Many of the claims made by both sides, though particularly by Brexit are no more than pious hopes. George Osborne's claim that every household will be £4,300 worse off by 2030 if the UK leaves the EU is ludicrous, Ludicrous because every household will be differently affected. But similarly the Brexit claim that if we leave every thing will be fine is equally ludicrous.
So what would be sensible claims?
If UK remains in the EU:
1. It would be reasonable to claim that if we remain in the EU, things will remain roughly as they are now.
2. It will also be reasonable to claim that over time the EU will gradually become more democratic and reformed. It is arguable that the EU is already more democratic than the UK. Despite the complaints of the Outers EU legislation is not dictated by the commission, which simply proposes legislation. This legislation is then democratically voted on by the European parliament or the councils of ministers. The European parliament has reasonably fair democratic representation. The UK in contrast has a ludicrously unfair system in which 37% of those voting was sufficient to give a government majority which is not a fair result.
3. Investment in the UK because we are part of the EU will continue to occur. If we leave such investment may well go elsewhere.
4. Scotland is more likely to remain part of the UK.
5. The trade deals organised by the EU will continue to operate for the UK.
6. The EU reforms of tax havens and tax avoidance will continue, these are considerably stronger than UK proposals – indeed the UK has been opposing the EU proposals.
7. The UK will have to continue to contribute to the EU budget. However imperfectly this money is distributed to support poorer countries and regions.
8. The effect on immigration is unclear. The reduction in benefit payments may reduce immigration.
9. The EU will be better able to resist Russian expansionism.
If the UK leaves the EU.
1. It is likely that there will be a period of financial turmoil. Osbourne's claim that we will be worse off is likely to be true, though the amount concerned is unclear. If interest rates rise, which is quite likely;- the cost of mortgages will rise, the money we pay to service the UK debt will rise.
2. Eventually all our contributions to the EU will disappear, but so will the money we receive to support our poorer regions. The net effect will be an overall reduction in our net payment to the EU.
3. It is likely that Scotland breaks from the UK and eventually joins the EU. It is then possible that Scotland will become a preferred destination for inward investment.
4. It is likely that tax avoidance and tax havens will continue to be supported by the City of London.
By some measures the UK can already itself be classed as a tax haven because of the high level of tax avoidance and secrecy schemes organised by the City of London.
5. We will have to negotiate new trade deals with the EU and with countries outside the EU. Brexit claims these will be better than those which currently exist. This might be true but there is no evidence to support this claim.
6. Similarly Brexit claims that the UK will grow more strongly outside the EU. This claim may be true but again there is no evidence to support the claim.
7. Immigration. It is possible/likely that in order to get a trade deal with the EU we will have to accept the Schengen (open borders agreement), in this case we will have the worst of all worlds. We will have the open borders agreement but will no longer be party to the negotiations concerning it. On the other hand if we do not sign up to Schengen we will have to establish our own border controls in this country, so that camps like that in Calais will have to be established in the UK (Kent).
8. It is possible that a UK exit may trigger the break up of the EU and in a few years we will be back to the warring factions of Europe and the expansion of Russian influence.