I was disturbed to see a couple of days ago that UKIP have upped their anti-EU propaganda campaign and are now sending direct-mail letters, packed with frightening myths, to British small businesses in a thinly-veiled attempt to scare them into switching their vote in the upcoming election.
This bizarre letter, sent to MOT testing centres and garages and forwarded to me by a colleague, is so full of nonsense itâ€™s hard to know where to start. Setting aside the usual rubbish about 75% of our laws coming from Brussels (as Nigel Farage himself has now admitted, this figure is nothing more than UKIP’s guess, andÂ the real figure is much, much lower), its main claim is that the EU is going to ban garages from repairing cars that fail their MOT.
This is, of course, completely untrue, as Mark English of the European Commissionâ€™s UK office confirmed in a letter to the Daily MailÂ last autumn (not available online):
Contrary to Mr Tony Smith of UKIP’s assertions (EU fails the MoT, letters, 9 October 2013), the European Commission is not proposing — and neither is the European Parliament — to prohibit authorised workshops from carrying out MOTs.Â So people will still, if they choose, be able to get both their MOT and any necessary repairs done at the same garage.
The practice is common in several EU countries.
Neither is there an EU proposal that British MOTs should fall due based on mileage, rather than time. There will be no change to the annual test unless the UK decides to impose additional tests for vehicles with high mileage, i.e. more than 160,000km.
Having an EU framework for roadworthiness testing ensures standards Europe-wide are high — as they are in the UK — and helps ensure unfit cars from abroad are not driving on UK roads or endangering British motorists in Europe.
In other words, the truth of the matter isÂ exactly the opposite of what UKIP are trying to claim. There will be no change at all to the current UK MOT arrangements (unless the UK chooses to make a change, of course), and the effect of the new proposals would simply be to bring other countries up to our already-high standards, something that can only possibly be of benefit to Britain.
Nigel Farage thinks that writing directly to business owners sidesteps the risk of having his myths exposed. Thankfully, we know that British businesses are rarely fooled by this kind of ruse â€“ which is why they are so strongly supportive of the UKâ€™s place in the EU:
- Confederation of British Industry supports EU membershipÂ (80% of companies want us to stay in)
- Federation of Small Businesses supports EU membership
- UK manufacturers’ organisation supports EU membership
- Institute of Directors members’ poll supports EU membership
- City of London financiers support EU membership
- Richard Branson supports EU membership
Update: It turns out that the Independent Garage Association has got involved in the dispute at the request of its members, and has told UKIP in no uncertain terms that they’re wrong.