Because its snowy and I hate Dan Hannan more than I do the EU

Dan Hannan has a dreadful top ten reasons to leave the EU (H/T Thomas Byrne). As indicated above, I hold no love for the EU but I hold Dan in even deeper disdain. This list has not changed my mind.

1. Since we joined the EEC in 1973, we have been in surplus with every continent in the world except Europe. Over those 27 years, we have run a trade deficit with the other member states that averages out at £30 million per day.

  • Correlation is not Causality. Perhaps, just perhaps, not being in a free trade area with other European states would have lead us to run a worse deficit with the rest of the world. Perhaps, just perhaps, allowing UK Governments to protect inefficient UK firms would have lead us to run smaller surpluses with other continents. I certainly don’t know; evidently neither does Dan Hannan.

2. In 2010 our gross contribution to the EU budget will be £14 billion. To put this figure in context, all the reductions announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference would, collectively, save £7 billion a year across the whole of government spending.

  • To pretend that it is possible to work out the exact gross contribution of the UK to the EU is to ignore all the economics you might have ever learned. You would have to map the workings of a continent-wide multi-national economy. Dan Hannan doesn’t believe any state planner can do that (and they can’t) and I don’t believe he can (and he can’t).

3. On the European Commission’s own figures, the annual costs of EU regulation outweigh the advantages of the single market by €600 to €180 billion.

  • The fact that this figure is so different to the one above suggests that, rather than working from a coherent set of beliefs, Dan is picking whatever Euroskeptic statistics catch his eye.

4. The Common Agricultural Policy costs every family £1200 a year in higher food bills.

  • Probably true actually. I’ll let Dan have this one (how magnanimous of me!). The CAP is an interesting bugbear of just about everyone on the left and right and if Dan Hannan could provide some sources – which he hasn’t done – he may even be able to prove the figure given is accurate or at all relevant.

5. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy, Britain could reassert control over its waters out to 200 miles or the median line, which would take in around 65 per cent of North Sea stocks.

  • And yet, we would still be faced with a situation where fisherman are fighting for the right to overfish their waters. The EU is dreadful at managing its fisheries, but Dan has provided us with no reason to convince us that the UK in a condition of anarchy could do better. Although its entirely possible to manage natural resources by voluntary arrangement, important matters also lend themselves to global or regional governance too.

6. Successive British governments have refused to say what proportion of domestic laws come from Brussels, but a thorough analysis by the German Federal Justice Ministry showed that 84 per cent of the legislation in that country came from the EU.

7. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to negotiate much more liberal trade agreements with third countries than is possible under the Common External Tariff.

  • Possibly, but would we have? Before joining the EU we were still set on a semi-Imperial trajectory. Dominions, colonies and the common wealth gained preferential treatment and our post 1930s Ottawa Conference world may not have given way to our free trade heritage as Dan Hannan fantasises.

8. The countries with the highest GDP per capita in Europe are Norway and Switzerland. Both export more, proportionately, to the EU, than Britain does.

  • What?! Nor-massive Natural Gas reserves-way and Switzer-banking hub-land? Once again, I think Dan is confusing correlation and causality.

9. Outside the EU, Britain could be a deregulated, competitive, offshore haven.

  • The idea that we are not an already heavily deregulated economy is a little silly. We are far from the ideal Devils Kitchen or Charlotte Gore might want to see, but compared to the actually existing capitalist world we are not overly burden by regulation (I’m a little lost as to how Dan thinks leaving the EU will make us more offshore than we already are).

10. Oh, and we’d be a democracy again.

  • This seems somewhat at odd with point 9. The great deregulated, competitive offshore havens tend to be fairly undemocratic. Whether it is illiberal but tidy Singapore, wealthy but undemocratic Hong Kong or sponsored by Lord Ashcroft Belize the “deregulated, competitive, offshore haven[s]” Dan describes are rarely democratic. I know I’ve harangued Dan for his confusion of correlation of causality but there are lots of reasons to suggest that liberal economics and democracy are not particular compatible.

Contrary to what you have read Dan Hannan is an intelligent man, and he must surely know that some of his Top Ten reasons to leave the EU are based on distortion and outright speculation. He knows that even those that are based on actual facts are so augmented by guesswork and historic counterfactuals that no one could seriously consider them for inclusion in any sort of Top Ten.

This post was about firing up a base of Euroskeptics who will believe almost any anti-EU propaganda fed to them. Sadly it appears that Dan Hannan is far more interested in being popular than in being accurate.