A vote for Brexit is an attack on public spending and the public sector

Once again today we hear pro-Brexit ministers claim that all the things that are funded via the EU will continue to be supported, from the Treasury. So, according to Farm minister Eustice, things like farm subsidies will stay the same (or get bigger) alongside support for UK scientific research, social action and so on.

The Brexiteers are claiming that there is a £8Bn annual “dividend” for leaving the EU – and that there is enough money to give the NHS an extra £100M a week in funding.

But an excellent piece of research by Desmog UK this week, has revealed that there is a very small Nexus of people actually running the Brexit campaign, or influential behind the scenes. They are all hard-line neoliberal or neolibertarian ideologues, and they are also all climate sceptics or deniers.

They believe that the state is fundamentally a bad thing and should either be abolished, or kept very small and out of people’s lives. The names in the Nexus will be familiar to regular readers of this blog: Viscount Matt Ridley, his brother in law former Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson, Global Warming Policy Foundation chair Lord Nigel Lawson, neoliberal thinktank funders Nigel Vinson and Michael Hintze, former Tax Payers Alliance CEO Matthew Elliott, former Conservative Home editor Tim Montgomerie, outspoken Tory MEP Dan Hannan, you get the gist. Strangely, all of their organisations are based in the same building – 55 Tufton Street, in the back streets of Westminster.

The idea that these people would want to continue to maintain the level of public expenditure channelled through the EU, after a Brexit vote, is laughable. It’s not even laughable, it’s absurdly risible. This group of influential people want to reduce public expenditure on anything, as far as possible, ideally to zero.  As far as they are concerned, anything currently funded by public expenditure, should be replaced by a market-driven private-sector approach, driven by the search for profit. This is what neoliberalism means.

This group represent a tiny proportion of the UK population, and they have an extreme ideological agenda, which they plan to force onto the rest of us. Indeed, they and their fellow travellers have been gradually imposing their ideology on us for the past 30 years. That imposition has accelerated since 2010 and accelerated further again since 2015.

Figures from the respected Royal Society show that the UK paid in €78Bn between 2007-2013 and received €48Bn back over that period. For scientific research, the UK paid in €5.4Bn and received €8.8Bn back. Which means that being in the EU has helped the UK to build its scientific research and development industry substantially. Some of this funding went to climate change-related research.

Anyone who is taken in by the idea that somehow the public funding which the UK receives via the EU – for research into climate change for example – will continue after Brexit, is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Let’s be perfectly clear. This UK Government has been and continues to dismantle the public sector in the name of ideology. With a vote for Brexit, this dismantlement project will be given a massive steroid injection.

Is this really what you want?


About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in Brexit, climate change, neoliberalism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A vote for Brexit is an attack on public spending and the public sector

  1. Mark Gibbens says:

    The apparent lead in the leave campaign is just extraordinary. A vote for ‘Leave’ is a vote for xenophobia on a massive scale.

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Mark. Yes there are many other reasons why Brexit is deeply problematical. It just struck me that there was a three card trick being run, with the public spending argument.

  2. wendybirks says:

    I find it all deeply frightening. Immigration won’t end even if we do leave the EU. The pressure on public services and housing won’t end, because whoever takes over from D. Cameron will be for smaller government, smaller welfare state, less tax. The poorest, and least educated, who apparently make up the majority of Brexiteers, will be disillusioned. During the referendum campaign they have been given permission by senior politicians in the Brexit campaign to be racist for the foreseeable future. And that fact, coupled with right-wing xenophobic movements in other European countries makes me really worried for the future of our society.

  3. John Jones says:

    Like Wendy I find the drift towards exit from the EU deeply frightening. All the more so because I know I can’t do a damned thing about it. There is so much political naivety amongst the ‘leavers’ who seem to think that leaving the EU is like handing in your membership card to the club committee and then carrying on life as normal. It won’t be like that. All our legislation will have to be changed to take out all the EU implications and that will give carte blanche to whatever right-wing government succeeds Cameron to simplify all our current economic and social rights that are currently underpinned by the EU. I am beginning to sense what it was like for German’s in the 1930’s who were frightened by the drift towards fascism. There is so little time now to turn things around. Cameron has botched his campaign (a campaign needed because of his own idiotic referendum promise), Corbyn doesn’t seem to want to do much and it may be expecting too much of Gordon Brown to change many minds in the final week. The whole issue is costing me a lot of sleep and I know that all I can really do is try to persuade members of my own immediate circle of family and friends to vote for ‘in’ which most of them already do.

  4. Dr C H Hughes says:

    As a weekly volunteer for DWT I too want to know progress is being made.
    As Gary Younge mentioned in The Guardian 16.6, we need a debate on immigration.
    If net migration were to continue at its present rate, our population would have grown by close to 20 million by 2040, with the loss of around 8% of lowland farmland (based on the density of Plymouth 3000/km2) mostly in England, further land being required for roads, reservoirs, power stations, ? airports!
    The ONS predicts it could fall to 185,000/yr by 2020, roughly halving the above figures, but if it that trend continued to 2080, we would have 20 million more then.
    Our main adversary is short sighted economics, but we have to accept that once land goes under concrete, it’s just about gone forever and we have to look ahead for the sake of future generations.
    As far as I can see, the only way to make steady progress is by connecting with people and getting their support. Not easy, but it’s our greatest challenge.

  5. Pingback: The EU Referendum: Turkeys have voted for Christmas | a new nature blog

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