Thursday, 2 June 2016

Remain vs Exit: Round 2

The central argument in the Remain camp is the awful economic consequence of the UK leaving the EU. The central flaw in that argument is seen by asking: how do those consequences come about? It won’t be UK companies refusing to do business with EU countries – why would they? It won’t be the UK Government banning all EU imports – why would it? So if there are sudden drops of trade, it must be because the EU is throwing a hissy fit and banning exports to the UK and imports from it. Or imposing ridiculous trade tariffs. And why would it do that? To encourage the others, of course, to demonstrate the wrath of Mama Merkel and Papa Junker. Walk through that door and we will cut off your inheritance.

That’s how this is being told: as a divorce between Daddy UK and Mummy EU. Mummy EU is threatening fifteen sorts of pain in the settlement, which leads one to wonder how she would behave if we stayed, or whether we should have married her in the first place.

Except this isn’t a marriage, it’s business. The day after the UK votes to leave, everything will go on as usual, including the UK’s payments to the EU. It will take a few years to negotiate the new agreement. Only two things will happen immediately: the Strasbourg Court will vanish from British legal consideration (except for trade disputes), and UK borders can and should slam shut to “refugees”. The UK will continue to welcome with open arms all the talented, educated, hard-working young men and women from countries with economies so awful that a job in Pret A Manger looks attractive. Send those people home and London closes down the next day. Retailers and many other companies would go broke before they could find UK citizens to do those jobs.

Earlier I said that “the world has changed” and for that reason we should stay in the EU and work from within. The world has changed, and the UK will have to negotiate with the EU and if it wants to export to it, make goods and provide services that abide by its rules. Sure. That’s true of any country the UK wants to trade with. The only question is whether it is better placed inside or outside the system. I suspect in the end it will make no difference, and I want the Supreme Court of the UK to be the final court of appeal. I don’t want Strasbourg (except for trade disputes with the EU, that’s a given). I want our management to have the right to refuse entry to anyone for any reason, and to expel anyone who isn’t a UK citizen for any reason. Everything else is business.

There are no consequences of Britain leaving that aren’t actually of the EC’s making. It will be the European Commission that takes it as an affront to its bureaucratic ego and tries to make the UK an object lesson for all the others. It will be the European Parliament who allows the Commission to do so. It won’t be your Leave vote.

Because you never stay with anyone who threatens you if you think about leaving.

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