UK: Europe’s Enterprise Zone?

Not in Nick Clegg’s play-book!

Nick Clegg, described as “Deputy Prime Minister”

Nick Clegg, described as “Deputy Prime Minister”

So now we know.  It must be true, because we have it from Nick Clegg, sometimes described as the Deputy Prime Minister (but often described in more colourful terms).  If Britain leaves the EU — or even if UKIP does well in May, which looks increasingly likely — then the UK’s nascent economic recovery will be stopped dead in its tracks.  Companies will leave Britain.  Inward investment will dry up.  Jobs will be lost.

I know Nick Clegg of old.  Many will remember that he used to be an East Midlands MEP.  He was elected in the region, as I was, in 1999, and in that first five-year term our paths crossed often.  I must say I would have been flabbergasted if you’d told me then that one day he’d be Deputy Prime Minster.  And to be honest, I still find it fairly preposterous.  I suppose he must be in his forties, but he still has that air of a boy sent to do a man’s job.  And as Talleyrand said of the Bourbons, he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

On seeing the report of Nick’s remarks, I Tweeted “Memo to Nick Clegg: Stop telling porkies. Outside the EU, Britain will become Europe’s Enterprise Zone, with lower taxes, energy costs etc.”  And later: “I shall start to respect Nick Clegg’s views on the economy (just as soon as he’s spent as much time in international businesses as I have)”.  (About 33 years, if you were wondering)

Clegg has an almost religious faith (or mania?) with regard to the EU.  Like all current and former EU apparatchiks, he believes that the only solution to any problem in Europe is more Europe.

We have direct EU budget contributions of close to £20 billion (and it’s right to take the gross figure — we can largely ignore the money we get back.  As I like to say “They give us back a little of our own money, they tell us what to do with it, then they expect us to be grateful”).  We have independent estimates from both Patrick Minford and Tim Congdon that the total costs of the UK’s EU membership (including regulatory costs) are 10 to 11% of GDP.  Leaving the EU will therefore be a huge economic boost.

The threats about the loss of “3 million jobs”, and disinvestment, are simply a re-play of what Clegg was saying ten years ago when we declined to join the €uro.  He was wrong then.  He’s wrong now.  While Carlos Ghosn threatens to leave, Ford van production actually has left the UK — to go to Turkey, outside the EU.  If Ford can service the EU vehicle market under a free trade deal from non-member-state Turkey, then so can Nissan from the UK after Independence Day.

Outside the EU, Britain can have lower taxes, much lower energy costs (when we’ve got rid of Cameron’s “green crap”), more flexible labour markets, more global free trade agreements — what’s not to like?

It’s interesting that a recent report from the CEBR reckons that Britain will be the fastest growing economy in Europe, overtaking France in 2018 and Germany by 2030.  Its Director thinks that leaving the EU might possibly be negative in the short-term, but would probably be positive in the long-term.  One of the reasons advanced by economists for expecting Britain to do well is that we’re outside the €urozone.  Pity poor Latvia, which joined the €urozone on January 1st, against the wishes of most Latvians.  Compare this point with Clegg’s support for €uro membership ten years ago.

Yet bizarrely there are still some commentators suggesting that leaving the EU (or talking about it) is a downside risk for UK PLC.  Some people say that if the UK recovery is going well (and let’s hope it does), let’s not rock the boat.  This is strange thinking.  If we can do relatively well while we’re still in the EU, paying over the odds for regulation, and energy, just think how much better we’ll do when we get out from under.  Both our economy and our democracy will be Better Off Out. 

The deep unspoken fear in Brussels is that a major country like Britain, on leaving the EU, will in fact demonstrate better economic performance.  We will become, in effect, Europe’s Enterprise Zone, outside the EU but with better investment conditions, and full market access to the EU under a free trade agreement.  This will finally give the lie to the myth on which the EU project is based.  Here’s a quote I’ve used before, but I make no apology for quoting it again.   William Pitt the Younger said it: “England will have saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example”.

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27 Responses to UK: Europe’s Enterprise Zone?

  1. barrymx5 says:

    Superb Roger. Thank you for pulling these various strands together. And for the insight into “Boy Clegg”.

  2. Anyoldiron says:

    The people of this Country that have a vote in the General Election in 2015 may be able to make their mark on whether this Country remains in the European Union or not. As it is very doubtful that there will be a REFERENDUM on an ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU before the General Election, and whether the Conservatives would get back in alleged power anyway, we must also remember that ‘no Parliament may bind another’, so any “promises” re any referendum, are like pie-crusts, easily broken.

    I suggest therefore we should use the General Election as the REFERENDUM we have been denied and only vote for those Political Organisations that want out of the EU-forever. That means that those Political Parties and Organisation that want out of the EU must put themselves forward for the UK General Election. It matters not if none have ever Governed this Country before- for lets face it, no British Government has done that since we joined the EEC/EC/EU, they have just obeyed EU orders, or arranged matters in keeping with what the EU desires. The greatest tragedy of all for us in this Country is that a British Government-which we foolishly elected to Govern us and to keep us all safe no matter what, is quite deliberately reducing our Defences, and for an Island nation with the great need of ships, a tragedy.

    • I like your thinking, Anyoldiron. But I think that before the General Election, this year’s €uro-election is likely to turn into an EU referendum. Admittedly that won’t create a “Better Off Out” government, but it may force Labour to promise a referendum

    • Chris says:

      A government which sacks 20,000 soldiers, sells our only aircraft carrier for £3 million scrap and virtually gives the Harriers to away to America for £112 million after a £600 million upgrade, does not deserve to remain in power. Especially when at the same time, they increase overseas aid by £4 billion to £12 billion a year.

      And the reason for doing this? To try and win the centre-left votes, with cuddly policies such as overseas aid, gay marriage and green energy.

  3. Brin Jenkins says:

    Roger, we need a leader! Many folk now think the political system has failed us, and its a waste of time voting. It requires a leader with great courage to preach a revolution of what needs to be done and how we are going do it. This will bring back the disenchanted in droves.

    The current politicians who have prevaricated with what is possible, and that can’t be done as we no longer have the power, are finished. Many need trying for treason which is a most serious crime.

    We can do, and we will do are needed. The restoration of our sovereignty and dignity are what we urgently want to hear.

    It will not come from the chinless wonders who are often of immigrant origins, owing no loyalty to our Country.

    • Mike Stallard says:

      I really want to support this. At the moment, the right can win the 2015 election. Time and time again, if you add the UKIP and Conservative votes together, they far outstrip the Labour votes. But it is the Labour who are the biggest party.
      The LIbDems are either flatlining or going over to Labour where they really belong.

      If we could possibly get a real leader who would unite the right, we would sweep to power and then excise the ghastly cancer of the EU.

    • Thanks Brin. I think you’re right. But I also think we have the leader: Nigel Farage. And he is already “bringing back the disenchanted in droves”. I understand Mike Stallard’s point, but we can’t simply assume that UKIP is the Tory party in exile. UKIP is attracting support from former Labour and Lib-Dem voters, and from those “disenchanted” who’ve not voted for years. Any deal with the Tories would utterly undermine UKIP’s position and drive away many of our best people (though if Tories want to join us, as many have, they are of course welcome). We mustn’t be characterised as “a party on the right like the Tories”. We’re not. As I like to say, “We’re not left, not right, just common-sense”.

  4. Mike Spilligan says:

    Another excellent posting, Mr H. Clegg is still (well, certainly about a year ago) enthusiastic for a single currency. On being asked his thoughts (then) on live radio on the trauma being played out round the collapsing euro he tried to brush all criticism aside by saying “No one could have forecast what has happened”, ignoring the fact that a score or more of notable economists had done just that – and he was allowed to get away with that lie by (as is usual) a lightweight interviewer.

  5. DougS says:

    Isn’t it time for someone at UKIP to do a quick calculation – based on the difference between what we sell to the EU and what they sell to us.

    If we’ve got 3 million jobs on the line the EU must have many more because of the seriously bad trade imbalance. But we need to put a figure on it so that every time Clegg (isn’t it always Clegg?) mentions it we can come back and say ‘if we risk 3m jobs, they risk 5m’ (or whatever), so it isn’t going to happen!

    • Barry Harding says:

      Doug you are on the wrong track. Our membership of the WTO ensures our exports are protected against any vexatious actions. We are working on a trade paper spelling all this out. Plus in crude terms we import much more from the EU than we export. Going down the jobs dependent on exports route is a very technical statistical calculation which is best avoided.

    • Nail on the head, Doug. I’ve been saying this for years, and like you, my estimate, based on the balance of trade, is five million continental jobs.

  6. Jane Davies says:

    Spot on Roger…carry on the verbal arse kicking. When the UK leaves the EU let’s hope all of those politicians who want to stay in emigrate to other EU countries or could they be charged with treason if they refuse to go?

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      Treason is a very serious crime, 14 of our UK Police Authorities have now issued crime numbers for this against alleged crime by several prominent politicians.

      The matter has been referred to the Metropolitan Police for action. At the present time the Met is sat on its hands for some very strange reason which they have not disclosed. This inaction is a crime of misprision and almost as serious.

      Why has the press not reported this?

      Why has no political leader ordered the investigation to proceed?

      Not leaving the UK is not a crime, some may face arrest if they are present when the Met proceeds to act enforcing our law.

  7. Gert says:

    I would like to comment on your comment about Nick Clegg, you said “but he still has that air of a boy sent to do a man’s job.” I’ve always said he is like a spoilt little boy who cannot get a kick of the ball so he says “it’s my ball and if you don’t let me have a kick I’m taking it in”. Or in other words if we don’t agree with his point of view he’s going to throw another strop which he has got off to perfection. Silly boy.

  8. David says:

    Ah the cleggness, a most uninspiring being!

  9. catalanbrian says:

    “full market access to the EU under a free trade agreement”. This is not guaranteed and may indeed not be in the best interests of the EU as a whole, so why would they agree? There is currently overproduction of motor vehicles within the EU, so following the UKs withdrawal I would think it unlikely that the EU would agree to a free trade agreement including the motor industry. So Perhaps Mr Helmer you should cease pretending that leaving the EU would be all positive for the UK.

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      We never agreed to political union Brian, and It was Treason to do so. Edward Heath was advised on constitutional objections and he chose to lie about the intentions.

      We managed better before the Common Market.

      We had :-
      A great Merchant Navy, Ship Building Industry and Iron and Steel production.
      We had developed finest system of law and order in the World, an advance Aeronautical industry, built advanced Nuclear Reactors’ owned our own railways, water industry, power, employment was high and crime was low. Education was systematically changed to its present low ebb.

      I was there and having spent a life time seeing my taxes and efforts thrown away by Bolshevik’s disciples I am at variance with your point of view.

    • Catalanbrian: 1. Economic interests and balance of trade (see comments above on five million jobs). 2. WTO rules. 3. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which obliges the remnant EU to negotiate favourable trade terms with any member which leaves. You think those smart guys in Munich are going to say “Yah Boo Sucks. You guys have left the EU so we won’t sell you any more BMWs”?

    • Barry Harding says:

      Catalanbrian you are wrong to pin all your arguments on a bilateral trade agreement. Roger has it right above. To spell out his WTO point above, we have Most Favoured Nation Treatment as a result of our WTO membership. One of its most important aspects is to prevent vexatious interference with trade. The WTO not the EU is the key to our success as a trading nation. The EU Single Market rules are more of a negative than a positive in that they hamstring our businesses even when they are trading with countries outside the EU ( which now account for the majority of our trade).

    • Chris says:

      The UK is the EU’s largest export market and has overtaken France to become Germany’s largest trading partner. The UK is BMW’s fourth largest market after America, China and Germany.

      Do you think that the EU would sacrifice this trade, which is in their favour, to spite the UK? It is the UK which holds the winning cards and not the EU.

  10. Chris says:

    I hope that the good people of Sheffield make the right choice and boot Clegg out of Westminster in 2015. Add to this list Ed Davey and Vince Cable.

  11. Arthur King says:

    Clegg should shut up. He is assured of his place in Europe——provided we stay in.
    I would rather believe that Nick Griffin is a secret Muslim than believe that the Lib Dems will survive the next election without massive voter fraud.

    • Brin Jenkins says:

      Postal fraud is a great possibility. I also worry about the tampering with ballot boxes overnight. We had our area boxes sealed with our own seals to prevent this happening but when the boxes were presented for the count they had already been opened. My wife had stood in the Council Elections but of all the candidates the Liberal candidate won.

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