(Photo Credit: Alex Edmans)
During the campaign leading up to the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union, the public had heard multiple claims from both camps, including some suspiciously dubious ones. Now, more than one year on since the campaign first began, are we able to know how many of the ‘facts’ spewed by both sides are indeed facts? This article reviews the boldest claims made by both parties. The arguments that were made fall mainly into two broad categories, namely: facts about the good and bad effects of Britain’s European Union membership and facts about what will happen when Britain decides to leave its European counterparts behind.
Boris Johnson had prominently claimed that the UK gives 350 million pounds to Brussels every week, amounting to 18 billion pounds in a single year. Yet, this is not true. Instead, the rebate on Britain’s contributions signify that its actual payment is reduced to 13 billion pounds – 5 million short of the alleged amount. On top of that, 4.5 billion pounds are granted to the UK in the form of farming and regional development subsidies. In addition, an extra 1.4 billion pounds are returned to the country’s private sector. As a result, Britain’s contribution is in fact half of the alleged amount: 136 million pounds per week. Furthermore, it is crucial to consider that the economic setback to the country when it departs from the Union is extremely likely to dwarf this figure.
Next, the chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign, Matthew Elliot, had consistently claimed that the free movement of people with the Union has effectively put ‘British families in danger’. He supported his argument by producing a document of violent criminals from EU countries. However, it is in fact the UK Border Agency that allowed criminal into Britain, not the freedom of movement policy. Instead, European law permits the UK to deny entry to people ‘on grounds of public policy, public security or public health’. The UK border force had taken an extra step by incorporating the law into guidelines for officials and strictly demanded that those who served a sentence of one year imprisonment be denied entry.
On the other hand, the Remainers allege that leaving the EU will cost the country in excess of three million jobs. However, this allegation was based on a wildly exaggerated assumption. No forecast show that all jobs linked to EU exports will be lost. Instead, it is predicted that there will be fewer jobs created across all sectors in the labour market and not the entire EU export sector being wiped out. This will only be so if the UK stops all of its trade activities with the EU upon leaving the Union. However, this is vastly ridiculous, as a Financial Times article puts it.
Although this article is by no means an exhaustive review of the falsity of claims made during the campaign by both parties, it aims to warn that the motives behind the production of these ‘facts’ must be considered in order to determine their validity.