I was part of a Liberal Democrat team yesterday which was armed with a questionnaire about the EU. We were in Market Square in Lancaster to dispel the myths that abound which are cultivated by some parts of our media. What percentage of UK laws is dictated by Europe? How much of our exports go to the EU? How many are employed by the EU and how much does the EU spend? The final question asked about putting an order to the largest markets in the world.
As expected, most thought that the EU itself employed too many, spent too much and dictated too many laws. There has been a lot in the news about China's emerging market but it is still emerging so China was often too high in the public's estimated league table. Many did not know the size of the EU's GDP The main point was that the EU has the largest GDP in the world. It was good to point out that the EU spending is less than most people think, dictates fewer laws than most people think, and employs less staff than Lancashire County Council.
These results did not surprise me. What did surprise me was that in a short space of time I had spoken with a group from Spain and someone from Austria, France and Scotland. Well the Scottish connection may not be too surprising but this, on its own is an indicator of the importance of the EU to our economy.
One highlight for me was that the Scottish man came up to us and was telling us how wrong we were to support the EU. However he did take part in the questionnaire and, perhaps not surprisingly, he went for the answers that were wrong in the extreme. He had no idea of the actual answers but was most vociferous about putting his case. I wonder if this is generally what happens.
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