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EU referendum: Lord Rose makes his most remarkable blunder yet

SKETCH: In a bizarre slip of the tongue, the leader of a pro-EU campaign inadvertently tells MPs that being in the EU costs more than it’s worth

Former Marks and Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose

Former Marks and Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose, now Lord Rose Photo: David Rose


First he called it “Stay in Britain”. He frowned. No, that couldn’t be right. “Better in Britain.” No, hang on, let him try that again. “Better in Britain.” Hold on, that was the one he’d said before, and it was still wrong. One more shot. “Better Stay in Britain!”

The actual name of Lord Rose’s campaign is Britain Stronger in Europe. Still, mustn’t be too harsh on him for getting it wrong. These journalists do ask some tough questions.
As, it turns out, do MPs. This afternoon Lord Rose was in Parliament to face the Treasury select committee. Its chairman, Andrew Tyrie (Conservative, Chichester), wanted him to justify his claim that EU membership benefits each British household by £3,000.
“Hopefully we can give you some granularity on our claims,” beamed Lord Rose smoothly. “We go to great lengths to make sure our numbers are verifiable.”
Mr Tyrie pointed out that the figure of £3,000, widely publicised by the Confederation of British Industry, had somehow been derived from five separate studies, two of which weren’t UK-specific, and all of which were at least 10 years old. Not only that, the five studies produced “widely varying answers” and used “incompatible methodologies”. In short, the £3,000 claim was “misleading”, and to base a campaign on it was “nothing short of a scandal”.
Lord Rose bridled.

“What you’re effectively saying,” he barked, “is that the CBI is putting out propaganda which is untrue. And frankly, I find that quite credible!”

On this occasion at least, he managed to correct himself. “In-credible!” he said hastily.

His next slip was more unfortunate still.

“What we’re trying to do,” he said hotly, “is give a general direction of travel. And what it proves is that actually, the benefits of being in the EU are outweighed by the costs!”

Given that Lord Rose is campaigning to keep Britain in the EU, I would imagine he meant this the other way round. But he didn’t seem to realise what he’d said. In fact, he then snapped, “I stand by what I say!”

Gently, Mr Tyrie returned him to the £3,000 claim. This was “a scandalous abuse of data,” said Mr Tyrie. “I deeply regret that you’re persisting in defending it.”

“You’re impugning my integrity!” shouted Lord Rose. “But that’s a fact of life!”

If it was a fact, it was the first one we’d heard all afternoon.

Eventually everyone calmed down and moved on. Lord Rose took the opportunity to share some of the wisdom he’d accrued during his business career.

“Globally,” he declared, “the world has got bigger. That’s mathematics.”

It didn’t sound like mathematics. In fact, it didn’t entirely sound like English.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12180580/EU-referendum-Lord-Rose-makes-his-most-remarkable-blunder-yet.html

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