Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bad arguments about brexit: a compendium

Norway and Switzerland are outside the EU but still have to comply with EU regulations.

Yeah, but we're five times bigger and more powerful than either of these, so we would get a better deal.

Leaving the EU will deduct 2% / add 1% to our GDP.

Anyone estimating this is making an educated guess. If the confidence intervals around the estimate aren't big enough to make it useless as a guide to policy, then the author is kidding us and/or herself.

We have to contribute billions to the EU budget.

We don't know how much the economic benefits/costs will be (see above), but we do know that compared to them, this is peanuts.

The EU has kept the peace in Europe.

By being a Franco-German pact, maybe. Our exit is unlikely to change the nature of that pact, and I doubt that we will be planning war on Berlin.


I'll try to keep this updated. My view is that "expert" arguments have relatively little to contribute to this question: the choice is an existential one, not a technical one. It's not that facts are irrelevant, but the important effects of brexit will be political, not economic, and in predicting politics, good judgment is more important than technical expertise. Full disclosure: I intend to vote to stay in the EU, though I can imagine changing my mind.