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Tim's Viewpoint

Leaving the EU without a deal will leave the UK significantly better off than it is today, provided that a sensible free trade approach is adopted


The long national debate over the euro, about 20 years ago, highlighted a bitter divide as to the future of democracy in the UK

The majority of political leaders, the CBI, the Financial Times, Goldman Sachs and most academics and economists were adamant that the UK should join, even though the euro’s predecessor, the exchange rate mechanism (ERM), had crashed, causing a deep recession in the UK and Europe.

In spite of dire warnings at the time that the UK economy would ‘fall off a cliff ’, if we didn’t join, and that multinational companies would leave our shores, the euro was rejected by the public, who accepted the Eurosceptic argument that a functioning currency needs a government to gather taxes and to redistribute the proceeds – and no government existed in the eurozone which was capable of performing this function.

The Eurosceptics were right – it is universally accepted, today, that the adoption of the euro would have been a disaster for Britain, as it has been for much of southern Europe.

Indeed, since the euro was created, the UK has substantially outperformed the eurozone.

Referendum

In the subsequent referendum debate in 2016, the warnings about dire consequences for the economy, if we voted to leave the EU, echoed those from the era of the euro debate.

The pro-Remain argument from the government, the CBI, the Treasury and others was that the stock market would collapse, mortgage rates would rise steeply and there would be a rise in unemployment of about half a million in the IMMEDIATE aftermath of a Leave vote, followed by an annual reduction in household income of £4,300.

Since the referendum, the economy has confounded the negative view.

Employment has actually increased by about 450,000, mortgage rates have stayed at a record low, household incomes and the stock market are within a whisker of an all-time high and countries like the USA, Australia, India and New Zealand are keen to do trade deals with the UK

..but a new raft of economic warnings is reaching a crescendo, as Wetherspoon News goes to press.

Having made a concerted attempt, following the referendum, to convince the public that food prices would inevitably rise in the aftermath of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the pro-Chequers and pro-Customs Union cohort now warns of food and drug shortages, gridlock at our ports and our motorway system becoming a lorry park.

Dramatic

For example, a dramatic article (25 July) by Oliver Shah, business editor of the Sunday Times, warned that a supermarket chain was asking “suppliers to plan for the worst”, in case the UK “crashes out of the EU with no deal, prompting some to consider stockpiling goods such as tea and coffee”.

Shah reinforced the warnings by saying: “We are now at a point of maximum big-business pessimism about Britain’s shambolic withdrawal from the EU.”

Shah obviously forgot to look at the FTSE 100 index which clearly showed that the stock market was more or less at an all-time peak, plainly contradicting his absurd pessimism.

Meanwhile, the front page of the main section of the same paper had a headline which stated ‘Army on Standby for Brexit Emergency’.

In that article, Tim Shipman, the political editor, said that supermarkets were “warning their suppliers to stockpile supplies, such as tea and coffee” and that “the NHS would go on a year-round winter crisis footing, with drugs bought from outside the EU and stockpiled in hospitals”.

Blockages

Shipman reported that “the military would be called in, if blockages at ports led to shortages of food, fuel and medicines”.

Shipman also quoted former home secretary and avid Remainer Amber Rudd who “compared Brexiteers to climate change deniers”. Short of sending a Dunkirk-style armada to Calais for emergency supplies, the newspaper could not have been more alarmist.

However, the latest manifestation of Project Fear, in the Sunday Times and elsewhere, on closer inspection, amounts only to a threat of temporary disruption.

It cannot seriously be argued that leaving the EU will give rise to permanent supply problems as a result of congestion at our borders.

Over half of our imports are from outside the EU and those, it is acknowledged, will be unaffected by any new trading arrangements.

Other countries which trade with the EU, like the USA, China and Australia, do not have gridlocked ports as a result of being outside the bloc – and we won’t either, although temporary disruption is always possible.

In weighing up this sort of debate, the public is more adept than the elite realises at stepping back and ignoring the hysteria, in order to make a sober assessment of the facts.

The main point, to which the Oxbridge Orthodoxy (see page 60), who are so powerful in business, politics and the media, seems oblivious, is that the UK will be significantly better off than it is today by leaving the EU without a deal, provided that a sensible ‘free trade’ approach is adopted.

The EU is actually a protectionist system which charges taxes, also known as ‘tariffs’, on wine, coffee, oranges, rice and over 12,000 other products which are imported from outside the EU.

These invisible tariffs are, today, paid by shoppers, collected by the UK government and sent to Brussels.

By leaving the EU on 29 March next year without a deal, the UK can take the free trade route and slash these tariffs, reducing shop prices and boosting living standards.

Dynamic countries, like Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, have already done so – and their economies have thrived.


Politicians

A lot of confusion has arisen since many politicians, economists and journalists do not understand World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which apply in the absence of a ‘deal’ with the EU.

By eliminating tariffs on non-EU imports post Brexit, WTO rules state that there can be no tariffs, either, on EU imports – discrimination is not allowed.

Hey presto… so-called ‘no deal’ really means FREE TRADE and cheaper food, children’s clothes and shoes!

The gloomy doomsters at the CBI, the FT and in parliament steer clear of the issue of tariff reduction, which is fatal to their ‘deal at any price’ case.

The doomsters argue that, even if the UK ends tariffs on imports, the EU will, even so, charge tariffs on our exports to the continent.

These fears are unjustified. An experienced UK negotiator’s response to the EU would be:

“Go ahead, unelected ‘President’ Juncker, make our day… charge tariffs to us – and sales of German cars, French wine and a myriad other EU imports will drop to almost zero.

“Not because the government says so, but because British consumers won’t buy your stuff. And remember, Juncker, everything the EU sells can be bought from the UK or the 93% of the world not in the EU.”

Another benefit of free trade is that the UK will be better off by £39 billion – that’s £600 for every man, woman and child in the UK.

Desperation

This gigantic sum has been foolishly offered to the EU by our prime minister, in her desperation for a ‘deal’ which the country doesn’t need.

By avoiding a ‘deal’, the UK can also regain control of its historic fishing grounds, where 60% of fish today are landed by EU boats, providing an enormous boost to coastal communities.

This combination of lower shop and pub prices, the avoidance of a payment to Brussels and the resumption of control of fishing grounds can only have an IMMEDIATE and positive effect on the economy.

So, come on, politicians, take a wise-up pill. We don’t want your wretched Chequers deal, a so-called ‘transition period’ or to pay ransom money to Juncker and his cronies.

The initiatives we suggest don’t need the approval of any third party. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.

Tim Martin, Chairman