POLITICALLY SPEAKING: Alex Story on the EU referendum campaign

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The EU referendum campaign is now hotting up and, quite disgracefully, the government used £9.3M of your money to send out what has now amusingly been dubbed Juncker Mail, named after the EU Commission president John Claude Juncker.

I don’t think anyone would have objected had it given both sides of the argument, but it didn’t. It was a blatant attempt to gain an advantage for the remain camp, in the face of the electoral commission’s advice, and which I suspect has backfired.

This week started with a 200 page report from the Treasury, which, whilst Mr Osborne chose to promote the conclusions of it on Radio 4, bright and early on Monday morning, wasn’t actually available to us mere mortals until later in the day. This made it difficult for anyone to comment, or in any way take issue with what Mr Osborne was saying, until the story had been doing the rounds for several hours.

It should be noted that George Osborne has never denied being pro-EU and, until recently, he was also in favour of joining the Euro.

Of course it didn’t take long for this whole report to be shown for the nonsense it was, once people got a hold of a copy. Fullfact.org, an entirely independent analysis website, basically advised taking the report with a pinch of salt.

The report made all kinds of assumptions in its forecast, setting out on the premise that there would be no benefits whatever from leaving the EU; only detriment, which is an absurd notion. For some strange reason, it even decided that the Suez canal might close? Maybe it will, but not because of Brexit.

This was followed by a second report from another entirely independent organisation, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

This report, from a highly respected body, concluded that whilst Brexit would result in an initial downturn, it would quickly be followed by strong growth if the Brexit agreement was one which kept us in the single market, which it almost inevitably would, because it is in nobody’s interest to negotiate a deal where we wouldn’t have single market access.

As Dan Hannan MEP always likes to point out, the single market goes from Iceland to Turkey and the only European countries that don’t have a deal with it are Russia and Belarus.

The key to this upturn in economic activity is based on new free trade deals that Brexit would allow us to strike with third parties and which our current EU membership prohibits. Currently all such deals have to be negotiated for us by the EU and the fact of it is, that they aren’t very expeditious in doing it, no doubt because there are 28 countries all vying to get what they want included in it. The EU took something like six years to negotiate a deal with Singapore, while Norway did one in around 16 months.

Analysis has shown that there is little practical difference between the deal Norway got and the one the EU laboured over, despite the remainers relentless claim that size matters. When it comes to treaty negotiation it quite clearly doesn’t.

Follow Alex at @alexpstory