An entirely vain hope but here goes anyway


We are undoubtedly all going to have the most hugely enjoyable slanging matches over this upcoming European Union referendum. But would it be possible, we ask politely, that such arguments stay with what is in fact true rather than just wander off into whatever sort of nonsense makes rhetorical sense? For we do think that we're more likely to end up with a reasonable policy in the end if we do in fact continually refer to reality rather than whatever phantasms sell a particular position. And please note, some of us here have very definite opinions on this matter, perhaps opinions not to your taste. But we'd still prefer to walk through, talk through, what is rather than what is not.

Which brings us to this remarkable claim by Sir Victor Blank this morning:

As a member of the EU, our companies are able to sell, without barriers and tariffs, to a market on the UK’s doorstep of 500 million people. They need only abide by one set of regulations covering the entire, vast and complex region. Our biggest trading partner is the EU. As a non-member these same companies could be obliged to negotiate with each individual country they sell to within the EU. One set of rules would be replaced by a possible 27, not to mention payment of duties.

There is absolutely no truth to this whatsoever. The EU is a customs union. This means that once over the import rules into the EU, goods and services are then subject to just the one set of rules and regulations: those of the EU's single market.

Entirely true, Brexit might mean that UK exports to the EU then faced import duties, they would indeed need to meet the rules of those 27 countries. But those rules would be as they are today: instead of one set of rules covering 28 countries ourselves included, it would be one set of rules covering 27 countries not including ourselves. Our leaving will not break up that single market at all, even if it produces a hurdle that must be leapt before entering it.

As up at the top, various of us here have various views about the EU and all who sail in her. But could we please make sure that whatever arguments are used by either or any side actually have at least some grounding in reality?

The current rules about trade into the EU are governed by EU law, one law for all. This will remain so whether Britain stays or goes: there will still be just the one set of laws about who may trade what and how over the borders of the EU.