Fringe Box



Letter: Guildfordians Should Consider the Impact of Losing EU Benefits

From David Pillinger

Remain campaigner

Guildfordians of all ages will be setting off on their summer vacation, the large majority to countries, which, like our own currently, form part of the European Union (EU).

Thanks to our membership of the EU, we will now benefit from a new law outlawing roaming charges on international calls and data usage within the EU. If you’re as stingy as me, you will have, at great inconvenience, rationed use of your mobile phone in the past. Not any more.

This year my phone will be at my side and in full usage 24/7. I can now: lose the kids and track them down by calling them; WhatsApp my wife to ask her to pick up some sun cream on her way back to the hotel; video-conference grandma back home in the UK; or make that local restaurant booking – all without worrying about being extorted of my hard-earned money.

Guildfordians will be reminded that this is the type of achievement that the EU has brought us. Achievements that are easily made by organisations of nations working together, but impossible by isolated standalone countries, which we will be if Brexit goes ahead.

The mobile phone breakthrough has been a small one in the big scheme of things, but because of the EU have acquired huge advantages: the ability to be treated free-of-charge by the health services of any EU country; to get a job or choose to live in any of the 28 countries without any hindrance; and, when back at work after our vacation, to trade freely in a “gold standard” free market-place, the European Single Market, which has made goods and services cheaper, more abundant and of better quality than could ever have been imagined.

Guildfordians holidaying in EU countries over the summer should consider the impact of losing the great benefits and rights we have created for ourselves as integral members of the EU. How frustrating that these matters were never properly aired in the referendum campaign.

How frustrating that these matters were never properly aired in the referendum campaign. Instead we heard misleading stories about the likes of “straight bananas” and fictitious savings that would go straight to the NHS. And many people believed them!

I need a holiday.

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45 Responses to Letter: Guildfordians Should Consider the Impact of Losing EU Benefits

  1. Fred Wright Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 10:37 am

    In your last comment, you mentioned the NHS.

    I have just come out of the Royal Surrey hospital. 95% of all the beds are full of UK elderly. About 50% of staff appear to be from the EU.

    If we leave the EU the NHS will collapse.

    There is no precedence in all of UK history where a referendum result was close and call for a second referendum has not taken place.

    The working class is defined by low wages. Women get lower wages than men (even in the NHS), so basically women are the working class (more or less).

    80% of young women in the UK voted to Remain in the EU – the Labour party must not let these working women down – we need to remain in the EU or at least have a second referendum

    • John Armstrong Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Yes, the EU has been a great success – for Europeans. After all, it is they who have benefited from job opportunities in the UK. Similar opportunities do not exist though for us over there.

      Our graduates, or indeed fruit pickers, are not flooding the EU and sending their child benefit back home to build a new house and feather a nest at the EU taxpayers’ expense.

      We do flood them with holiday makers though, to the tune of about £3 billion.

      It should not be forgotten, we have been in the EU for forty years and the promised prosperity has not materialised.

      What we have instead are food banks and whole areas of the country on benefits, entire industries decimated and little hope for our young.

      And if it is thought that there is hope in the EU for young people, think again and look again. Where are our young people in the EU?

      We should have had two generations by now prospering in the EU. We should have million of Brits, now in their forties and fifties who were sold the dream of jobs and opportunity in their youth forty years ago.

      Where are they? I’ll tell you – they’re over here on the dole.

  2. Tom Hunt Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 10:37 am

    The usual sensible comments from Mr Pillinger. As an aside, I heard on BBC’s Today programme this morning that households were consuming less electricity than ever before thanks to EU regulation of domestic appliances. This has been offset by the increase in costs of power, but the reduction in consumption is another clear benefit of EU membership.

    I hope Mr Pillinger, and indeed all Dragon readers enjoy their summer holidays, whether in Europe or elsewhere.

  3. Dick Carpenter Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Absolutely right! And it’s not just Guildfordians that should reflect on exactly what we’d lose in pursuit ‘control’ (of what?) and ‘independence’ (from paying less?).

    I’d recommend that folks from Stoke, Essex etc give it a long, hard thought, too.

  4. John Perkins Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Is there any evidence to suggest that roaming charges will be re-instated when the UK leaves the EU?

    Mr Pillinger writes “if Brexit goes ahead”. Surely he means “when”. This country still pretends to be a democracy.

    When I injured myself while living in Germany a few years ago, despite showing my EHIC card, I was refused treatment until I gave the hospital a credit card. Strictly illegal, I’m told, but it was comply or carry on bleeding.
    If the so-called free market really is a “gold standard” how is that UK financial products were always so difficult to sell in Germany?

    Please tell me what goods and services are cheaper – everything I buy is more expensive, with the possible exception of cigarettes, but then HMRC limits the amount I can buy abroad, contrary to any “free market” principle. Chinese goods bought in Serbia (in Europe, but not the EU) are less than half the price they are here. One reason is the delay in getting them through the EU barriers.

    Is there any evidence that “If we leave EU the NHS will collapse”? Or is that simply scaremongering? And what precedent is there for a second referendum”?

    Where do the figures quoted for young “working class” women come from?

    Surely nobody believes that people would continue to use incandescent or halogen light bulbs in preference to cheaper LEDs? A normal, i.e. non-rigged, market would resolve that issue. The EU legislation to reduce the power consumption of vacuum cleaners was initially watered down to allow German manufacturers to catch up with the rest of the world.

    • Fred Wright Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Mr Perkins asks where the stats for 80% of young women voting REMAIN came from. It ws here:

      Please help the working class and fight to remain.

      Currently, the rich people’s portfolios (FTSE AIM) are up loads due to Brexit and poor people still have “austerity”.

      If Mr Corbyn wants to end austerity he has to get more female remain voters.

      • John Perkins Reply

        August 9, 2017 at 7:31 am

        How did the publishers get a cross-reference of age and gender to actual votes? It’s not possible: ballot papers do not contain any information other than the actual vote.

        What the referenced site produces, for money, is extrapolation, interpolation and interpretation – in other words, opinion rather than reliable statistics. One might as well buy cheap sci-fi novels.

  5. John Morris Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    David Pillinger and correspondents, Fred Wright and Tom Hunt, speak my mind too.

  6. Sue Fox Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Great to see we’re not the only Remainders still keen on staying in. I buy the New European weekly, it cheers me up to read it – it’s also available online.

    There’s an awful lot of us already seeing the impact of Leaving not to mention noticing the weekly shop is getting dearer and the same price for smaller amounts.

    I too hope all Dragon readers have great summer holidays here and abroad. Thanks gentlemen for writing.

    • John Perkins Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Prices are rising, that’s certain. But we are still in the EU and we are assured at the top of this page that the single market “has made goods and services cheaper”.

      So are we to believe that that benefit is not intrinsic to the EU but merely some side-effect that is lost the moment we show dissent?

  7. Sue Hackman Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    The EU liberated consumers from expensive roaming charges, so they are at risk.

    But there is a much closer threat from Brexit and it is already making its mark. I just got back from holiday and found that the pound in my pocket is worth 14% less than the day of the referendum. £100 used to buy 130 Euros; now it is worth just 122 Euros.

    My advice to travellers is to take more money: your pound isn’t what it used to be.

  8. D Bisdee Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    David Pillinger makes very relevant points. To which we could add: the possible loss of the EHIC health card and the rights it gives us; the prediction by Ryanair that they (and other airlines) will no longer be able to operate flights from the UK to the EU; the loss of the rights to live and work in other EU countries; the exodus of large organisations from the UK to European cities.

    Did the ‘Leave’ voters really want all that? Come on Leave voters: tell us that you knew all that would happen, and voted Leave in spite of it!

    • Jim Allen Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      I guess this section is a Remain love in. It’s a shame common sense and a respect for democracy is missing from all these comments.

      • Fred Wright Reply

        August 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm

        My comment did address the “respect for democracy”. I stated that there is no historical precedent of a UK referendum that was close without a demand for a second referendum.

        The nation needs to triangulate its true feelings, we need to come together as a nation. This can only really occur with a second referendum. We really need to know where we stand as a nation, not a one off snapshot opinion poll which tells us nothing much.

        If the referendum was an election it probably, or possibly, would have resulted in a hung parliament. It really is not good enough to shout “democracy” because it clearly isn’t.

  9. A Tatlow Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Funny, I have travelled in Europe before and after the EU was in existence and never felt the need for any of the things David Pillinger finds so essential. I expect to do so again in the future. Does he never relax on holiday?

    It is very misleading to say that the EHIC gave the right to medical treatment free of charge. It did no such thing, as I can vouch having had to translate medico-legal French in order to fulfil demand for payment of a sizeable bill from a hospital in Roussillon six months after the event.

    I had been under the misapprehension that there was no need to worry my travel insurance company.

    • Fred Wright Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      It’s worth pointing out that more Brit tourists need hospital treatment in the EU than EU tourists need hospital treatment here. It’s not even close:

      We definitely lose if Brexit happens.

      At the very least we need a second referendum. There is no UK precedent of a referendum that had a close result without a call for a second clarifying referendum.

      We are being steamrollered out of the EU by a group who are making money hand over fist in the stock market while the rest of us suffer from austerity.

      • John Perkins Reply

        August 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        The net of the figures quoted in that article amounts to about one 0.001 percent of the net UK contributions to the EU. Can anyone say what proportion of even that tiny amount is made up of false claims by UK citizens for, for example, “gastro-enteritis”?

        It’s quite unusual to describe losing a democratic vote as “being steamrollered”. Aside from which, the referendum last year was a second vote.

  10. Martin Rimmer Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I don’t know what Messrs. Tatlow and Perkins did to upset the German and French hospitals where they fell ill, perhaps they were being too Brexit and refused to try and speak the local language!

    My daughter fell ill on a trip to Lourdes and spent three weeks in the local hospital where she had two lengthy operations, all carried out by very professional staff in an amazingly clean and uncluttered establishment. The cost of the hospital stay? Nothing! (Mind you – we had to pay a substantial sum to get her back to the Royal County Hospital)

    • David Pillinger Reply

      August 8, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      And just to add to the circumstantial evidence on UK citizens’ rights to treatment in the EU, my mother suffered a heart attack in France and was helicoptered to Avignon Hospital from a small village in Provence free of charge, and my father was hospitalised with cancer and even received treatment; all free of charge, including the taxis to and from the hospital to receive his chemo and radio therapies.

      I worked professionally in France twice and all my family received free medical care, including for the birth of a child. We also received family allowances, which were much higher than we had been getting back in the UK.

    • A Tatlow Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      The NHS website explains that EHIC “gives the right of access” to healthcare during a temporary stay, but that one “may be expected to pay” a proportion of the cost or pay upfront and reclaim later. No further clarification is given.

      My emergency hospital attendance was in 2014 before the word Brexit existed. From a total bill of €81.46, I was reimbursed £9.79 by the DWP. The government has promised that EHIC will not be “a casualty” 9amof Brexit.

      I am fortunate to have had the privilege of a year’s education in Europe when it was compulsory for students to speak French from 9am to 9pm, so I was able to converse and joke in French with the nursing and medical staff.

      Rather than being upset, my sense was that they were relieved that I could explain my symptomatology, especially as I am a retired nurse, so we spoke the same language on several levels.

  11. Stuart Barnes Reply

    August 8, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    I think the Remainers must have agreed amongst themselves a system which ensures that just when we think we can get on with our lives, now that we are at last going to free our country from the corrupt failed and hated “EUSSR”, they start another irrelevant and ridiculous new moan by coordinated letter writing.

    I wish they’d give it a rest. We are getting out.

  12. Brian Creese Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 10:36 am

    This is the time of year when the collapse of the pound really notices, as you pick up your Euros for the summer holidays. I heard an arch Brexiter lauding the fall in the pound as “a great thing” on the radio a few days ago.

    Really? It seems to be being accepted now that by 2019 we will need visas to go to our favourite Spanish and Greek holiday centres, and the long queues suffered by airline passengers these past few days can only get worse.

    Welcome to the Brexit La La Land we heard so little about last year!

  13. Bernard Parke Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Does anyone think that a currency based on a political dream as opposed to a strong economic base can actually survive?

    It is like comparing a race horse with a donkey.

    • David Pillinger Reply

      August 9, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Funny how the Euro has been stronger than Sterling since inception nearly 20 years ago.

      In Mr Parke’s analogy Sterling will be the donkey, based on the political dream of isolation.

  14. Martin Rimmer Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I don’t know how anyone could call the EU the “EUSSR” – that couldn’t be further from the truth. To suggest and believe such a title shows some people are reading the wrong newspapers and have been sucked in – hook, line and sinker – by blatant anti-EU propaganda.

    If anything the EU maintains democracy across the continent and today new members have to meet strict democratic rules to be able to join.

    What’s more, the EU’s decision-making institutions are all made up of elected people – Prime Ministers for the council and all MEPs elected by PR for the European Parliament.

    There is the Commission which some people like to trumpet are un-elected but they are the civil servants – just like Whitehall (except there are a lot less of them and they have 550 million people to serve). They are answerable to the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

    Compare all that to the UK. We have an unelected Head of State, an unelected upper chamber and our parliament are elected by “first past the post”, so we end up with governments exercising all the power but which are only supported by less than 40% of the vote and less than 25% of the electorate. That’s more like the USSR!

    • John Perkins Reply

      August 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Whilst I agree that democracy in the UK is far from perfect, it’s hardly logical to claim that the EU maintains democracy while declaring one of it largest members not to be so.

  15. Mike Gibson Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    European pet passports too.

  16. Dale Miller Reply

    August 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    For anyone doubting the negative effects of Brexit, a catalogue of the mounting evidence (with sources) can be found on

    Locally, Brexit will cause severe problems for businesses, restaurants, the University of Surrey, our local hospital and care homes. Our young people, shamefully, will no longer benefit from terrific EU schemes like the Erasmus Exchange Scheme which funds university students and apprentices to study and learn new skills in EU countries.

    Below is a link to an article on the damage loss of EU funding will cause to Alzheimer’s research in the UK. How many older people were told of that risk before their vote in the EU Referendum? Brexit is a calamity.

  17. Paul A Bridgland Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Reading through the comments above it would seem that those that voted Leave did so on the basis of one or all three of the following: national security, immigration concerns and self-determination, whilst those that voted Remain did so on the basis of: pet passports, shorter queues at the airport and health service whilst overseas (it’s worth pointing out on the last point that it is now mandatory for all travelers to have adequate health insurance in place when they go overseas- it’s quite cheap these days – £80 a year on average).

    I remain (pardon the pun) totally unconvinced by the Remain argument … but always interested to hear views to the contrary although I must say all this negativity and doom-mongering it ultimately self-destructive and will adversely affect us in some way shape or form.

    The county voted Leave, so let’s get over it and get on with it.

    • Martin Rimmer Reply

      August 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      I voted Remain for:

      1) Continued peace. 70 years of peace in Europe is a record for the past 2000 years.
      2) Our economy. Over 40% of our exports go into the EU and tariff free. And to another 42 countries tariff free that EU trade agreements cover.
      3) Travel and freedom to live and work over a large area.
      4) Saving money through sharing agencies that regulate to keep us safe
      5) To ensure we keep safe food on our tables. The EU is self-sufficient in food. The U.K. needs to import approx 50%.

      Yes – free medical care and pet passports are nice for us as well and so are a lot of other things but I don’t want to lose any of the above for some spurious pipe dream of a utopian world that doesn’t exist.

      • John Perkins Reply

        August 12, 2017 at 9:17 am

        1) NATO and, in particular, the US kept the peace.
        2) Our exports will continue to go to the EU and it would be nonsensical for the UK receive worse treatment than those other 42 countries.
        3) The EU may convey a right to work in, for example, Poland, but not many UK people are attracted by it.
        4) The £10 billion net contribution rather overshadows any saving.
        5) Safe horse meat would be one example.
        There’s no such thing as free medical care – that’s a utopian pipe dream.

  18. John Perkins Reply

    August 10, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Mr Pillinger calls anecdotal evidence of personal experience “circumstantial” in an attempt to discredit it. However, his claim that that treatment is free-of-charge does not stand up to scrutiny. In the first place, treatment not paid for in cash is paid for by insurers or by taxpayers here and abroad, regardless of whether or not it can be charged back to another country. Both the latter are examples of pre-paid services, not free.

    Almost equally spurious is the claim that the abolition of roaming charges is somehow a great boon. Everyone I know only paid them in extreme circumstances. In Germany there were many prefix numbers available which would reduce the cost of calls well below even local charges, pre-paid cards could be bought which provided a similar service, local PAYG SIMs were available, or roaming services could be bought from UK networks.

    If all else failed, calls could be kept short and texts kept to a minimum. Only those silly enough to think they could download their favourite TV programs while abroad really suffered. It’s merely a convenience to not have to think about such things, hardly a reason to stay in the EU.

    • David Pillinger Reply

      August 16, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Roaming charges are easily affordable but they are yet another expense the UK has abolished by working together with our colleagues in the EU.

      There are bigger savings than roaming charges, of course, like those arising from the Rolls Royce of trading agreements, the EU Single Market, and the EU’s huge power in securing excellent trading conditions with the outside world.

      • John Perkins Reply

        August 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

        Rolls Royce cars are unaffordable to all bar a few and are bought by even fewer, just like the EU.

      • C Stevens Reply

        August 17, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        Golly! And there was I thinking there was no such thing as “the outside world” and that once we’d left the EU we’d be completely on our own with no-one to buy from or sell to and would inevitably sink into economic and social chaos.

        Where on earth could I have got a silly idea like that?

  19. Peter Bareau Reply

    August 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Representational democracy and the rule of law shield a nation from the unaccountable populist exploitation inherent in a single issue referendum. As the question of EU membership was put in this way, it can probably best be confirmed or reversed by another referendum once the consequences of Brexit are clearer.

    The alternative is a general election, but, as successive Conservative party leaders have found, and as would also be the case for a Corbyn-led Labour party, it would be hard for the two dominant parties to come up with a clear manifesto view for or against. With the right leadership, this just might leave the field open for a new centrist party.

  20. Bernard Parke Reply

    August 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    Why not have two more referendums? Then we could have the best of three!

    Enough is enough, the whole time this drags on the more uncertainty will follow, not only in the financial market but in the country as a whole.

    The country has voted to leave the EU and Article 52 has been triggered. To try and reverse the process will make us the laughing stock of the world.

    • Dick Carpenter Reply

      August 16, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      We wouldn’t be a laughing stock for reversing a crazy exercise in self-harm. More likely that some in Stuttgart, Paris & Dublin would be disappointed not to be taking over London’s role in international banking & finance.

      Even if a few were amused, that would be a fabulously cheap price to pay for economic & political survival in a big world that [I hate to tell you this] has been laughing at the UK for the last year.

  21. John Lomas Reply

    August 16, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    A referendum on the outcome of negotiations would be impossible as it would require a number of answers:
    1. reverse article 50 and remain in after all;
    2. leave as it has then been negotiated;
    3. leave with less stringent (soft Brexit) conditions;
    4. leave with stronger (hard Brexit) conditions.

  22. David Pillinger Reply

    August 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    If you Mr Armstrong was to travel around Europe he would see lots of UK nationals working there.

    I worked twice in France and once in Spain. I used to work with a young Scot in Madrid and he now is the chairman of KPMG Spain. A London friend’s son is a teacher in Cadiz. I know dozens of British people in the fashion industry in Paris and Milan. The list is endless with hundreds of thousands of Brits working all over the continent.

    UK nationals also retire in their hundreds of thousands to other areas of Europe, living off social security and the health services of their host European countries.

    Conversely, the UK is full of highly trained and skilled people from other European countries working and paying in total more into our coffers than they receive in social services such as the NHS.

    Everything Mr Armstrong says is just so so wrong; almost like absolutist propaganda. I can understand that he probably lives in a different “pond” to me, but I wish he would get out and see how the world really is.

    • John Perkins Reply

      August 19, 2017 at 11:32 am

      It’s reasonable to assume that the number of UK nationals in Europe is similar to that of other EU nationals in the UK, but the difference is one of ratio: a million people amongst 400 million is a small fraction, whereas a million amongst 60 is rather more noticeable.

      Having said that, in my experience, the foreigners in other places were very concentrated. Frankfurt was more foreign than German and a very large proportion of the foreigners were English. Brussels was similar, though Paris less so.

      I’m sure nice places like Barcelona also have such concentrations. In Warsaw, it was rare to see anyone working other than Poles, despite it being a pleasant city with lovely inhabitants. Krakow, though, was packed with tourists from the UK, many of them with nothing better to do than ring doorbells at 3:00 a.m. as they made their way back to their hotel.

      Those who retire to places like Spain do so because they can afford it. That is they take their wealth there and do not “live off” the social security and health services. Even if they did they would surely only be taking advantage of one of the much-trumpeted benefits of EU membership.

      Is it such a good thing that the UK imports training and skills from other countries? At one time (perhaps still) it was difficult to find competent tradesmen at an affordable rate in Warsaw or Bucharest as they were allegedly all in the UK and Spain. The same doesn’t happen with the free movement between Liverpool and Guildford.

      Ed: According to a July 2016 BBC article, ( there were estimated to be 2.9 million EU citizens in the UK and around 1.2 million British born people living in another EU country. Other estimates exist but show a similar discrepancy.

      • David Pillinger Reply

        August 20, 2017 at 6:19 pm

        Mr Perkins’s economics leave allot to be desired.

        It is good for the UK to import skills, like we import foreign goods where we don’t make the stuff, in the same way as it is good for the UK to export goods we make, frequently made with some imported labour and raw materials.

        Additionally, if our economy tanks, we would want to be a net exporter of labour, as we were in the 70s, so that our chaps can find work and not be subject to a stagnant economy.

        It’s not a competition about who imports the least labour. If you are a successful economy you import labour more than you export it! That’s just common sense. I wouldn’t get hung up on the UK at present requiring more labour than it exports. Tomorrow it could well be different..remember Auf Weidersen Pet??!

        Open labour markets are good for business and tax takings. Imagine if we didn’t allow Guildfordians to go to work in London. There would be chronic unemployment in Guildford!

        • John Perkins Reply

          August 21, 2017 at 5:31 pm

          People are not goods to be bought and sold and their skills do not come free. Those countries in eastern Europe have invested in training their young and now find that investment being taken elsewhere to the advantage of others. The same happened here in the 60s and 70s and was called the “Brain Drain”. Nobody regarded it as a positive thing for this country. I repeat: is it such a good thing for us to take the investment of others for our own advantage?

          It’s not really a question of economics, but rather one of morality. Can we really be friends of Europe if we use their efforts to enrich ourselves at their expense?

          Why do we import tradesmen from Poland? There are plenty here, but the difference is that the Poles are willing and able to work for less. There are very few English plumbers in Poland as far as I know. And all those Polish nurses in the NHS represent an expensive loss of expertise to Poland. If it’s just about money then we’re merely using them like colonies.

  23. Jim Allen Reply

    August 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Come on chaps – separate, return to your corners then leave the ring.

    The votes have been cast, please stop rehearsing the old arguments.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      August 22, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Hear, hear. The remoaners just will not accept democracy.

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