There would be no growth

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Following its spat with President Obama, the Vote Leave campaign has turned its guns on EU ‘red tape’, with a claim by Priti Patel, the Employment Minister, that if we leave we could strip out EU laws that hold small firms back.

As usual, no indication is given as to exactly which regulations the Brexiters would abolish. Be in no doubt though that it is protection of workers’ rights that they have in their sights, in the vain belief that this is the way to boost British business.

Actually, a study by the Centre for European Reform found that Britain’s EU membership has not prevented it from already having one of the most flexible labour markets in the world, which is one reason why unemployment has remained relatively low.

The two main bugbears of Vote Leavers, the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive, have had a modest impact, the study shows. Nevertheless, do we want to abolish the very real protection these rules do offer to a small minority of workers?

As for product regulation, which is claimed to be holding back UK companies, the rest of the EU has actually tended to converge on the UK’s less regulated model.

The study concludes that Britain would not be able to engineer a boost to growth and employment by abolishing EU rules and, in fact, ‘a post-Brexit bonfire of EU rules would hardly be enough to warm a pot of tea’.

Peter Morris,

Secretary (North East),

European Movement UK