What a farrago of nonsense we’ve had, as ‘project fear’ cranked-up a notch on the hysteria scale.
The irony is that so many of my constituents complain that they were duped in the 1975 referendum into thinking that it was all about free trade, but it turned out to be all about political integration. Well, yes, it is all about political integration (and – I hate to rub it in – but you were warned), how anyone ever thought this was ever about free trade however, is just bizarre, because the reverse was always the case.
The EU, the EEC, the EC, the Common Market, or the ECSC – as it was originally called, is not, and never has been a free trade area. On the contrary, it is a club, a full customs union: imposing a common external tariff against its non-members. This means that when you join, you get free trade with the other members, but tariff and other barriers are erected to disadvantage your trade with non-members. This is exactly why, as a trading nation – and most of our trade being with the non-EU world – it never was in our economic interests to join it in the first place, and it remains in our economic interests to get out of it as fast as we can.
When we leave however, we would not wish to see our trade with the EU disadvantaged. So, the main effort of our departure negotiations must be to secure it. I cannot predict how that will turn out, neither can ‘Vote Remain’, but their assumption that the terms will be a disaster is both implausible and wrong. The EU exports more to us than we do to it, clearly it will not want to ‘cut off its nose to spite its face’.
We are warned that Norway and Switzerland have had to pay handsomely for their access to the EU single marked, accept free movement of migrants, and abide by all the rules but have no influence over their making. This is all true. The UK is not however, a tiny economy with a very small population. We are the 5th largest economy in the world, and the ending of our EU membership on less than harmonious and mutually beneficial terms would present an existential threat to the survival of the EU itself. So, In am confident that we can drive a much better bargain.
In any event, I would not sacrifice the advantages of our escape, and free trade with the rest of the world, for access to the EU single market. In the worst case we could just trade according to the World Trade Organisation rules with an average 2.5 % tariff. The USA does so, and its trade with the EU is growing faster than ours.
Don’t be bullied by Project Fear