This piece was prompted by a reply to one of my comments recently to a hit piece on Donald Trump published here by a member of the Medium liberal echo chamber. The author was implying Trump’s abuses of language and use of well established rhetorical tricks was somehow less acceptable than when other politicians use the same same techniques. When I suggested he might be applying double standards he replied “Brexit voter eh,” thus applying a completely incorrect stereotype to not only to me but all others whose votes led to the UK’s choosing to leave the EU. Also, my comment and his article had nothing to to with the Brexit vote. In a somwhat fractious exchange because he was determined to patronise me as he was sure I’m an ignorant, uneducated, xenophobic, racist Little Englander, I tried to show him his error. it was like trying to educate a brick.
For anyone else who has taken on board the stereotype globalists have tried to apply to Eurosceptic Britons, which must now also apply to Italians, Poles, Austrians, Hungarians and Czechs, here are my thoughts on the current situation between the UK and Europe (first published on my blog “It’s Bollocks My Dears, All Bollocks” on Blogspot)
As the politicians continue to blether to no effect about the terms on which Britain will trade with the EU after Brexit, and mainstream media, owned by global corporations except for the BBC which is technically owned by the nation but is managed and staffed by leftists and globalists, continue to bad mouth anyone who was part of the LEAVE campaign, or has confessed to voting to leave, a question that is being asked in pubs and bars all over the land goes sometjing like this: Why isn’t the European Union asking the UK for a good trading deal when they need the UK’s billions in imports as much as the UK needs theirs?
The concept of the EU as a whole is the elephant in the room here. While the original Common Market, and its subsequent names, The European Economic Community and The European Community were sold to voters as a free trade and economic cooperation group for west European nations, the underlying concept was for “ever closer union” towards a federal European superstate, with the sovereignty of member states surrendered to a central bureaucracy, reducing ancient nations like England, Scotland, Denmark, France, Spain and Portugal to the status of semi autonomous provinces.
The EU is currently comprised of 28 sovereign states (27 from next April) ranging from Germany with the fourth largest economy in the world and a population of eighty five million to little Malta and Luxembourg which are each home to less than a million people. Each has its own priorities. For any decision to be made all 28 (in the form of the Council of Ministers) need to be in agreement. On top of that there is the European Commission (EC) — the EU civil service, except they actually have a say and the European Parliament who like to think they have a say.
In reality the EC makes decisions, the Council of Ministers refines it the EP rubber stamps it. The fly in the ointment for federalists is that any member state can veto any proposal it’s political leader (i.e. representative on the council of ministers deems not in the interests of their country.
With the differing electoral cycles changing the political complexion of the different sovereign states’ governments, and with anti EU feeling gaining ground in many member states it is very difficult to achieve a consensus on anything. Some areas of policy are covered by majority voting and those areas move a little faster.
A good example of this is CETA, the Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement, a trading agreement with Japan, often incorectly referred to as a ‘free trade’ agreement as it set out in over a thousand pages the rules and regulations which would apply to trades between EU and Japanese companies as well as tariffs and export limits on certain categories of goods. It was negotiated, agreed, signed and to all intents and purposes a done deal. Then Italy had a General Election and their Government changed. The new Italian Government do not think CETA is a good deal for Italy and have said they will not ratify it.
So, even though all 28 governments agreed it, and 9 have ratified it, it now looks dead in the water. The trade negotiators can re-engage and re-negotiate a deal, but it would be open to another government scuppering the revised agreement.
As I see it, this has been the problem with the EU since the turn of the century when the single currency (The Euro) was introduced. It is too big and is unable to make big decisions in a reasonable timeframe. The natural limit of the EU was probably reached in 1995 when Austria, Sweden and Finland were admitted. At that point it could be said that roughly the area west of a line drawn from the southernmost shore of The Baltic Sea to the northernmost tip of The Adriatic was the EU. And those nations have a lot in common culturally and economically.
We could go into the whole ‘Federal European Superstate’ debate but I have dealth with that elsewhere (HERE, HERE and HERE). While I am against the UK being part of a federal European superstate, I think it its either that or the collapse of the EU. Only when German workers are wiling to fund Greek unemployment benefits and healthcare will the EU really work well.
Back to the question:
The EU negotiating stance, which is basically that the UK must continue to accept EU authority in all matters of policy and law, is basically all they can agree upon in the timescale. To deviate from that would lead to a deal that they could not get ratified by all 27 remaining EU nations after Brexit. Here lies the problem. Germany, France, Italy & Spain want to continue to export their cars to the UK, Eastern European Governments want their citizens to be able to live and work freely in the UK. France wants to export wine and cheese to the UK, the Netherlands wants to sell us tulips and beer and Denmark wants us to keep buying its bacon. But France do not want unrestricted imports of British beef & lamb, Germany does not want unlimited exports of engineering products and textiles and so on and so forth. And they’d all like to get their hands on a slice of our trade in financial and management services.
There is no way such a deal could have been done in 2 years, it’s unlikely one could ever be done. I doubt that the 21 month implementation period recently suggested would be enough time to achieve anything significant.
In my opinion (which has not wavered since I voted to leave,) I voted to leave) the UK will spend a substantial time on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, which are not really very different to the terms EU member states trade on now, while trade agreements with individual member states are negotiated and as the EU disintegrates. During that time we can be outward-looking negotiating agreements with countries that are able to make decisions in a timely manner.
If we leave the EU without agreement on March 29th, 2019 I would put money on there being trade agreements in place with the other major economies long before the EU. And that is another reason why I feel sure we were right to vote leave. The UK will be free to trade with the growing economies of Asia, Africa and South America as well as the traditional trading partners in the Anglosphere, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.