Saturday 22 August 2015

Innocent, but proven guilty

Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Smoothies, has been on the telly exalting the virtues of the EU regulations he must comply with, also saying such standards should be extended to other countries so he can trade with them. So I just reminded him on Twitter that those regulations are not made by the EU and are in fact made by Codex Alimentarius Commission on trading quality foods - which is a global organisation and many non-EU states are members and comply with these global agreements. I was also keen to point out that the EU is not the single market. But he knows all this cos he's a right clever corporate CEO innit??

Course, those of you who read this blog and actually pay attention to it already know this, but that's not the point of this post. This rather reinforces the point that bleating about costly red tape is not a winning argument. After all, this guy, while intensely irritating, has made a billion quid from scratch and it hasn't stopped him. Moreover, he has the very reasonable view that regulation is in the common good and this successful chap, being the sort of wafty know-nothing that he is, is quite similar to the sort of people we will have to convince to win a referendum. To the uninitiated, his message is far more appealing than a Ukip grunt-a-thon.

The way to win is to take the high ground from him by knowing more than he does. We don't need to get involved in bickering about whether regulation is a bad thing or not. We can walk right around that argument and slap them with the cold truth that they simply do no know the first thing about it.

On those ground the man is a sitting duck. The EU is not the single market. We don't need to be in a political union to trade with the EU and the EU is not the top table either. The EU is a redundant middleman. Reed is also unaware that free movement is EEA, not EU too. There is no reason why Brexit means an end to free movement - and most Brexit solutions acknowledge this.

Expanding the harmonisation globally as a he advocates just means persuading other nations to sign up to UNECE and Codex - and they don't need to be in the EU to obtain a mutual recognition agreement. Australia has that. We're better placed to achieve this by having an independent trade policy because the EU is slow to reach agreements. The EU is obsessed with deep and comprehensive agreements rather than more pragmatic unbundling, which is faster and easier to achieve.

In short, this man knows absolutely nothing about what the EU is, where regulation starts life or what facilitates trade. An embarrassing parade of ignorance - and it does show why we shouldn't pay any attention to these know-nothing CEO's mouthing off about the EU.

The point, however, is for Eurosceptics to up their game. We don't need to bicker about volumes of trade or the cost of regulation. If we do, people will tune it out, as they have with the climate change debate. It's a debate we can't win. We can instead show our vision of an independent Britain, deploying more modern trade practices, and being more agile on the global stage instead of waiting for the lumbering old EU. We can open up markets faster than they can.

Moreover, if Codex rules that Reed's products cannot be classified as smoothies (for such has been known to happen), Mr Reed can lobby Westminster to say no (instead of wasting our time). That is a clear indication of increased influence, where the result is better regulation - and in the face of that, Mr Reed then looks like the clueless luddite that he is. His smoothies may be innocent, be he himself is naive. 

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