The LibDem leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, says he is going to grasp the nettle and launch an 'aggressive' pro-EU membership campaign in the New Year.
The Daily Mail says that he will use his New Year address to take the message to the people that only the LibDems are 'fully committed' to the UK remaining within the EU. This is being put forward as a direct response to the UKIP threat.
A LibDem 'source' is also quoted as saying that 'Between March and May the Liberal Democrats will fight an unashamedly pro-European campaign as the party of "in"'.
The problem for Nick Clegg though is that the doubts in the minds of the people over the benefits of UK membership of the EU is not the result of UKIP existing; rather it is that the doubts are there anyway and UKIP has just articulated them. The electorate is also getting used to the 'benefits' of EU membership being thrust down its throat. A couple that spring to mind (both comprehensively debunked) are that half of UK trade is conducted with the EU and the other that three million jobs are at risk if we leave.
Expect these and others (some outlined below) to be regurgitated by Nick Clegg as he spreads his scaremongering whilst doing his rounds of schools and factories in the months leading up to the European elections in May 2014.
The truth about UK trade is that approximately half of our exports go to the EU. As we export only 30 percent of our trade the truth is that only 15 percent of our trade actually heads towards the EU. Then, when you take into account the Rotterdam/Antwerp effect (where about ten percent of the exports going to the EU then go on directly to countries outside of the EU), the figure could be closer to 16.5 percent to the rest of the world and 13.5 percent to the EU. Then considering that we run a trade deficit with the EU (they sell us more than we sell to them) do you think that trade would stop flowing?
As for the 3 million jobs myth just read this by Janice Atkinson in the Huffington Post.
There are also other false claims about the EU:
• The EU preserved the peace in Europe – no, it was NATO that did the heavy lifting here, together with with the United Nations peacekeepers in countries like the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.
• Britain benefits from EU membership – how can it if we are not only buying more from the EU than they buy from us but also if the UK is a net contributor in terms of the EU budget (to the tune of £billions a year).
• The UK would lose clout in the world – no, while we are in the EU the Union does the talking for us, if we leave then we talk for ourselves, that is what influence means.
• The UK needs the EU in order to survive economically – well, just take a look at recent events and how much money we have poured in and ask who actually needs who?
Nick Clegg will need to find some new reasons for us to stay in or he's not going to convince anyone, here's some tips:
• It is the only way to negotiate with the EU, if we leave we won't be able to. Just look at countries outside of the EU like poor old Switzerland and Norway as well as China and India.
• We need the EU to run our (sorry, the common) fishing grounds otherwise they would be totally ruined and our fishermen put out of work.
• If we leave, the Channel Tunnel will be filled with concrete, all the ferries grounded and scrapped, flights will no longer go to and from the EU. Mercedes, BMW, Renault, Citroen and Alfa Romeo will no longer sell cars to us. Where would we buy our white goods from?
• The dangerous use of cinnamon would go unchecked.
• All we need to do is renegotiate our position within the EU, not leave it. We successfully negotiated away 20 percent of our CAP rebate didn't we and could, with a strong stance, negotiate away the rest. That would then be a benchmark for our future attempts at treaty renegotiation – i.e. continuing to give more than we receive.
• The NHS will cease to function overnight and all our fruit and veg will rot in the fields as EU immigrants queue up to leave. And how are we going to deal with all those returning expats kicked out of the EU?
• Remaining in the EU will also, given time, allow us to pass on the worries of dealing with our own foreign affairs and defence – we're some way along that path now anyway.
• Then hopefully the burdensome responsibility of dealing with our own tax affairs, benefits and health systems can be relinquished – once again the building blocks are already paid for and being put in place.
• Lastly, when we have taken on the stability of the Euro and got rid of the millstone that is Sterling and bothering about interest rates, we can get on with being a powerful substate of the European Union. Our politicians in Westminster can then get on with the job of running our international country without all the worries of ….. well, running an international country.
You know it makes sense.