Sunday, October 25, 2015

Told you so!

My review of the Economist's Special report last week, "The Reluctant European" about the arguments for and against British exit from the EU, (available here as a sequence of articles and here as a PDF) predicted that both sides would quote extensively but selectively from it.

I've already been proved right about one side.

My Labour MP and various others have tweeted quoting the statistics in the article contrasting the proportion of British exports of goods which go to the EU (51.4%) with the proportion of exports of other EU countries which come to Britain (6.6%) and suggesting that this demolishes the economic case for Brexit.

This fact certainly does seriously damage some of the "Leave" side's economic arguments - particularly the argument that trade with Britain is so important to the rest of the EU that we will be able to negotiate a particularly good deal if we don't want to go for the Norwegian solution - and it is true that overall The Economist came out for "Remain"

However, I note that EU membership supporters are carefully NOT quoting the article in "Insider dealing" from the special report, in which the magazine recognises that

"There is one issue where Eurosceptics may have a more persuasive case for leaving the EU: the relationship between those inside and outside the euro zone."

I doubt if it will be long before some of the more alert supporters of "Leave" note what was in that article and do the reverse, quoting selectively from it and ignoring the rest of the special report.

For those who have already made their choice of "Leave" or "Remain" on political grounds, it is comparatively simple. For those of us for whom the political arguments are not overwhelming - or at least not yet - and the economics are extremely important, it is important to listen very carefully to exactly what each side is saying, and what they are leaving out.

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