The Brexiters’ case is that Britain is held back by Europe: unshackled, it could soar as an open economy that continued to trade with the EU and all round the world. That is possible in theory, but as our briefing (see Briefing) explains, it is not how things would work in practice. At a minimum, the EU would allow full access to its single market only in return for adherence to rules that Eurosceptics are keen to jettison. If Norway and Switzerland (whose arrangements with the EU many Brexiters idolise) are a guide, the union would also demand the free movement of people and a big payment to its budget before allowing unfettered access to the market.
Worse, the EU would have a strong incentive to impose a harsh settlement to discourage other countries from leaving. The Brexit camp’s claim that Europe needs Britain more than the other way round is fanciful: the EU takes almost half Britain’s exports, whereas Britain takes less than 10% of the EU’s; and the British trade deficit is mostly with the Germans and Spanish, not with the other 25 countries that would have to agree on a new trade deal.
The Leave campaign keep repeating the myth that Europe imports more to us than we do to them. It is false and misleading.