What has the EU ever done for us?

Most of the problems people have, which caused them to vote Leave, are created by our own governments and NOT the EU.

By Wanda Lozinska,

Wanda Lozinska, a stalwart of Stroud Labour Party and ardent Remainer on the left, responds to James Tweedie’s article: “Don’t Remain in Denial about Brexit”

“The UK’s trade with non-EU countries is greater than that with the EU, and has been growing ten times faster over the last decade.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: But I fear that we can only deal with these counties while we are EU members, as it’s the EU that has trade agreements with them, not us. Once we leave we will have to trade under WTO rules until we can negotiate our own separate agreements with each one, which will take many years. And we don’t even have experienced trade negotiators, as the EU has been negotiating on our behalf for over 50 years.

Under WTO we could scrap import tariffs, but would have to do so for ALL countries. This would put our own companies out of business. Also, countries would still apply tariffs on our exports, making them uncompetitive.

Brexiteers are blinded by their vision of “freedom” but don’t seem to understand how international trade really works.  The EU has a market of 500m people so can negotiate far more favourable trade agreements than us, with 66m (many of whom are impoverished).

“Trade with the EU 27 will not just stop in the event of a no-deal Brexit and tariffs being applied, it’ll just be regulated by tariffs and duties like that with most other nations.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: But tariffs mean a lot more extra documentation. Extra costs and custom’s delays which are crippling for perishable goods and problematic for goods that need urgent delivery. Many industries work on a ‘Just in time’ basis. Even if tariffs were to be waived, there would still be customs checks to see that our exports complied with EU standards. The EU could alter these and, as non members, we’d have no say in this.  So we’re losing the powers we previously had as members.

This won’t just affect exports. People like musicians, photographers and TV/film crews will have to show documents proving the origin of every single piece of their equipment both going into the EU and again on leaving. It will be a nightmare for them.

“Five out of every six grass-roots Conservative Party members – small and medium business owners, professionals, farmers and so on – are Brexiteers. So are the great majority of Tory voters, and all those habitual Labour voters in the north and Midlands of England who help give BoJo his 80-seat majority.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: But many of these are now getting cold feet as they see the true economic implications of Brexit.  Had we had a 2nd vote a year ago Remain might have won. More people voted against the Tories and Brexit parties as a whole, in the 2019 general election. 

As some Leavers are now finally waking up to the reality of how Brexit will impact on their lives they are saying they would have voted differently.  And the majority of people are against a No Deal exit.

“But the EU is in fact the monolithic fortress of the status quo, of class dictatorship by big capital and neo-colonialism.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: This is why people like Tony Benn voted against the EU in 1973. But this was almost 50 years ago and the EU has changed since then. Nowadays there is much greater emphasis on consumer and workers’ rights and protections.  That’s why Jeremy Corbyn supported Remain and Reform.

“Most ordinary people voted Leave because they’d never seen any personal benefit from EU membership, and many lost out from it. Remember when they used to make Ford cars in Dagenham, London?”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: Sadly, the benefits weren’t widely publicised and our own government often took the credit for some of the things that were due to the EU. For example a lot of the efforts that went into cleaning up our waters.

I expect that had Ford and other companies decided to move production out of the UK they could still have done so even if we weren’t EU members. Ford is an American company.

Now, after Brexit, more manufacturing companies are likely to leave the UK as they can deal tariff and customs free with the 500 million people in the EU and export to countries around the world with which the EU has trade agreements, and with which we don’t.

“The EU rules that the provisions public services must be “contestable”….. ie must be put out to public tender, and any company in any of the 27 member states can bid for it.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: Labour’s Alan Simpson gave an excellent presentation to one of my local groups.  He’d travelled around the EU and picked up on the many tricks they use to keep contracts within their own countries.

On his visit to my area John McDonnell personally assured me that their lawyers had been through the documents “with a fine-tooth comb” and there was nothing in the EU treaties and regulations that would have prevented any of the things Labour wanted to do, such as nationalisation, had we remained members.

“The EU enshrines a particular model of neoliberal capitalism, dubbed the “Four Freedoms” – freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour across borders without restrictions.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: Freedom of Movement works both ways. Many British citizens benefit from this, from students to workers and tourists: those who want to live, work, marry and raise their families in any EU country, pensioners who benefit from wintering in warmer climates.

Moving goods and services freely around the 27 countries that make up the richest trading bloc in the world is of great benefit to the UK.

“it does let employers undercut nationally -agreed wages”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: During the EU referendum campaign Jeremy Corbyn often mentioned the “Posted Workers Directive” which would have prevented UK companies exploiting EU workers by preventing employers from bringing workers to the UK and paying them less than the going rate.

“The wealthiest EU member states of north and west Europe treat those in the south and east of the bloc as nurseries for migrant labour.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: My mum lived in Italy and had a series of live-in carers from ex USSR countries. She couldn’t afford to pay them very much but they were still able to send money home which enabled their sons to build their own houses there!  Both sides benefited.

“The EU’s price tag for a post-Brexit free trade deal is perpetual obedience of all those rules and regulations – including any made in future – and the continued plunder of 90 per cent of the catch from our vast fishing waters.”

James Tweedie

RESPONSE: Had we remained full members we would have had a say in making these rules and regulations.  Together with France and Germany the UK was one of the” big three” countries with the most influence.

Michael Heseltine recently explained that the EU had given us generous fish quotas which WE then sold off to other European companies.

Lord Heseltine said: “The UK got a lot of licenses to fish in our own waters when we joined the European Union… and then we sold those licenses to the Europeans, and that’s why they have a bigger share than us.”

Most of the problems people have, which caused them to vote Leave, are caused by our own governments and NOT the EU.

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