Really big or small numbers can be deceptive because we struggle to comprehend their true meaning. Take an electron for example, with a radius of 10-16 meters. That’s such a small number that it’s meaningless in everyday terms. To get some idea of this scale, imagine that one meter is stretched out over the entire distance between the Earth and the sun. Even on this scale, an electron would still only be equivalent to just one-hundredth of a millimetre. Now we get a feel for how small an electron really is.
It’s much the same when it comes to the big numbers involved in the governance of our country. And some of those big numbers were certainly banded around over the past few weeks during the EU referendum debate. Let’s look at a few.
The true cost of EU membership is around £8.5 billion per year, which when put into context is 1.1% of the UK Government’s annual spend of £760 billion. Taking back control of immigration was a central battlecry of Brexit but just 4% of the population consist of migrants from EU countries. The overall immigration rate is around 13%, but we already have control of the majority 9% anyway.
Various numbers were quoted regarding the percentage of rules and regulations imposed on the UK from the EU. They ranged from about 8% to 75%. In truth, it’s a difficult figure to come up with because it depends upon the impact-factor to the UKs legal system. The most reliable independent figure puts it at about 15%.
The result of the referendum has been called a clear win for Brexit with approximately 1.26 million more people voting to leave than voting to stay. But 1.26 million in terms of the total number of votes cast was a majority of just 3.7%.
So what’s all the fuss about? The above numbers means that 98.9% of the UK spending budget is unaffected, 96% of the population have no relevancy to EU migration and 85% of regulation originates in the UK. And yet all the current political turmoil and upheaval revolves around less than 3.7% of Brexit voters.
I’m thinking of moving house and so on referendum logic I’ll base my choice on the colour of the hall carpet and not worry too much about the subsidence and wonky roof.