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Leavers Confuse Fear and Risk

February 29, 2016 1:17 PM
By Nick Hopkinson
Nick Hopkinson

Nick Hopkinson, Chair of the Liberal Democrat European Group

The various Leave campaigns are beginning to sound like a broken record. Every time the Remain campaign makes a valid point or argument, their simplistic standard media rebuttal is the Remain campaign is 'scaremongering' or engaging in "Project Fear'.

The Remain campaign, various city institutions, independent commentators and today the Cabinet Office have all produced well considered studies and arguments pointing out the risks of leaving the EU.

Risk analysis and risk management are well established activities of any well run business. Firms know they ignore risks at their own peril. So why is it wrong for the Remain campaign, the government and other institutions to point out the risks of leaving the EU?

The Leavers aim to confuse risk with fear. The leavers also want to cover up the fact that their case for leaving the EU is fundamentally flawed, not least because they still can't decide amongst themselves what out looks like. The Leavers wishfully argue that a future outside the EU would be bright yet we have yet to hear why and how. They say, for example, we can easily conclude free trade agreements. But where is the evidence? Can they name one country which has declared it will rush to do a free trade agreement with us simply because we are suddenly more attractive outside the EU?

In the absence of any credible policies and evidence of what out looks like, we must wonder who are the real scaremongers? Who tells us the EU is some gargantuan superstate and conveniently forget to tell us it costs only 0.5% of the tax we pay and employs only 32,000 employees, the same size as Leeds Town Council?

If Leave is to convince, they must provide well thought out policies and detail for the terms of trade, regulatory and institutional arrangements they are seeking in their negotiations to leave the EU. They must also assure us that their decade long negotiations will succeed in achieving their objectives. The fact is the Leavers can't and probably won't.

Nick Hopkinson is Chair of the Liberal Democrat European Group