Making the case for Brexit

Roger Daventry

With Nigel Wickens and Susan at The Barn Restaurant at Upper Stowe

On Dec 18th, I spoke at a very convivial Christmas Dinner organised by the Daventry and South Northants UKIP Branch.  After some festive pleasantries, I discussed some of the issues that will arise during the Brexit debate (indeed a few moments ago I was listening to the BBC’s Any Questions over lunch, and a number of these issues did indeed arise).  One of the guests asked if I could let them have some notes of the points I made, so here goes.

First, Cameron’s “renegotiation”.  While UKIP wants nothing less than independence, many Conservative Backbenchers and activists might be satisfied with a few real and substantive EU reforms, of the type that Cameron was hinting at a year ago.  Reinstatement of John Major’s Maastricht opt-outs, which Tony Blair gave away — especially in so far as they cover employment and the Social Chapter.  Control of our borders.  A reassertion of parliamentary sovereignty in Westminster.  And, we mighty add, control of energy and environment policy, and agriculture and fisheries.  And especially the right to make our own trade deals with third countries where the EU fails to do so.

In the end, Cameron asked for none of these things.  He’s reduced the whole debate to the relatively narrow and trivial issue of in-work benefits for EU migrants. (If we could control our borders, we wouldn’t need to fiddle about with differential welfare benefits).  Cameron has so far been successful in focussing on this detail and avoiding the real issues.  But he’s also succeeded in demonstrating to the British people that we simply can’t get our own way in the EU.  He has asked for precious little, and he will get even less.

Then, jobs.  We are tired of hearing the claim that “3½ million jobs depend on EU membership”.  This is based on a report from the NIESR in 2000 which was immediately picked up and spun by EU apologists.  The Director of NIESR immediately came out to condemn the spin, and to point out that the jobs depend on the trade, not the EU membership, and added that “there was no a prioi reason while all or any of that trade would be lost”.

Of course not.  For a start, if Britain were simply an arms-length third country, and we paid the Common External Tariff on goods exported to the continental EU, the total annual duty would be around £3.5 billion a year — around a third of our net budget contributions.

But of course we will not be treated as an arms-length third country.  We will have a free trade deal with the EU (as, say, Korea andChile have), and the trade (and the jobs) will continue as before.  Digby Jones, former Director of the CBI, has said “If we leave the EU, we will have a Free Trade Deal within 24 hours”.  Why? Because we import much more from continental Europe than we export to them.  We are in fact their largest overseas customer, bar none.  They need the deal more than we do.  Those auto executives from Mercedes and Audi and BMW will be knocking on the door of the Commission demanding a UK FTA ASAP, so that they can continue to sell their cars in the UK.

Just for the record, if there really are 3½ million UK jobs depending on UK/EU trade, then there are five or six million continental jobs depending on trade with the UK.  Go figure.

Trade deals.  We are told we need the “clout” of the EU’s 28 countries and 500-million-consumer market to enable us to do trade deals.  Indeed I was told by economist Vicky Pryce (the ex-wife of the notorious Chris Huhne) that Britain alone would be “far too small” to do a trade deal with the USA.  I had to remind her that the USA already has bilateral trade deals with around twenty third-countries, andevery one of those countries has a smaller economy than the UK.  Every one.  Ms. Pryce was talking nonsense, and should have known better.

One of those smaller countries is Singapore (with GDP around one ninth of the UK).  Years ago, I went with the then Ambassador of Singapore in Brussels to see the then EU Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy, to urge him to do a free trade deal with Singapore.  He made it clear that he thought an EU FTA was not (as it should be) about mutual benefit for the parties.  It was, rather, a lever or bargaining tool to put pressure on ASEAN (including Singapore) to integrate on the EU model.  So today, Singapore has a deal with theUS but not the EU, giving the US a competitive advantage over the EU in Singapore in particular, and to an extent across South East Asia.

And for the record, little Switzerland and tiny Iceland both have FTAs with China.  We don’t, and nor does the EU.

Negotiating clout.  “OK”, say the pro-EU politicians, “you may be able to negotiate a deal of some sort, but as a smaller entity you can’t possibly get such a good deal”.  This is exactly the reverse of the truth.  Before EU negotiators can even sit down with (say) USnegotiators, they first have to go through all the horse-trading between 28 EU member-states with different interests and different objectives.  UK interests are massively diluted before the US negotiations can even start.  As a top-ten economy we would do much better by speaking with a unified voice and representing ourselves and our interests directly at the negotiating table.

Status Quo.  One of the biggest arguments our opponents will use is fear.  “We’ve been in the EU for forty-some years”, they’ll say.  “We know where we are.  Outside we’ll be in unknown territory.  The risks are enormous”.  Good heavens — fancy being at risk of doing as well as countries like Switzerland or Norway or Canada or Korea.  Many countries smaller than us can cope with independence successfully, and we can too.  But the key response to this argument is that the EU doesn’t represent any kind of status quo.  No.  Right there in the Treaty of Rome we have the pledge to “Ever Closer Union”, and that will continue whatever form of words Cameron comes back with.  The choice is between self-confident, democratic independence, or an unstoppable journey to an ill-defined but federal/integrated super-state.  Safety lies in taking back control of our own affairs — not in leaving them with the Brusselsnomenklatura.





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12 Responses to Making the case for Brexit

  1. martinbrumby says:

    Absolutely agree with everything you say.
    However, the EU scam is like the Climate Change scam, on steroids.
    It is obviously worth campaigning but I wouldn’t build up your hopes too much.
    We will get out of Europe when the EU collapses and scrap Miliband’s Climate Change Act 2008 when people shiver in the dark. Not before.

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    So..when the EU ban exports to Russia and they gradually go tit for tat, (plus they wish to enter an oil war with S. Arabia) would I expect the EU southern states to be begging for sales to the UK. I think so! Seems to me the EU has quite a habit of kicking itself in the nuts. Thats along with the UK slowly committing suicide.

    John Major was very negative today:
    Will we sell….NO
    Will we be safe…NO
    Will we be wealthy…NO

    These wrong Tories types are seemingly always wrong.

    • catweazle666 says:

      Going by Major’s record, the logical course of action would be whatever he supports, we do the exact opposite.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Listening to him later (Marr) I’m sure he signalled that the EU would likely damage us once we had left. That’ll be the demise of the games in the City I expect. Am pretty sure Germany is biding their time on that. Either way (IN/OUT) they’ll get control of it, the IN bit being much less messy. More lunches ahead?
        He also said:
        Can we negotiate…NO. That bit is right as to anything meaningful to us!

  3. Jane Davies says:

    The longer the UK stays in the EU the greater the numbers will be of politicians who do not remember or even know how great Britain was before joining the money sucking useless organisation of idiots who can’t even organise a p***up in a brewery.
    We have the same groupies who follow the EU mantra word for word as the climate change followers who think they can change a process that happens naturally and has done for billions of years. I shake my head in despair and can only imagine what history will say about all this in the centuries to come. No doubt with as much mirth and derision that we now project towards the scholars of the past who were convinced the earth was flat!

    • I think a lot of the trouble is that European defenders assume that we want to get out just like that! Immediately. No argument. Bezam!
      No. Under Article 50 (or as it will be then Article 138 under the Fundamental Law of the EU) we have a two year time span to negotiate.

      Click to access fundamentallaw.pdf

      After that, our direction will be clear: head for the exit!.
      Also we are probably going to be offered some kind of Associate Membership (the British Option?) in a rapidly coagulating European Eurozone. That will lead to a gradual drift towards the exit. In neither case will our trade be disrupted, actually.

  4. The current muddle in Europe simply cannot continue. For one thing the monetary system (Euro) is in chaos. Secondly there is the immigration/terrorism/rise of Naziism, NF, Golden Dawn, Podemos and other opposition parties.

    There are two possibilities.
    One is that we muddle along as we are at the moment with the economy tanking, immigration and terrorism rampant, and no defence (except Obama run NATO) against resurgent Russia.
    The other is that Europe gets a firm, effective government under a strong leader.

    If we go for the second option, then we fall into line with the Commission and a lot of European politicians. We also fall out of line with a lot of public groups like the Neo Nazis, Golden Dawn, Pegida, Podemos. These will simply have to be crushed by force. To combat terrorism, new laws, tougher policing and sensible security measures will have to be introduced. Another Guantanamo Bay will be introduced for terrorists. There will be no torture. A new Bill of Human Rights will be introduced listing the Rights of every Human Being (except, of course, for terrorists and xenophobes and climate change deniers). There will be no liquidation of anti European terrorists and xenophobes. Special camps will be introduced for immigrants and people who need a course in re-education.
    The government of Europe, under the constitution, will have the right to control taxation and will use the taxes wisely through the Regional Directorate, to develop the economy with new factories, farms and vineyards. Prosperity will return as peace descends.
    So we rally to the cry: MORE EUROPE!

    • Ian wragg says:

      I hope your being tongue in cheek Mike. Let’s hope the rise of the factions in the EU are a catalyst for its demise.
      Your buddy Richard has banned me and it would seem all dissenting voices from his blog.
      No surprise there then.

  5. Alan Wheatley says:

    With reference to the last paragraph, some may think that if 27 countries countries have decided that being in the EU is a good thing why should we British think differently. The simple answer is that, by the accidents of history, we are different.

    Those 27 have suffered from being invaded, or invading, or both over many centuries. They have had their evolution and lifestyles ravaged and suffered from oppressive and cruel governance, not the least in recent times under Stalinist communism. For these countries the EU provides an improvement, in some cases dramatically so.

    The UK has not been successfully invaded since 1066 and has had the chance to form its own destiny. Some of our political elites may think that we are not good enough to run our own country, but, like Nigel, I do think we are more than good enough, and I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK.

  6. fedz08 says:

    It seems like EU membership is like being coerced into digging our own grave, and being mugged at the same time.

  7. Pingback: Michael Portillo makes a very strong case to vote for BREXIT - UK Rants

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