The campaign to leave the European Union is being “simplistic” about a complicated topic, the head of Labour’s campaign to stay in the EU has said.
Alan Johnson, who was announced as the campaign leader over the summer by interim leader Harriet Harman, suggested the arguments in favour of remaining in the EU took more thought.
“For the Leave side they’ve got these simplistic ‘let’s regain our borders, let’s regain our sovereignty’ [slogans],” he told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme.
“It’s quite a complex argument to say actually, we have got the best of both worlds now and, yes, we do pool some sovereignty into Europe, but that gives us influence over 27 other member states and gives us a louder voice and a more powerful voice in the rest of the world.”
Mr Johnson’s claim comes the same morning as Iain Duncan Smith argued that Britain would be able to negotiate a full free trade deal with the EU that still allowed it to control its borders.
Such a deal has never been granted by the bloc, which gives access to the single market to Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland but with membership of the Schengen passport-free area intact.
“The trade deal is very simple: that we would want them to be able to access out market freely without special and extra tariffs, we would want to be able to access their marketplace,” he said.
He went on to describe such a deal as “very doable”.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
The Britain Stronger In Europe campaign group launched a new dossier this morning which it says purports to show disagreement between eurosceptics about what the UK leaving the EU would look like.
David Cameron this weekend argued that leaving the EU would be a “leap in the dark” while George Osborne said Brexit would cause “profound economic shocks”.
Mr Duncan Smith criticised those arguments as reflecting a “low opinion of the British people”.
The in-out referendum on EU membership is set to take place on 23 June.