Leftovers sweeten us to join the EU

Leftovers sweeten us to join the EU

Back in April, I wrote an article here titled “Warning – Leftovers Clump”. Much contempt was poured upon me as a result. “How can you believe that? ” they said. “Of course we accept our Brexit conditions. It’s only people like you who want to keep coming back to it because you want to rally conservatives against a phantom enemy.

Still, I think I was right. In the past two months, everyone on the left, the FinancialTimesmany leading conservatives, all backed by sotto voce permanent bureaucracy briefings, have waged a determined campaign to make people believe that ‘Brexit is failing’ and that our economy and trade are collapsing.

Out of this quagmire of discouragement, they launched the good ship “Swiss Model” this week, to cries of “wouldn’t it be wise to sail a little closer to the EU again?”

It’s just as I predicted. They may be dismissive of public opinion, but hardcore remnants are still not dense enough to mount a full reintegration campaign. Instead, it will happen bit by bit.

First, accept just a little alignment, for example on food standards, perhaps in the context of Northern Ireland. Second, go a little further, like Switzerland. Third, use it as a base camp to enter the customs union, like the government’s terrible Brexit deal in May, or the single market, like Norway, or both. Fourth, then argue – “why do we agree to all these rules without having a say in how they are made? If we have to, wouldn’t it be better to join us? »

It’s a desensitization strategy. Bring EU law back in small, gradually increasing doses, until we’re firmly hooked again. Diehard remains are patient. They can wait.

In the meantime, of course, they must deny what is happening. Due to the storm that greeted it, they now say they never wanted to talk about the Swiss model as such – it was just a shortcut to working on improving the terms of the deal. free exchange.

To be clear, no one is against this. The EU refused to negotiate many practical flexibilities in the FTA in 2020, measures it had granted to other trading partners. There is definitely room to sand the edges.

But the Swiss model is fundamentally different. It is based on the alignment of domestic law. This means EU-regulated goods are the only ones we can allow Brits to buy. Forget about changing our own rules for ourselves. Forget about significant new FTAs ​​or importing goods from (say) the US, Japan or Australia that meet other perfectly good standards. We are chained to EU rules, EU risk aversion, EU process – oh, and EU court judgments – forever.

That’s why it was so alarming to see this model resurrected, when we thought we’d seen it disappear in 2020.

This is why it was so important, and welcome, that the Prime Minister this week explicitly ruled out any deal based on alignment with EU laws.

The larger truth is that this entire Remainer campaign is based on error. Brexit is not a failure.

Look at the most recent GDP figures we have, from the OECD this week, covering the period since Brexit actually happened economically at the end of 2020. Since then, this country has grown faster than Germany, France, Italy, Spain or the Eurozone as a whole. . You won’t learn it from the BBC.

Yes, our trade with the EU has dropped by a few percent. This is to be expected when leaving the customs union and the single market. But trade is not GDP. Some claim a link between trade and productivity, but this is unproven for advanced economies, and it is empirically refuted for the UK: our worst productivity performance on record in the decade before Brexit, when we were more closely integrated into the single market than ever before. before.

But Brexit isn’t just about the economy anyway. It is a question of democracy.

I am sometimes confronted with angry Remain activists who ask “can you tell me one benefit of Brexit?” Just one?” My simple answer is: “being able to make a difference in elections”.

EU member states are only semi-democracies in a significant sense. If you are a voter in an EU country, you cannot change your country’s policy on trade, food and product standards, VAT, immigration, most services, competition, consumer protection, agriculture, fisheries, labor law, environmental protection, energy, a large part of justice and the application of laws, much of public health policy, or support for poorer industries or regions.

If you are in the euro, add interest rates, debt and deficit policy. All you can do is choose a government that will try to change these things – if it can convince the Commission and all the other countries. One way or another, it never can.

Why would we want to go back to that, to get, maybe one day, 0.5%. 100 on our GDP?

No. The benefits of Brexit lie in managing our economy to suit us. In the long run, they will be much bigger. Admittedly, we may not have gotten off to a good start. But look through the noise and remember that leaving the EU is about freedom, autonomy and democracy. And expel the rascals if they don’t deliver.

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