To The Times
Nick King is right to point out that “small and family businesses make up 99% of the UK’s business population and create over three-quarters of new jobs”. Moreover, most of these businesses are also domestic-only and therefore do not trade with the EU, yet are still bound by its restrictive regulatory regime.
To listen to the apocalyptic siren calls of the Confederation of British Industry, the Bank of England, the Treasury and other usual Remain suspects about Brexit, one could be misled into assuming that our trade with the EU accounts for the majority of our GDP. In fact, the true figure is about 8%, and it continues to decline fast. It would be nice to have more honesty from the Remain lobby about the modest contribution of our EU-focused trade to our economic well-being. But this is probably too much to ask.
Nigel Henson, Farningham, Kent. (The Week, 27 Apr 2019)
In answer, this is part of a Research Briefing from the UK Parliament library
- The EU, taken as a whole is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2017, UK exports to the EU were £274 billion (44% of all UK exports). UK imports from the EU were £341 billion (53% of all UK imports).
- The share of UK exports accounted for by the EU has fallen over time from 55% in 2006 to 43% in 2016, increasing slightly to 44% in 2017.
- The share of UK imports accounted for by the EU fell from 58% in 2002 to 51% in 2011 before increasing to 53% in 2017.
- The UK had an overall trade deficit of -£67 billion with the EU in 2017. A surplus of £28 billion on trade in services was outweighed by a deficit of £95 billion on trade in goods.
- The UK had a trade surplus of £41 billion with non-EU countries. A surplus of £83 billion on trade in services outweighed a deficit of -£42 billion on trade in goods.
- Services accounted for 40% of the UK’s exports to the EU in 2017. Financial services and other business services (a category which includes legal, accounting, advertising, research and development, architectural, engineering and other professional and technical services) are important categories of services exports to the EU – in 2017 these two service categories made up 52% of UK service exports to the EU.
My comment: the British people have had to put up with years of bogus “ facts” and straightforward misinformation. Everything that has gone wrong has been blamed on the EU, which doesn’t have the manpower to do half the things they have been blamed for by trouble-makers like our new Prime Minister. Ignored, for instance, are regional EU funds that have helped poor areas which the Tory party has cared nothing about. The effects and influences of the EU for good in terms of food safety, air pollution and scores of other things that make life safer are of equal importance to money and trade. And that is without reducing the dangers of European wars that have bedevilled Europe for so many centuries and have always dragged in the British. To focus just on trade is petty and illustrates the amazing effect that persistent lies in the media have had.