Monday, 6 June 2016
Brexit: the evolution to freedom
For those of you unclear on what MPs mean why they say they will vote to prevent us leaving the single market, this means we will remain in the EU free trade area. It does not mean we will stay in the EU. It's not ideal but it is the most risk free means of leaving. If we attempt to go for more we may end up with nothing. This is not something we want to mess around with. If that's the offer on the table, take it. It's Brexit without the dangers.
Hardliners want all the way out and all at once. I know of no means by which this is possible and insisting on that is what will probably give keep us in. Being out of the EU but in the single market (European Economic Area) is very much the moderate position between the hardcore Europhiles and the hardcore Ukip headbangers. It's a seriously good compromise which I would commend doubters to give serious consideration.
Since there is no chance of the hardline leavers getting their own way, the less extreme position is to vote to leave. Otherwise you are handing the power to a different kind of extremist who believes Britain should give up democracy for security. Those who do that end up with neither.
There are some who say that the EEA option would not works as a transitional agreement with the EU because we'd get stuck in it. My first reaction to this is "So what?". I am not seeing a problem. It still beats the hell out of being a supplicant of the EU with no say at the top tables. Just having our own trade policy makes it worth the effort. But actually, it's because we will have our own trade policy that we will evolve out of the EEA.
It's like taking the stabilisers off a child's bike. It will take us a while to re-establish our trading competence but eventually we will see the value of our worldwide deals overtaking that of the EU. Not forgetting that our exports to the EU are overstated because of the Rotterdam Effect.
Eventually the restraints placed on us will become a noticeable obstacle and we will side with Efta to lean on the EU to renegotiate the EEA agreement. Efta+UK makes Efta the fourth largest trade bloc so we will have leverage. We can also build trade coalitions to pressure the EU to drop some of its external tariffs on agricultural goods. Everybody wins from that - globally.
By that time, since the physical barriers to trade will be largely non-existent, superseded by global agreements like WTO TBT, we may find there is no actual benefit to remaining in the EEA. That will be the opportune moment to revise the freedom of movement policy and make it a little fairer. I have always said that Brexit is a process and it will take time. Moving out into the EEA is just step one. There is nothing to fear from doing so. One thing is certain. Nothing remains static once we do leave. We will evolve to bigger and better things.