BY PAUL NEWALL
There’s an old maxim that goes along the lines of “don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes”. So, in the interests of being fair, I decided to do some digging into the arguments of the Remain campaign.
No Deal Brexit will destroy our exporting industries and lower our GDP
Total exports of goods and services account for around 24% of our GDP. If you remove services from that figure, exporting of goods accounts for around 13%, while 7% of our GDP is exporting goods to the EU. Assuming that ALL exports to the EU stopped then that would chop 7% off our GDP – the depression of 2008 hit us by 8%, so I guess they’re right then. But the remain campaign relies on no mitigation of those figures. The headline number takes no account of actions that a bold government could make such as lowering business taxes or increases in trade with non EU countries that free trade would bring. Of course it’s VERY unlikely that all trade with the EU would stop anyway so I’m not convinced that our GDP would even dip, never mind plummet.
The UK was the sick man of Europe before we joined the EEC
I must confess that our economy was a basket case in the period between 1970 to 1979 and there can be little doubt that membership of the then Common Market made trade easier, but the question that has to be asked is more about the industrial environment of that period than trading relations. I’m of an age to remember Ted Heath asking “who runs this country?” and the public answered “not you mate!” It was an era of trade union hegemony and industry was losing millions of days to strike action while at the same time being squeezed economically by the Saudis, who had turned off the oil tap in a political move against Israel. It was a great time for me – I loved the playing rummy with my parents by candlelight and let’s face it, the telly was dire in those days anyway.
The reality is that the turning point for our economy came with Margaret Thatcher. Although I was in opposition to her at the time, her resolve in battles with a headstrong Trades Union movement did more to turn our economy around than any European deal and the cash injection from North Sea oil can’t be ignored either. By the end of the 1980’s much of the dead wood had been stripped from our economy and the union movement had been emasculated. The Thatcher government also dropped business tax rates which during the 1980’s managed to attract inward investment and business relocation from mainland Europe , much to the anger of the French.
The EU has kept the peace in Europe since 1945
The longstanding geopolitical wisdom is that the more that countries trade, the less likely it is that they will go to war (interesting that Soviet trains were still delivering coal and oil to Germany as the wails of stukas were announcing the start of Operation Barbarossa). The ECSC was born in 1951 in Paris 6 years after the end of the war while the EEC was created in Rome in 1957 and the EU was created in Maastricht in 1993. Europe has been largely peaceful if you ignore Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine. NATO was created in Washington DC in 1949 and obviously pre-dates any European treaty and I’d suggest that having 150,000 US troops sat in strategic European locations facing down Warsaw Pact army formations was a greater catalyst for peace than any trading arrangement.
The UK is too small to survive on its own
We are indeed a tiny little place and we currently have an overdraft that is the geopolitical equivalent to a stockbroker with a cocaine habit. Certainly our manufacturing industry is a tad scant. Of course it’s been made more scant by the EU granting money to Ford to pack its bags and go to Turkey or JLR to move to Slovakia.
Tiny Iceland has a FTA in place with China, I’m sure the fifth largest economy in the world can do the same and if Margaret Thatcher could attract inward investment by cutting business taxes I’m pretty sure we can replicate the experiment.
If there isn’t an economic or geopolitical reason for remaining, then why are the establishment fighting so hard to keep us in ?
If the reasons that are advanced for remaining in the EU are nonsense, then we must look further for the REAL reasons for such dogged resistance to us leaving the Borg collective. Two aspects stand out:
The EU are powerful and depend to a great extent on British taxpayers. Losing us will possibly bring them tumbling down as an organisation.
Meanwhile, the remainiacs are often mistaken for hippy types that want the world to live in perfect harmony like a cross between a Coca-Cola advert and a campfire singalong of Kumbaya, but that’s not it at all. In the same way as socialists hate the rich far more than they love the poor, these geezers hate the gruff working class far more than they love the EU. There are a couple of million Hyacinth Buckets who want European integration only because their class enemies …. the grunts ….. don’t.
The year to come will be a crucial year, not just in the UK but across the whole of Western Civilisation. In the US the Democrat-led House of Representatives is going to launch a series of legal attacks in a bid to unseat Trump. In Europe a battlefield is going to emerge between populism and federalism – France is already burning every weekend and I have little doubt that Germany, Belgium and possibly the UK are set to join it.
What happens in the next year is going to effect us all for more than a generation. So pick your side.
Paul Newall is a child of the 1960’s from a traditional Labour-supporting household. Paul dabbled with Trotskyism in the 1980’s but then “grew up and thanks to having responsibilities I slowly migrated across the political spectrum until instead of hating Maggie Thatcher I admired her for beating my side in the miners’ strike”.