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May

Fri 13 May 2016 / Europe

Lessons of 1776

George Osborne, the UK chancellor of the exchequer, has claimed as a 'fact' that British departure from the EU would cost British families precisely £4,300 each by 2030. Osborne is wrong. There are no facts about the future, just good or bad forecasts. His are based on extremely debatable methodology. In a few years, long after the flawed Treasury report has faded from memory, no one will claim that the UK would have been more prosperous by staying in the EU.

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Fri 27 May 2016 / Europe

Europe’s confederal future

The impact of a British departure from the European Union would spread well beyond the British Isles. The 23 June referendum recognises the dangerous separation of the populations of Europe from their political leaders. To overcome this gulf, and ensure the EU’s survival, member states should formally abandon the impossible goal of a federal Europe and propose instead a confederation of resilient nation states.

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Sun 22 May 2016 / Europe

Brexit scare helps the debtors

In a nervous environment where Europe wants Britain to vote to stay in on 23 June, Greece holds important cards in its poker game with creditors over managing and rescheduling its debts. The spectre of Brexit is worrying the EU and the Commission enough to ensure that Brussels is taking a more conciliatory approach on the fiscal front across several debtor member states, not just Greece.

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Thu 26 May 2016 / Europe

Treasury adopts Newton’s theory

The UK Treasury has produced a report saying a vote to leave the EU would produce ‘an immediate and profound economic shock creating instability and uncertainty’. Having looked at the methodology, I could hardly stop myself laughing. It is as bad as or worse than using Newton’s gravity theory as an instrument of economic forecasting. Undoubtedly the referendum adds to uncertainty. But I find the Treasury’s conclusions of a causal link between heightened uncertainty and lower growth deeply flawed.

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Fri 20 May 2016 / Europe

A continental love affair

Denis MacShane, the former British Europe minister, has a nose and an ear for a good story. At a time when others believed the chances of a referendum on EU membership were slim, he spotted the possibility this could exert a convulsive shock on the British and European system – and wrote a book on the issue. As the campaign moves towards the final act, he has produced another book, Let's Stay Together: Why Yes to Europe, demonstrating why the UK should carry on the community of 'hope and solidarity' after 23 June.

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Fri 20 May 2016 / Europe

A guide to break-up

Gerard Lyons is the author of The UK Referendum: An Easy Guide to Leaving the EU, which he presents as a 'balanced view' aimed at helping people understand the key issues the referendum campaign has raised. Unlike some experts on the subject he writes with commendable clarity. However, as the title implies, this is not really a balanced account. Lyons is strongly pro-Brexit, and seems to minimise the problems that might arise in renegotiating trade and other arrangements.

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Tue 10 May 2016 / Europe

Pain of losing a brother at arms

The EU has become a fragile colossus, tormented by a combination of bureaucracy, failed social engineering, the premature introduction of a common currency, an excessive welfare system and naïve multiculturalism. The rest of Europe needs Britain in the EU. We need a large, strong partner country, with a leadership determined to preserve the accomplishments of post-war integration – and at the same time able to stand up against this European foolishness that has brought us to the point of true disintegration.

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Wed 25 May 2016 / Europe

Trade and the Brexit fallacy

Brexiteers speak with the conviction of life-long obsession. If the UK leaves the EU, they are making cast-iron guarantees to the British people and the country's trading partners. They laud the prospect of an avalanche of worldwide free trade deals. With these fast-growing economies, so the argument goes, the UK will be free to forge its own commercial accords and loosen its dependence on dreary, sclerotic Europe – a Europe that absorbs close to half of all British exports. Peddlers of this utopian dream need a reality check.

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Tue 24 May 2016 / Europe

Swish Six go to Europe

Six besuited men stride across the lawn, sober, slightly sheepish. They are greeted with expansive bonhomie by another male, open-neck-shirted, rosy-cheeked. David Cameron, the prime minister, begins: 'Welcome, gentlemen, the people have spoken – a 60-40 majority for staying in the EU. Our six living former chancellors of the exchequer all gathered here, quite an occasion. I want you to bury your differences. Help me launch genuine European reform…'

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Wed 18 May 2016 / Europe

European show will go on

The Netherlands has always been strongly in favour of British membership of the European Union and (before) the European Community. Though on many issues the Dutch work more closely with neighbouring Germany, Britain is considered an indispensable counterweight to balance Germany and France. But many Dutch are fed up with Britain’s perennial scepticism and self-righteousness. The day after Brexit, Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, will undoubtedly emphasise that the European show will go on – without the Brits.

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