LETTER: Access to the biggest market

Edward Thomas’s letter [March 4] called for facts but they were notably absent from his own letter apart from Germany’s £35 billion trade surplus with the UK. There is of course a good reason for that surplus, which is that Germany industry makes products that we Brits like to buy whereas we unfortunately have not been able to return the compliment. In particular I don’t think the car industry supports his case very well.

The simple fact is that Germany’s premium car makers have gone from strength to strength (and for decades absorbed the difficulties of a constantly appreciating German deutschmark) because they make cars that consumers desire and are prepared to pay a premium for. I think it is the mass market Japanese car producers located in the UK who will have most to fear from the potential introduction of tariffs between the UK and the EU. But let us leave opinion aside and introduce a few facts into the debate:

1. The markets clearly don’t agree with Ruth Lea, who may or may not be ‘one of the finest’ but the majority of her fellow professionals do not agree with her. The instant marking down of the pound after Boris Johnson joined the ‘leave’ campaign illustrates that.

2. Leaders of major foreign countries including the United States, but with the exception of Mr Putin, urge Britain to remain in the EU (in the words of the immortal Robbie Burns: ‘Would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us’). I trust the leave campaign feel that they in good company.

3. Membership of the EU gives us unfettered access to the largest single market in the world.

4. Membership of the EU gives us influence on the decisions taken by the EU.

5. Nobody but nobody knows precisely what deal we would be able to negotiate in the event of a Brexit. At the very least the discussions will be acrimonious.

6. I did not say that I accepted John Redmond’s estimate of the cost of the UK’s contribution to the EU membership and, in fact, it is not shared by Caroline Ansell, who in her worthy attempt to provide facts about the EU quotes the substantially lower figure of £23 million per day – a figure that is way below what we give away each year in foreign aid.

Finally, straying a little from facts, it is a virtual certainty that the SNP will insist on another independence referendum in the event of a Brexit with every likelihood that they would win the second time round. Is this ‘not-so-Great Britain’ the sort of post-Brexit paradise of which Mr Thomas dreams?

Hugh Ball

Willingdon Park Drive

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