Thursday, 30 March 2017
The Opportunity of Brexit
Is it me or did the PM's statement yesterday, at least the first paragraph anyway, sound a little like Chamberlain's famous address on the radio announcing that Britain was at war with Germany? A couple of the sentences sounded rather similar.
Happily though for many of us yesterday was a much more joyous moment as we hopefully avoid all out war with our European neighbours. We never dreamt this time last year that we would be at this point now. We were up against the establishment, the Government, the Government machine, the EU itself and the self perpetuating groupthink of those who call themselves progressive. Just think back to that piece of chicanery they indulged in prior to the referendum campaign when they spent £9 million of our money sending out a propaganda piece to every household. I threw mine straight in the bin. Now I wish I had kept it as a souvenir.
This ultimately though is the reason why they lost. Britain had never, whatever many say now, been particularly enamoured of the great EU project. Mostly we were at best tolerant of it. Often we were angry. That anger slowly boiled over as incompetence piled on top of arrogance and that special continental disdainful froideur as exemplified by Jean-Claude Juncker.
We could see some of the advantages of our membership for sure. It was quite convenient to only have one currency for the whole of Europe, it was just that we were glad we were not in it. We could also see the advantages of not having to pay additional charges for using our mobiles on the continent. But by the same token we did seem to be paying an extraordinarily high price for our membership and were at the same time importing everyone else's unemployed and exporting our benefits. The NHS, schools, roads, housing were all under pressure all for some great ideal that was neither sensible or sustainable. When the referendum campaign got underway they consequently tried to frighten us with consequences for leaving rather than arguing for the advantages of staying in.
Now the same people who made those bad arguments are making the same for what will happen now. In truth nobody can know for certain what will happen since we don't know how our erstwhile partners will behave. We will play a straight bat as ever in much the same way that we always imposed EU directives and played by the rules while others ignored them. But this is not to say we will be rolled over. We will start off seeking a good and fair deal for all. If the EU tries to play hard ball and to punish us for doing what they pushed us into doing then this time they will reap what they sow. David Cameron had the same cards that Theresa May has now at his disposal. He chose not to play them. Theresa May, I feel confident, along with her triumvirate of sceptics, will not be so much of a pushover. Britain has a very good hand to play and we can play just as hard as the EU if they push us that way. They tried to call our bluff last year with their phony deal. The British public called that bluff on June 23rd. Now we will bide our time, smile benignly at the grandstanding and silly bombast. Ultimately an EU that talks of demanding €50 billion from us as a price of leaving knows that it does not have much of a hand at all.
Still the Remainers carp and moan and try to think of clever ruses to keep us in. Still they predict doom for this island, the fifth biggest economy on the planet and the second biggest contributor to the EU budget. Quite what they imagine will happen is a mystery. I have never understood their argument. You can argue that Britain has advantages as a member of the single market for sure, but our leaving will not cause some great existential rupture. Employers are not going to flock to other shores because we have left the EU, for the simple reason that the EU is a production line of pettifogging interference, corruption, venality and vanity. Britain has the advantage of our language, our culture, our history, our tolerance, our timezone, our geographical position, our stability, our legal framework, our democratic history, our robust and growing economy, our default free credit history and our own free floating currency. We have always been a nation built on trade and we will remain so.
All that we are doing by leaving the EU is detach ourselves from one poorly performing form of government and substituting it with a proven system that made this country one of the richest on the planet, with Europe's most powerful military, its best security and intelligence services and trusted and largely corruption free government machine. Europe on the other hand has endemic problems many of its own making. More are headed its way this summer including elections, a likely further euro crisis and the annual refugee and immigration crisis in the Mediterranean.
Britain is getting out of the EU. I confidently predict that in a few years time we will look back and wonder why we left it so long and why we were worried when we did. In much the same way that most of those who used to extol the virtues of the euro now prefer to keep quiet (except the ever ludicrous Paddy Ashdown on the Daily Politics yesterday who continues to claim that we should have joined and thus just proves how utterly deranged and extreme the Lib Dems are on the issue of Europe) so will those predicting disaster for Britain go quiet once all turns out to be fine. Brexit is not a panacea, Britain is not about to become a paradise on Earth just because we left the EU, but we are about to govern ourselves once again. We will be able to trade with whom we like, do deals with whoever we like, decide our own policy on mergers and acquisitions, regulate our own industries, water and other vital services, regain control of our fisheries and agriculture and buy our food from anyone we please at a lower cost once again. And we will still trade with the EU, more or less as we do now. Brexit is about self determination. Its going to feel wonderful to be free again and in the years to come we can watch and laugh as the European leaders attend their silly summits and nothing is ever decided upon. It will be as entertaining as the Eurovision Song Contest, not least because we won't be paying for it anymore.