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on 21 June 2014
An easily readable, non-technical overview of the history and development of the EU which comes out overwhelmingly with the belief that it is virtually impossible to reform the Union and that, most probably, the UK will be leaving at some stage. Makes it clear the real "wrong turns" have lain in ever greater expansion of the EU towards the south and east which have brought in countries with socio-economic structures far different from "the Six" or "the Nine" plus what he regards as the total mess of the euro. I found many of the conclusions as to how the UK economy would fare post-EU exit as mainly based on surmise and a view that 'everything will be fine (I hope)'/"something will turn up". Could really have done with much more serious debate with documents such as the November 2013 CBI Report on "our global future" (referred to very fleetingly in one sentence in the book!) The Euro-sceptics will read this and nod at virtually every page while readers seeking a genuinely objective overview need to look elsewhere.
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on 26 June 2014
At the beginning of this book, the author professes not to be anti Europe and then proceeds to disregard this assertion by his negativity on anything remotely related to the EU. Anyone who honestly believes that the EU is a total failure, as Mr Bootle seems to, is anti Europe in my view. His reasoning on future scenarios for Britain on exiting the EU are more like daydreams, the musings of an economist who believes that the city of London should have less regulation (regulations imposed by the 'evil' EU). This is the same city of London which was deeply responsible for the financial crash of 2008, when regulation was not in vogue. The manner in which he envisages Britain emerging from its EU shackles are more like wishful thinking, for he glosses over the potential downsides. Those business leaders who warn against leaving the EU are treated rather dismissively, and might I say arrogantly by Mr Bootle.
In essence, for those who would like to read a fairytale Eurosceptic version of the consequences of a British EU exit, this book will offer a feelgood read. For those of us who prefer an objective treatment of the subject, I advise against reading this book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 August 2014
The EU-too big, too invasive, too bureaucratic and costly, ultimately not serving the citizens for whom it was presumably set up to serve. Worse still it seemingly exists to create regulation, control and encourage waste, corruption and inefficiency. So much so that even its fondest friends have come to question the motives and even its relevance of the European behemoth in the modern world. In a nutshell that the argument of this temperate, concisely argued and well balanced book.

The big question is, what is Europe for? The EU means different things to different member states and different constituencies within those member states. For some it is a form of social harmonisation -human rights, taxation, competition, free movement of labour and travel. For others it is a form of market opportunity. The EU offers protection for producers, especially farmers and gives a free trade zone especially useful for big business. The EU offers especially for smaller, weaker or less prosperous nations like the ex-Iron Curtain countries a way to develop by gaining financial assistance or drawing from the expertise and rigour that that the various organs of the EU dispense or demand. Finally, of course there is the political and economic clout that all member states are meant to benefit from. Even so, argues the author, do the benefits outweigh the costs of the European project?

Bootle positions his arguments largely from the economic stand point. This is because without a strong economy -meaning that output, employment, productivity and general competitiveness are growing at least in line with global trends, then Europe will fail to coalesce as a sound social and political entity. This means the EU will get left behind and ultimately dissolve under the weight of internal dissent and disappointment. Bootle suggests that small, lean nations serve their citizens best. Nations who get swept up in grand dreams will like the builders of Babylon will find that eventually that little gets done in relation to the vast sums expended. Hence the Euro, the huge array of institutions, the vast swathes of legislation, the costs of running the whole show will slowly clog up all the machinery of government, the activities of business enterprise and the good will of Euroland voters.

Where Bootle scores most is that he is very even handed. Rather than simply rubbish the EU he can see that while it has many structural failings it has the potential to reform. He wants the EU to halt the tendency towards the consolidation of centralising powers and return to focusing on what will help Europe in the long run. Namely trade through freer markets. Trade creates wealth, competitiveness, increased productivity, innovation and employment. Let nations collaborate on say environmental and common security issues but otherwise grand schemes such as the Euro and further political and social integration should go in reverse or be dropped altogether.

The central query is what are the options for the UK? Well this depends on being able to access the costs and benefits Britain staying in the EU, which Bootle freely admits much to his credit are very hard to determine. Ultimately on trying to think about Britain's future either as a member of the EU as presently constituted, or becoming some sort of second tier or associate member is both perplexing and frustrating. Whatever happens, he reckons that the UK is too big a consumer of Euro goods to be ignored. So there is life after the EU, less cosy maybe, but possibly a lot more rewarding in the long run.

For myself, I think it really depends on your political outlook as to how you view staying in or leaving Europe. Being in Europe was never just about economics. The UK wanted a post-imperial role, wanted to have influence in European affairs and could see the many cultural, political and social ties that bind the nation to mainland Europe. So a simple enumeration of the economic arguments, pro and con are not enough. This leads to my only real criticism of this very readable and substantial book, that it gives insufficient weight to the social, political historical reasons for why and how the EU has developed. After all if we want the EU to reform we in the UK rather than simply `Battling for Britain' (an approach that has only led to isolation and a feeling of frustration from many fellow members), government needs to understand more fully the perspectives of other members in order to gain change. This requires collaboration,mutual respect and gain sharing. It might help if governments and parties gave a little more time and effort to `talk up' Europe rather than blaming the EU for failings in domestic policy. So an excellent book and fully deserving all the glowing reviews it has received.
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on 20 December 2017
If you are a rabid Brexiteer, welcome to your echo chamber. Trite pseudo-political drivel. But if you are terrified of Johnny Foreigner, think Nigel Farage “sez wot we all thinkin” and are too dumb to do all the skilled jobs “them immagrunts” hand back, then welcome to your echo chamber.
Sadly for you, this does not come in audio book format so you’ll need to get someone to read it to you.
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on 8 September 2017
Utter hogwash from start to finish. Fantasyland politics. Avoid unless you are already infected with the Brexit virus.
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on 10 December 2017
I simply can not review the book I ORDERED & PAID for as it still hasnt arrived, so will will either return my money or credit my account I have with you, VERY disappointed with the service, normally I give "praise, but concerned
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on 1 February 2018
I purchased this book because I genuinely wanted to be convinced. I hoped for a positive, informed case for Brexit. Well, if this is the strongest intellectual case one can make, then God help us all. I am giving this book one star NOT because I don't like its conclusions, but because those conclusions are reached by deception, selective reading of the evidence, and logical fallacy. I'm not an economist, but I am a scientist, and I can tell when I'm being taken for a ride.

Bootle's book ranges the gamut from spot on, through arguable, selective, and disingenuous, to downright deceptive. Let me give a few examples so that you, potential reader, know what to expect.
- EU regulations are uniformly treated as 'red tape'; Bootle never seriously considers that we might want to keep a lot of it. Chlorinated chicken and hormone-laden beef anyone? Of course, if the bonfire of red tape that Bootle envisages is scaled down, then so will its economic effects.
- To take just one regulation, the working time directive's 48-hour limit is held responsible by Bootle for the shortage of senior doctors in the UK. He puts this in the book as a blind assertion, yet a cursory glance through the BMJ shows that the picture isn't anywhere near as clear-cut as that. Overwork by junior doctors is still a problem in places, and 90-hour working weeks were not associated with good clinical outcomes. To suggest that there's a direct, simple line from the WTD to the shortage of senior consultants is risible.
- The EU and its officials are often described using emotive terms that he never uses for (say) UK bureaucrats who are often just as incompetent as their EU counterparts, if not more so (the Home Office and DexEU come to mind).
- When Bootle sets up three rough projections to argue the EU will dwindle in significance, he assumes in all three that the major emerging economies will keep up emerging-economy growth rates for 40 years. Come on, as an economist, you know better than that. (Interestingly, right at the end of the book he seems to dismiss his own earlier position as 'lazy thinking' when he argues that the Germany, France and the UK will remain heavyweights on the international stage. Internal consistency is generally a problem in this book).
- He is a strong proponent of devaluation to boost exports, but somehow forgets to mention that the consequent inflation will seriously erode his readers' buying power.
- This omission of devaluation's downsides is even more striking when shortly after he promotes the abolition of tariffs and tries to tell you that goods will be cheaper - not after devaluation they won't.
- He argues that a 10% EU tariff on car imports can be compensated for by a 10% currency devaluation. This is a clear attempt to deceive; he cannot be that stupid. That's true only if you don't need to import anything to produce the car, i.e. under completely unrealistic (and unstated) assumptions. Devaluation makes importing the materials and parts for the car dearer. If the British value-add on cars is (say) 40%, you'd need a 25% devaluation to compensate for a 10% tariff. Ouch.
- While he does acknowledge non-tariff barriers, he is like many Brexiteers far too focused on tariffs. They are by no means the most important barrier to trade.
- He also loves the Singapore model and praises its high per capita GDP, but neglects to mention that it is a highly unequal society. The common people don't benefit from that wealth. You get the impression that Bootle is trying to con working-class voters into a highly deregulated economy without admitting that it will ultimately hurt them.
- The current strong economic performance of the EU and the Eurozone, much stronger in fact than the UK, makes a mockery of the lazy assumptions in this book that the Euro is an economy-sapping disaster and the EU moribund.
- We have the usual black-and-white thinking of sovereignty. In the final chapter, he praises existing trade deals and associations for supposedly not involving a loss of national sovereignty, as opposed to the EU. He never acknowledges that _every_ trade deal involves putting constraints on sovereignty to some extent. The most blatant recent example is the stillborn TTIP which involved a loss of sovereignty (SIDS) which went too far for many.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are problems on every other page. The book presents itself as a systematic analysis, but is in fact a highly biased propaganda piece.
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on 5 October 2017
If you have doubts about Brexit; Don’t.
Bootle: Even-handed, but conclusive
Roger Bootle constructs this Economic assessment in four sections: the E.U.’s history and the U.K.’s reasoning for joining the then Common Market; the failed economic structure of the E.U. and the reasons for its failure; the best type of Brexit – Clean Brexit; and the future, if any of the E.U.
Though Bootle strays into politics – contrasting the Democratic nature of U.K. politics and the lack of Democracy in the E.U. establishment – this is largely done in pursuit of Economic conclusions – it’s the Economy Stupid.
The original reasoning for joining was, for Bootle, ill judged and ill timed (and I have to say his arguments are compelling). The E.U. was undergoing a boom growth period of recovery from W.W.2 propelled by American $s. The U.K. was suffering from failed economic policy and the cost of the same war – and was not being supported by $s. From the moment the U.K. joined the Common Market began to decline.
Essentially, the conclusion is inevitable and totally logical from an Economic Theory perspective: the E.U.’s clumsy economic structure – especially the inflexible Euro – is causing instability within the E.U. and relative economic decline. Its protectionist Trade Barriers, both fiscal and regulatory create internal costs for E.U. citizens buying imported goods (increasing their cost to the E.U. consumer) while encouraging internal manufacturing to remain inefficient relative to external competitors. Such barriers are justified in some circumstances – such as China’s dumping steel on the world market at below cost (i.e. subsidies) but merely maintain failing or even so called zombie companies that, again, cost taxpayers and the E.U. economy as a whole in fiscal loss.
Essentially, the E.U.’s pseudo federal political system creates the maximum imaginable inefficiency and impossible currency conflicts across the zone – the Euro is too expensive in the south and east but nicely cheap in Germany (loads a Exports). All this drags on the U.K. economy and limits our exports in goods to the zone. The U.K.’s strength is in Financial Services – which have been carefully excluded from the Internal Market by the E.U. – disadvantaging the U.K.
Bootle surveys the effect on various internal E.U. national economies, such as Italy – again compellingly undermining the whole Euro project.
He then moves on to examine the concept of what Brexit is and is not, what makes economic sense and what does not and concludes, correctly, that there is no such thing as a ‘soft Brexit’ any more than, for example there is a soft exit from a club: one simply is no longer a member. Frankly, it's like talking about 'soft basalt' - it doesn't exist. He correctly points out that the E.U. simply will not permit the U.K. to remain in the Internal Market or the Customs Union unless it is a member of the Club. Again, he correctly points out that there is also no such thing as a ‘Cliff Edge’ or a ‘Hard Brexit’ since trade outside the E.U. is exactly the same as trade in the E.U. when exporting to none E.U. countries. (Hard Brexit is like talking about a 'Hard Resignation' from a club or company: it's like 'hard gas' - it doesn't exist.) Equally, Imports from non E.U. countries will be cheaper (with the reduction in Fiscal Tariff Barriers) so benefiting the U.K. economy because reduced costs in clothes food and shoes (basic staples) will increase the disposable income for (especially poor) households. This will boost demand which is enhance the U.K. economy. Tariff Barriers against E.U. imports will make them slightly more expensive and discourage E.U. imports – reducing the trade deficit.
The advantages are (almost) entirely with the U.K. – especially if the U.K. Government does not RUSH into a Free Trade Deal with the E.U. before March 2019. Waiting and negotiating from outside is better – according to Bootle: his arguments are, in my view (M.Sc Business Management) conclusive. Then there are Free Trade deals with... Oh - and Chlorinated Chicken if you want it: you choose not Verhofstadt or any other officious official. Or, Aussie lamb... Or...
I could say more about section 4, but frankly, given the idiotic arrogance of the E.U. officials (as aforementioned), I can’t be bothered: it fails or not – either way, Who gives a damn? Certainly, the E.U.'s leadership shows no sign of doing so. Economically, the U.K. will prosper outside far better (with proper management by government) than in. If you have doubts this is a must read. Seriously don't believe the Brussels Broadcasting Club's 'Despite Brexit...' briefings - the Lord Haw Haw's Quizzling offspring offerings of twaddle, the Fifth Column of Loyal Brusselites in our midst. Reject the spin: set aside the drivel... Flush the content of the Beebs B.S.
If you have doubts about Brexit; Don’t. It really is better out than in.
Still doubting - Read Making a Success of Brexit.
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on 25 February 2015
A brilliant and thought provoking book. Everyone should read it.
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on 18 October 2015
I am said to be one of one-third of us: undecided on whether to be 'In' or 'Out'. I am disappointed with the paucity and poverty of the arguments made either way. As such I have tried to find, read, and consider, books which argue with fact and reason, and try to give some balance.

In this context I bought Mr Bootle's book. For me it gives some hard matters for consideration. He readily acknowledges that he favours exit, but you can still weigh the issues. I would like to find a comparable book by a pro-EU author, but so far have not succeeded.

The issues are too complicated for summary, but include:

The EU is a political project for the worthy objective of avoiding future conflict within Europe and acting as a collective defence against Russia.

Viewed neutrally, as if we were not already in, the balance of trade argument favours independence. The only significant world market with which our imports exceed our exports is the EU. Our exports to EU countries are in continuous decline as a proportion of the whole.

The burden of regulation is appropriate for a future political union (to try to put it neutrally), and is far beyond what is necessary for free trade. For example, EU standards apply to all businesses and products in the UK, even if they never trade beyond the UK.

Approaching the Euro dispassionately, to succeed it needs fiscal Union: common standards and rates of tax, and common expenditure controls. The divergence between the 'Club Med' economies and those of the north is too great.

At present the EU is inherently undemocratic: in that the EU commission makes and implements laws, and yet is unaccountable and unelected. Already there is "Qualified Majority Voting" to prevent a minority vetoing a majority proposal: such as a measure intended to benefit Eurozone members but not the others.

In view of this I can understand the position of the "federalists". To make the EU work requires closer integration. As such Britain must first acknowledge that the EU is not principally a free trade area; and then decide whether we want closer integration with our fellow European nations.

If we decide to leave, the book lists the alternatives: such as Free Trade Agreements with the EU, and FTAs with other countries: at present we are bound to impose trade tariffs against all non-EU countries unless the EU negotiates a FTA. It also acknowledges the risk of a 'spite' response to our exit.

Read this book. It will help you to decide what matters rather than relying on the superficial tendentious arguments of politicians and partisans.
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