Saturday, 26 September 2015
Out is the only option.
If there is one thing Banks et al are right about it is that the Tory eurosceptic camp is not in any way to be trusted. They are fence sitters which is no position from which to lead a campaign, and more to the point, they are Tory tribalists - and not to be trusted. Given that their collective intellectual capital is little more developed than Ukip's I don't give them any greater chance of leading us to Brexit even if they were entering with honest intentions.
More to the point, let us suppose that the new EU treaty offers us associate membership, aside from trading independence, that looks little different to what the EEA/Efta interim option would be. We would still be in the single market, but theoretically not part of the EU's "ever closer union". But that's still basically Britain on a leash to be yanked by the Eurozone supreme government.
So I ask myself if there is any package that would satisfy me. Supposing Cameron was able to pull off what nobody expects and get us all our trading independence back, we would have our global voice, single market membership and be in the second tier of the EU. Almost the best of both worlds. Would I then be satisfied? The answer is no.
For starters, we would have to take that trading independence on trust but that's besides the point. This is not just about sending a message to the EU, it is also a message to our own government that we the people are the ones who decide, not they. Moreover, Westminster is the institution that did this to us in the first place and it would only take an accident of numbers of for a Labour government to sign an accord to surrender any opt outs and concessions in exchange for a carrot dangled before us. Brexit is the only guaranteed means of keeping what we will gain.
By voting to remain in the EU we are voting to trust one of Cameron's empty promises along with trusting the EU's obvious duplicity. Europhiles talk about Brexit causing uncertainty, but if you ask me that's a helluva bigger gamble. Moreover, if we want to expand our global trading horizons, that's not going to come cheaply. We will have to sink a lot of money into international development over and above what we will inevitably continue to contribute to EU-UK cooperation budgets. We will need total autonomy in how we do this, not least so we can undo some of the damage the EU has done to potential trading partners in Africa.
There is never going to be a halfway house that gives us the benefits independence brings and there is certainly no value at all in being in the second tier of Europe on a tight leash. There is nothing political union can offer us over and above what we gain from single market access, and if there was, it could not compensate for what we stand to lose globally.
As much as Brexit is an economic and strategic decision it is also a gesture that the hegemony of the EU is done. the coming treaty that consolidates the eurozone is the high water mark for the EU. It is now as far down the line as ever it can be and it failed in its goal to create a supreme government for all of Europe. We never wanted that, but now it is no longer a possibility, we should break with the past and focus on building the future. In that future will be an EU we trade and coexist with, one we cooperate with but one that must persuade Britain rather than overrule it.
We must end this state of denial that the EU gives us influence. Trading blocs are a wholly obsolete model when the world is converging in other ways, industry by industry, market by market. Globalisation is a force that does not respect borders and does not evolve according to a master plan. It follows the money. In a world where it has never been easier to up sticks and take advantage of favourable trading conditions and lower taxes, we cannot afford to wait several years for the EU to develop its obsolete deep and comprehensive trade deals with partners irrelevant to our domestic economy. To get the very best from globalisation we need to be agile and competitive and the EU is an obvious and crippling barrier to that.
We're not going to increase our quality of life and working rights by legislating for it with added rights and entitlements. All that will do is expedite the evacuation of wealth from Europe. The way we improve our working conditions and increase our wealth is to be out there making the best of a radical change in how things are done globally. For this to happen, as much as we need to resolve the technical drag factor of the EU we also need a confident assertion, a gesture that says we are back in play, the lines are open and we're waiting for your call - knowing that there is no yank on the leash when we start to prosper.
I don't believe as some do that Britain is declining, but I do believe that Britain's anaemic growth holds back so many possibilities and opportunities and I don't think the old ways can serve us as they once did. We need to break with the past and make it a clean break. There is no middle way and I cannot support any Brexit campaign that doesn't believe in the potential of Britain and certainly not one asking to take a leap of faith on the back of a Tory promise. They are not worth the paper they are written on.