Saturday, 23 April 2016

Review of the week

Well, what a week it’s been!


  • HM Treasury predicts long-term mega-doom of Brexit
  • The Leave Alliance begins to realise how little changes with leaving the EU
  • US President Obama urges Britain to remain in the EU, but Americans might be waking up to what the EU really is
  • And even Juncker is presenting himself as waking up
  • Brexit or EurIn, how much confidence can we give UKGov for joined-up thinking?  NHS pension schemes offer an example
  • Parliament reports on EU and science: basically, Brexit is irrelevant to science


HM Treasury predicts long-term mega-doom of Brexit
On 18Apr2016, the UK Treasury published an “Analysis of the long-term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives.” (“the Report”) (Summarised by Reuters).


Having skim-read the executive summary, I’m not convinced that the Report is worth reading any further.  The logic is flawed and its outcomes are absurdly exaggerated.


To take one example, one paragraph in the executive summary says:


These estimates are based on the EU as it is today, without further reform. [...]


In other words, HM Treasury does implicitly recognise that the EU is one gigantic counterfactual in constant motion.  In which case, the effort put into the Report looks academic, misdirected and wasted.


Ultimately, the Report uses a series of economic models whose connection with the real world is unprovable and the results are outrageously incredible.  The Report believes that a Brexit would result in a loss of GDP in 15 years by -3.8% to -7.5%  By contrast, Open Europe’s version of the numbers make similar herculean assumptions about the future, yet its results are within a more credible range of -2.2% to 0.8% of GDP.


But as trade is going to happen anyway, whether the UK is in the EU or not, trade remains irrelevant to the issue of Brexit.  The whole Report was flawed at the outset.


The Leave Alliance begins to realise how little changes after leaving the EU

Best summed up by this blog, Semi Partisan Sam.


The Leave Alliance itself, on 23Apr2016, lead with a comment “The globalisation of regulation should be at the heart of the Leave campaign”


US President Obama urges Britain to remain in the EU, but Americans might be waking up to what the EU really is

On 22Apr2016, Obama wrote in the Daily Telegraph that Britain should stay in the EU because the British voice is stronger when it is surrounded (drowned-out?) by other European voices.


In so doing, Obama makes it abundantly clear that American interests are best served by a Britain governed by an outside force (an EU, of sorts).


Obama would have a stronger case if he extolled the USA’s membership of the EU.  But he won’t, because the USA won’t:
  • recognise international law;
  • recognise the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • recognise labour law and labour standards;
  • inhibit itself with market socialism, in particular inappropriate sacrifices (‘welfare on the never-never’ or ‘mortgaging the future’) that market socialism entails;
  • adopt Single Market regulation (TTIP shares many principles in common with the Single Market, but makes governments accountable for their policy choices, which the European ruling elite really despises);
  • curtail the self-aggrandising jurisdiction creep of US state courts to have effects well beyond American borders (see wiki);
  • won’t enforce privacy law as Europeans would like it (as demonstrated by the collapse of the Safe Harbor data processing agreement between US and EU).


So, in substance, Obama recommends a political impediment for Britain that Obama would never accept for America.  Obama would need to have ‘skin in the game’ to have an opinion worthy of further regard.


Additional coverage from the New York Times.


But one comment in the Boston Globe suggests that Americans might be waking up to what the European Union really is, and what it means for American foreign policy.  The author concludes that Brexit should happen.


And even Juncker is presenting himself as waking up

On 20Apr2016, Reuters reported that Juncker himself - he who has consistent contempt for democracy - said that Euroscepticism arose because Brussels sought to interfere with people’s lives.


"Yes it's right we are not very popular when we plead the case for Europe. You are no longer respected in your country if you insist that in the necessity of supra-national bodies."


Perhaps you and your anti-democratic pro-European acolytes should actually make the case for a supra-national body instead of just foisting it on us, no?


Brexit or EurIn, how much confidence can we give UKGov for joined-up thinking?  NHS pension schemes offer an example

On 21Apr2016, a journalist commented in the Telegraph about a lack of joined-up thinking within UKGov.


The article is self-explanatory, but here’s the schema:
  • Policy 1: UKGov reformed pensions so as to preserve a future tax base, crucially capping the size of an individual’s pension fund to £1 million, lest punitive taxes apply on the individual;
  • Policy 2: UKGov poured money into the NHS to hire more general practitioners.
  • Consequence: general practitioners cannot afford to continue working because, if they did so, their pension schemes would blow the £1m limit and suddenly become taxable.


One of the reasons for the departure of GPs from the profession is money. Not a shortage of money, an excess: they have too much of it.


At least, they have too much money in their pensions, for tax purposes anyway.


  • Policy 3: UKGov wants to crack down on tax avoidance.


Did anybody tell policy maker #1 about policy makers #2 and #3?


This demonstrates perfectly why both Brexiteers and EurIneers need to be terrified of an inept UKGov, however the public votes on 23Jun2016.


Parliament reports on EU and science: basically, Brexit is irrelevant to science

UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science and Technology published on 20Apr2016 its report into the relevance and impact of the EU and scientific endeavour in the UK (including funding).


Cutting to the chase, paragraphs 15 and 16 of the report sum it up perfectly (my emphasis added):


15.The UK might wish to become an Associated Country in the event of Brexit. We heard, however, strong views that the UK would lose its influence and roles in setting strategic priorities and in decision-making. If Associated Country status were to be pursued, further investigation would be required in order to ascertain to what extent, and at what expense, the UK’s currently influential position would be diminished. (Paragraph 235)


16.Even those who were most in favour of continued membership of the EU—the university sector—criticised aspects of the UK’s relationship with the EU. We therefore conclude that, in the event that the UK chooses to remain part of the EU, there would be scope for the UK Government to advance reforms to enhance the interactions between the EU and UK science and research. We suggest that a particular areas of focus should be the influence of the EU on the UK’s regulatory environment and the support available for UK businesses in order to facilitate engagement with EU funding schemes. (Paragraph 250)

As is always the case with the English, it’s not what they say that matters.  It’s what they don’t say.


Translation:


When the report says...
It means...
If Associated Country status were to be pursued, further investigation would be required
We have no idea what this might mean for anything, or even whether it’s relevant.  In other words, we don’t know.
there would be scope for the UK Government to advance reforms
There is opportunity, as there always is, but we see no guarantee that we can exploit such opportunities.  In other words, we don’t know.


In other words, Brexit is wholly irrelevant to science in much the same that that Brexit is irrelevant to trade.  Science will continue to happen, just as trade does, irrespective of the EU.

No comments:

Post a Comment