This article was originally published on The Commentator
A WTO Brexit would provide the best of both worlds, ensuring a clean and democratically mandated break from the European Union, whilst also facilitating the prospect of a possible future trade deal down the line.
Despite the fictitious scaremongering which has surrounded talk of a WTO Brexit, the opportunities and possibilities it creates cannot be ignored. In reality this would make it the most attractive option for the United Kingdom.
First and foremost, we would be able to begin our global adventure much sooner than currently ‘pencilled’ in.
Leaving the EU without a deal, would mean leaving the EU’s institutions in March 2019, as opposed to December 2020. This would give us a massive 19 additional months to tap into the worldwide enthusiasm for other countries to trade with Britain. The United States, India, Canada, Australia and countless other countries are all waiting beyond the walls of the EU to positively engage with us. We cannot afford any delay in grasping these markets.
Ending the constant stream of regulatory dross emanating from Brussels in March next year, has the potential to greatly synthesise British law-making. Under a WTO Brexit, the immediate emphasis would undoubtedly be on how to capitalise on the new opportunities before us – leading to a concerted effort to unshackle our economy from EU red tape.
Laws and unnecessary regulations which are holding back British industry, and have long been in the crosshairs of parliamentarians, can finally be done away with in a flurry of positive activity. Estimates put the economic benefits of Britain conducting its own regulatory regime as high as 4 percent of GDP.
A WTO Brexit would also make the prospect of Britain securing a beneficial trade deal with the EU infinitely more likely in the medium term. It’s patently clear the EU has become very worked up during the current negotiations. This has injected a coarse hostility into its diplomacy from Juncker and Barnier in the EU Commission, to the rest of the EU27 leaders, like Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.
The bloody nose given to the EU by the Great British Public’s decision to Leave the EU on June 23rd 2016, 2 years ago, has blinded some of these EU leaders to economic pragmatism.
The petty attitude exuded by Michel Barnier in every single press conference shows the current talks are centred on emotional politics, not economics. We should not waste our time with the EU while they are behaving in this way.
At some stage in the future, the EU will want trade talks to recommence. After all, the EU’s whole guise is as a trading body; a normative institution which clings to concepts of “multilateralism” and “international cooperation” to justify its existence.
As the Maastricht Treaty states: “The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness”. Pushing away its single biggest export market – the 5th largest economy in the world – would clearly undermine these claims somewhat, and lead to existential questions about its functionality.
Undoubtedly, the resumption of talks after Brexit Day next year is something which may be in the UK’s interests. No longer would negotiations about trade be up against the Article 50 clock. Nor would the EU be able to make excessive demands and risk us simply leaving the table – something we will have already shown we are prepared to do.
The temptation of our political elites to keep us manacled to some, if not most, aspects of the EU, will have been removed and instead the talks will be solely focused on mutual trade. This is not forgetting the £40 billion Divorce Bill we would have saved ourselves to invest in our future.
It is also important to dispel some of the outlandish claims made about trade on WTO terms. Remain campaigners continue to perpetuate the ludicrous idea that all trade would simply cease under a WTO Brexit. This is a gross misinterpretation of what the WTO terms actually are, and stands in stark contrast to what its CEO, Roberto Azevedo has said: “Trade will not stop, it will continue”!
For instance, UK exporters who currently ship their goods to the EU will still be able to with ease. The EU’s ‘Most Favoured Nation’ tariffs are minimal, and on Brexit Day the ‘non-tariff barriers’ will be non-existent! This means those who predominantly export to the EU (just 12% of the UK’s GDP) will still be meeting the required standards. Importantly though, 88% of the UK economy which is not related to EU trade, will no longer be bound by the EU’s overly protective standards.
Likewise, fears of traffic jams at British ports like Dover have been grossly overblown. The WTO makes provisions for customs checks and borders. There are many agreements within the WTO framework which prevent unfair discrimination, or excessive aversion to importing from a certain country, which means UK-EU trade, will not simply grind to a halt. An example being the Trade Facilitation Agreement implemented last year, which allows for smooth-moving and frictionless movement of goods between countries which are not in a customs union, and avoids the need for excessive red tape.
A WTO Brexit would allow the Government to deliver the wishes of the Great British Public by taking us out of the European Union. If and when the EU eventually realises it has made a massive mistake by not managing trade talks with the UK properly, any resumed talks will be very much in our favour.
The WTO is a trade deal, and one which allows us to trade very successfully with numerous countries around the world,outside the EU. By walking away from the current dead-end talks, the Government will be able to Get Britain Out of the EU in the cleanest possible terms – as instructed by an overwhelming majority of the public.
Jayne Adye is Director of grassroots, cross-party campaign Get Britain Out