When Britain voted to leave the EU, we hoped that the split would be friendly and mutually beneficial, but the EU set out to punish Britain. All we ever really wanted was free trade. We have that at present. We already conform to all EU standards. It would be easy to simply say that this would continue. The EU would win because it sells more to us than we do to them. The UK would win because there would be a bare minimum of disruption. Trade would continue just as at present. No-one would even notice leaving.
A reciprocal trade agreement between the EU and the UK would solve the problem of the Irish border. Trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic would continue as before. There would be no need for a backstop, because nothing would be stopped or checked.
Unfortunately, the EU was never interested in arranging a simple, reciprocal trade deal, indeed the withdrawal agreement that the EU negotiated with Theresa May hasn’t even reached the stage of trade. All it does is provide the conditions for a transition period during which trade negotiations would begin.
The conditions notoriously involve the UK having to pay billions of pounds to the EU and sign up to the Irish backstop. This would mean that Northern Ireland would have to remain in the EU’s Custom’s Union until cross border arrangements could be settled. The UK could only leave the Custom’s Union if it were willing to put a regulatory border down the Irish Sea. In effect the EU would have trapped Britain.
Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement would mean that we would gain none of the advantages of leaving the EU, such as making free trade agreements with countries like the USA or Australia. We would continue to be governed by the European Court of Justice and the EU would have all of the advantages in any future trade negotiations. We would beg for free trade and they could ask for anything in return. Spain might want Gibraltar, France might want unrestricted access to the North Sea. Greece might want the Elgin Marbles and Germany might want compensation because we bombed its cities.
We would have already given them our billions and having signed the Withdrawal Agreement into international law we could not change it without the EU’s permission. It is the most one sided, biased and disadvantageous treaty Britain has ever been asked to sign.
The British people may not have understood all of the details of Theresa May’s deal, but we know when someone is trying to punish us, and we understand the concept of fair-play. It is for this reason that so many Brits support Boris Johnson’s willingness to walk away rather than submit to the EU. It would be an act of national pride, which would have an incalculable benefit for our sense of self-worth as a country. The long-term cost of national humiliation is something Remainers never take into account in their economic calculations.
For decades Britain paid more into the EU than we took out. Why should we alone pay for a mutually beneficially trade deal? Doesn’t divorce usually mean dividing shared assets? Which EU country would accept a regulatory border between its various parts? Why should we still be subject to EU rules when the whole point of leaving was to get free from them.
It is very late in the day. The idea that the EU will suddenly change from trying to punish Britain to working with us for mutual benefit is hard to believe. If they really believed that we would walk away, then there is just a chance that they might offer something right at the last minute. But I rather doubt even that. They would prefer to damage their own trade with Britain if that meant making an example of us. The EU is a prison that depends on shooting escaping prisoners from the watchtowers. How else can you keep the inmates inside?
The EU has shown its true nature in the past three years. We have been told that the price for Brexit would be Northern Ireland. Can you imagine how France would react if a foreign power tried to take away Corsica? The EU would delight in breaking up the UK. It threatens to undermine our international credit rating, wants to take our jobs and would be pleased if Brexit led to recession, and poverty. It has become a hostile power. Friends do not behave in this way.
What do you do when someone wants to punish you? Do you just bend over like Theresa May and take it? No, you get away from the gang dishing out the punishment beatings as quickly as you can. You also provide a downside for your opponent.
The greatest failure of Theresa May’s method of negotiating is that she did not make it absolutely clear that the EU’s punishment style of negotiating would have consequences. This is what the UK should do now. We should still offer the hand of friendship, but we should make clear that if the UK leaves the EU with no deal it will change everything about our future relationship.
We will need to save money after Brexit, so we should inform the EU that we will not have enough to spend any of it on defending them. We fought two world wars, when we didn’t actually have to be involved at all and liberated most of the EU. Why do so again? Instead the UK should focus its diplomatic efforts on coming to a new security and economic arrangement with the English-speaking countries with whom we are closest. We should defend our island, share our intelligence only with friends and let the EU pay the defence costs that it has been shirking for years.
Having left the EU without a deal, the UK should seek to undercut the EU in every possible respect. We should create an economy that has lower corporation tax than any in the EU and we should get rid of all EU regulations that restrict business growth. Again, we will need to do all of these things because of the EU’s attempt to punish us, fortunately they will soon mean that whatever difficulties a “no deal” Brexit brings will be short lived.
We should make clear to the EU that we will have a completely independent foreign policy and will use our seat on the Security Council to thwart them if and when we see fit. We will set out to provide an example to the inmates trapped in the EU and will offer whatever help might be required to anyone who wants to escape. A free trade deal will be on offer immediately to any country that gets out of the EU. There will be no charge, because no one who truly believes in free trade charges for it. To charge for something that is supposed to be free is dishonest.
Brexiteers are not anti-Europe. There are fifty countries in Europe. Only a little more than half of these are in the EU. It is therefore both ignorant and offensive to conflate the EU with Europe. We have nothing at all against anyone in Europe. But we have seen the EU for what it is. It is anti-Britain and wishes us harm. It could still change its mind and we should offer it friendship right up until the point of leaving without a deal. After that however we should go our own way and follow our own path and make the EU realise that there is a cost for them too of losing Britain’s friendship.
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2019/08/the-eu-must-pay-price-for-punishing.html