The Brexit White Paper agreed by the Cabinet at Chequers has more or less already been rejected by the EU. They want still more concessions. So a plan that amounted to Brexit in Name Only, where the UK would mimic the EU Single Market and Customs Union, where we would have all of the disadvantages of Remaining in the EU but none of the advantages of Leaving, where we would be rule takers with no say whatsoever in the forming of those rules, isn’t enough for M. Barnier and friends. The EU thinks it is Rome and that Britain is Carthage and that they can demand tribute and a Carthaginian peace. But as we have told Frenchmen down the ages we must remind M. Barnier that we still have our fingers. We haven’t been defeated.
All Britain wants is a free trade deal and the ability to depart in peace in such a way that it is of mutual benefit to everyone. We want to cooperate with the EU and treat them as friends and good neighbours. But it is becoming ever clearer that the EU is desperate to punish Britain for the temerity of voting the Leave. They want Brexit to fail. They want us either to see that the terms of leaving are so bad that we choose to give up on our Brexit dream, or else they want us a few years down the line to admit that we cannot do without EU membership and apply to rejoin. Can you imagine the terms they would offer? We would have to promise to join the Euro, promise to join Schengen and we would have no rebate and so would have a vastly increased membership fee.
Worse than all of these things, Britain would be humiliated. We would have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. This is what the Remainers are offering us. They want us to fail. At every stage of our journey they have tried to hinder us rather than help. Whatever obstacle they could find they have put in our way. They have delighted when the EU has said this is impossible or that Britain will have to pay more. They would prefer defeat to victory and the worst peace treaty possible. We would have lost both World Wars and the Cold War too if so many had sided with our opponent.
But there is a strain in Post War British thinking that wants to apologise for our history and hopes only to manage decline. It is this above all that meant from 1945 to 1979 we had a mini-dark age where everything was drab and frequently the lights would go out. We joined the Common Market out of despair, not quite knowing how to cope with the modern world.
But this changed in the 1980s. We began to create a modern economy. We began to be productive. Those things that had hindered Britain, such as nationalisation, ultra-powerful unions and bureaucracy were gradually reformed. Young people today have no idea at all how poor we were in the 1970s. Britain has an excellent economy today, because we dared in the 1980s to do something differently. We threw out the post-war consensus of the Tory Wets and Old Labour and created a new Britain that wasn’t in decline any more.
Now those same Tory Wets and Labour moderates horrified that Britain might actually succeed in creating a successful economy outside the EU are desperate to get us back into managed decline.
I would prefer a few years of Corbyn if only he’d follow his convictions and actually get us out of the EU. At least Corbyn believes in something and hopes for something better. He is wrong of course, but perhaps Labour voters need to be taught once more that socialism doesn’t work. At some point it will be their turn. It would certainly be much worse than a Brexit on WTO terms. It might even be 1979 all over again if not 1917. But that’s democracy. We cannot prevent a Labour Government because we think it would be bad for the economy and would lead to economic disaster. That would be undemocratic wouldn’t it? But somehow people think we can stop Brexit before we have even tried it, as if that wouldn’t be equally undemocratic.
So what is to be done? It is quite clear that the whole EU strategy is designed to prevent Britain from making a success of Brexit. This is why they wish to tie us to the EU as closely as possible. Why do they reason in this way? It is because they know that Britain will make a success of Brexit if we can just get free from the EU. The reason Brexit will be a success is that we can use it to reform our economy in a similar way to the 1980s. We can get rid of all the EU bureaucracy. We can begin to gradually limit paying subsidies to farmers, which will have the effect in time of making our farms more efficient. We can lower tariffs unilaterally and no longer enforce the EU’s Common External Tariff. This will mean that food and other consumer products will be cheaper for our shoppers. We can offer free trade deals to anyone in the world who will reciprocate. We can make Britain the cheapest place in Europe to do business, lowering our business rates beneath those of the Republic of Ireland.
Whenever Remainers are gloomy about the future and whenever they predict disaster, I try to respond with both realism and optimism. I would much prefer a free trade with the EU and I would much prefer to cooperate with them. It would be far from ideal for both us and the EU if we cannot agree reasonable terms. But I would prefer to simply trade on WTO terms than to surrender when we haven’t even been beaten. If we surrender now we give up, perhaps forever the optimism and renewal that Brexit could bring to our country. We go back into the gloom of managed decline.
The Government should start doing all that is necessary to prepare for leaving the EU in March and should withdraw from all talks with M. Barnier and friends until they wish to be more constructive. We should spend whatever it takes to get ready for March. Above all we should not listen to Remainer threats. In the end they amount to a country without an air force threatening to close its airspace. It’s rather like the ant threatening the elephant. Why should we even notice?
This post was originally published by the author on her personal blog: https://www.effiedeans.com/2018/07/we-still-have-our-fingers.html