This article is an update on a pre-referendum article from Dominic Frisby. To read the original, click here.
The EU referendum has come and gone, and Article 50 has been triggered.
But Brexit is far from over.
Some still don’t accept the will of the people. There’s talk of transition periods and flailing negotiations. The economic cataclysm they said would come if we voted for Brexit will now supposedly come when we actually get it… if we ever do.
We must continue to push politicians if we’re to get the Brexit we voted for.
And so I’m going to summarise my views into ten digestible bullet points as a reminder for why Brexit was the right decision.
But first, something needs clearing up…
I love Europe, but I want to leave the EU
It’s obvious. But based on some of the things I’m hearing and reading, it needs saying again.
Voting to leave the European Union (EU) was not a democratic election, an expression of hatred for Europe or Europeans, nor a matter of racism, bigotry or anything else like that.
It was simply a vote on whether we should remain part of the administrative body that is the EU.
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If we had voted to leave NATO or the World Bank, we wouldn’t be leaving the North Atlantic or the world behind. We’d just be escaping those organisations’ administrative powers. We wouldn’t be disbanding the armed forces or leaving millions to die. Just deciding for ourselves how to use our resources to solve those problems. It’s a question of how to make the best decisions.
Brexit does not mean you will no longer be able to travel to France. It does not mean your continental friends will not be able to come to the UK. And it doesn’t mean we will no longer be able to trade with our European brothers and sisters. Unless the EU does something stupid.
I should say that I’m German, British and Australian. I’ve lived in five European countries for half my life. I’m as much a Europhile as a Brit or an outsider. I wouldn’t know which country to be patriotic for and I believe strongly in internationalism – things like trade and migration.
And I still want out of the EU. Here are ten reasons why Britain should continue the drive to leave:
1. Centralised power is the wrong way to go
People thrive most in societies in which power is distributed as thinly and widely as possible. In such environments they are happier, healthier, wealthier, freer, and they achieve more.
The EU, by design, centralises power in Brussels and makes laws uniform. This while we are moving into an age of decentralisation and localisation. Just have a look at what’s going on with bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, Uber and internet commerce, and how we get our goods, news and information.
The EU is the wrong model for our times.
2. Fringe nations perform better
Since the inception of the EU in 1993, the economies of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland (even with its financial crisis) – the fringe nations – have on a per capita basis dramatically outperformed their neighbouring EU economies. They show that it is possible to become important EU trading partners without losing sovereignty to the EU.
For instance, Norway and other members of the European Economic Area (EEA) follow most of the rules of the single market, and must accept free movement of EU workers, but are allowed to keep parts of their economies excluded from the EEA, like farming or fisheries.
The Swiss are only partially beholden to EU law, as they have a special static deal that enables some sectors to operate outside of EU regulations. Their banking sector is the living proof of that.
In both cases these countries have to pay the EU for access, but far less than we already do. More importantly, given the EU’s restrictive trade practices with other nations, they’re free to establish trade deals with other countries, as the Swiss have done with China.
And don’t forget that Switzerland’s population is around eight million, and Norway’s five million. With 65 million citizens and a much larger economy, Britain is in a much stronger position to negotiate a proper deal that reflects our size.
Under Brexit, we would be a fringe nation and that would suit us.
3. Regulation should be local
Around 65% of regulation is now set in Brussels. It is of a one-size-fits-all variety, and so often inappropriate to local circumstances. Rather than facilitate progress, regulation hinders it.
Once in place, regulation is hard to change. Rather than get cut, it is added to. We already have too much in our lives. What we need would be much better set locally, according to local needs and circumstances.
Not to mention, all those regulations cost money to apply. A lot of money. Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, Britain’s contribution to the EU budget has skyrocketed while our receipts remained steady.
4. The economic disaster that is southern Europe
At the time of the referendum, we had 39% youth unemployment in Italy, 45% in Spain and 49% in Greece. Even while Europe’s economy is firing, its unemployment rate remains extraordinarily high compared to other nations with similar economies and growth.
Southern Europe is suffering terribly under the EU. Countries are unable to do the things they need to do to kickstart their economies because decisions are being taken on their behalf, not locally, but in Brussels, for the benefit of too broad a group of nations and people.
As if structural unemployment weren’t enough, the financial sector of the infamously named PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) isn’t any better. We’ve seen Spanish Banco Popular being sold for the token price of €1 to Santander, and Greece is still on the verge of having to sell some islands in order to get its national budget approved by the Troika apparatchiks.
But a bigger disaster is brewing within Italy. It’s called the “Sofferenza” – the suffering.
These are borrowers who simply can’t repay, but the bank just leaves them in limbo. An Italian banking crisis could start a collapse of the euro and potentially the downfall of the European Union.
I could not support with my vote an organisation that has inflicted such misery on some of its people. Reform of a bureaucratic organisation like that from within is an impossible undertaking. We need to escape.
5. Immigration policy is becoming ever more important
We hope to turn the Brexit movement into something that supports immigration of workers equally from all nations based on merit, not political alliances.
The reality is that there are more and more people in the world and – whether it’s those displaced by wars, by lack of water, by poverty, hunger or lack of opportunity – more and more of them are on the move. We are in a migration of people of historic proportions.
The UK, inside the EU, will struggle with its current immigration levels for a sustained period. We don’t have the infrastructure.
I wonder how we get those numbers down. I’m not sure we can, either in or out of the EU. It is a tide in the affairs of men. But we are in a better position to do it with total control of our own borders and border policy if we leave the EU.
6. Trade deals are a red herring
As a percentage share, British trade with the EU has fallen by almost 20% since 1999. British trade with the US, on the other hand, has grown. We have no official trade deal with the US.
Here’s a chart of exports for your consideration.
The point here is that trade policy is only part of the equation. There is no point having a common market if the economies of the countries you’re in that market with are struggling.
Some Remainers fail to notice that the EU is not just a free-trade area, but a customs union. It doesn’t just eliminate trade barriers[AV1] , it creates a common tariff for all its members that impedes free trade with the rest of the world. And that barrier is set at a high level. If we can escape it, trade with the rest of the world would flourish.
Bear in mind that Britain is one of the two members of the EU which trades most with the rest of the world rather than inside the EU. And, were we to leave, we’d become its biggest exports market.
A Britain free to focus elsewhere with its own initiatives is likely to do better on trade than a Britain in the EU.
7. Further integration with the EU means economic decline
When Britain joined the Common Market in 1973, the EU (as it is now) produced 38% of the world’s goods and services – 38% of global GDP.
In 1993, when the EU formally began, it produced just under 25%. Today the EU produces just 17%.
The obvious explanation for this is the rise of the Asian economies, which have taken on a bigger share of global GDP. But why then has the US’s share not fallen by as much?
The US’s share of global GDP stood at 30% in 1973, 27% in 1993, and stands at 22% today. That’s a 55% drop for the EU versus a 27% drop for the US.
Because of the shared currency and monetary policy inside the eurozone, there is a divergence in prosperity. The subjugation of peripheral economies to a strong euro has turned upside down the trade deficits across Europe. The German economy is the “motor of the EU” under a euro that is too weak, while others struggle under a euro that is too high for them. The same for monetary policy.
The EU has disappointed its people economically in all sorts of ways. We should run away in order to prosper, just as we escaped the euro’s one-size-fits-all exchange rate and monetary policy.
8. Democratic accountability matters
One of the biggest arguments for leaving the EU is that it is not a democratically accountable body. I didn’t vote for the administrators and nor did you. I don’t know who most of them are. If we want to vote them out, what do we do? We can’t do anything.
And if you want some idea as to the esteem in which they hold the democratic process, how about this from the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker: “Prime ministers must stop listening so much to their voters and instead act as ‘full time Europeans’”. Or how about another one his remarks: “When it gets serious, you have to lie”.
Just what you want in a president. Do you remember voting for him? I certainly don’t. But he’s still your president, and he’s not the only one. Currently, the EU has five presidents! None of them were elected by you or me. What kind of “democratic union” are we in?
9. Land ownership and the Common Agricultural Policy
There is no greater manifestation of the wealth divide in the UK than who owns land and who doesn’t: 70% of land in the UK is owned by fewer than 6,000 people. Yet these people are not paying tax on the land they own, they are receiving subsidies for it instead. Landowners are being paid by the EU to own land.
Of the EU budget, 40% goes to agricultural policy. This has created vast amounts of waste. It has propped up inefficient businesses that have failed to modernise. It has re-enforced monopolies which should be broken up.
Worst of all, it has meant that African farmers have been unable to compete, depriving millions of a livelihood (not to mention cheaper food for the rest of us).
More and more voices are rising against land concentration across the EU, especially in eastern Europe. A phenomenon called “farmland grabbing” is extensively described in a report of the Transnational Institute: “Extent of Farmland Grabbing in the EU”. This report exposes how lobbyism and growing monopolisation is killing European farming, which has lost around three million farms in the 2008-2015 period alone.
I cannot endorse with my vote an organisation that does all this and shows zero inclination to change its ways.
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10. The Common Fisheries Policy
We had to cede ownership of our waters to gain EU membership. What was once a huge industry and the largest fishing fleet in Europe has all but disappeared.
The French, Italians, Spanish and Greeks had fished out the Mediterranean. They were given access to our waters and our quota was reduced to 13% of the common resource. It’s not like we got ownership of Mediterranean olive groves in return.
The quotas system brought about the dreadful practice of discards (putting dead fish back in the sea), and reformed EU regulation now means that rather than being put back in the water, it is brought back for landfill instead.
Let’s have our waters back with Brexit.
Don’t avert your eyes
I don’t think it takes a genius to work out I supported Brexit. It was quite the occasion.
I believe, if we manage to leave, we will experience an economic boom that will take everybody’s breath away. We will look back and wonder why we were even discussing it.
If you think this article might persuade anyone still doubting Brexit, please share it with them.
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PS. Only hindsight will tell us if Brexit is a good thing. And even then, the answer is unlikely to be clear-cut. But it is clear that you need to understand what’s going on. All the issues outlined above affect you, often directly. You can stay up to date by subscribing to Capital & Conflict and be in the know about Brexit.
Before you go, I’d like to remind you about this warning. Brexit will expose what leaving the EU means for a country. Just as escaping the euro has shown countries the power of keeping their own monetary policy, Brexit could show how leaving the EU gives the people back the power to govern themselves.
If other European nations look on and realise leaving the EU is beneficial, or at least nowhere near as awful as their leaders make out, then the EU could crumble. That might sound good to Brexiteers. But it isn’t that simple.
For a member of the Eurozone to leave the EU and the euro, they’d likely have to default on their euro denominated debt. Such a default would make the Greek sovereign debt crisis of 2012 look boring.
Britain, as a major global financial centre, would ironically enough be at the centre of the financial carnage this would trigger. Our fate is tied to that of Europe, Brexit or not.
And it might be Brexit itself which triggers the biggest bankruptcy of all time.
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