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Thursday 19 July 2012

The Export Mirage

The hostility to the EU displayed as a default value by so many parts of the Fourth Estate has been illustrated magnificently today as figures have been released showing that, for a three month period, the UK exported more to countries outside the EU than to those within it. Here, one swallow has made all summers arrive together, and an orgy of knocking copy has ensued.

Particularly keen to report the news has been the Express, where anti-EU front pages had been in short supply recently, with “Miracle Cure” and weather conditions being preferred (which is, no doubt, not at all connected with Dirty Des sending yet more unfortunate hacks down the road because his Health Lottery isn’t doing so well). “Proof We Don’t Need To Be In EU” it proclaimed.

This meant, according to Alison Little, that “Britain sent a defiant message to Europe yesterday”. Whatever. But Des’ finest were not the only ones taking this angle: over at Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue himself, the headline thundered “A new world of hope beyond the statist EU”, managing to miss the fact that any nation state is by definition statist.

So if the UK left the EU we would go from being a statist member of a club to being a statist non-member. But, as the man said, there’s more: “In the depths of economic gloom comes a spark of hope” readers are told. But, like the Express, the Mail does not ask the more obvious question, which is whether the destination of our exports is a clinching reason for being part of the EU.

Let’s put it very bluntly: some of the UK’s most significant exporters are here at least in part because we are in the EU. Why else would we now have several major automotive players in the UK? Do the editors of the Mail and Express believe that Nissan, Toyota, Honda, BMW, VW, Tata Group, General Motors and Volvo just happened to put their money into UK manufacture on some kind of whim?

And would those editors care to gamble with the future of those operations, and those of their suppliers and employees? Moreover, what of the City of London, and its dominance in financial services? Does the assembled hackery think that, especially after recent scandals, there will be no move out of the UK, especially to Frankfurt am Main, if we leave the EU?

It will take rather more than Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, reading from his book of pre-prepared UKIP one-liners, or Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell (“senior” Tory MP my arse) creatively reinterpreting history, to gloss over the fact that this is, yet again, slanted and selective journalism pretending to be news coverage, and wouldn’t last beyond the first talk of car plants going to Spain or Portugal.

But it keeps the readers frightened and sells papers, so that’s all right, then.


Unknown said...

Also, if the UK *did* leave the EU we'd still end up following EU law for practical reasons, yet would have no say in them, i.e. like Norway/Iceland/Switzerland/Lichtenstein do now

Neil said...

Ah but Gareth, if we left we could be rich just like Switzerland or Lichtenstein! (as though they'd let us if we tried)