For two years we’ve been fed a diet of daily fear by those who wish to overturn the Brexit referendum result and keep us either in the EU in whole or attached via Customs Union and Single Market membership in perpetuity by being told that a no-deal Brexit would be a fearful conclusion.
All this has done is to embolden M. Barnier and others in the Commission that delay will work to their advantage, with a stream of ‘non’ to any position offered by the UK Government and concoctions of non-existent stumbling blocks such as the Irish border issue to force the UK into accepting the vassal state solution that they desire.
What an outcome for the Commission. The bloc’s most recalcitrant member stripped of its vote and voice, with no representation in its Council of Ministers, no representation in the European Parliament (such as it is worth) and no ability to influence even the most outlandish of legal instruments dictating to industries of importance to the UK. No resistance to new ways to clip the wings of the City, a financial transaction tax perhaps or the banning of new world-beating UK products, all in the name of Single Market access. The answer to a bureaucrat’s dream, and with it a huge slug of British cash to boot. True taxation with zero representation and no opportunity for the world’s fifth largest economy to maximise global trading opportunities – and no ability for us to showcase to other members considering their own democratic future the true dividend of freedom from the EU.
As the dawn rose on the morning of 24th June 2016, I felt that a new free trade agreement and a simple, amicable divorce from the EU would be simple. The £95bn trade deficit with EU members and the CETA deal taking shape meant that, under any logic, the EU would wish to keep its best export market happy, just as a farmer makes sure his best milking cow is first to be fed.
How wrong I was: the Commission is so remote from the electorate it has little interest in real people, the car workers in Germany, the citrus farmers of Spain. It is clear that the EU project, an article of blind faith, cannot be altered off course by even a degree, no matter if it means self-inflicted damage to its members. We should have learned that after David Cameron’s humbling experience when he was sent back to the UK having achieved nothing.
But still we hoped. Every potential position presented in good faith by the Government on customs, borders, even the fair treatment of EU and UK citizens living away from their home countries – rebuffed. And still we kid ourselves that we can achieve a new, deep and special partnership.
I’m now for a no-deal Brexit, not because I see it as optimal, but because I see there is no other way. The EU will never accept anything but full alignment with EU standards, its Customs Union and subservience to the ECJ. It cannot comprehend mutual recognition. But in reality there is no such thing as no deal.
International norms, rules and treaty law will mean that the aircraft will still fly, insurance policies will still be valid and the world will still turn. The WTO option will see to that. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement of February 2017 to which both the EU and the UK have signed up means no possibility of impediments to borders or trade and no non-tariff barriers backed with the force of international law.
Has the USA ‘fallen off a cliff’, ‘crashed out’ or any other lunatic term you could name because of the pause in any likely EU-US deal? Of course not. Are any other of the other 163 WTO members international laggards because they are not subservient to the EU? No, and far from it.
As the fifth largest economy in the world, are we so diminished in our personal assessment of ourselves that we seek to cling on to the worst remnants of EU membership?
Or shall we go global? Now I like the sound of that.