The Europhobes trade on misinformation

Ben Chu

CashJenkin 150x150 The Europhobes trade on misinformationThe battle over Britain’s European future looks likely to be characterised by misinformation from one side.

Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times yesterday quoted a paper by “senior Tory MPs” Bill Cash and Bernard Jenkin (right), which pointed out that:

“UK exports to the EU are equivalent to less than 8.7 per cent of UK GDP, much less than to the rest of the of the world…yet the burden of costs of the ‘single market’ bear down on 100% of UK economic activity.”

Beware this kind of guff.

Here’s the unspun facts: the Office for National Statistics shows that goods exports to EU countries in 2011 were £159bn. Goods exports to the rest of the world were £140bn.

So 53% of our goods exports went to the EU, and 46% to the rest of the word.

I’m not sure why anyone would talk about the value of UK exports to the EU as a share of GDP (rather than as a share of total exports) unless the purpose is to obscure the importance of the EU as an export market.

The Cash/Jenkin document also argues that:

“The trends show that the EU share of exports is declining, and the Rest of World (RoW) share is growing”

Again, misleading.

This chart shows the export levels to the two areas:

goods The Europhobes trade on misinformation

A slight decline in 2012, but rather a stretch to argue that there’s been some kind of secular shift away from the EU in UK export patterns in recent years, however much Europhobes may wish to see one.

Thankfully, it seems like the public might be starting to see through the distortions. A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times suggested that opinion has shifted quite dramatically on the merits of an EU exist. It showed 40% wanting to stay in and 34% wanting to leave. As recently as last November YouGov showed 51% in favour of getting out. This  result was well and truly buried by the Sunday Times, by the way, which devoted 95 words to the finding on page 2. Anyone would think they didn’t like the result!

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  • Matt Tysoe

    The bigger is philosophical, not economical.

  • greggf

    “The battle over Britain’s European future looks likely to be characterised by misinformation from one side.”

    Touché Ben!

    That’s what happened in 1975, and perhaps the voter has learned something since.
    Once bitten twice shy…..

  • Junius

    From the Cash and Jenkin paper: ‘According to a Yougov-Cambridge poll in 2012, 40% of people in the UK favoured a looser relationship with the EU based on trade and co-operation, while a further 20% wanted the UK to leave altogether. So a clear majority of 60% want change.’

    Interestingly, YouGov is presently taking a fair amount of flak from Telegraph blog commenters appalled by that most recent poll on membership of the EU showing a majority in favour of Britain staying in. Apparently the polling organization cannot be trusted on account of its president being married to a Labour politician who is also High Representative of the EU for foreign affairs.

    What Cash and Jenkin fail to mention about the Yougov-Cambridge poll is that 27pc wanted continued full membership or closer union as opposed to the 20pc for leaving altogether. So it might as reasonably be concluded that a clear majority of 67pc were for staying in.

    Wonder why they didn’t see that?

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