Thursday 7 July 2016

If Leadsom wins, there is no point in leaving the EU

Both Leadsom and Lawson support leaving the single market. "The rest of the world is outside the single market and they do ok". They really do say these things. Let's overlook for a moment the fact that the rest of the world is not doing ok and that most of it is a poverty stricken mess, they have one particular feature in common that we don't. They have never been in the single market. They can negotiate their relationship with the EU from scratch. We on the other hand are reversing engineering forty years of economic integration.

Worse still we have the task of working out which bits work and whether we want to keep them and what we will have to compromise in order to do so. So in a more technical sense it;s not so much a case of leaving the EU as deciding which bits of the EU we want to leave. Quite obviously we are done with the political integration which is absolutely a good thing but the cooperation programmes we have matter, not just in fostering good relations but also in terms of ensuring continuity of trade.

Were we to leave the single market without securing some kind of enhanced preferential access we would be in a right royal mess. For starters our trucks would have to go through different customs channels to be inspected which would add costs and delays. There are any number of physical complications that the single market eradicates. This we do not want to lose out on.

The EU takes the view though that of the four freedoms, freedom of movement is essential to the functioning of it. And they are right. The challenge for the incoming government is to navigate the various difficulties in order to satisfy the public demand for greater controls. The dilemma is whether we are willing to sacrifice trade and jobs for immigration controls that in all likelihood will not work and will cost money to implement. I have no idea why we would want to make ourselves poorer.

I really don't want to get bogged down in that question. That is one for the negotiators. Efta seems to manage it so that is where I would look. What matters is that we retain the same level of openness. We do this by way of having regulatory harmonisation.

People like Leadson and Lawson assume that being outside of the single market means we can deregulate for the majority of business who do not export to the EU. This overlooks the fact that the rules are no longer made by the EU and increasingly more nations subscribe to them not just for enhanced trade with the EU but also for trade between non EU members, It's good sense. Why do we need ninety different regulatory standards for aubergines?

So by leaving the EU to have different regulations we would be adding compliance costs for anyone exporting to the UK to the point where they might simply choose not to bother. Moreover we'd then force domestic producers to have to conform to two standards and have two productions lines. To save money they would adopt the export standard. So there is zero value in deregulation.

This thinking of their stems back to 1992 when businesses when through a lot of pain in order to conform to modernised EU standards. Now they propose to go through the same pain again for no real advantage. Put simply, their perceptions are flawed, outdated and entirely unrealistic. These are fundamentally unserious people with completely stupid ideas.

So where do we want to be? Do we want to wind the clock back and make ourselves poorer for the sake of controlling the borders to no avail, or do we have bigger ideas than that?

The rhetoric of Lawson and the Leadbangers is that we should trade more with the rest of the world. But on what basis? Since they are increasingly adopting the same regulations as the EU from the global bodies, why would we seek to be different? We have already seen how trade barriers such as regulations freezes out African producers. Why would we wish to continue in that tradition when we have spent the last eighteen months pointing fingers at the EU for the same crime? Since we are seeing the emergence of a global single market why would we not wish to be part of that?

And so that is really what Brexit is about. It is not about leaving the single market. It is about enhancing it, expanding it, rationalising it and snatching it out of the EU's control. At the moment the EU controls the entrances and exits. It is a tightly sealed internal market which takes years to negotiate entry into.

What if we could change that so that the EU 27 were outnumbered in a global rules based trading system? If we make UNECE the core of global regulation (as is the EU) then the world has leverage over the EU to weaken its entry requirements and drop its political demands of trading partners. This would make the single market develop faster and reignite global trade. It would be on an opt in basis rather than having the EU dictating the rules.

That is the sort of visionary thinking we need injected into Brexit negotiations. Not this shrivelled kipperish little englander approach adopted by Leadsom. It seems all the Leadbangers want is to be out of the EU at all costs for no tangible rational reason. Certainly none of their campaign claims stand up to scrutiny.

It's a question of whether we want to be an isolated little island or whether we want to be a major voice in something far bigger and more ambitious and more liberal than the EU. With that in mind we must be extra careful not to go into negotiations without a plan and with ambitions beyond simply leaving the EU. If we don't then we end up in the dead end of the EEA with no real plans to progress leaving us only marginally better off than before, still a supplicant of the EU and probably no richer for it.

If there is to be a subversion of the referendum result, this is how they will do it because they do not believe that Britain can be an influential voice in its own right. This is why Philip Hammond must be sacked immediately. They believe we must seek the single market as a shelter rather than as a starting position. They lack any vision at all. They would never be so unsubtle as to overturn the result. They will simply engineer the illusion of having left the EU and morons like Leadsom will believe it.

That is why the technocracy matters. That is why we have to watch them like hawks and that is why we need to promote a credible and ambitious vision. Otherwise we might as well not have bothered. If the shrivelled vision of Andrea Leadsom is all we want from leaving the EU then there is no point in leaving the EU. It's the same mentality as the EU only a lot smaller.

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