Sunday, June 19, 2016
"Responsible debate is paramount. I fear, however, that we won’t get it. What I do know is that Britain should be engaged and leading in Europe not disengaged and waving goodbye."
Jo Cox on her website at the start of the referendum campaign in February. Reuters.
We are a very different country to what we used to be 6 months ago. “Know-nothingism” and conspiracy theory are now part of British public discourse and have been legitimated by leading politicians. Experts are corrupt, anyone who disagrees is lying or on the take, there are secret plans to let in foreign hordes, abolish the British army etc. Where conspiracy theories grow, extremists lurk.
FT reader, paraphrased, 16 June
However if anyone feels they could do with more facts, then I can strongly recommend the dispassionate analysis provided by Tim Harford on Radio 4 facys and figures on Saturday. On the famous £ 350 mn he essentially covers the same ground as Andrew Tyrie’s Select Committee Report (I hope everyone has read paragraph 36). But there is a lot more including some surprising facts on the “sovereignty” issue.
There is a very good analysis of the campaign in Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer article.
A few more snippets
……Vote Leave has said that £350m a week is “the core number”, and that it is using the number “again and again”. It is very unfortunate that they have chosen to place this figure at the heart of their campaign. This has been done in the face of overwhelming evidence, including that of the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, demonstrating that it is misleading. Without qualification this is unavoidable. Brexit will not result in a £350m per week fiscal windfall to the Exchequer as a consequence of ending the UK’s contributions to the EU budget. Despite having been presented with the evidence contradicting this claim, Vote Leave has subsequently placed the £350m figure on its campaign bus, and on much of its recent campaign literature. The public should discount this claim. Vote Leave’s persistence with it is deeply problematic. It sits very awkwardly with its promises to the Electoral Commission to work in a spirit that reflects its “very significant responsibility” and the “gravity of the choice facing the British people”.
Paragraph 36. Treasury Select Committee Report.
Our findings indicate that, when considering the resident population in each year from 1995 to 2011, immigrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) have made a positive fiscal contribution, even during periods when the UK was running budget deficits, while Non-EEA immigrants, not dissimilar to natives, have made a negative contribution. For immigrants that arrived since 2000, contributions have been positive throughout, and particularly so for immigrants from EEA countries. Notable is the strong positive contribution made by immigrants from countries that joined the EU in 2004.
2014 Report on the Fiscal Impacts of Immigration. Dustmann and Frattini. Probably the most careful and comprehensive analysis of data on this issue to date.
One implication you might draw from this is that under any “points system” seeking to identify the most economically productive, European migrants will continue to generally out-compete non-European, and Brexit impact on the European content of immigration will therefore be small. Since non-EEA immigration, of whatever status, is prima facie unaffected by the Stay or Leave choice, political choices on immigration should be seen as largely irrelevant to the Brexit debate.
The Bank of England
The calibre of, and grasp of constitutional issues shown by, some of our MPs is revealed in the recent letter from the Governor of the Bank of England to Bernard Jenkin.
A lot of parallels with the climate debatesSo what has this got to do with climate policy? The main connection is the protagonists. Much of the same continuous low level misrepresentation, vilification of “experts”– in this case science and scientists, and a perversion of evidence and argument, with largely the same personnel. (See earlier blogs.)