Prime Minister, we already have frictionless EU trade

Jon Danzig |


Today in Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“We are committed to delivering on our commitment to having no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that we have as frictionless trade as possible with the European Union.”

She added:

“There are a number of ways that can be delivered.”

The best way to deliver ‘as frictionless trade as possible’ and ‘no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland’ is to have what we’ve already got: full membership of the EU

Nothing comes even close to being as good as that.

Ever since the EU referendum, Mrs May has been telling Parliament that she aims to get the benefits of EU membership without being a member. It’s nonsense of course.

For example, on 26 October 2016, Mrs May told Parliament she wanted “the best possible arrangement for trade” with the European Union.

Which is exactly what we have now.

Two months later, Brexit Secretary, David Davis, also told Parliament that he wants to get “the best possible access for goods and services to the European market.”

Which again, is exactly what we have now.

Last year Mr Davis also told Parliament that he had “come up with” the idea of a comprehensive trade and customs agreement with the EU “that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have.”

Of course, he has not found a way to achieve that. But this all begs the question: if EU benefits are so important to Britain (and they are) why on earth are we leaving?

In America they have a saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So why does Mrs May want to fix something that isn’t broken?

She says it’s because that’s what the British people want. Well, that’s a moot point.

Yes, 17 million people voted for Britain to leave the EU – but that’s 17 million out of a UK population of 65 million.

And two of the four countries that comprise our Union of the United Kingdom – Scotland and Northern Ireland – don’t want Britain to leave the European Union at all.

What’s strange is that Mrs May also didn’t want Britain to leave the EU.

In a keynote speech during the Referendum campaign, she said:

“I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

During a private and secretly recorded meeting with Goldman Sachs one month before the Referendum, Mrs May warned that companies would leave the UK if the country voted for Brexit.

What’s more strange is that, including herself, 70% of Mrs May’s current Cabinet voted to Remain in the EU. All of them said during the Referendum that leaving the EU would be bad for Britain.

So now they’re going to take Britain on a path that they all claimed would be against the interests of the country.

Mrs May now says we’re leaving so that Britain can trade with the rest of the world. But we already do that now. The EU doesn’t stop us.

On the contrary, Germany exports much more than Britain across the world, without any complaints that the EU is holding them back. Indeed, the EU was set up to facilitate better trade across the world.

Mrs May now says we have to leave the EU, its Single Market and Customs Union, so that Britain can be free to negotiate its own trade agreements with other countries.

Precisely for what advantage?

Currently the UK enjoys trade agreements with over 60 countries across the world, which we helped to negotiate as a leading member of the EU.

Since the EU is the world’s biggest free trade bloc, and the world’s biggest exporter, and biggest importer, of manufactured goods and services, it has the muscle and size to negotiate the best trade agreements with other countries.

By contrast, the UK, on its own and as a much smaller trader, is unlikely to get trade agreements anywhere near as good as the ones we have now, let alone any better.

On leaving the EU in March next year, the UK will have to tear up those 60+ EU trade agreements and negotiate them all over again from scratch. It will take years.

And for what?

Just so the name ‘UK’ is on the front of those trade agreements, instead of the name ‘EU’?

Big deal.

Does any of this make any sense?

No. It doesn’t. The EU is the world’s largest free trade area. As a member, we receive huge benefits worth enormously more than the net annual membership fee of £7.1 billion a year.

As a member, we enjoy free, frictionless trade with our biggest trading partner by far, right on our doorstep, where almost 50% of our exports go to and over 50% of our imports come from. Nowhere else in the world comes close to that.

The UK government is desperate to continue to enjoy similar membership benefits of frictionless trade with the EU after we have ended our membership, because they know that our economy’s survival depends on it.

But the UK government has said it wants to continue to enjoy membership benefits as an ex-member, without being part of the EU Single Market or customs union, without agreeing to the rules of the EU and its market, without being subject to the European Court of Justice to oversee those rules, and without paying anything to the EU for access.

It’s not going to happen. Mrs May knows this.

Before the referendum she said boldly and strongly, “It is not clear why other EU member states would give Britain a better deal than they themselves enjoy.”

Yet that’s exactly what Mrs May now wants. She says she aims to achieve a new trade agreement with the EU that’s unique to us, that no other country in the world has ever achieved.

Of course, it’s not going to happen.

What’s the point of a club if you are going to allow non-members to enjoy the same or better benefits as members? What club allows that?

So here’s the bottom line:

 Britain needs frictionless trade with the EU.

We need free movement of goods, services, capital and people for our country not just to survive, but to thrive.

For the sake of peace, we need an entirely open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

To achieve this, we need to continue with the status quo: the arrangement we have now.

Has this sunk in yet?

We’re leaving all the benefits of the EU, only to desperately try and get back as many of those benefits as we can after we’ve left.

This is complete and utter madness. It will be much better to just keep the current arrangement. It will be cheaper, and we will all be better off.

Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s time we faced up to it before it’s too late.

Brexit makes no sense.



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