“Britain is regularly outvoted by other countries”: Really?

The figures show this isn’t anywhere near true. In fact, we almost always win votes through finding common ground with other countries.

Let’s look first at the Council of Ministers, which votes on every piece of EU legislation. Between 2009 and 2015, Britain was on the winning side 86.7% of the time. (It was 97% in the preceding period – the levels of disagreement rose after the 2010 change of government!) Indeed, the majority of these decisions were adopted with a unanimous consensus, meaning everyone agreed and nobody was on the losing side. Evidence

That’s for majority voting. What about vetoes? On sensitive issues, like tax for instance, every country has a veto. This means Britain can unilaterally block any decisions it doesn’t want, so by definition, whenever we veto something, we automatically “win” the vote. But it also means others can block things that Britain wants! This increases the likelihood of lowest-common-denominator politics — which is the last thing we want in fields like environmental standards or consumer protection. It also makes it very hard to bring about reforms of existing policies.

When it comes to the European Parliament — which has equal power with national governments to decide on EU legislation — the claim that we’re forever being outvoted by other countries is even more ludicrous because it misunderstands the whole process. British MEPs don’t vote as a single block, and nor should they. In the European Parliament, just as in Westminster, MEPs organise themselves along political lines, not country by country, and they naturally vote in different directions. So to ask how often “British MEPs” are outvoted doesn’t really make sense.

Of course, you can make it look like the British are regularly outvoted by lumping together the votes of all the mainstream parties with UKIP. But this is mad. Of course UKIP are always on the wrong side of the votes: their guiding principle is just to vote against everything. If you take them out of the equation and look instead at how often Labour MEPs win votes (for instance), and the figures are a lot more favourable. More details