There is just no way to assess the validity of a 200-page Treasury report in which small variations of the forecast assumptions can significantly affect the results. Keep in mind that these assumptions are made by experts who did not forecast the recent collapse in oil prices or the global banking crisis of 2008.
We know that information can be massaged to achieve politically desired results – it’s called “torturing the data until it confesses,” according to New Scientist. Politicians are the least trusted of all professions, with 21% of us doubting their honesty, well below the 37% who trust bankers. We almost expect mendacity from our government, and are tolerant provided it’s been aged before discovery. For a detailed ripping-to-shreds of Osborne’s spurious concoction, check Fraser Nelson’s piece in The Spectator.
I suggest we ignore attempts at forecasting specifics in a fragile scenario where anything could happen, up to and including disintegration of the European Union, with or without Britain included. The refugee situation is already defragmenting parts of it. Several member states are in difficult straits. The Eurozone is in a mess, and who knows what black swan is coming next? No predictions here, just perspective.
Let us put into perspective the pro-Euro camp’s 200 pages of taxpayer-funded fear mongering, suggesting a cost of £4300 per household. Preserving the bankers in 2008 has so far cost the UK £133 Billion – that’s £4926 per household. We were offered no referendum on that, and also made potentially liable for up to £1029 Billion in related guarantee commitments, or £38,000 per household.
We can only sensibly go with our guts on this one and decide which way our instincts point us when not fogged by fear of consequences. We transitioned into the EU smoothly all those years ago and could easily transition out. Had we seen forecasts that this thing called VAT would add 20% to the cost of most of what we buy, the vote would have gone against joining. Leaving will not damage the viability of 64 million people managing to co-exist and provide for each other on a relatively small island. Whether we collapse or thrive will depend on bigger factors than how many layers of government and regulation we want to support.
I have lived and worked in the UK before and during EU membership. Yes it added to the cost and complexity of living, but we endured. If we leave we won’t miss passport-free travel since we never enjoyed it, and will continue to change pounds for euros and use credit cards abroad. I am not being glib, but commerce will work its stuff out if we leave.
Whichever choice we make today we will look back in 20 years and think either that we made the right choice or the wrong choice and which of those we think will be up to all the choices we make between now and then.
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I am author of The State Is Out Of Date, We Can Do It Better, a book which makes the case for increasing self-government and decreasing top-down government by fear. The issue is not who is in power, how they got there, what they want to do, or why. The issue is whether or not the underlying principles of the state can ever bring us lasting peace and harmony – and what could.