The main argument that advocates of our current EU relationship advance is that we do more than half our trade with the EU so we have to maintain full membership to keep all those jobs. It is the most stupid argument in current UK politics. It is extraordinary that it has been trotted out uncritically for more than fortty years, and still many in the media fall for it.
It is often based on the lie that more than half our trade is with the rest of the EU. This figure ignores our very profitable trade in services, where well over half is with non EU countries. It ignores the Rotterdam and Amsterdam entrepot effect, where trade with the rest of the world passes through these large ports and is counted as EU trade when it is with places further away. It fails to take into account that our trade with the rest of the EU is in heavy deficit, whilst our trade with the rest of the world is in good surplus.
Worse still, it assumes if we tried to change our relationship or if the UK electors voted to leave, that trade would be lost. Are they seriously suggesting Germany would no longer sell us BMWs and Mercedes? Do they think we could not manage by buying cars we make here, if they will no longer sell us cars they make over there?
Do they not grasp that EU countries are signatories to international agreements on trade which would prevent any such interference in trade with the UK? Why do they wish to bind us into close union with countries which they think have such ill intent towards us that they would seek to damage trade with us as revenge for our wanting more independence?
It is all absurd. The rest of the EU has too much to lose from its lucrative UK trade to want to damage it, and would be restrained anyway by the legal requirements of the international trading system.
They sometimes go on to argue that we need to be inside to have influence over the rules and regulations that apply to goods and services we supply to the rest of the EU. We have no such influence over the rules and regulations imposed by the US or China on our trade with them, but they never argue we should join some type of political union with these countries to sort this out. The problem with belonging to the EU is that we need to apply EU rules not just to goods and services we supply to other EU countries, but they also make us apply them to products we want to sell to third countries. As often the UK ends up with more rules and regulations than it wants or needs, this can make it more difficult to sell outside Europe.