic prosperity and better communications, as much in spite of the EU than because of it. The last two European wars were driven by individual fanaticism, and there's no sign that an EU would have stopped them if it had existed then.

        Indeed, a far more worrying aspect of EU policy is its encouragement and subsidy of regional identities, Basques, Catalans, Scots, Walloons, etc. There's a certain "divide and conquer" logic to that when seen from the Brussels viewpoint, a fragmented large country is much less likely to be able to challenge EU political hegemony than a united one, but in my view it will lead us to a period of permanent instability. Maybe not WW III, but a state of continuous nationalistic guerilla war between regions that aren't big enough to do anything but cause trouble for their neighbours. Little bursts of 15-20 year "troubles" that "only" kill a few tens of thousands each time.

        Awarding the EU the Nobel peace prize was a joke that demeaned the whole Nobel system.

        1. John 62

          Re: Avoiding war

          We have avoided war simply because the last big one was so bad. Germany, France, the UK and most of europe were, if not physically devastated, at least mentally devastated. There was no appetite for war on a grand scale after a certain point in WWII (or the Great Patriotic War). Churchill proposed war against the USSR, but the UK was exhausted. The division of Germany (don't forget French administered Saarland!) was a punitive measure to keep it in check*, but it I believe it was unnecessary for ensuring peace.

          True there have been many skirmishes since then involving the European powers, their empires and colonies (Algeria, Vietnam, Malaya, Dutch East Indies, Kenya, etc) and Korea, but rarely anything on European soil until Yugoslavia erupted. And even then it was kept pretty contained.

          New generations are growing up now in Europe who have not known war and its horrific destruction, but who may feel disenfranchised and burdened by the economic policies of the euro-elite. It's unlikely, but a peripheral nation like Greece or Portugal (or even Spain), suffering hardships could decide that a war may be preferable to mass unemployment. Perhaps a new great bulwark against future war in Europe may be from refugees of African and Middle eastern conflicts who have settled here and do not want to see more war.

          * Not sure who's idea partioning Germany into east and west was, but the Russians arguably had more reason to be punitive than the US/UK (though Thatcher still wasn't hot for re-unification after the Berlin Wall fell)

    2. Lysenko Silver badge

      They are only one buffer country away as it is.

      "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel that has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war."

      UKIP spokesman on the Russian annexation of Lithuania.

    3. Chris Miller

      There are valid arguments for remaining in the EU, however "it may be corrupt and incompetent, but at least it has given us 6 decades of peace" is not one of them. The idea that it is only the presence of 30,000 fonctionnaires in the Berlaymont that prevents the Bundeswehr panzers once again rolling down the Champs Élysées is ludicrous. I suspect the presence of 50,000 US and UK (and French) troops along the Rhine may have had more to do with it.

  11. P. Lee Silver badge

    Something to note about free trade and movement of people.

    I've noticed that Australians don't need visas to visit almost everywhere in Europe. In Australia there is also an automatic $1000 free pass on import taxes on every shipment brought in. Is there any reason not to miimic that?

    As far as the UK is concerned, leaving the the EU's "ever closer union" in favour of EFTA appears to be opting out of only political control, leaving the free-trade stuff intact.

    There is a problem in that our (UK) politicians are complete nutters. However, perhaps opting out of the EU will refocus minds on UK politics and stop people from hoping and assuming that EU courts will over-ride UK government stupidity. Perhaps then, with no-one else to blame, we might vote differently.

    I do find Worstall's faith in free-trade touchingly naive. It isn't "best policy" which is out there, its mostly a mish-mash of countries subsidising their native industries for domestic reasons and dumping the rest on the world market, or even nakedly going out there to manipulate and destroy competitors to their home-grown industries. That isn't to say the UK is any better, its just not quite reality. The reality is also that its very hard to distinguish between tariffs with a valid effect of undoing foreign subsidies and over-protecting local industry.

    That said, I see little advantage to the EU political process and the potential for great harm, because even assuming a "good" democratic structure, the larger the democracy the less my vote counts for. Self-determination is reduced and I believe self-determination is the goal of democracy. The different countries in the EU have different political requirements and interests and I see no particular reason to allow them to impose those requirements upon us or indeed, inflict our requirements on them.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Britain's not in the euro (one of the very few things that Gordon Brown got right under the Terror)"

    There was something else?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well bad as he was at least he didn't do *all* the stuff the Tories were demanding when their friends in the City started demanding (our) money with menaces.

      What I'd like to know from that period is who it was who came up with the idea of splitting the financial regulation 3 ways (*), how they persuaded Brown et al it was a good idea, and where they're working now.

      (*) come on, you don't think any politician is going to come up with a detailed plan for how to actually do something ?

    2. umacf24

      Allowing the Bank of England to set interest rates was the other one.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

    How stupid do you want?

    What' I'd really like Tim to do is explain why governments seem to feel it is essential to to bail out banks.

    AFAIK a bank is a business. When normal businesses go down the toilet the assets get liquidated. New businesses form or old businesses get bigger by getting the assets, at whatever price they were auctioned off at.

    So why are banks so different?

    This sounds like something Tim can explain pretty well.

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

      OK, that's one for the little list then.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Go

        "OK, that's one for the little list then."

        Thank you.

        I've been re reading my copy of "The Essays of Warren Buffett." His comments on banks, banking shares and "Efficient market theory" have made interesting reading.

        It's been fun to just swap "Junk bonds" for "CDO" and see if anything has changed in the 20 odd years since some of them have been written. The word "leverage" comes up quite a lot as well.

        No doubt there are some things you can do in the US you can't do in the UK banking system, but I'm not sure what they are.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

      >>"So why are banks so different?"

      I'll take a stab at this one otherwise Tim Worstall might reply with something I actually agree with and that would make me feel a little sick in my mouth.

      There are two reasons that "banks" are different. Possibly three though the last is more arguable. The first and clearest distinction is that it is our money in there. I don't think anyone in living memory in the UK recalls a proper banking collapse. I'll put it succinctly: imagine going to your bank or cashpoint today and seeing a message saying "this bank cannot afford to give you your money. Your savings are lost". Literally, you cannot access your money because it no longer exists. And to those reading this who have debts, keep in mind that those wont be gone - they are assets that will be seized by the banks creditors and you'll now owe your money to some other entity.

      Once you've got your head around the idea that your high-street bank simply vanishes with all your savings and what that would mean for many people, there's item number two.

      Now purely investment banks don't necessarily tie into the first reason; that only ties into some of the banks. Reason number two applies to all and it is that the banks were viable businesses. What do you do when you see a viable business that is suddenly in crisis and available super-cheap? Yep, you buy it. At least you do if you have lots of money or credit. This is what the UK government did with those they bailed out (Northern Rock being an exception and an older case). The UK government is actually profiting from the RBS bailout. Effectively, they bought low and sold high. And that's because the nature of the banking crisis was not one of a business that was no longer viable, but one that had gotten itself into a crisis situation.

      Now whether the bankers running those companies should have got bonuses is a whole different question and one which I imagine most people here can answer quite succinctly. But the principle of bank bailouts itself has sound underpinnings.

      The third argument is the more arguable. "Too big to fail" is a dangerous phrase and as a capitalist, one that makes my skin crawl. But there is an element of truth there. The West's economy was teetering on the brink of a major slide. Worst case scenario, a catastrophic one. The banks that we're talking about, are a large part of the economy and if they collapsed it would certainly result in big repurcussions. Now I'm not going to strongly argue this one - look at Iceland. They let things collapse and have rebuilt. I'm inclined to attribute a big part of that to the fact that they have a small and very educated population which gives them strong foundations on which to rebuild. I'm not sure the UK would be so fortunate. However, there are good arguments for letting markets correct themselves and I'm kind of in favour of that generally. Otherwise there's a risk that you're merely delaying the problem and making it worse when it does happen. But I do acknowledge that there impact of their collapse would have been huge and resulted in a lot of economic suffering.

      So to conclude, those are the principle reasons why the banks were different to other companies and why (imo) bail outs were justified.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

        Not sure I agree with your assertion that the Government are profiting from RBS having bought low and sold high given recent stories highlighting George Osbourne sounding out the prospect of selling the holding at a loss. I'm not even sure that you could call either RBS or Northern Rock viable businesses - I believe they were swimming naked the whole time and got caught short when the tide suddenly went out. Banks that lend over 100% of a property value are destined to fail at some point.

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

        Bought very, very high, far beyond the price that could have been paid and possibly sold, maybe as high, one day.

        Not to mention, not sloughing out the people that made the 'mistakes' (ie gambled recklessly) and punishing the actual lawbreakers, trying to recover bonuses that were not earned because they were based on lies.

        And I now get in interest per annum on my savings about the same as I got per month previously, the rest went/is going to those thieves because the gummint insist on printing money day after day to make people think we are still well off.

        I think I will just go and buy (I mean rent) a new car that requires a ladder just to get into.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: "how stupid will British economic policy be if it does leave the EU?"

          Thing is, when a 'normal' company fails, those hurt are the employees, the creditors, and perhaps people with work by the company half completed. One assumes the directors will have salted their, er, pension funds away somewhere where they can't be touched...

          With a bank, you as a user are *not* an investor. The bank has undertaken to borrow your money, on an incredibly low rate of interest, with the aim of making more money through loans and investments of the actual shareholders - who should take the hit if it goes titsup.

          The point is that governments for *years and years* have pushed saving and using a bank as a model of probity; to the extent of requiring that for some transactions it is almost impossible without a bank account. And since most people don't understand that money is an abstract concept, and not something you can scratch a window with, the government is responsible both for persuading people to load money to the bank *and* failing to ensure that the directors and staff of said bank behave in a way which keeps that abstract concept safe. That seems a reason for a government to guarantee, at least for personal users, that the bank should not be allowed to crash.

          Though in such a case, the people making the decisions should be explaining there and then what and why they were making them and possibly be doing hard time as a result. It may be a game for the big swinging dicks of the finance markets but it's not for granny who saves a tenner from her pension every week.

          (Of course, the gummint's money is, of course, *ours*, but let's not get tied down in technical details.)

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "So why are banks so different?"

      I realize that I have made a false assertion.

      I do not know there is any difference between a bank and any other (service) business.

      I'm guessing wheather there is or not would be part of Tim's article.

  14. Harry the Bastard

    by sheer coincience there are a lot of people in government who were, are or will be employed in the finance business

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the foreign companies...

    ..would leave.

    Do you think companies want to have a UK office, or a EU office? That the UK speaks English is a very useful bonus for your European HQ.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: All the foreign companies...

      That would explain why Microsoft, Goolge, Apple, Facebook, HP all have Eu headoffices in Ireland, Amazon.co.uk is in Luxembourg

  16. Aurelian2

    Flexcit

    The EU is a political project, not an economic project; trade is its pretext, not its objective.

    The UK can still remain part of the EEA (European Economic Area) while leaving the EU, so departure can be cost-neutral. It's a matter for negotiation.

    The regulations which the EU hands down to us are crafted by global bodies in which the UK, after leaving the EU, could resume its former participation. This would put the EU downstream from the UK in the rule-making process.

    After departure, the UK would need to reform its political system to prevent its leadership giving the country away again. Careerists, the wrong kind of people, are being drawn to public office.

    Read the "Flexcit" book by Richard North. It's a free download from eureferendum.com.

  17. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    And in the meantime?

    Yes the Conservatives won the election and yes the stockmarket rose on the news. The same with the pound. But what happens now?

    I foresee trouble ahead. The pledge Cameron has made to hold an in out referendum will sow FUD across the financial world. What's that likely to do to shares, eh? I'm told that business does not like uncertainty so will they hold back investment? Will foreign companies defer investing here? I don't know, if I did I would have a bet on the pound losing ground against the Euro and the US Dollar.

    One thing you can be sure of, not everyone will suffer if things go bad. The rich will shift their money elsewhere and firms will look to see where the grass is greener. Some will make a lot of money out of it all but I think that it probably won't be me or anyone I know.

    All very depressing but I still have hope that sense will prevail, if not a few by-elections may change the make-up of the House of Commons

  18. Jonathan Richards 1
    Unhappy

    My €0.02

    > However, having the domestic economy continually subjected to competition from best practice in the rest of the world does spur on the continued advance in production methods.

    It certainly creates an incentive to change production methods to be more competitive: it's the choice between that and sinking into a miserable decline. Both options are available, and the "continued advance" path isn't inevitable. It needs investment, leadership, innovation... and no I don't mean the latest wizard wheeze out of Hoxton. I'd also like to point out that some of that "best practice" includes things like environmental protection compliance, and that if I'm buying, oh, I don't know, an electric bicycle, I'm more likely to buy one made in an environmentally friendly way in Germany than I am to buy one made by dumping toxic waste in Yorkshire (even if it is "only ten tons").

    > more efficient is a synonym for the people getting richer, for GDP rising

    Define "the people". Unless you have a government willing to redistribute the wealth, it could very well be a very few people getting richer.

  19. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Race to the bottom

    To be sure, the EU has a lot wrong with it. Historically it's a huge shame that the UK (under both parties) has consistently blocked serious attempts to fix its shortcomings, notably in fields like democratic accountability. But then, if we fixed it, we'd be short of one big scapegoat.

    The EU also has a lot that's good about it. I value my freedom not merely to travel, but to live and work in so many different countries, without excessive hassle and red tape. Twice in my life, that's saved me from destitution in Blighty. But someone already said that in an earlier comment.

    But one more point that hasn't been made above. We're an overcrowded island, heavily reliant on trade to sustain our population. That's not just about housing and infrastructure, it's the food to feed us (including not least the petrochemicals that support current levels of production here and in much of the world). Take away the EU, and nothing will stand between our politicians and a more ruthless race straight to the bottom. Our politicians understand the importance of trade and kind-of worry about social cohesion, but what about the environment that sustains us? You can (foolishly) bail out failing industries when they go bust, but you can't just quantitatively ease more food when that bust happens!

  20. graeme leggett Silver badge

    The cost of leaving

    Includes all the effort spent in carrying out the leaving, the drafting of new laws, rules and procedures to deal with the post- EU period, the periods of indecision on investment by companies while the situation becomes clear.

    In other words, add a couple of extra years (?) on the time before the return on investment (if any) of leaving gets to greater than zero.

    I suspect, that faced with the decision, those who are not firmly EU-phobic or EU-philic will tend to see it (as with this just passed election) as the unknown involved in leaving is more uncertain and risky than the purported benefits of leaving.

    Unlike upping sticks and moving house to a new job and a new future elsewhere in the country (or abroad), it wouldn't be easy to sell up and move back if you think later that you've made the wrong decision.

  21. Wizardofaus

    a question

    If the UK does leave the EU and kick out all those foreign unemployed jonnies, can us UK citizens who will unemployed when we are kicked out of the EU come and live at your house?

    I thought not.....

  22. Jonathan Richards 1

    I'll venture another €0.02...

    ...further to my last, I'd like to point out that leaving the EU does not, of itself, change the regulatory regime that Mr Worstall seems to find oppressive, by one iota. EU Directives are issued, and then member states implement them (to whatever extent) in their national laws. The day after an EU exit, the UK would be faced with a huge legislative programme to roll back EU directed legislation, to the extent that we wanted to do that. [1] In the current situation, where Scotland will vote as a block NOT to distance the UK from the EU, the currrent (10 May 2015) administration will find it pretty hard to make that work.[2]

    [1] As an example, I give you the Data Protection Act(s). Would we really want to sweep all that aside in some Act of Parliament which says "All EU directed legislation is hereby repealed."?

    [2] I see that Graeme, above, has beaten me too it. What he said, too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll venture another €0.02...

      Additionally, to export goods to the EU, we'll still need to meet the bulk of those regulations.

  23. sean.fr

    European Free Trade Association

    Britian is unlikely to completely leave the European Union trading zone. If it will not apply common decisions, it will need to leave the common decision making process to those that will. Then after the decisions have been made it can pick case by case what it will apply and what it will not. The "outer" European countres in the European Free Trade Association show the principle. The risk is banking rules. EU rules are likely to favour Frankfort over London. Five 5 snooping and data protection is also likely to be an issue.

    People get the idea the EU generates more rules. We need rules. It is often not clear what the rules should be. But is clearly best that we are using the same rules and harmonising requires give and take. We are not really concerned what the mains voltage is or what the plug looks like, but we want the hair drer to work when we are on holiday - so sorry you still have those dodgy square pins - messy adaptor for you. The rest of us (Europeans) are mostly on CEE7/7 and CEE7/16 and everything just works pretty much everywhere in the near abroad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: European Free Trade Association

      There is no sound reason why the UK should leave the economic trading zone that is EFTA and no credible arguments have been made for doing so. The Tories certainly don't want to do so.

      There are many sound reasons for getting out from under the political red tape being created by civil servants whose only aim in life is to create more civil servants. Yes, Minister was an amusing joke, but its is the reality in Brussels/Strasbourg, and a federal, ever-closer political union would see Europe strangled by career fonctionnaires who've never done a useful day's work in their lives.

      The real issue is whether EU countries can muster up the political will to squash those fonctionnaires before the ordinary people in some EU country elect a UKIP- or FN-style government that does something disastrously stupid. I have no serious hope that they will.

  24. Grikath Silver badge

    "over the course of decades"

    is a bit of a cop-out isn't it? Why not measure over centuries while you're at it? It nicely smoothes out wars, revolutions and other unpleasantness as well then.

  25. Christopher Lane
    Joke

    Why don't we...

    ...just become the 51st state and be done with it...

    1. h4rm0ny
      Joke

      Re: Why don't we...

      Tony Blair, is that you?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why don't we...

        Tonys plan was always to be the first President of United States of Europe.

  26. James 51 Silver badge

    What would kicking out young, healthy, tax paying immigrants and replacing them with old pensioners moving back into the UK do to the economy and the NHS?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      By the time Dave has his referendum I will be one ofthe pensioners being dumped back in the UK along with the 1.8 million Brits living and working in Europe and who will have to make other arrangements such as visas or proving that we have a right/need to stay where we are.

      Europe is far from perfect but will the UK become the Eden so many think it will once it has cut it's political ties to Europe? Based on the performance of Blair, Brown and the Cleggeron efforts I doubt it. The UK would do better to put more effort into playing a stronger part controlling EU legislation and less time being 'special chums with the US.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the vote was to leave then the EU would have an interesting decision to make, i.e. wanting to discourage anyone else from doing the same vs our annual trade deficit with the EU of GBP 26 billion or so.

    Personally I'm (slightly) more in favour of staying in, but come the referendum I shall probably vote to leave and accept with a sigh that this means doing what EngIP want. Positive reason would be that this could speed up independence for Scotland if, as seems likely, they were to vote massively in favour of staying in the EU; negative reason would be to piss off the Westminster establishment, although I do realise it would just absorb the EngIPpers and carry on screwing the rest of us.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A very reasoned analysis

    This is a very well thought out economic analysis, a lot of ins & outs & what-have-yous. But the unanswered question here, regarding a Brexit, at least from the rest of the world's perspective is..

    How will this affect global Marmite prices?

  29. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    hmmm...

    well an interesting article, and it's so nice for El Reg to become the UKIP's mouthpiece. Of course this is not the BBC so I won't hold my breath waiting for the opposite piece for balance.

    But still he nailed his colours to the mast early unlike some daily express article pretending to be balanced, so lets see what we've got

    "The economic effect of leaving the EU would also be nothing"

    Interesting, so basically he is saying that the EU has no effect on our economy? So why is everyone getting upset? I on the other hand contend that there will be an effect, I just don't know whether it would be positive or negative. Unlike pollsters and economists, I don't pretend to have crystal ball. What I do think, working for a major multi-national is that it will will be worse for me because the UK may look like a less attractive place to invest. But's that's just me. All I can say is that the reason why the UK joined in the 1st place is that the EU region economies were growing faster than hours. Since we joined the rate as evened out. Causation or Correlation. Sorry not qualified to comment.

    "the EU is a political system "

    Fine, but that assumes that trade is not a political issue. Trade barriers, import duties, even harmonization of things like capital gains tax are political artifacts.The difficulties is defining where trade ends and local politics begins. the truth is with globalization it is very fuzzy line when trade embargoes can be the goto weapon of choice against countries you don't like.

    " Britain pays into the general funds very much more than it gets out"

    True on a simple balance sheet type of analysis. But there is of course the other things like access to European programs like those involved in science. Also how do define the cost of influence? It really is not that simple.

    "a free market and free trade economy becomes more and more efficient. And more efficient is a synonym for the people getting richer, for GDP rising"

    Efficient. Nice word. Free trade marketeers are always putting this forward. But efficiency has a price.

    China is very efficient, of course you don't have any job protection or health and safety, but everyone's getting richer so that's ok isn't it. Of course not everyone get's richer, but's that's OK as long as your one of the lucky few.

    Also we need to look outside the pure economic argument. Being part of th Eu means we are part of a larger club, not just those who can afford it(it is amazing how many anti-EU have villa's in France and Spain). it means my kids will have opportunities to work and live anywhere, and we have access to the best talent in Europe. Personally I'm happy with that. The fact it probably still makes economic sense is just a bonus.

  30. stewwy

    One thing you can count on is that in or out the flood of cheap labour will continue.

    Given that firms and organizations seem to be firmly in the driving seat, and that cheap labour is good for them, but that the costs fall on society.

    Firms will, without a disincentive, continue to hire ( reasonably for them ) the best qualified applicant. Low quality, low paid jobs will continue to be taken by higher quality immigrants over lower quality locals, who could actually do the jobs but won't be given the chance. This leads to a larger pool of unemployed, who have to be supported somehow (if you don't you get civil unrest). Try to up the costs of labour and they'll scream and threaten to leave. Try to tax them and those that can will avoid it (the large influential players), those who can't will be uncompetitive and fail (smaller locals and independants).

    I don't see any way out of this without some form of economic migration control. Perhaps then we can relax controls on true refugees ( because at least then it might stop us messing around in the world and causing them )

  31. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    Blah blah free trade blah

    blah blah immigration blah

    What the real problem is with the EU for a lot of people is that

    WE DONT VOTE FOR WHO IS IN CHARGE.

    There I've said it now.

    Its bad enough living in a FPTP country where 7 million lib/ukip voters result in 9 mps and 11 million tories result in 332, but we, the people of europe, never once have been asked "Do you want Junkers as president?", heck the commission is stuffed with either cronies or failed politicos (remember Neil pillock I mean kinnock.. rejected twice at the polls , gets a cushy bussels job)

    Until the people of europe gets to vote on who actually runs the EU, then its a club I dont want the UK to be part of

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Blah blah free trade blah

      That's the whole problem. The entire democratic basis of membership, at least as far as the UK is concerned, is a referendum about 40 years ago on membership of an organisation which is very different from the present set-up, especially the ever closer union bit.

      Each time the organisation has changed the issue of popular approval has been ducked so a huge democratic deficit has been built up. Even worse, when the Republic of Ireland voted against the Lisbon Treaty they were told to go back & vote again until they came up with the right answer. And I think that in a lot of people's minds that is so objectionable that they'd be prepared to vote for an exit as a matter of principle even if the economic consequences meant going back to living in Iron Age round houses.

      This situation could have been avoided. It would have meant getting popular approval for each stage of change across all the member countries. That would have been hard work. At each stage the negotiators would have had to come up with something which could have gained that approval. The end result might have been something rather different to what we have now. The membership might have been smaller. The role of MEPs might have been greater. But if an in/out vote were now being proposed against such a background the Europhiles would be quite laid back about it because there'd be a history of repeated approval over several decades.

      The task for the EU is to get rid of that democratic deficit and retain the membership intact - give or take Greece.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blah blah free trade blah

        @Doctor Syntax

        "Even worse, when the Republic of Ireland voted against the Lisbon Treaty they were told to go back & vote again until they came up with the right answer."

        When you campaign on the slogan "If you don't know, vote No!". it's a bit crass (or hypocritical, if you prefer) to complain that 15 months later, after a lot more discussion and debate, voters who didn't know the first time round decided that they did know enough to vote Yes the second time around.

        But the real reason that Irish voters voted Yes the 2nd time round was that Irish voters were genuinely concerned about proposals in the Treaty to reduce the size of the Commission. For a country that likes to think that it has "punched above it's weight in the EU" (which was arguably true of the original 9 and 12 state "Europe of Equals") there was widespread concern in Ireland over the proposals in the Lisbon Treaty to reduce the size of the Commission, so that small countries like Ireland would lose their representation on a reduced Commission. After the first referendum was defeated, the proposal to reduce the size of the Commission was abandoned - this was a concession by the EU that very much changed the dynamic of the 2nd referendum. There were other concessions by the EU that made a significant difference in the 2nd referendum, but the sore losers on the anti-EU side don't like to mention that detail.

        Irish voters did exactly what you claim is missing in EU politics - held the EU accountable, and made it compromise on an issue that was important to Irish voters (though the resultant 27 member commission is probably not as effective as a smaller 18 member commission would have been). It's also worth noting that the 2nd referendum got a 67% Yes vote on a 59% turnout, a very substantial change over the 53% No vote on a 53% turnout in the first Referendum. Irish voters did not "roll over and do as they were told"

  32. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

    Null Effect

    > The economic effect of leaving the EU would also be nothing.

    Then there's no point doing it and extending the article over several paragraphs explaining how you believe it would be beneficial would be silly.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Null Effect

      @ ZanzibarRastapopulous

      "Then there's no point doing it"

      Actually it shows no point in being tied to the sinking ship. And if we are not in this for economic gain (which is its purpose) then what are we getting? The answers to that aint good.

  33. barfle

    European companies will stay in Europe, whether the UK does or not.

    One of the key risks here is that should the UK leave Europe, European businesses headquartered in the UK will be faced with a decision to either carry on operating a complex network of suppliers and customers in Europe from a non-EU country (with all the costs associated with dealing with so many countries on an individual basis), or moving to Europe and carrying on as they are, with just a remote sales operation in the UK. From the point of view of such companies, even assuming some continuing alignment of legal frameworks, running a European operation from a non-EU UK would seem like an expensive pain in the arse.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: barfle Re: European companies will stay in Europe, whether the UK does or not.

      ".....European businesses headquartered in the UK will be faced with a decision to either carry on operating a complex network of suppliers and customers in Europe from a non-EU country...." Really? Please do show me one of those mythical "European" companies then! The reality is that all those so-called "European" companies operate as individual companies in each country do they can take maximum advantage of local taxes, grants and laws. Being outside the EU might actually make for a massive advantage as ditching a lot of the ridiculous Brussels red tape could make the UK more attractive as a site for the HQs of so-called "European" companies.

  34. Neon

    OMG

    Rip off Britain may leave the EU, dump all consumer protection rules, dump all workers protection, if there is any in UK and promote greed and opportunism to the countries ultimate credo. Freedom of residence will, depending on unwrapping procedures, force many Europeans to leave UK and work in Dublin or somewhere else. All this global SME's will will move to Dublin. Especially Spain will find a way to drive most of the UK expat community out of the Costa and Gibraltar will face new Visa rules. Similar things will happen to other "UK second homes" around the EU territory. The not so united kingdom benefited from all this western Europeans living in UK, as they added things to the UK society which the people of UK love so much.

    The UK as a member of the EU is at least one force which is kicking ass in Brussels and Strasbourg, what will be greatly missed. The EU civil service will welcome a UK departure, the people of Europe will not.

  35. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Coat

    Will Tim nail his colours to the mast...

    ...as a candidate in the UKIP leadership election?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will Tim nail his colours to the mast...

      That would be interesting.

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: Will Tim nail his colours to the mast...

      Short answer: No

      Long answer: No way.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Will Tim nail his colours to the mast...

        Think of all that lolly on offer with almost no MPs and lots of votes :-)

  36. codejunky Silver badge

    Good article

    I hear all kinds of arguments for the EU but few seem to tally if you think them through. For example some people like to claim it has stopped WW3 except the EU has existed for less time than the peace in Europe has. Certainly in its current form. There was a guy from Poland who weighed in heavily in discussions back when the UK considered the euro. Of course all the 'eurosceptics' were blind and wrong etc, but he disappeared quickly when the euro crisis showed up. In fact I have gone from being called eurosceptic regularly to the word all but disappearing as reality replaced the fantasy.

    The idea that the EU gives us a stronger negotiating position has never been proven as we get no better deals/slice of the pie than if we did it all ourselves. The UK was pretty swift joining the new China bank and looking to Asia for trade.

    The EU have given some good laughs such as a club of members protecting each other . I am sure Greece is splitting its sides when they got sacrificed to save the euro. Apparently a currency is worth more than the lives of people in a country. Or the idea of an EU army. So far countries cant even keep to NATO promises of funding, Germany couldnt even get their pilots and their planes to fight ISIS! The only one to arrive was their war minister (if I remember correct).

    The most comical excuse I have been told is the EU keeps the peace and stops the UK from becoming more fascist. When I hear that I have to wonder what planet these people are on as it assumes the UK was fascist pre-EU (war against nazis) and ignores the rising nationalism from the left and right in various countries which is directly linked to the damage the EU has caused.

    Finally when people tell me we gain more than we give to the EU I ask why the EU is so scared of us leaving. The answer is the 'twin engines' of Germany and France is now Germany. France pulled so far left that the money makers then left. The UK is set to overtake France easily thanks to French policy damaging the economy. Without us the EU loses a large contributor to keep their gravy train running.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      "except the EU has existed for less time than the peace in Europe has"

      Well a European union wasn't going to spring into being fully formed the day after VE day, the nations of Europe had to recover. Infrastructure had been broken, cities flattened, refuges everywhere, two countries (Austria and Germany) under military occupation.

      But the concept of a union to prevent war was already there. Churchill gives 1946 speech "United States of Europe " leads to Council of Europe 1949, the European Steel and Coal community (1951) leads to Treaty of Rome in 1957.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        @ graeme leggett

        Thanks for your agreement. The EU is not necessary to keep the peace as it hasnt been around to for most of the time and is currently fanning the flames of nationalism. Aka people are not impressed with the poor euro-copy of the US.

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Good article

          I don't think I was agreeing - I was pointing out that the organisation follows the intent, just as an SOP is formed as a means of turning a policy into practice.

  37. HKmk23

    If you build a better mousetrap...................

    The world will beat a path to your door....true then and true now, 50% or our "exports" are sold outside the EU anyway our car exports are produced in what are basically assembly plants, not manufacturing plants so the asian manifacturers can slide under the EU rules. Leaving the EU will bring innovation and work back to our island, along with cheap food from New Zealand and Australia etc. The Federal state of Europe run by Germany who we theoretically beat in not one but two world wars is not a place I want to live.

    All that needs to be done is turn England into a tax free zone (like the channel isles) and the worlds finance and banking will flock to our shores even more than they do now, just ask yourself how many car makers would build a factory in a tax free zone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you build a better mousetrap...................

      "along with cheap food from New Zealand and Australia etc."

      I think the assumption that the Empire will return and NZ butter will magically appear in our shops at 50p a pound (probably undercutting our own hard-working farmers) along with cheap lamb and wheat from the Canadian prairies seems a little misplaced.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: If you build a better mousetrap...................

        > [T]he assumption ... seems a little misplaced.

        Indeed it does. In my limited experience of both Australia and New Zealand, they see themselves very firmly as Pacific nations; they don't need to ship their goods halfway around the planet to trade with the UK, they have markets galore in south-east Asia, Japan and China, not to mention the trans-Pacific Trade Treaty negotiations with the US. For better or worse, the UK let go of those trade links when we hopped inside the EU tariff barrier, and we can't expect them to be magically re-established if we hop outside again and shout "Coo-ee - here we are. Guys! Guys...?"

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: If you build a better mousetrap...................

      "All that needs to be done is turn England into a tax free zone (like the channel isles) and the worlds finance and banking will flock to our shores even more than they do now"

      ...and everyone else will immediately introduce protectionist import tariffs.

      Reducing corporation tax and VAT to the levels of Ireland or Luxembourg on the other hand...

    3. Levente Szileszky

      Re: If you build a better mousetrap...................

      "The Federal state of Europe run by Germany who we theoretically beat in not one but two world wars is not a place I want to live."

      Oh, c'mon... alone you weren't even able to land in Europe, not to mention you couldn't even pay for your own share of the war, ahem. FYI the German military machine was far superior to almost anyone except the mighty combined Allied forces and even so it took years to wear them down, you must be hallucinating if you think it was some sort of British victory. :)

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Levente Szileszky Re: If you build a better mousetrap...................

        "....alone you weren't even able to land in Europe...." Actually, the British and Commonwealth forces were the senior partners for the invasions of Sicily and Italy, both parts of Europe. Maybe you should read more history? The Yanks were not politically committed to either, preferring the idea of the "short drive" across France to Berlin.

        ".....the German military machine was far superior to almost anyone...." Yet the British kicked the Germans (and Italians) out of Africa, defeating your supposedly "superior" German forces with minimal assistance - some would say more interference (unintentional from Yanks like Colonel Bonner Fellers, intentional from anglophobes like Admiral King) from the Yanks. Ever heard of a place called El Alamein?

        The German loss in North Africa was symptomatic of another German failing - poor choice of friends. The Italians soon swapped sides in 1943. And that was after Hitler's decided to start the inevitable fight with another of his on-off buddies, Stalin. And after his other buddy, Tojo, had given the Yanks the excuse FDR needed to join the War.

        Germany went to war without a plan, as evident by the fact Hitler and his cronies had no capability to cross the Channel and defeat Britain in 1940, having never planned beyond the idea of invading France and the Low Countries. And Hitler did so without having built the industrial base required to fight a long war, not even one capable of meeting his mythical idea of then defeating the Soviets in six months.

        And what finished Germany was the fact their so-called "efficiency" was a myth, as shown by their chaotic attempts to match even British war production, let alone that of the rest of the Allies. Britain and the Commonwealth would have defeated the Germans in the long run without the help of the US (or even the Soviets) simply due to the fact that Britain and the Empire could out-produce Germany in every field of agriculture and industry and had security of their sources of production. Germany couldn't even effectively bomb half of British factories with their limited force of twin-engined, tactical bombers, let alone those in Canada or Australia, whereas every German factory was within range of the RAF's four-engined bombers.

        Germany was also largely dependent on iron ore and oil from abroad, and even when in control of foreign sources for both it still failed to meet the requirements of fighting the British alone. And even when in control of all of Continental Europe the Germans were simply unable to efficiently produce enough food. The only thing that stood between Nazi Germany in WW2 and the starvation that forced Imperial Germany to an armistace in 1918 was the U-boats, and once the Royal Navy got the convoy system working (along with an Anglo-Canadian invention called ASDIC), the Germans had zero chance of winning the War even if they had never invaded Russia. Indeed, Hitler's best hope of avoiding that fate would have been to stay best buddies with Stalin and try to get supplies and food from the Soviets, but he blew that in 1941 (probably about only a few months before the Soviets would have invaded anyway).

        So, your so-called "superior" German forces had bad planning, bad organisation, bad alliances, and got their asses handed to them on a plate by the British Empire. The Germans also suffered from two other big failings - over-confidence and political-induced shortsightedness, not too different from their current fascination with the whole "one Europe at any cost" idea.

  38. JLV Silver badge

    So... color me a little slow, but are these two outcomes mutually very compatible?

    Jane Average voter, in aggregate, votes to leave the EU.

    The same Jane Average voter, in all her wisdom, then gives her government the green light* to negotiate a world-wide free trade agreement with everyone?

    These are not independent decisions. Free trade is often considered, rightly or wrongly, that's besides the point, as a loss of sovereignty for a country's voters. Precisely the voters who, by this scenario, have opted for a British exit.

    * either through another referendum or through general democratic support for that policy

  39. Jonathan Richards 1

    A tax free zone?

    > turn England into a tax free zone (like the channel isles)

    Leaving aside that you probably mean the UK, not England, that doesn't sound really practical. Who do you think pays (out of taxes) for the defence of the Channel Islands, for instance?

  40. elequeux

    and what for EU ?

    that's an interesting comments thread, french point of view. But nobody asked 'and what would the effect of BREXIT for (remaining) EU states ?' . I'd say we'll miss you. Not on economics side (rather the opposite, I'd guess), but politically.

  41. Levente Szileszky

    Haha: "The effect of actually leaving is nothing." worst@all

    "The effect of actually leaving is nothing."

    Hah, just keep daydreamin', inbreds. :D FWIW your already utterly London-centric economy would be devastated and no 'good policies' would help with that. You already try to buddy-buddy the Chinese but they are even more unscrupulous hell-bent crooks than you are so good luck if you lock yourself out of the EU... :D

    BTW what will happen with your main revenue source, the EU-bound Russian oligarchs, bloody dictators and their ilks, kids and slaves etc...? You know, all the disgusting people you normally welcome with open arms and citizenship, provided they write a fat enough check for a house in the City (ie because they know we would not even let them exit transit if they would try to enter at JFK :P) ...? Because they will stop coming the very second when you are out of the EU, bud - without the EU umbrella you suddenly just become another run-of-the-mill corporate corruption-driven country with a downright awful weather... :P

    Seriously, every time when someone argues it'd be negligible I cannot stop smiling just how completely clueless, out-of-touch arrogant these loudmouths have become... :)

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Haha: "The effect of actually leaving is nothing." worst@all

      @ Levente Szileszky

      "Seriously, every time when someone argues it'd be negligible I cannot stop smiling just how completely clueless, out-of-touch arrogant these loudmouths have become... :)"

      We feel the same when someone tries to claim that leaving the EU will be so damaging and bring doom and fire etc. All they need is a sandwich board claiming christ is coming or something like that. Unfortunately the EU was a fantasy which is still butting up against reality and losing every time.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        Re: Haha: "The effect of actually leaving is nothing." worst@all

        Hey, by all means be everyone's favorite idiot and just DO IT.

        Yep, I dare you, rather double-dare you: stop "threatening" and just do it. It's going to be an never-ending source of fun as you fools will try to explain why it's all great when your economy, taxes, businesses etc will all start dropping...

        ...you guys are really out of your mind if you think you are anywhere near to the level of having your own league - no offense but you wouldn't even be able to compete with Germany alone, forget adding anyone else to the mix. Wake up, your economy is already ridiculously London-centered, finance-heavy, what do you think what's going to happen when you lose free access to the EU market and money stops being laundered by crooked banks in the City because they won't be in the EU anymore, hmm...?

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Haha: "The effect of actually leaving is nothing." worst@all

          @ Levente Szileszky

          "Yep, I dare you, rather double-dare you: stop "threatening" and just do it. It's going to be an never-ending source of fun as you fools will try to explain why it's all great when your economy, taxes, businesses etc will all start dropping..."

          You are aware that our costs go down too? We have a massive deficit in funding for education, health, housing and in general. How is that improved by unlimited immigration with no selective process? Londons financial powerhouse being attacked by the EU because various regulations wouldnt affect them as much. Even the toxic crippling of Greece and the racism rising due to it between Greece and Germany. How do we benefit from that? Your argument falls further as France dropped out of economic capability to be replaced with socialist insanity and the EU was reluctant to enforce the rules because France is big. Why when the UK mention leaving do we have every begging bowl country of the EU insisting we should stay? And of course the Euro which has not been a success story so far.

          "no offense but you wouldn't even be able to compete with Germany alone, forget adding anyone else to the mix"

          I dont remember the UK needing the EU to join the bank of china. And since the EU has yet to demonstrate an improvement of negotiation we couldnt do on our own we dont seem to be gaining for our money. Of course your self congratulating club can feel good but only if its in the rich states not the poor ones. We can be fairly sure that Greece would be in a better position had it not been sucked in and sucked dry.

          "Wake up, your economy is already ridiculously London-centered, finance-heavy, what do you think what's going to happen when you lose free access to the EU market and money stops being laundered by crooked banks in the City because they won't be in the EU anymore, hmm...?"

          You seem to forget that the EU was targeting banks with more regulation and has (and probably still is) looking at ideas to fleece more money from them, but only the big banks like the ones who prefer London to those other EU places. Hmm

  42. John 62

    How things change

    Let us not forget that Tony Blair gained his UK parliamentary seat on a platform of exiting the Treaty of Rome, aka, the nascent EU

    http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/man/lab83.htm#Common

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