Response to a leaflet by Students for Britain

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So Students for Britain have come up with a new leaflet, naming their countless reasons to leave the EU. We don’t think they’re too accurate. Here is why:

“#I’mLeaveBecause I’m for open globalism not narrow regionalism.”

So you’re telling me that exiting a group of 28 countries is a step towards globalism?

Let’s address this face on. The majority of Brexiteers support leaving because they are “British” first and only. This nationalism is evident throughout the campaign.

“#I’mLeaveBecause Tampons should not be taxed.”

Not only has Cameron achieved an opt-out (one of the countless the UK has), but it is being addressed at EU parliament level. Who have they been listening to? That’s right. The population which has been outraged by it. Sounds an awful lot like democracy to us…

“#I’mLeaveBecause the secret negotiations on TTIP will undermine our NHS.”

Firstly negotiations do absolutely nothing until they are implemented. That’s kinda the point. Pedantism aside, the UK is by far not the only country to oppose TTIP. With protests happening all over Europe, with the main protestors actually located in Germany. Do you think that with this amount of protest the implementation of TTIP is actually realistic?

We are glad you mentioned the NHS though. Isn’t it Arran Banks, major funder of the Leave campaign who wants to leave? Oh, wait, yeah, it is: the Independent reports it here.

“#I’mLeaveBecause EU law won’t let us renationalise the railways.”

But art. 345 of the Treaty which governs the EU specifically states: “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States (MS) governing the system of property ownership.”?

What the First Railway Directive is ACTUALLY doing is ensuring that train companies can engage in fair competition instead of a monopoly. And indeed it was the UK government that that went far beyond what the EU legislation required… Many other EU countries run a fully or mostly public railway system (Germany, supported by regional privately owned services, France with SNCF, as well as Sweden, Spain and Italy). Let’s not blame Brussels for the acts of Westminster.

“#I’mLeaveBecause our laws should be made by the people we elect and who we can vote out. The unelected EU Commision and Court can overrule our laws.”

Every single EU law which applies to the UK is debated on and discussed by British representatives.

Not convinced? Well, considering we elected (well – 35.6% of us did, anyway) our representatives in the European Parliament, have our Ministers sitting on the Council of Europe, and our Prime Minister sits on the European Council, it seems rather difficult to spot how a law would get through!

And BEFORE you say it WE KNOW the Commission can propose laws; but I can ask for a law on literally anything. If Parliament doesn’t agree, it won’t happen. Same thing with the Commission.

“#I’mLeaveBecause being trapped in the EU means we are not allowed to our own trade deals, holding us back from engaging with the rest of the world.”

Funny you say that. It is the EU which has concluded 53 trade deals. And other nations have managed to make their own (Germany). Again, why are we blaming the EU, for something within the remit of the national government?

And how does this desire to make create a more active trade deal life even work, when you don’t want TTIP? The US has said it will not make special provisions for the UK. So either we stick with the EU (and hopefully manage to increase the protection which the negotiators are trying to secure!) or we go at it without the combined negotiating power of a market of 500 million people.

“#I’mLeaveBecause the EU will only become more anti-democratic, anti-ecological, pro-big business centralising organisation that it already is.”

Project Fear, in a nutshell. And it isn’t us.

Let’s take a focus on just one of these radical claims. The EU has damaged the environment. Really? Why isn’t there a single group of environmentalists advocating to leave the EU? And plenty that argue that they want to stay in, arguing, amongst other things, lower pollution levels, better beaches, and more pressure on the UK government to support renewable energy.

“#I’mLeaveBecause the EU costs us £350 million every week. That’s enough to build a fully staffed NHS hospital every week, or abolish tuition fees twice over.”

How often will we have to repeat that this number is simply incorrect? The amount paid into the EU is closer to £250 million a week, which, while still a lot, does, again, not include any of the money received back in form of funding in agricultural, research, development etc funding. Listen to the fact check done by the BBC here.

Moving on to the so-called mythbusting.

“Universities receive EU funding, rebuttal: The UK is a massive net contributor to the EU budget, meaning the little we get back is our money in the first place — except we have no say in how it is spent.”

Firstly, how does this address the fact mentioned beforehand? Google EU funding and Universities and research are a massive beneficiary, COMPLETELY unrelated to the fact that the UK is a net benefactor. But now that I’m at it, I may as well address that as well. The UK might have little say of where it goes, but have you heard anyone complaining about the support? Additionally, being a net benefactor does not take into account any of the benefits that are hard to quantify.

“We’d lose out on Erasmus schemes — rebuttal: This is untrue. The Erasmus program is already open to non-EU countries like Iceland, Turkey, and Israel — it’s simply scaremongering to suggest otherwise.”

Yes, the Erasmus program is open to these countries, but they had to negotiate a deal with the EU. So if the UK did leave, this would be yet another factor pushing us to make a deal. Who is counting? We want a deal to have Erasmus, we want a deal for free trade, we want a deal with customs union, we want to ensure we are represented….sounds an awful lot like membership to us!

“Most of our trade is with the EU — rebuttal: In fact, most of our trade has been with the rest of the world, and the EU has been a declining market for UK exporters for a decade. The EU stops us from signing our own free trade deals, e.g. with countries like India, China, Australia, and Brazil. We need to raise our horizons to the EU.”

But the EU also enables quicker and more effective deal-making with bigger trading partners due to its attractiveness in terms of variation within services offered. Same things applies as above. And 44% of trade IS with the EU.

“The EU helps science — rebuttal: Instead of investing in science, the EU recently raided over €2 billion from the HORIZON science budget to pay for the problems caused by the euro. The EU’s Clinical Trials Directive has been devastating for cancer research.”

Sure. £2 billion out of £80 billion. That’s 1/40th, going to help people in difficulty. That doesn’t seem too appalling to us. Budgets change. And the 83% of scientists who are backing the Remain campaign certainly seem happy enough.

The Clinical Trials Directive is being substituted with the new Clinical Trials regulation which will apply to any applications made after yesterday, May 28th. The new framework streamlines procedures, introduces lighter regulation where medicines are already authorised, and simplifies reporting, without compromising the protection of subjects. And even the previous Clinical Trials Directive has received an overwhelmingly positive response of 93% of UK scientists saying that the EU has been beneficial. The UK was actually one of the countries to ask for the homogenisation of clinical trials in 2001 to minimise regulatory burden. As with many things it wasn’t perfect, but clearly, referring back to the beginning of the paragraph, work is being done and it HELPS.

“The progressive things to do is to stay in the EU — rebuttal: EU tariffs hold back producers in developing countries and push up bills in the UK. EU policies have devastated Greece and southern EU countries. Youth unemployment in some countries is around 50%.”

EU tariffs holding back producers in the developing world?

Oh, you mean those tariffs which harmonised entry across the EU, meaning different States couldn’t hold those producers to ransom. That single tariff rule which allows free movement between countries, once the goods are within the EU, thereby meaning those producers only have to deal with one set of criteria before being able to sell to 500 million consumers, rather than having to deal with 28 different countries?

Yeah, we’re not convinced with your analysis.

The EU policies that ‘devastated’ Greece and other Southern EU countries were desperate attempts at saving countries that were failing because of individual failure. It wasn’t the EU that plunged them into crisis, it was their own government. Would they have fared better without the ongoing support of the EU, pumping money into these countries that they would never have been able to access without?

“The EU protects minority rights — rebuttal: Most EU countries still discriminate against LGBT+ people. Just 12 out of 28 have legalised same-sex marriage, while 8 ban it under their constitutions. The EU binds us to a discriminatory migration policy and means we couldn’t scrap the tampon tax.”

Just because EU countries have not legalised same-sex marriage that is a) not the fault of the European Union, rather a failure of the individual nation states, and b) there has been an decrease in perceived discrimination since 2002, many citing the EU as a positive force. The Employment Equality Framework Directive ensures equality in the workplace in ALL EU countries. A non-discrimination directive is being negotiated.

A migration policy is not discriminatory if the same rules apply for both sides, it is just as hard for a Chinese or American citizen to live and work here as it would be for you to live and work there.

To convince people, you need to be accurate and fair in your representation of the facts. We try our best. We may fail at times. But this leaflet certainly does.

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