My #Remainer’s Diary Day 324: it was widely reported that new Treasury figures confirm that for the 12 months to March 2017, the UK made a net contribution to the EU of £8.1bn or about £156m a week – less than half the £350m a week claimed on the side of the Vote Leave bus.
Tom Brake MP quite rightly commented that this contribution “pales in comparison to the economic benefits we get from being part of the single market and customs union”.
I am still trying to track down the Treasury report that this came from, but we knew already that the claim on the bus was a lie. That is the dire standard of campaigning we were subjected to.
The Leave campaigners, who repeated the lie until the end, will shrug and say so what – any big number would have done for our purposes. If it had been a company prospectus they would be prosecuted and lucky if they escaped long prison terms and got away with just being barred from holding office as a company director for a long time. What actually happened was that they received great offices of state and sit in the Cabinet.
There is something rotten in this country.
The Department for International Trade has issued a statement that it has increased its workforce to over 3,200 people. How much are they costing?
The Department says it has “top talent”. There are 20 lawyers working on trade issues and there is “significant demand for roles at all levels”. A parliamentary answer disclosed that it is also budgeting £2.5m to train existing staff, which is disconcerting.
Meanwhile James Slack, a spokesman for Mrs May (who is away on holiday – in Europe, funnily enough) denied a report that the UK is prepared to pay £36bn (€40bn) to settle up before leaving the EU.
At a rate of £156m a week, I calculate that £36bn would take about 23 years to pay off.
EU membership is looking extremely good value nowadays.
A new paper by Dr Aihua Zhang, from the University of Leicester’s Department of Mathematics, suggests that access to higher education was the ‘predominant factor’ dividing those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave.
The press release says the research “applied Multivariate Regression Analysis combined with a Logit Model to the real data to identify statistically significant factors that have influenced voting preference simultaneously as well as the odds ratio in favour of Leave.”
The paper itself is available to accredited members of the press on request but I have not seen it. The press release says that:
- An increase of about 3% of British adults accessing higher education in England and Wales could have reversed the referendum result;
- A decrease of about 7% in turnout in England and Wales could have also changed the result of the referendum;
- The factor of elderly voters, although having an effect on the outcome, was generally over reported as a dominant factor;
- Sex is found to be a statistically significant factor, while British born proportions and local income levels are insignificant factors.
Dr Zhang said: “The EU referendum raised significant debate and speculation of the intention of the electorate and its motivations in voting. Much of this debate was informed by simple data analysis examining individual factors, in isolation, and using opinion polling data.
“This, in the case of the EU referendum where multiple factors influence the decision simultaneously, failed to predict the eventual outcome.”
Indeed it did. Dr Zhang’s work was mapping, not predicting. But if the paper is accurate, it also predicts that the extent to which people have access to higher education will influence the outcome of future elections.
Brendan Chilton, the general secretary of Labour Leave, relying on opinion, predicted to the New Statesman that “…you could see a fundamental realignment of British politics if people feel betrayed.” Perhaps. Not just Leavers though. People who want to stay in the EU feel pretty betrayed by their politicians lying to the electorate and acting against the national interest, but he doesn’t mention that.
What is interesting about the interview is his definition of Brexit (and hence of betrayal): control over territorial waters and borders, an end to freedom of movement, no more contributions to the EU budget and an end to the jurisdiction of EU institutions. He says of the referendum: “It was a vote in some respects for protectionism and economic patriotism.”
He and the Tory free market ideologues are at opposite poles. Theresa May and her protectionist acolytes are closer to Mr Chilton than to neoliberal Tories.
But he claims to have spoken to half a million people, which undermines his credibility with me.
Meanwhile the protectionist, economically patriotic (allegedly), wildly inconsistent President “America First” Trump lurches towards a reckoning with the US Federal State over his Russian links, first uncovered by chance over here in dear old Blighty by GCHQ as they monitored phone traffic. He, too, won with the help of lies. He, too, wants to undo the EU.
The super rich in the UK, USA and Russia all want to undo the EU. Why do ordinary people think they are on the same side? It doesn’t make any sense. And what are Mrs May and her lieutenants playing at?
Pro-EU campaigners are planning a “stop Brexit” march outside the Conservative party conference, which is to begin on 1st October in Manchester. Among other organisations, the Lib Dems will be there. Tom Brake MP said: “Brexit is the battle of our lives and it is vital we make the Conservatives see the strength of feeling against their disastrous extreme Brexit, which threatens to crash the economy and damage the life chances of millions.”
He added that Liberal Democrats didn’t take the decision lightly to protest at another party’s conference but “ministers should be under no illusions that a lot of people are very, very angry at their disastrous handling of Brexit, which has made a difficult situation a million times worse.”
They certainly are. Not only at the handling of Brexit. Also at Brexit itself, full stop.