One of the points made frequently by those who wish to see the UK leave the EU is that the ‘European’ funds which areas such as Wales receive aren’t really European at all; they’re just UK funds cycled through Brussels. On this basis, the argument goes, any UK government outside the EU could simply give the money directly to Wales and cut out the middle man.
The logic of that is inescapable, and the usual counter argument is that whilst it may theoretically be true, the UK government could not be depended on to do that. I agree with that as well in practice, but boiling the issue down to who we trust least means that it isn’t really an economic argument at all.Last week, when he was in Wales, Cameron himself made it clear that he could not and would not guarantee to replace EU funding with equivalent UK funding in the event of a UK exit. It was refreshingly honest, but I can’t help feeling that it’s rather strange for any politician, and perhaps especially for a Prime Minister, to try and win any argument by saying, in effect, “You can’t trust me”. It’s a strange world sometimes.