Immigration, the economy, and trade: Prime Minister's Questions, factchecked

15 June 2016

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Economic impact of leaving the EU

“...if you look at all of these independent economic reports, they say very clearly there is no financial saving from leaving the EU. The Institute for Fiscal Studies put it like this: ‘we conclude that leaving the EU would not leave more money to spend on the NHS. Rather it would leave us spending less on public services or taxing more or borrowing more.’”

“...these figures are not based on what the Chancellor of the Exchequer is saying, they are based on what the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research is saying. They are talking about a £20 to £40 billion hole in our public finances if Brexit were to go ahead.” —David Cameron

Most (but not all) forecasts predict that leaving the EU would cost the UK economy and be bad for public finances.

This includes the IFS. Its analysis of forecasts by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research says that the budget deficit—the amount we spend over what we get in—would be about £20-40 billion higher in 2019/20 than it otherwise would have been if we were to leave the EU.

In a clarification of its analysis, it said:

"…we conclude that leaving the EU would not, as Michael Gove claims we said, leave more money to spend on the NHS. Rather it would leave us spending less on public services, or taxing more, or borrowing more."

Fishing quotas

 “It is the UK Government who have given nearly two thirds of English and Welsh fishing quotas to three companies, thus excluding the small fishing communities along our coasts.”—Jeremy Corbyn

A recent Greenpeace investigation into the ownership of fishing quotas in England and Wales claimed that 61% of fishing rights in England are ultimately held by three companies.

It didn’t mention a figure for Wales.

The UK government does not directly allocate all fishing quotas to individual companies.

UK fishing quotas are divided up between the fisheries administrations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These administrations then further subdivide the quotas between 24 Producer Organisations—who finally allocate shares of the quota to their individual members and vessels—and all vessels who are not members of an organisation.

Information is available on the amount of quotas individual fishing vessels can access and the names of the companies which own them. Greenpeace says it has arrived at the figure of 61% by tracing this ownership back to three overarching parent companies.

We haven’t looked into the details yet, but Greenpeace have offered to send us their data.


“We are doing more inside the EU, not least saying people who come here [from the EU], if they don’t get a job after six months they have to leave”—David Cameron

Not necessarily.

The EU court said in 1991 that the UK can deport jobseekers from other EU countries who haven’t found work after six months “unless the person concerned provides evidence that he is continuing to seek employment and that he has genuine chances of being engaged”.

The UK now requires "compelling evidence" that this is the case. But if that evidence is available, people are entitled to stay for longer.

And an EU citizen who can support themselves without calling on the welfare system can also stay, employed or not.

So far as we’re aware, there are no figures on how many people are removed from the country because they fall foul of this rule.


“The World Trade Organisation say if we leave the EU, we could face a major tariffs on trade and we would have to re-negotiate over 160 trade agreements.”—Carolyn Harris MP

So far as we’re aware, the World Trade Organisation hasn’t published a report about the UK leaving the EU, unlike other international organisations such as the OECD.

But the head of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, has spoken about the issue.

Last week, he said that “UK exporters would risk having to pay up to 5.6 billion pounds each year in duty on their exports”. When giving a similar figure to the Financial Times in May, Mr Azevêdo reportedly cited “WTO analysis”.

He didn’t quite say that the UK would have to re-negotiate over 160 trade agreements. But the WTO has 162 members, and Mr Azevêdo said that the UK would need to negotiate how it would trade with them outside the EU:

“the UK would also need to re-establish its terms of trade within the WTO. The UK, as an individual country, would of course remain a WTO member, but it would not have defined terms in the WTO for its trade in goods and services. It only has these commitments as an EU member. Key aspects of the EU’s terms of trade could not simply be cut and pasted for the UK. Therefore important elements would need to be negotiated.”

Leave campaigners point out that leaving the EU allows the UK to negotiate its own trade agreements at the WTO, rather than being part of the EU bloc.

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