EUROPE: Disputing the various claims
I read with interest the letters on the topic of Europe.
One of your correspondents seems to be unaware that the Australian Government has recently said that it would prefer Britain to remain in the European Union.
So far as I am aware, there is no Commonwealth country which is anxious to restore special economic links with Britain.
There would seem to be no reason to suppose that leaving the EU would make it easier for us to trade with the rest of the world, or that it would cause our economy to grow significantly more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.
The general view of reputable economists is that our future rate of economic growth is unlikely to be much affected one way or the other.
Leaving the EU would, however, have a marked adverse impact on some sectors of our economy and a beneficial impact on others.
The high level of immigration from Eastern European countries in recent years is the consequence of agreements freely entered into by our own Government during the 1990s in the course of negotiations where it had an absolute veto.
These agreements gave our Government the option to impose “transitional arrangements”, which could have been used to reduce this immigration very substantially. However, early in the present century our Government chose not to exercise this option.
Some prominent supporters of departure from the EU are not anxious to reduce total immigration, but rather to increase the level of immigration from non-EU countries, such as India.
I see that another of your correspondents suggests that British supermarkets are in the main controlled from the European mainland; this is not the case, particularly if one makes the comparison on the basis of turnover. He also claims the ability to predict future levels of bureaucracy, including the size of the forms which will have to be completed then.