Myths

There are many myths about the EU and Brexit.

Click below to read a document from the Labour Campaign for the Single Market and Open Britain to learn more about the so-called ‘Lexit’ myths.

AUSTERITY

MYTH:

Leaving the Single Market and Customs Union will allow a future Labour government to end austerity.

REALITY:

Austerity in the UK is a political choice, made by the Tory and SNP governments, and has nothing to do with the EU or Single Market rules. In fact, the reverse is true. Leaving the Single Market and Customs Union will cause an economic loss which will reduce tax receipts and therefore risks an extension or intensification of austerity.

STATE AID

MYTH:

The Single Market’s rules on state aid restrict the ability of the UK government to provide support to key industries. They also undermine public ownership through encouraging competition. If Britain leaves the Single Market, the next Labour government will be free from state aid rules and will be able to implement a proper industrial strategy.

REALITY:

Whether we are in or out of the Single Market, there is no escaping some form of state aid rules. Anti-subsidy rules will apply even if we traded solely on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and they will be a feature of any but the most basic trade agreement with the EU, which doesn’t like to offer access to its markets to subsidised competitors. However, Britain and Scotland can have an active industrial strategy, including providing support to companies, sectors and regions, and be a member of the Single Market, as other European countries have demonstrated. The EU’s state aid rules shape how support can be given, not whether it can be given.

scotrail

RENATIONALISATION

MYTH:

The rules of the Single Market prevent the UK government from taking public ownership of the railways and from nationalising key industries. Furthermore, they apply pressure on national governments to privatise services and industries that are currently under national control.

REALITY:

The rules of the Single Market do not prevent public ownership. Indeed, national governments across the continent have ownership stakes in many sectors including energy, rail and water companies. It is also untrue to argue that Single Market membership would prevent nationalisation of the railways or of already privatised companies, or indeed of setting up new state-owned companies. Contrary to some claims, compensation for nationalisation is a matter for UK law informed by the European Convention of Human Rights - not EU law. So, the Single Market is not an impediment to a future Labour government renationalising the railways or other key industries.

IMMIGRATION

MYTH:

Freedom of movement allows no control over who comes into the country, and results in pressures on wages and public services.

REALITY:

The UK currently controls immigration from countries which account for 90 per cent of the world's population. There is a more relaxed system in operation for people who wish to come to the UK from other European countries. In return, British citizens have the same rights to travel and settle in Europe.

Some argue that immigration from the EU has lowered wages for UK workers. Every single study by economists have shown that this is simply not true. The impact on wages is almost zero and the benefits of immigration to our economy and public services are massive. While many voters are angry about immigration it is the job of the Labour Party to challenge anti-immigrant sentiment, not to repeat it. Instead of blaming immigrants and shutting the door we should be cracking down on bad employers and enforcing the minimum wage.

NHS_Scotland

NHS

MYTH:

By leaving the Single Market we will save vast amounts of money which we can then spend on the NHS instead. Furthermore, the EU’s free trade agenda – and TTIP in particular – risks leading to privatisation.

REALITY:

Don’t trust what Boris Johnson writes on the side of a bus. The brutal reality is that Brexit is already depleting the NHS of staff, finances and frameworks of collaboration. Many of those leading Brexit have a long record of being pro-privatisation. An NHS broken by underfunding and Brexit is their opportunity. In Scotland, the NHS is fully devolved to the Scottish Government, but is under-resourced by the SNP.

EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

MYTH:

The extent to which the rules of the Single Market protect workers’ rights is overstated, and any progress that was made towards creating a ‘Social Europe’ is now being rapidly eroded.

REALITY:

Britain’s membership of the Single Market has been overwhelmingly positive for the rights of workers, driving up standards in the UK and preventing a race to the bottom across the continent. It has provided a vital bulwark against successive governments that wished to scrap key protections.

Whilst there is still much more to be done, the Single Market is continually being strengthened, not least through the steps now being taken to stamp out the undercutting of workers and clamp down on companies that do not play by the rules. Leaving would eventually result in a divergence in standards, creating an unlevel playing field and paving the way for this or any future UK government to scrap key protections.

 

ENVIRONMENT

MYTH:

The development of the Single Market has done more harm than good to the natural world and the EU’s environmental achievements are overstated. The UK can be more successful in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development if we leave the Single Market and have the freedom to develop our own policies.

REALITY:

The EU has been an overwhelmingly positive force for the environment - strengthening legislation, preventing a race to the bottom and driving forward collective action on climate change. The framework of rules and regulations underpinning the Single Market is not, as some on the left have argued, a threat to the environment, but rather our best means of protecting it. Compounding the result of the referendum by choosing to leave the Single Market would be a mistake with terrible consequences for our ability to preserve the natural world.