Thursday 8 September 2016

There are no good reasons to leave the single market

The main reason we should not quit the single market aspect of the EU is because people are fucking liars. Brexit-o-mongs keep telling me that we should take back full control because democracy. Which is a fucking stupid argument. I am told that "In a democracy you are allowed to have, and even implement if you have enough support, a variety of ideas about how to run things. The single market membership does not allow for this. It puts certain things beyond debate".

Yes it does. And that's a good thing. In a modern, hyper-globalised trading environment we accept that something just work better if they are harmonised. This is the daily grind stuff that nobody gives a tinkers fuck about. If I give you two choices of things to debate, one being something to do with the Black Lives Matter protest and the latest convention on shipping container weighing regulations, an overwhelming majority of you will choose the former because it's idle chatter and you do not have to apply yourself to the subject.

But in terms of which is more likely to have a direct impact on you and the availability and affordability of goods you buy, it's the container regs. Because you are normal people with normal lives and normal concerns and fairly pedestrian desires you do not give a solitary toss. You may say we want to take back control but in actual fact you don't care who regulates these things, why they are regulated or even if they are regulated at all.

And please don't take this as an insult. People are (for reasons that escape me) social animals and prefer the social politics over the technical. You are never likely to get outraged by a trade deal that decides there must be a higher minimum sugar content in strawberry jam unless you are one of the intellectually subnormal Kiptards who think this is a threat to Western civilisation and proof that Sharia law is on the way. There is a good reason we point and laugh at these people. If this were the middle ages we would appoint them as village idiots. In the modern era we just elect them to the European Parliament.

I didn't vote to send Britain back into the stone age and so that we have the freedom to buy a bag of stoats ears in pounds and ounces. There are some things that politics can let slide. We went through the pain of the Single European Act in the 1990's (installing the EU regulatory regime) and it cost a lot of money, killed a lot of businesses, and it was to small producers what Mrs T was to the mines. It was done shabbily, in a rush and without proper consent. But it's done now. Trade has been modernised, regulations have been harmonised and they have been refined over two decades. They are now embedded. Everybody knows how to work with them.

The only reason we would pull out of the single market is if we wanted to go to the massive hassle and expense of reversing that process. Inspectors would have to retrain. Universities would have to completely change their syllabus. Factories would have to run two productions lines; one for the domestic regime, one for the export market. Inspectors would have to train in both regimes. We would lose our automatic mutual recognition agreements and have to be assessed individually by every third country we trade with.

We would also be the odd one out since the EU, as I have outlined time and again, stopped being the driver of regulation some years ago. It now only implements global rules. So if we are moving away from the EU standard then we are also moving away from the global standard. So what you are proposing is a completely pointless revolution in regulation for no commercial advantage over areas of technical regulation where politicians haven't the first clue and don't care either. More to the point, nor do the public. Nobody is going to go to the barricades over the right to sell misshapen fruit.

Britain is part of a modern, global rules based trading system. Pulling out of it would make no sense. Regulatory harmonisation reduces red tape, makes trade faster and consequently makes food and other consumer products cheaper and higher quality.

By leaving the EU we have ended EU legal supremacy. It means we are no longer subordinate to the EU and we have the right to refuse rules we don't want. That's fucking awesome. We have safeguard measures we can invoke as part of the single market and we get an enhanced say in the rules. In the process we are no longer subject to EU supranationalism. But that does not mean we want to end economic integration nor do we want to turn the clock back. Free movement of goods, services and people is a great thing.

What matters is that we are free of the common agricultural policy and CFP and that we are no longer bound to EU directives on energy production and other environmental legislation. We take back control of trade policy and aid, we no longer let the EU make our choices for us and we get to design our own rural and habitats policy. We also bin the "social Europe" nonsense. That to my mind is more than enough.

So again I ask why you are willing to throw away the single market for no reason? Is it that you want to pay more for goods? Do you want us to lose our exports? Help me out here. I don't understand why you would do such an irresponsible and nihilistic thing. Is resetting the clock back to 1991 really that important to you? No.

The fact is, there will always be technocracy. Life is never going to get any simpler and protectionist measures are not going to bring back manufacturing or mass employment. Harmonisation and specialisation is the way things are done now and that is about to explode beyond the confines of the European single market to become a global phenomenon. If we give ordinary people control over technical rules and regulations we'll be back to cavorting druids, death by stoning and dung for dinner.

What matters is that we create better early warning mechanisms for new laws, that we have better consultation and a better, more democratic means of dispute resolution. The EEA agreement gives us exactly that whereby we can be outside of the EU but still, for the most part, trade freely and maintain present levels of trade.

Cutting ourselves off from the single market and erecting barriers serves absolutely no purpose. For sure we would notionally gain control over our laws down to the granular level but you wouldn't take the slightest bit of notice and it really doesn't matter who makes them. Not least since most of what you think comes from Brussels actually comes from Geneva.

If I genuinely thought for a moment there would be a level of political engagement in these things and that what was happening is sufficiently harmful I would says so. In fact I did during the referendum. We're going to get back that vital power of veto.

The truth is though, for the most part, you are all lying bastards and you don't care who is making the laws and when it comes to the test, on any platform you care to mention, this kind of lawmaking is the thing you give the least fucks about. So puhlease, don't give me that "democracy" crap.

People having power over their lives matters but only over the stuff they care about. The rest they are happy to roll with. Nobody has cared about regulation since the 1990's except for Toryboy mouthbreathers and kippermongs. That, if nothing else, is reason enough to think the system doesn't need to be changed. We could leave the single market but there aren't any good reasons for doing so. Not one.

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