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Derision for Liam Fox as he’s knocked out of race to lead World Trade Organisation

Liam Fox: bye bye.

Tory joke candidate Liam Fox has been knocked out of the race to become director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

According to the Torygraph, the former international trade secretary was eliminated before the last of three rounds to replace Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down a year earlier than expected at the end of August, so

Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee will go head-to-head to become the trade body’s first female director-general

The reaction has been what you might expect, considering the person involved.

Fox was forced out of an early David Cameron cabinet for letting a friend of his, Adam Werrity, into confidential defence meetings and taking him on foreign junkets.

He has since crept back into Tory cabinets and was Theresa May’s International Trade secretary.

But he is widely held to be another inept Tory fool.

So the reaction to his WTO failure was clear:

Despite his abject ineptitude, Fox seems to be one of the survivors of the modern Tory Party, having managed to hang on in Parliament and in government circles for the last 10 years and more.

Let us hope this finishes him off and he retires to the obscurity he so richly deserves.

Source: Liam Fox knocked out of race to lead World Trade Organisation

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Well, Boris Johnson, you’ve caused the UK’s biggest recession ever. Will you call that ‘world-beating’ too?

Boris Johnson’s government has got into the annoying habit of calling everything it does “world-beating”.

We’ve had “world-beating” PPE procurement (with hundreds of millions spent on equipment that can’t be used).

There was a “world-beating” Covid-19 track and trace app (that failed utterly and has been withdrawn).

Its replacement was also a “world-beating” privatised track and trace system (that has been scaled down in ignominious failure).

Now, at long last, it seems Johnson has a couple of statistics that he can genuinely describe as “world-beating”.

Are you ready?

The UK is now in the deepest economic recession it has ever recorded, and the worst of all the G7 countries.

And:

The UK’s Covid-19 death rates is the worst in the world.

The two are linked, of course, by Johnson’s failure to engage with the threat of Covid-19 when he was warned about it in November 2019; if he had taken appropriate steps, bringing in the equipment needed to treat the disease well in advance of the need to use it and locking down the country hard for the few weeks that would have been necessary to control the outbreak in the UK and stop infected people from bringing it in from outside, fewer people would have died and the economy would have recovered by now. Look at New Zealand for evidence of that.

It makes Johnson’s words at the start of the year ring hollow:

Remember: when he tweeted this, he had already been warned about Covid-19 and had ignored those warnings.

Now – well, let’s look at the information:

Johnson has guided the UK into the deepest recession since records began. The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic prosperity, fell in the second quarter by 20.4 per cent compared with the previous three months – the biggest quarterly decline since comparable records began in 1955.

Oh – and GDP had declined by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter, so this represents a decline followed by a plummet.

The economic calamity was more than double the 10.6 per cent fall in the US over the same period and also surpassed declines in France, Germany and Italy among G7 nations that have reported second-quarter figures so far. Canada and Japan have yet to publish second-quarter data but are not expected to record greater falls than Britain. “World-beating”?

Looking at the details, the services sector, including hotels, restaurants and finance, recorded a 19.9 per cent drop, and production (manufacturing, mining and energy) fell by 16.9 per cent.

Despite having been kept open by Johnson, construction fell by a whopping 35 per cent.

Spending – by households and businesses – declined by a quarter because people simply didn’t have the money. It’s interesting to note that spending fell by five per cent more than income for those who had been furloughed.

The Guardian‘s report seems to lay the blame on Johnson:

After resisting the launch of lockdown controls until later than other countries around the world and relaxing them at a slower pace, the ONS said the UK had plunged into the deepest decline of any G7 nation in the second quarter.

And other commentators aren’t holding back, either:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1293481430262185986

The figures show that GDP has fallen to 2003 levels – 17 years lost due to Tory incompetence.

The good news is that the recession is likely to be the shortest in history, as economic activity has picked up since June, when Johnson began to allow businesses to reopen.

The bad news is that there are predictions of a new wave of coronavirus infections and deaths – already the numbers are worsening:

So the recovery may be extremely short-lived.

And don’t forget that in four-and-a-half months the full effect of Brexit will hit the UK, when the country will impose on itself the equivalent of enormous economic sanctions because racists like Boris Johnson lied to us that foreigners were interfering in our lives:

No doubt the collapse that results in 2021 will be “world-beating” too.

Given all of the above, I can only echo the words of Peter Stefanovic:

Is it any wonder Boris Johnson is trying to distract us by pointing his finger at desperate migrants in dinghies?

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Boris’s Brexit border plans could make UK a laughing-stock, says MP best-known for obsession with cheese

Liz Truss: the queen of cheese is warning that Boris Johnson’s Brexit will cause serious problems.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit border plans could break international trading rules, risk the UK’s international credibility, and lead to smuggling from the European Union, it has been alleged.

And just so you know this is a serious matter, the warning comes in a leaked letter written by the minister best-known – and ridiculed – for her own unnatural obsession with cheese.

Liz Truss – for it was she – outlined four “key areas of concerns” [sic] about the government’s plans to leave EU trading and custom rules at the end of 2020, in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove.

Here’s UK Business Insider:

Truss said the plans could create a series of logistical, political, and reputational risks for the government, including:

  • A legal challenge from the World Trade Organisation.
  • Increased smuggling from the EU if not all UK ports are ready to carry out checks.
  • Concerns over the union if EU tariffs are applied to all goods heading to Northern Ireland by “default.”
  • The undermining of the UK’s international trade policy.

The whole is likely to make the UK even more of an international laughing-stock than it is now – and that’s frankly amazing because other nations have been laughing at us for years.

They can see what happens when a nation falls into neoliberal decline for more than 40 years.

By the end, it has no public services to call its own, no manufacturing industry, no trading partners, no talent and no credibility.

And the members of the Tory government are prime examples of the philosophy that led to this collapse.

Source: Leaked Liz Truss letter says Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans risk legal challenge – Business Insider

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Whose fault is it that people in the UK have the lowest state pension in the developed world?

Firstly: it isn’t news that the UK pension is the lowest in the developed world. The OECD has been telling us this since at least 2017.

The statistic has come to light again because there is pressure to improve the situation in the 2020 Budget, due to be announced very soon.

It is a forlorn hope.

In case everybody has forgotten, the government has been increasing the pension age over the last few years – and will continue to do so well into the future – because it doesn’t have enough cash to pay everybody currently eligible.

That’s what the WASPI protests have been about – the fact that the government suddenly forced them to wait periods of several years in some cases, putting them severely out-of-pocket.

But here’s the operative question: if all the other countries in the developed world can pay more, why can’t the fifth-largest economy in the whole world?

Doesn’t it indicate that our leaders for the last several decades – going back to… I don’t know… 1979 at least – have squandered our cash on stupid things like tax breaks for people who are obscenely rich, when they should have been investing it in our future?

Doesn’t it indicate that, as a certain billboard campaign puts it, we have been led by donkeys?

The people ultimately responsible were called Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May and Johnson.

Isn’t it time we laid the blame where it’s due and demanded sensible redress for their stupidity?

Source: UK pensioners receive the lowest state pension in the developed world – Welfare Weekly

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Tory economic policies at work: Britain falls another place in world rankings

Theresa May visiting India last year. Who knows? She may have been buying shares in Indian companies; people like her know how to land on their feet [Image: Getty].

This is the result of Conservative economics; they simply don’t know how to run a country.

All that tommyrot about the nation’s economy being like a household budget was an indication of the way the wind was blowing.

But those of us who knew it was nonsense didn’t expect the Tories themselves to believe it.

Well, it seems they do.

And Brexit will make matters worse – the unforeseen and unwanted result of an internal squabble within the Conservative Party.

It will weaken the economy to an extent we do not yet know. The prediction in the Mirror article, quoted below, is that it won’t be as bad as many expect and the UK will bounce back above France (while remaining below India), to be the world’s number six economy again.

But you’d be a fool to expect that under a Conservative government.

India has leapfrogged Britain and France to become the world’s fifth biggest economy.

The Asian giant seized the spot as the UK prepares for Brexit, according to the 2018 World Economic League Table.

Source: Britain falls another place in world economic rankings to seventh as India soars – Mirror Online


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Jeremy Hunt takes to twitter to tout latest NHS failures

We really need a new title for a Conservative Health Secretary. He’s not responsible for the health service any more – the Health and Social Care Act 2012 put an end to that – so perhaps ‘Health Cheerleader’ would be a better title?

He has certainly been cheerleading for his new part-privatised NHS over the past few days, with a series of tweets under the banner “The NHS as you know it”. But do any of his claims stack up?

First up, on December 28, was his claim that the number of operations performed on behalf of the NHS was up by “one million”, with the number of cancelled operations stable (that means it hasn’t gone up or down). Here are the graphs:

150105hunt1

The trouble is, the number of operations clearly hasn’t increased by a million since the Coalition took power. The graph shows Q2 data only. It clearly shows that operations in that quarter stalled for three years at the same level (after a sustained period of improvement under Labour) and the number currently taking place suggests only a continuation of the trend under the previous government.

Figures for Q2 2014 are only 131,389 higher than Q2 2010. Readers are apparently being asked to assume similar or higher figures in order to make Hunt’s “one million” but with a quarterly figure of roughly 132,000 there’s still nearly half a million operations missing.

Verdict: FAIL.

Next, on January 4, Hunt claimed his NHS had 850,000 more operations every year than under Labour (we’ve already debunked that one), 13,000 more “clinical staff” and was rated “top in world”. Here’s his graph:

150105hunt3

Obviously he’s wrong to claim credit for new clinical staff, if he means doctors – all of them would have had to begin training after May 2010 when the Coalition came into office and it takes longer than four-and-a-half years to train a doctor.

Then, if you look at the small print on the graph, its sources relate to information running up to 2013, when Conservative-led changes to the health service had only just begun to be felt.

The comments include one from Labour Left’s Dr Eoin Clarke asking Hunt to explain why complaints about the NHS have increased by 70 per cent since the Tories took over, while patient satisfaction fell by a record amount (from a previous record high under Labour). No answer was forthcoming.

Verdict: FAIL.

Next, again on January 4, Hunt claimed: “Cancer tests up 51% compared to Lab & 700,000 more treated 4 cancer this parliament”. He was instantly berated by commenters for using “4” instead of “for” (this writer would take issue with “compared to” as well – it’s “compared with”). Verdict: Extra FAIL.

In terms of the information – here’s the graph:

150105hunt4

But Eoin Clarke (again) asked why waiting lists are at a six-year high and Cancer Research UK has said funding has been cut by four per cent, in real terms.

And Chris Manners pointed out, “I wasn’t aware sending lots of people for cancer tests was an end in itself.”

Next – January 4 again:

150105hunt5

This one is easily debunked – and was, by commenters on Twitter, as follows:

Thig ar Latha: “And it’s about an hour of training then registering yourself online. My staff have done it.”

This is corroborated by Millsy: “Dementia awareness? It’s an hour lecture… That’s not training.”

Ash Sohoye adds an extra layer: “Most of the dementia training you spk of paid for by charitable giving not NHS.”

Gerry suggests an ulterior motive: “And reason you incentivise GP to diagnose early dementia – to ensure patient sells whatever they own to fund their future care. Diagnosed dementia data will be available to private providers to forward plan services in areas of demand to maximise profit. As for the training – a cosmetic exercise to cover your real dementia objective – making profit from vulnerable patients.”

(Finally, there’s this comment from Ermintrude: “And how much social care funding has been pulled to support ppl with dementia which leads to longer hospital stays?” – which is on a tangent to the discussion but relevant to NHS users in Wales, where the Labour Assembly Government regularly receives flak for its choices. With funding from Westminster decreasing by 10 per cent per year, the Assembly has chosen to prioritise social care, in order to reduce the length of hospital stays. This is a long-term plan, however, meaning Tory shills have taken the opportunity to lay into Labour even further by claiming the strategy has been ineffective. Time will tell.)

Verdict: FAIL.

Next – on January 4:

150105hunt6

Yes, cancer survival rates are improving, according to a trend set by the NHS under the previous Labour government. Where is the ‘boost’ effect of support from this Cancer Drugs Fund?

Perhaps it has yet to appear. But then, Jeremy shouldn’t be mentioning it with these results, should he?

And, as Scott Wainwright points out on Twitter, isn’t Hunt [corruptly] selling off cancer treatment to organisations that donate money to the Conservative Party?

Verdict: Stupid FAIL.

Finally – also on January 4: “£2bn of additional funding for the frontline next year, backed by a strong economy.”

150105hunt7

Vox Political has already debunked this but it’s worth going over the facts, starting with the claim about this money being “backed by a strong economy”: None of this funding has anything to do with economic growth and it isn’t even new.

This blog quoted BBC correspondent Louise Stewart, who said £1.3 billion “would be found from savings in other government departments.” Not new money, then. “The remaining £700m will come from the existing Department of Health budget and will be put into front line.” Again, not new money. And none of it has been made possible by any economic growth – the same VP article points out that Income Tax receipts are only just around their pre-crash high.

Verdict: Not only a FAIL; also a LIE.

So that’s “The NHS as you know it” under Jeremy Hunt: Statistics abused, problems ignored, ulterior motives and outright lies.

Let’s end on something a little more factual. These images from the Labour Party were all supported by the line: “The NHS as you know it cannot survive five more years of David Cameron”.

150105NHS1 150105NHS2 150105NHS3 150105NHS4

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Is the Coalition progressive or are the spin doctors out again?

Spin doctor? Gove is more like a washing machine on 'slow rinse'.

Spin doctor? Gove is more like a washing machine on ‘slow rinse’.

“In these days it is hard to differentiate between reality and the work of spin doctors, and no more so evident in these days with 6 months to go before we go to the polls to elect a new government,” according to a blog new to Vox Political called Through a Carer’s Eyes.

“Especially evident is the fact that a spin doctor or Public Relations Specialist is in residence at 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister.

“A spin doctor is defined as: ‘a spokesperson employed to give a favorable interpretation of events to the media, esp. on behalf of a political party.’ It doesn’t say truthful interpretation.”

Absolutely correct, but it isn’t just Cameron putting a spin on events. Here’s – of all people – Michael Gove!

On the BBC’s Newsnight yesterday, Gove asked viewers to believe that the Conservative Party hadn’t spent the previous week saying it was pulling out all the stops to achieve victory against former Tory – now UKIP – MP Mark Reckless; instead he told us the prediction had been a 15 per cent lead for UKIP that he wanted us to think the Tories had prevented.

Bravo, Michael. You must believe you are single-handedly changing reality. And why not? In his mind, he single-handedly changed the facts about World War One a few months ago; many people believe he has ambitions to be the next Tory leader and single-handedly turn the clock back 90 years.

As we’ve mentioned the office of the prime minister, let’s see what Gove had to say about the incumbent, David Cameron: “People are all-too-well aware of the difference between a prime minister who has led this country through tough times and whose stature has been augmented during that period, and a leader of the Opposition who, during his tenure, has actually… you know… found the public moving away from him, just at the point when he should be rallying their support.”

Seriously? David Cameron? The most useless excuse for a national leader since Neville Chamberlain? The man whose standing amongst other national leaders, as evidenced by his performance at international summits, would have been improved if he had stayed at home? The man whose ‘reforms’ have corrupted Parliament to make it legal for money to be taken away from the poorest and given to rich businesspeople instead, so that they will donate some of that cash to the Conservative Party? The man who is such a weak leader he cannot even sack his worst-performing minister, Iain Duncan Smith?

If he had the stature of a gnome to start with, then now he has the stature of a dung beetle.

Here’s the icing on the cake. According to Gove: “I think that this government has been, er… one of the most, er… successfully progressive governments in our lifetime.”

He was referring to the legalisation of gay marriage (for example), but that doesn’t make the Coalition progressive. It means Tory leaders have realised that throwing a bone or two at the masses will make them think they are achieving real societal gain, while all it is really doing is hiding the massive destruction of our society’s structure that has been taking place alongside it.

In fact, this has been the most REgressive government Britons have had to suffer for the last century, at least.

How sad for Gove that the British people are far too perceptive to accept these absurd claims. This evening (Saturday, November 22) for example, his opponents will take to Twitter with infographics and comments explaining why they say #CameronMustGo.

Vox Political has several such tweets planned. If you want to see them, you’ll have to be on Twitter from 6pm – that’s 1800 GMT.

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Sajid Javid, the man who trivialised the WWI centenary, shames himself on the economy

Sajid Javid? No - this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it's an easy mistake to make. This charmer's game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) - but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

Sajid Javid? No – this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it’s an easy mistake to make. This charmer’s game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) – but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!

They say the secret of great comedy is timing, and Sajid Javid’s speech lambasting Labour’s ability with the economy could not come at a better time – to make a fool of him.

Javid heads up the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – you know, the government organisation that offended everybody earlier this week by denying everybody but the Prime Minister a chance to write a personal message on the wreaths laid at a First World War centenary commemoration in Glasgow.

Having made one faux pas already this week, Javid was set to ram his foot even further down his own gullet with his speech knocking Labour.

According to the Telegraph, he was planning to say that Labour’s “basic instinct” is to spend money, the party’s economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse-off, and this will be the equivalent of two-thirds of national income in 2035, while the Conservative approach would make it the equivalent of one-third of GDP.

The speech met with scorn before it was even made, over on alittleecon. In an article headlined Tory Minister Sajid Javid plucks some numbers out of his arse, author Alex Little pointed out:

  • Sajid Javid does not understand economics; national debt is merely an indicator of how much a government wants the economy to be funded by the private sector or the public. As government debt is issued in the form of bonds, all of it represents somebody else’s savings and more government debt means more private savings, while the economy is funded by the public sector.
  • Whether a low debt-to-GDP ratio is better than a higher one depends entirely on how it has been achieved. A fast-growing, dynamic economy can have a high level of government debt, while a slow-growing economy could have a very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
  • His timescale covers the next 20 years, making his claim a nonsense from the start. The electoral cycle is only five years so, for Labour to win in 2015 and continue winning until the date Mr Javid uses, they’d have to be doing something right!
  • Of course, Labour has not produced any spending plans yet and, when they arrive, the totals are unlikely to be hugely different from the Tories’ (although the way the money is used may differ greatly). So Mr Javid has (as Mr Little rather indelicately puts it) plucked some numbers out of his arse.

Mr Javid’s week is going very well – he has ruined a major ceremony with the behaviour of a schoolboy, then followed it up by showing that his understanding of economics – wasn’t he Financial Secretary to the Treasury before moving to the DCMS? Coupled with George Osborne as Chancellor, this could explain much – is worse than that of a schoolboy. And it’s only Wednesday.

Let’s all hope he goes for the hat trick.

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Tory disrespect stains WWI centenary commemoration

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Disrespectful: The laminated messages that were attached to the wreaths. David Cameron was the only political leader allowed to write a personal message by the Conservative-run Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

This is a new low for the Conservative Party.

Leaders of British political organisations laid wreaths at Glasgow’s cenotaph to mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War – but only David Cameron was allowed to write a personal message.

Worse than that, the Conservative Party and its allies then attacked leaders of the other parties – in particular Ed Miliband – for failing to do the same.

Former Tory MP Louise Mensch showed exactly why she deserves to be out of Parliament by tweeting: “Really we need to ask where we are as a society, when politicians are so casual as ‘hand me the wreath’ without asking to write on it.”

And Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges brought his paper into disrepute by tweeting, without checking the facts: “Just seen the wreath. Ed Miliband is becoming a parody of Ed Miliband.”

Asked to explain Mr Miliband’s actions, a Labour spokesman told the BBC that his wreath – with a card stating only “From the Leader of the Opposition” – was handed to him by a representative of organisers the Department of Culture, Media and Sport only seconds before it was laid.

“Ed Miliband was not given the opportunity to write a personal message on the wreath,” he said.

Perhaps an even worse indignity was that into which Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was forced. His read “From the Deputy Prime Minister” and a Liberal Democrat source said the gap between Mr Clegg being handed the wreath and laying it had been “a 10-second thing”.

The BBC checked with the manufacturers of the wreaths – Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, and was passed on to Poppy Scotland, whose spokeswoman said: “We were asked to send [the cards] to the DCMS and the wreaths were sent through to Glasgow in advance, but the blank cards to London.”

So what happened, in fact, was that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – which is run by the Conservative Sajid Javid – decided that the Conservative Prime Minister should be the only person allowed to write a personalised tribute. Every other political leader – including those of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – had to lay wreaths with a laminated description of their job, so they could not even scribble something quickly in the few seconds available to them.

The tell-tale was the fact that all messages other than Cameron’s were written in the same handwriting.

Worse still is the fact that Cameron’s message wasn’t even appropriate. He had written “Your most enduring legacy is our liberty. We must never forget.” Very stirring, but it would be more appropriate to attribute that to those who died in the Second World War, rather than the First.

Also, as Thomas G Clark pointed out adroitly in his Another Angry Voice blog:  “I´m pretty sure that most would agree that the practice of remembrance is a much more tangible and enduring legacy than the general concept of “liberty“, especially given that Cameron and his rotten government have striven relentlessly to undermine “liberty” with grotesque totalitarian and anti-democratic legislation such as the “secret courts” bill, retroactive workfare sanctions, the “Gagging Law” and the “DRIP spooks charter“.”

Worst of all is the fact that the sacrifice of more than a million British lives, and the suffering caused to more than 1.5 million British people who were wounded, some so severely that they suffered the consequences for the rest of their lives, has been overshadowed by a petty squabble engineered by small-minded Tories who wanted to make themselves look better than everyone else.

It was a silly tactic, easily exposed. David Cameron’s only logical move was to apologise for what happened, for the insult to his fellow political leaders and for the upset it has undoubtedly caused to all those who lost loved ones in the war and wanted them commemorated respectfully.

True to form, he showed he had a yellow streak instead. Our gutless Prime Minister had nothing to say.

We should all send him the White Feather.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Sleepwalking out of the EU – the gap between rhetoric and reality

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The British people’s support for staying in the European Union is “wafer thin”, David Cameron told the CBI yesterday. Labour’s Ed Balls warned that the UK could “sleepwalk” away from its biggest trading partner at the same meeting.

Why?

Is it because most people don’t understand our relationship with the European economic area? Is it because they have been infected with propaganda from the right-wing press?

Is it because there really is a plan to make the UK a third-world country, and withdrawal from the EU is necessary to remove citizens’ human rights, thereby making them easier for the ruling class to exploit? The idea seems paranoid but the actions necessary for it to happen have been coming together.

Isn’t it time we had a public debate about the Union – how it works, how we function within it – in order to find out whether we really are better or worse-off? And why – considering all the bluster – hasn’t this happened already?

Let’s look at the main issues: cost of membership, perceived over-regulation, immigration, and our place on the world stage.

The UK contributes around 14 billion Euros (£11.9 billion) to the EU budget every year, but receives 10 billion Euros (£8.5 billion) back – so in fact we contribute £3.4 billion to other countries within the union; the UK is a net EU payer. A study by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten has claimed that red tape, waste, fraud and other factors adds another £62.3 billion a year to the cost.

But the EU is the UK’s main trading partner, with contracts worth more than £400 billion a year. That kind of money make the membership fee look like a pittance. And the EU has been negotiating with the US to create the world’s largest free trade area in a move that could hugely boost our businesses (although this has a huge potential downside that nobody is talking about).

Perhaps the problem is that the companies profiting from these trade deals aren’t paying their taxes properly? The UK Treasury should receive £92 billion at the current rate of Corporation Tax. How much does it actually get?

Let’s not forget that the Coalition government is trying (ineffectually) to pay down the annual deficit. Any money saved by leaving the EU would not go into domestic projects but would contribute to debt repayments. In effect, it would be dead money; at least, in the EU, it helps bring in business.

Okay, so it’s possible that the UK makes more cash from the EU than it spends on it. But what about all those pesky regulations bogging us down all the time? Wouldn’t we be better-off without them?

Sure – if we didn’t mind losing those £400 billion worth of trade deals. If the UK left the European Union but still wanted to trade with its member states, then we would still have to abide by EU regulations. UKIP’s Nigel Farage points to Norway and Switzerland as countries that have access to the single market without being bound by EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs – but he doesn’t mention the fact that those countries must abide by EU market regulations without having any influence over how they are created.

A break from the EU, allowing the UK to trade with other nations around the world, means Britain’s exports would be subject to EU export tariffs – and would still have to meet EU production standards.

Yes, the EU burdens us with rules when it probably doesn’t have the right. Why does the EU dictate our policy on water? So there is room for negotiation – but within the Union.

Well, what about immigration? The UK has a huge problem with its borders having been opened up to millions of incomers – mostly from Eastern Europe, with millions more on the way next year, right? Wouldn’t leaving the EU put an end to that?

Yes. It would also put an end to Britons’ chances of living and working in EU countries. 711,151 UK citizens were living in other EU countries in 2011, according to Eurostat. Their right to work and live there might be restricted if Britain quit the union.

While 2.3 million EU citizens were living and working in the UK in 2011, their effect on the country’s economic well-being has been hugely exaggerated. There is no ‘open door’ immigration policy. The immigrant population does not have access to a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens. Meanwhile, they contribute to the local economy and pay their taxes.

The UK would definitely lose stature on the world stage. There can be no amicable divorce from the EU, as the other leading members are unlikely to allow this country any special privileges or influence. We would surrender our ability to influence EU policy while remaining hostage to EU decisions. The ‘special relationship’ with the United States would also be in jeopardy as that country has made it clear we are a more valuable ally as part of the EU.

As a member of the EU, Britain is viewed by many non-European manufacturers as a key point of access to the European market – but this reputation would be lost if the UK quit the union.

British banks and businesses also see membership as important because it provides access to crucial foreign markets.

Oh, and the UK would still have to deal with the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU, even after ridding itself of the pesky Human Rights Act that ratifies so many EU employment laws and social protections that prevent Theresa May and her friends from exploiting us all.

Add it all up and the evidence seems clear: Britain is better off with Europe. Yes, there are problems, but these are matters for negotiation, not reasons to run away.

Don’t you agree?