Saturday, 11 May 2013

Dodgy data don't help the case for EU membership

Pro-membership coalition ministers are wont to claim that three million jobs would be at risk if the United Kingdom ceased to be a member of the European Union.

However, Professor Iain Begg revealed on "More or Less" (a BBC/Open University co-production) last Friday that the three million figure resulted from research he had done around the year 2000 and had been calculated as the proportion of jobs in industry related to exports to the EU. Clearly not all exports to the EU would stop instantly if the UK left, tariffs need not be an insurmountable barrier and new markets could be found for, say, the estimated 40% of car production which goes to the EU.

Professor Begg explained that numerical arguments on both sides of the debate depend on a huge range of assumptions and that it is a "methodological almost impossible task" to measure the net cost or benefit to the UK of being part of the Union.

So in the end it is a political and cultural decision as to whether to remain. It seems to me that we have a choice between cementing an alliance with nations with a shared history going back more than two thousand years, an alliance in which we have a democratic say, or becoming yet another client state of the United States.

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