WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

The EU does not govern the UK

07 November, 2019

• MARTIN Kennedy (There’s nothing democratic about the EU, October 31) writes an eloquent case for Brexit that wins sympathy and understanding.

But it rests on mistaken premises. First, there may be “Brexiteers” and “remainers” but there are also unemotional pragmatists. I am one of those.

Second, the European Union is not a nation-state like the United Kingdom, Germany and France etc, but an international trade association, with whistles and bells agreed by treaty. Comparing one with the other (apples to pears) has generated more heat than light.

In my opinion, his legitimate Brexit constitutional criticism of the EU is exaggerated and does not, on balance, outweigh the great economic and other advantages of membership.

That includes our voice and vote in the Council of Ministers (the democratically-elected first ministers of member states, who are legislators of last resort, on issues of political principle.)

The EU does not govern the UK; that it done by an elected government under UK parliamentary scrutiny.

A government and parliament makes laws relating to taxation, budgetary and monetary policy, financial regulation, defence, housing, social security, health, social welfare, education national and local government, policing, the administration of justice, building regulations etc, etc. and almost everything else which touches on our everyday lives. We have our own currency, not the euro, (largely thanks to Gordon Brown who opted out.)

To demonstrate that the EU is not a nation-state, its budget is less than 1 per cent of the total value of all EU countries’ GDP, not 50 per cent, as it typically is for member states themselves.

That 1 per cent includes subsidies to agriculture, EU scientific research, poorer left behind areas of member states promoting continental economic growth and incomes; for example, west Wales and south west England.

As for misconceptions, the EU accounts are regularly audited, analysed, commented upon and signed off by the auditors; the EU GDP is estimated at $18.8trillion or 22 per cent of world GDP.

The UK economy alone, is $3trillion by contrast. Arguably that is why the EU can get better trade deals than we could alone.

Finally, the sleep of successive German governments has not been invaded by Wagnerian dreams of aggression but terror of starting another terrible continental war: as it has twice before.

The EU among other things, is a very low-cost, economically productive exercise in peace. The best deal seems to be the one we have already, negotiated by British governments down the years.

ROBERT SUTHERLAND SMITH
Widecombe Way, N2

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