The positive case for British Independence

Bill Newton Dunn — one of Europe’s forgotten animals


I couldn’t resist this photo of former colleague Bill Newton Dunn.  I wrote about him on my blog a couple of days ago, when I compared him to Eeyore the donkey from Winnie the Pooh.  Finding him billed as “Europe’s Forgotten Animal” was too good to miss.  In fact my blog dealt with an exchange between the two of us last week on BBC Radio Humberside.

In my blog piece I criticised Bill for contributing little to the debate but ad hominem attacks and personal abuse.  But right at the end — too late for me to respond — he attempted to make one substantive point.  “All you UKIP people do is rant against Europe”, he said.  “You offer us no alternative vision”.

He’s put a finger on a concern often mentioned by Eurosceptics.  Faced with the unfolding €uro disaster, on top of all the well-documented damage that the EU is doing, it’s all too easy to slip into a relentlessly negative critical mode.  I know.  I do so myself.  And if you’re warning of dangers ahead, it’s difficult to dress them up in positive language.

But soon (I believe) we’ll be facing an In/Out referendum, and the public may be turned off by constant carping.  Yes, we need to be honest about the EU, which is making us poorer, and less democratic, and less free.  But we also need to talk about the real opportunities which we can anticipate after we’ve got out from under.

Some people, of course, might argue that freedom and independence and democracy were enough in themselves to justify our stance.  After all, we applaud (for example) the Eastern European countries who struggled to throw off the dead hand of Moscow, and sceptics can take credit for seeking to throw off the dead hand of Brussels.  Some people might ask what Bill’s alternative is, faced with the slow-motion train crash of his European dream.  All he can offer is the mantra of “More Europe”.  It’s as if the victim of an accidental poisoning were to insist on more cyanide.

But to come to the positive case.  Leaving the EU would remove a drag-anchor on the British economy — the £100 billion or so annual cost of EU regulation.  OK.  Some of it might we might need to replace with domestic legislation, which is not cost-free, but if we could cut the burden by half, that would be a start.  Then we could abandon EU climate regulation, and move to a rational energy policy.  We could save the estimated £720 billion cost of the Climate Change Act.   We could make it possible for energy-intensive industries — and the jobs and investment they support — to stay in the UK.  We could also save the £16 billion or so that we contribute annually to Brussels.

But it’s not just the cost savings.  Locked into the EU, we’ve lost focus, as an economy, on the rest of the world where the growth is, and especially on the Commonwealth.  It’s a good time to remember the Commonwealth, whose GDP is just overtaking that of the Eurozone.  Allister Heath insists that if we had retained our Commonwealth trade links in good shape, we’d be a good deal better off today.  Locked in the EU’s inward-looking, self-referential straight-jacket, we’ve missed opportunities in the wider world.

The UK was always more globally-oriented than most EU states in trade terms, and therefore we benefitted less from the EU’s internal market than other countries.  This is true of trade in goods, and even more so of trade in services.  As a world-trader, we were also hit harder by the EU’s “Common External Tariff”.  Outside the EU, we should find it easier to re-focus our trade and exports to the BRICS, which are growing, rather than the moribund EU, where growth is flat.

Outside the EU, we could set up free-trade deals with other countries, especially in the Anglosphere, where shared language and traditions — and in some cases, common legal and accounting standards — would work in our favour.  It goes without saying that we should also retain free-trade terms with Europe.  As a major trading partner and net importer from the EU, we should be in a strong negotiating position to set up free trade on favourable terms.  Europhiles talk of the trade benefits of EU membership.  But such as they are, we should retain them.

So, lower costs.  More trade.  More jobs.  The end of infuriating intrusion and expensive regulation.  The opportunity to set up sensible, affordable energy policies.  And above all, freedom, independence and democracy.  Is that a positive case, or what?

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6 Responses to The positive case for British Independence

  1. What you say is positive. And it is based on figures which are generally agreed. We really would be better off out.
    And there is another principle at stake too, that is that we are the right size as a country to govern ourselves. Singapore, Japan, Iceland are all offshore islands which govern themselves. I suppose you could include Australia in that too. I think myself that, although I agree with regional government for Scotland, it ought to be within the UK because Scotland is actually part of our common heritage since James VI united the two monarchies.
    I believe firmly in juries, Common Law, fairly elected and free parliaments, possibly our own version of a second chamber of veterans, our own armed forces and monarchy, our own language, our own railways and roads, our own cucumbers, our own rubbish collection system………
    And, being who we are, I also believe in our own freedom to roam the world looking for people who appreciate our way of doing things, who will share their ideas and who are looking to make money with us.

  2. maureen gannon says:

    No argument from me on any of the above ,
    As for the comment he made about the UKIP and rant’s against Europe if that’s the best argument they have against UKIP he should address the argument’s given, not believe that the lowest form of wit [sarcasm] will suffice in the publics eye.
    What I do not understand is how supposed intelligent men [haha] such as our leaders are so up for the fraudelent body they cow tow too is it just power hungry little men syndrome.

  3. Laser Shark says:

    You cannot run an aluminium smelter on windpower, and so yes we need a rational energy policy, which must include coal. People must understand this, you cannot make steel without burning coal. Coal is necessary to make carbon coke for the steelmaking process. A steelworks like Redcar, for instance which was saved at the eleventh hour after a short hiatus, uses coal to produce coke, and in the process makes “town gas” which is used to generate electricity in a gas turbine, and the electricity is used in an induction furnace. Nothing is wasted. Even with the most powerful windmill on the windiest day on Earth, it would produce no carbon coke to mix with the iron ore to produce steel.

    Fly ashes and slag from the process are recovered to make by-products such as roofing tiles and building blocks, road materials and so on. How would a windfarm produce those? When making cement the process needs not only limestone, but large amounts of electricity and yes, fly-ash from a coal fired power station (originally ash from a volcano was used). There aren’t that many volcanoes in Britain, and none of them are active. How would a windfarm produce this fly ash? How could you build a windfarm without cement? How would you build a house without building blocks?

    People have a simplistic idea of electricity generation, and they must look at the bigger picture, and treat a coal fired power station, or indeed when used as part of a steelworks holistically.

  4. Sue says:

    No CAP, get our fishing, sugar and other industries back. Rekindle our ties with old Commonwealth countries for competitive trading opportunities. Close our borders again and severely control immigration from inside and outside the EU. The very best way to control the impact of environmental effects is to limit the population of our tiny island and not cement over green belt to house the millions of extra people the labour party invited in without putting into place the required infrastructure.

    Back Britain policies (which we are not allowed to do at the moment) such as stipulating that all employers should seek to employ Britons first. Stopping benefits for foreign nationals alone would save billions. Much of our public expenditure goes on social benefits, NHS, education and the like. We need to restrict these to British citizens with an added invite for those that would like citizenship if they have integrated fully (or dual citizenship for that matter). We’d have control back of our immigration policies, so the cost of all those appeals could be cut. Foreigners have left behind debts of millions owed to the NHS and for degree courses.

    We could put an end to those EU Global Projects that we are forced to endure to fund like the EU transport system and inane energy policies.

    Most importantly, the British morale would be lifted. To be allowed to have sense of pride and patriotism in our customs, traditions and way of life would make all the difference.

  5. Russellw says:

    One good point about the EU – they are able to take on the Microsofts of this world which we as an individual country would find very difficult.
    Leaving can’t be an overnight job & will have to planned. How would UKIP go about that?
    When you say “the £100 billion or so annual cost of EU regulation.” are you including the membership fee, or is that what you mean by “annually to Brussels.” (Just checking)

    • In order to get out we need Parliament (both houses and Her Majesty the Queen to sign a bill that becomes statute. It will involve abrogating several treaties which we have signed. It will also mean a lot of very serious criticism from most of Europe too (we get a lot of that already actually). I do not think it will, however, lead to war.

      At the moment the British People will not countenance such a decision because the EU has snuck up on them. We will, however, sooner or later, get a crisis which will make people think long and hard and perhaps elect a government which will do the trick. A long slow decline (which is what is happening) is not going to provide the tipping point. People will get used to anything.

      Meanwhile a referendum might help.

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