Taking back control – as published in the Portsmouth News January 2019
I wonder if other viewers of Channel 4’s “Brexit: The Uncivil War” thought as I did that Dominic Cumming’s ‘light bulb’ moment when he completed the ’take back control’ slogan was a turning point in the strategising for the Vote Leave campaign? The slogan, so powerful in the ten weeks of pre-referendum campaigning, has since become an over-arching mantra repeated time after time by the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, MPs, journalists and commentators who try to persuade us that leaving the European Union is a good idea.
Consider taking back control of our borders. The September 2018 Report of the Migration Advisory Committee contained significant evidence of the benefits of EU immigration to the UK, most notably that EU immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take out. But of equal importance is the Citizens Directive implemented into UK law by the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 which states that an EU citizen only has a right of residency beyond three months if they are employed or self-employed or they are economically inactive or are accredited students and have sufficient resources for themselves and their family not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host member state. Otherwise the immigrant can be told to leave. But successive Home Secretaries have never bothered to implement this directive, which a system of registration upon arrival in the UK, only now being considered in post-Brexit Britain, could have facilitated.
Consider taking back control of our laws, laws which are only proposed by the commissioners (appointed from the 28 countries) but which are democratically debated and voted on by nationally elected MEPs in the European Parliament and then approved by the Council of Ministers, the heads of government of the 28, before they can come into force. But what is rarely stated is that commissioners can only propose new laws in areas for which the EU has been granted competency under the terms of the Masstricht and Lisbon treaties.The EU has little or no competency in the following areas: health policy, education, fiscal policy and public expenditure, monetary policy (the UK is not in the Eurozone), income tax, corporation tax and capital gains tax, non-EU immigration, border control and security, pensions and welfare, foreign policy decisions, defence, intelligence, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, local government, national policing and criminal justice, and media regulation. This is verifiable by looking up 'Division of Competencies within the European Union, Eur-Lex, (2016)’. Hence the laws that have most effect on our daily lives are not even made through the democratic institutions of the EU but in Westminster.
The UK has never given away its sovereignty to the EU. It has chosen to pool some in order that all member states can enjoy the myriad benefits of the single market, high standards and safety of food, medicines, chemicals, aviation, protection of workers’ rights and the environment, cooperation in matters of international crime and security and much more. According to the House of Commons library, about 13% of our laws are made jointly with our continental neighbours, laws for which the UK government voted for over 90% of the time during 2004-15.
Consider taking back control of our money. What the Prime Minister calls ‘vast’ sums is in net terms just about 0.5% of our GDP. Even the lowest of the government’s own forecasts of the impact to GDP of the different Brexit options, the 1.6% for EEA membership, is more than three times that sum. A quick look at the back of your HMRC Annual Tax Summary shows the very small amount of the tax you contribute for all of the benefits gained from our membership of the EU, the world’s largest free trade bloc.
Therefore we should ask ourselves if we really are prepared to give up these benefits in exchange for the falsity of taking back control that we never lost in the first place and so conclude that leaving the EU will not resolve many of the domestic issues for which it has been made the scapegoat.