The day of the referendum is fast approaching and the statements of doom are coming out from both sides. The pro-Remain warnings have been dismissed as “Project Fear” by Brexiteers, but how many of Vote Leave’s—the main Brexit group—claims are bullshit? Well, at least 5, as I am more than happy to explain.
1) Turkey is joining the EU (and this will doom the NHS forever)
Any politician that makes this claim is being highly disingenuous. Vote Leave-affiliated politicians like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will know perfectly well that for Turkey to join the EU, it would have to adopt EU policies in 35 fields — or chapters, in EU-speak. To date, Turkey has closed just one chapter, and hasn’t even started negotiating on 20 others. It’s highly unlikely the country will ever join the EU if Erdogan continues establishing his autocracy, and even if it were, each member state would have the right to veto.
Vote Leave has attempted to dismiss the “veto” argument by highlighting David Cameron’s views on Turkish membership of the EU, but the fact is that the Prime Minister will be long gone before Turkey is ready to join, if not before EU enlargement is unfrozen in 2019.
2) EU membership costs us 350 million pounds every week
This just isn’t true. The government’s own data says as much.
InFacts calculates that the cost of membership is actually £120m a week, or £6.3bn a year, after taking the rebate, money sent to us from Brussels, and EU aid spending into account.
To put this in perspective, the deficit last fiscal year was £76bn. Take that as you will.
3) The money reclaimed from leaving could be used to save the NHS
This claim operates under the assumption that our economy wouldn’t take a hit post-Brexit, bringing the “cost” of EU membership (which still isn’t as high as Brexiteers think it is) back to us with no losses. There’s no reason to think this is true, as various economists, institutions, politicians, and think tanks keep saying, but suppose it was. Vote Leave campaigners have no ability to influence government policy, and it’s doubtful that the politicians connected to Vote Leave — Boris, Farage, Gove, etc. — have suddenly become enthusiastic supporters of increased state spending.
4) 5.23 million more EU migrants will move to the UK by 2030
This figure relies largely on Turkey joining the EU in 2020, which it won’t.
The claims also assume Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia will join the EU, and these countries are unlikely to close the 35 chapters by 2020 either.
5) EU migrants are putting the NHS under strain
EU migrants pay more taxes than they take out in welfare, making a net contribution of over £20bn. They’re also likely to be younger and healthier, meaning they use the NHS less, supporting our native aging population. Ultimately it’s an ageing population, poor diets, healthcare innovations and cuts to local authority budgets that put the NHS under strain — problems that won’t be fixed by leaving the EU and halting immigration.
If you ask me, Vote Leave’s reliance on baseless assertions, political opportunism and immigration-oriented scaremongering show the weakness of their case. And from the looks of the polls, a majority of people aren’t convinced either.
Follow and/or hurl abuse at me on Twitter @camerondechi