Tuesday, 15 January 2013

DM letter: Pryce so wrong on the EU

The DM has a letter in today's Evening Standard in response to a comment piece published yesterday by the economist Vicky Pryce.

In her article, Pryce repeated a number of claims and myths about the impact of the EU, some so detached from reality it's hard to imagine from where they can possibly have emerged, beyond simply someone's fevered imagination.

The full version of the DM's response is reproduced below:


Dear Sir,

No wonder Vicky Pryce thinks this is no time to seek a new deal with the EU (Comment, 14 January). Her understanding of the EU's impact is wrong in every key respect.

She says "85% percent of our budget contribution comes back to the UK", but Treasury figures for 2010-11 show the figure is just over 57% - a net cost of £8.8bn that year alone. Pryce also says "regulations are mostly national", despite a House of Commons Library study from October 2010 showing in fact just over half of new laws now have their origins in Brussels.

Her concern about the EU market becoming more difficult to access surely makes the highly unlikely assumption that Britain could not achieve a free trade agreement as part of any new relationship with the EU - a deal that our trade deficit with the EU shows would be in the interests of EU businesses far more than that of UK plc. 

Overcoming ignorance about the EU through a proper national debate on the basis of facts and giving us all the chance to make an informed decision about Britain's best path to prosperity in the 21st century is exactly why David Cameron must promise to hold an EU referendum.

Yours faithfully,


Pryce's article comes on the back of a recent propaganda onslaught by political and business elites seeking not only to intimidate the Prime Minister from seeking any change in Britain's relationship with the EU to bring decisions back to Westminster, but also to deny the rest of us a real choice about Britain's future and how we are governed.

In his speech on Friday, David Cameron 
is expected to announce an intention to renegotiate aspects of the EU's powers and hold a referendum on the outcome sometime after the next general election (IF there is a new 'fiscal union' treaty, IF other countries agree to renegotiate, IF they agree to hand back EU powers, and IF he wins the 2015 election outright).

Despite the likely dependence of such a pledge on a range of improbable developments, the temperature of the EU debate is nevertheless rising. The last few weeks have seen the opening skirmishes of a referendum battle, which David Cameron's speech on Friday may well exacerbate over the coming months and years into full political war about the best course for Britain's democracy and future prosperity. 

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