While the usual suspects in the British press tell their readers that the EU is some kind of economic basket case, hampered by all those regulations that we are set to get rid of in order to regain the mythical freedom that we never lost in the first place, news has arrived on Zelo Street that at least one EU member state has set up a small Government department with the brief of getting UK-based businesses to relocate there.
And that department may be about to record its first success, not that our free and fearless press wants you to know about it. Our not at all unelected Prime Minister says that the nation is coming together after last year’s referendum vote; thus it must not only be true, but also rigorously promoted and applauded. What is more to the point is that other EU countries are coming together to take jobs off us - and right now.
We know this as two Europe-wide agencies, the European banking and medicines agencies, are set to leave Britain, with the “beauty contest” of countries and capitals wanting to host them scheduled to begin in the next fortnight. As has been reported, “Cities such as Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam and Paris are competing to take the agencies, which are regarded as among the EU’s crown jewels”. Maybe Madrid as well.
Worse, “Britain failed to secure the backing of any of the 27 countries for its case that trade talks should start early in the two years of negotiations allowed by article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The position will be announced at a Brussels summit on 29 April … diplomats concluded unanimously that the European commission was right to block any talks about a future comprehensive trade deal until the UK agrees to settle its divorce bill – which some estimate could be as high as €60bn – and comes to a settlement on the rights of EU citizens”. And there is worse news for all those running down the EU.
All this is happening with a backdrop of consistent growth across the Eurozone - yes, that single currency area that is supposed to destroy it, or so the press would have us believe. “The eurozone economy has now posted 14 consecutive quarters of growth, the unemployment rate has returned into single digits, and economic sentiment has reached its highest level in six years” told the FT recently, pausing to twist the knife.
How so? “The numbers contrast with common depictions of the eurozone economy as stagnant, sclerotic and perennially under performing … job creation for the eurozone accelerated to a near nine-year record in January, while the rate of output growth maintained a 5½-year high”. And the Pink ‘Un wasn’t finished yet.
“Despite deep concerns about Italian banks and Greece’s long-running financial crisis, eurozone growth in the fourth quarter of last year was estimated at 0.5 per cent, faster than the US rate. For 2016 as a whole, growth in the eurozone outpaced that in the US by 1.7 per cent to 1.6 per cent”. Shome bashket cashe, as Winshton might have observed.
David Davis, in Ron Hopeful mode, wants everyone to believe that the European banking and medicines agencies will not have to leave Canary Wharf. But if we’re not in the EU, why should they stay? And when they go, who is going to believe his, and his Government’s, next promise on Brexit? We were warned - now it’s happening.