The letter ‘EU response’ (Herald, July 24) pedals some more misleading perceptions about the European Union.
When two thirds of British citizens voted to stay in the EU in 1975, the Government circulated to every household a leaflet outlining the case for staying in Europe.
The reasons for staying in extended beyond benefiting from being part of a free trade area to projecting our sovereign national interest and influence as a leading nation in Europe not subject to the whims of Russian and US foreign policy and to enhance the UK’s food and energy security.
When we joined, we signed up to four freedoms, namely free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. They are a balanced package which are in everyone’s sovereign national interest.
To restrict one freedom would likely give rise to demands from other EU nations to restrict other freedoms. How would we like it if the other EU 27 nations suddenly imposed tariffs on our competitive exports of goods and services? Probably not much as some readers may lose business and even jobs.
The letter equates the EU with illegal immigration. This is incorrect as about two thirds of the people coming into the UK are not EU nationals. Free movement within the EU is not illegal, and it is not strictly ‘immigration’. The number of EU ‘immigrants’ currently resident within the UK is in fact approximately equal to the 2.5 million of our UK nationals living in the other 27 EU member states where they too are entitled to work, retire and draw benefits.
In any case, expert studies repeatedly show EU residents in the UK contribute far more to the UK economy than what they take out. According to the DSS, only 2.7 per cent of those claiming jobs seekers allowance in the UK are other EU nationals, hardly a crushing burden on us.
So with EU nationals living in the UK balanced by our ‘expats’ living elsewhere in the EU, we cannot reasonably conclude the source of what is causing pressure on our health service, housing, jobs, education and indeed any other matter which concerns us can be laid at the door of the EU.
It is a pity many of our politicians and media continue to mislead us about the EU and in so doing deflect attention from their failure to tackle the root causes of the issues which matter to us, such as improving our health service, our education, our jobs, our housing, our planning system, our environment and our roads.
All of these issues come under the sovereign jurisdiction of our elected representatives in Westminster and in local government. That one per cent of our tax money goes to the EU is neither here nor there. In any case we get most of that money back thorough fiscal payments, and furthermore, we enjoy macro-economic benefits which far outweigh the small insurance premium we pay for our EU membership.
We need a new honest political debate in this country. Constantly banging on about Europe will solve few of our problems.
If leaving Europe is the panacea, Eurosceptics have yet to propose viable alternatives. The real shambles in our country is many of the politicians we elect, ‘hacking’ tabloid national newspapers and the others who continue to mislead and misinform.
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