Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 19 May 2016


I took part in 3 debates on the EU last Friday with plenty more to come. I strongly support robust debate as we move towards the most important decision this country will make since 1975.

But I do not appreciate it when participants peddle blatant myths. It is one thing to look ahead and project what might happen – people will have different views. That is legitimate. But it is quite another to mislead people over things that are happening now. Here are three myths that need to be blown out of the water.

Myth 1: Our EU membership is costing £350 million per week and if we leave the EU we could spend it all on the NHS.  Nonsense. We pay about £19 billion pa gross to the EU, but after the rebate won by Mrs Thatcher and the amount spent by the EU in the UK (not least on farming), this figure is reduced to roughly £8 billion. This is essentially our membership fee to the single market which has brought untold wealth to our country. Even if we left the EU we would still have to pay to be part of the single market (like Norway does) and almost certainly this would exceed £9 billion. Not a penny more to spend on the NHS.

Myth 2: Turkey is about to join the EU and we will have another 72 million people surging over here claiming benefits. Rubbish. Turkish entry into the EU was being mooted when I was first elected in 1992, and they are no closer now than they were then. If it ever happens, it is still decades away, as they are simply not ready. Furthermore, every country has a veto on this matter and if Greece or Germany does not exercise it, the UK might well do so.

Myth 3: Britain imports more from Europe than we export (so they would have to give us a sweetheart deal). Poppycock. In goods and services (bearing in mind that the City of London is such a strong centre for financial services) the EU buys £21 billion more from the UK than we buy from them. Of everything we sell abroad, 44% goes to the EU. Of everything they export less than 8% comes to us. There will be no special trade deal for us.

How you vote is up to you – but please vote on an informed basis and not on the basis of myths.

posted by Gary @ 10:00