You’ve heard them say it

  • The EU is guilty of financial fraud
  • The EU is run by people who are accountable to no one
  • The UK is swamped by people from other EU countries
  • UK business is choking on regulations
  • The euro has been a failure

How much of that is true?
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January 16, 2021

FT. Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, a vocal supporter of leaving the EU, denounces Johnson’s trade agreement. Despite government claims the deal would benefit UK fisher men and women, SFF says deal doesn’t deliver claimed 25% quota increase and actually leaves Scottish industry worse off.

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What happens if we leave?

• It would be bad for business

• It would be bad for the economy

• It would be bad for security

• We would lose control of our future

Is this what we really want?


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The threat to business

The European Single market is the largest in the world and accounts for 17 per cent of world trade.

In 2014 45% of our exports of goods and services went to the EU.

We would be outside it

Europeans would have to pay import duties on British products


  •   3 per cent on average
  •   4 per cent on car components
  •   14 per cent on clothing
  •   55 per cent on dairy products

They wouldn’t pay. They would go elsewhere for them, or make them themselves.

If they changed the rules of the Single Market, we would have no say.

For more information about UK trade flows with EU and the rest of the world see the CBI November 2013 report ‘Our Global Future’

See also the Centre for European Reform’s June 9, 2014 report on the economic consequences of the UK’s leaving the EU.

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Industries at risk – automobile

FT December 22, 2016. Of all cars made in Britain (some 1,700,000 in first 11 months of 2016) more than half are sold to EU,  from where about half the components are sourced. The supply chain is integrated to such an extent some parts cross the Channels five times before final assembly. The crankshaft for the BMW mini crosses three times. (Guardian March4, 2017). There is a five per cent tariff on components.

Several British car plants including Nissan’s in Sunderland, and Honda’s in Swindon were built to make cars for the European market and rely on free access to Single Market to remain competitive.

FT. On February 18, 2019 Honda announced it would stop production at Swindon in 2021  The announcement come two weeks after Nissan announced it would not build its new SUV at Sunderland, the biggest UK car factory.

These announcements coincide with a new trade deal between Japan and the EU reducing tariffs on cars from 10 per cent to zero by 2017. There is therefore no further advantage for these two companies to continue manufacturing in the UK especially with great uncertainty about access to EU markets and suppliers after October 31, 2019, the new date for the UK’s exit from the EU.

FT June 26, 2019. The UK Society of Motor Manufacturers estimates it could cost the industry £70m a day due to delays at the border in the event of a no deal Brexit. If the 1100 trucks delivering 42m components were held up for 24 hours production stoppages could cost£50,000 per minute.

3500 jobs will go at the Swindon plant a similar number among local suppliers.

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Industries at risk – aerospace

Airbus said today unless there is clarity in next weeks over customs procedures after March 2019, it could push crisis button to stop production in the UK and transfer to North America, China or elsewhere in the EU. The company directly employs 14,000 at us 25 sites in the UK and supports over 100,000 jobs among suppliers. BBC June 22, 2018

Chief operating officer at Airbus told Treasury Select Committee on January 24, 2017 that company may cut investment in the UK if exit from the EU brings additional costs.There could be costly duplication of regulations and potentially damaging constraints on movement of employees.

Brexit will affect 672 Airbus sites across its operations. Employees make 80,000 trips between EU27 and UK each year. Parts of the wings built in UK move to and from the EU multiple times before final assembly. Hard borders and regulatory divergence risk bringing the business to a halt. FT April 11, 2018.



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Industries at risk – financial services

Ernest and Young consultancy estimates over 230,000 UK  jobs could be lost if euro-denominated clearing moved out of the country (FT 11/01/17).

HSBC reports some  top clients are asking the bank to book more of their trade and foreign exchange activity in their French operations through HSBC’s Paris office. The concern for large companies is that they may lose the right to sell services and goods in they EU.

”They are making plans to ensure they can continue to trade regardless of the outcome. They can’t afford to wait for a decision that may not emerge for two years, ‘ Noel Quinn, head of commercial banking at HSBC said to Bloomberg.  Standard April 13, 2017.

Jobs may go.

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Industries at risk – farming

From 2014 to 2020 UK farmers are expected to receive 28 billion euros from the Common Agricultural Policy. Three quarters is direct income support based on hectares farmed.

Research from Defra shows EU subsidies make up over 60 per cent of the profit of the average English farm. A fifth of farms would be unable, without these payments, to meet production costs, allowing for depreciation.

These payments will be gradually phased out in 2021. They will be replaced by contributions to environmental improvement, the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme, to be rolled out in late 2024.  In the interim farmers will get financial help to prepare for the new scheme (FT September 19, 2020).

It  remains to be seen whether the interim financial help and the ELM will compensate for loss of EU subsidies.

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Consequences – employment

The EU limits the working week to 48 hours (though business can get opt-outs). That would go.

Temporary workers get the same rights as regular employees. That would go.

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What future on our own?

Business would move towards the continent

Business would be short of skills

Foreign direct investment would decline. Many firms outside the EU invest in the UK as a base to do business in Europe.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research in its March 31, 2014 report shows that over four million British jobs depend on exports to the EU.

Jobs would go

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What we get out of it

Peace and security
Market for our exports
Clean, safe place to live
Help for our farmers
Help for our poorer areas
Help against climate change
Help against crime

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Peace and security

The EU was started to stop wars in Europe. After centuries of conflict, war between EU countries is now unthinkable.

Countries that left the Soviet Bloc have joined the EU and are doing well.

Leaving the EU could leave us out of justice, security and foreign policy cooperation with the EU.  The UK for example has been a driving force behind EU sanctions against Iran and to a lesser extent, Russia. (Prospect magazine January 2016).

The peace process in Northern Ireland has benefited from the fact that both the UK and Ireland are members of the EU. If we left without a deal a hard border would be  restored with all the risks of an outbreak of violence.

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Market for our products

We are part of a customs union.

So no import duty on British goods.

We work with other member states, so..

Our exporters get fair treatment;

Competition is fair;

We all get the best deal in international trade talks.

Like those taking place between the EU and the US.

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