Following the piece published on Saturday looking at a potential Brexit scenario there has been a bit of background noise but the oddest feedback came through a Facebook group which goes by the name of Sensible Politics Debate.
I realise that the LEAVE camp is not unwilling to put confusing and plainly false information out there but I am still trying to get my head round how much of the rubbish I saw posted had been caused by official LEAVE propaganda and how was down to genuinely stupid people.
I’ll give a few short examples of this denial of clearly verifiable information and its replacement with utter nonsense.
One contributor named Liliana led with the assertion that the UK hardly exports anything to the EU and, anyway, that market is stagnant. She then indicated that only 5% of UK exports go to Europe. An interesting number. Now I am not the biggest fan of the Office for National Statistics but a report issued by that body last summer states the following:
“The UK has traditionally had strong trade links with the EU. Despite changes in the composition of the global economy, the EU in 2014 accounted for 44.6% of UK exports of goods and services, and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services.”
Could Liliana have possibly meant 50%? No, not likely, she was just quoting made up numbers.
In fact reading on from that initial ONS quote the report points out the following, “Faster growth in the value of UK imports compared to exports with the EU has resulted in the UK’s overall trade balance with the EU deteriorating (value of imports exceeding exports), with the trade deficit widening notably, reaching £61.6 billion in 2014 compared with £11.2 billion in 1999.” But let’s not permit the facts to get in the way of a good porky from Liliana, eh?
Rob simply stated that under EU treaty obligations and WTO rules there had to be a good deal. Really? Nothing guarantees that at all.
Vanessa insisted that, “by staying in the EU we are guaranteed to adopt the Euro, be part of TTIP, and VAT on food will most certainly be introduced. The EU are already threatening the latter. If we go, the EU falls apart.” What can one say about such levels of ignorance? The euro? Forget it. TTIP? The Conservative government would sign up to that in a heartbeat and Better Together made a huge deal of hushing that up in our own referendum in 2014 due to the implications for NHS Scotland so don’t blame that on the EU. VAT on food? Europe certainly wants to look at reviewing VAT exemptions but as there is nothing that Brussels can do to enforce anything under current regulations then it is certainly never going to be a done deal. Vanessa then went on to insist on the matter of tariffs that, ”No country will introduce them. It’s foolish to even suggest it.” Wow! Just take a quick look online Vanessa and the prevalence of tariffs is abundantly clear. As for the EU falling apart, that is Eurosceptic wishful thinking on such an inflated scale as to be clinically certifiable.
I was genuinely amazed at the preponderance of what Stephen Fry might refer to on QI as General Ignorance. If this is the level of discussion that is being conducted out there on the ground then I might have to reassess the extent of my own fears about Brexit. If this blatant misinformation is being widely distributed then there could be a real chance of LEAVE doing considerably better than I might have imagined to be likely. I have to hope that what I encountered is a localised clique of very misinformed and very malign individuals as opposed to a concerted campaign of untruths.
With that in mind please can I ask that those of you who find this blog useful or in any way informative to share it with others who might take something from what we are trying to offer here.