If you read one thing today, read this: “Britain is being led to an epic act of national self-harm” – by Will Hutton

Well done to Will Hutton, in the Observer, for marshalling the words to brilliantly sum up what I have been thinking since June 24th 2016.

I am not one of those who feel despair about our country. But I am old enough to have experienced what economic hardship and chaos feels, to an extent. This isn’t going to be pretty. Numbed by the valium of insane and misplaced national pride we are sleep-walking to the most awful economic disaster.

Here’s a sample of what Will Hutton says today:

Every day in Britain, 14,000 trucks come from and head to the European Union. If there is no Brexit deal with the EU, is every one of those trucks going to be inspected as they bring vital food and goods into the UK to see that the right tariff is being charged and correct regulation observed? If some trucks get delayed or traffic volumes plummet, who will organise food rationing in our supermarkets? Five days before a general election called to give the government a negotiating mandate for leaving the EU, is anyone aware of the risks?

Equally, a quarter of British exports with the EU pass through one single port, Calais – £3bn a month – with zero border controls or inspection. Who in Calais is going to inspect these goods to see if they correspond to EU rules if we crash out with no deal? Has France any interest in investing quickly in the customs structure to keep British exports flowing? The M20 and M2 will become gigantic truck parks as drivers wait to be inspected. You might think that, just as a precautionary measure, as the prospect of the exit talks collapsing is less than two years away, the UK government would be investing in customs inspection depots in our great ports and along the land border with Ireland and also offering to build similar structures in France to ease the inevitable congestion on UK roads. Surely someone, somewhere might have asked these questions?

Nothing is being done at all. Mrs May and her breezy lead negotiator, David Davis, offer platitudes about Britain embracing the globe and no deal being better than a bad deal, but even the most innocent negotiator in the EU team can see this is vainglorious posturing. They are betting on a deal being struck – negotiators with few cards, nor making sure they hold better ones. As matters stand, the consequence of no deal would be calamitous.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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65 Comments

  • How on earth do countries not in the EU manage without rationing?

  • Alan Depauw 5th Jun '17 - 10:18am

    @ Glenn:
    When there are shortages, who gets what depends either on rationing or on ability to pay higher prices.

  • When there are shortages, who gets what depends either on rationing or on ability to pay higher prices

    Are there constant food shortages in every country that isn’t a member of the EU, then?

  • David Evershed 5th Jun '17 - 10:32am

    Jayne Mansfield
    “I would prefer Keir Starmer negotiating Brexit rather than any Conservative.”

    Isn’t stereotyping all Conservatives in that way akin to racism?

  • Bluffing with a pair of tens.
    All the politicians know they are being completely dishonest with the British public.

  • When are you people going to get it through your thick heads – this is not about “national pride”, it’s about ‘Democracy’.

    The old Liberals were recognised as being anti-Establishment; the party, of which they are now a part, is a supporter of a corporatist and anti-democratic construct that has nothing to do with democracy.

    The people want representation, not imposition: we are more than units of the economy to be picked up and put down to suit a political class.

  • paul barker 5th Jun '17 - 11:05am

    @Dav
    most countries have lots of infrastructure to deal with customs, most countries dont funnel the great majority of their trade through a couple of Ports. Hutton isnt saying that The UK coundnt adapt, he is saying that our Government is making no effort to adapt. We could put a lot of whats neede in place in the 2 Years we have, if we threw money at it but we arent.
    Its not that there is no Plan B, there is no Plan A.

  • Alan Depauw 5th Jun '17 - 11:14am

    @Dav:
    Exactly what countries do you have in mind? Norway or Switzerland perhaps, who contribute to the EU budget and accept most EU laws? Sadly May has rejected their models of relationship with the EU.
    Or Turkey? But they are in the customs union, at least for certain sectors; and this option May has also ruled out.
    Or countries like the Ukraine, Serbia or Belarus? Their trade relationships depend on progress towards accepting the rules of the single market. In the case of Belarus, which has no intention of joining the single market, EU-sourced products are only for the rich.

  • The economy actually contracted on joining the common market. By 1975 inflation was over 20%. It contracted again in 1992 on it becoming the EU. Inflation was in the teens and interest rates were also eye watering. About five years after further entrenchment of the EU in 2003 we were in recession and growth rates have been down ever since. I would suggest that the evidence is that the EU has Jack All effect on very much and that its critics and eulogisers are basically over-estimating its power either as a negative or a positive. Productivity down. Home ownership falling, wages stagnant, debt through the roof. all whilst we were in the EU. So the idea that has brought huge success is just as ridiculous as the idea that youngster on zero hour contracts with zero opportunity get on the housing ladder and immigrants forced to live London’s crumbling estates are a metropolitan elite of internationalist high achievers instead of poor people who have been conned into seeing their poverty as a form of social liberation. It’s an empty barrel making a lot of noise.

  • most countries have lots of infrastructure to deal with customs, most countries dont funnel the great majority of their trade through a couple of Ports

    Hutton’s arguments seem to be based on:

    ‘is every one of those trucks going to be inspected as they bring vital food and goods into the UK to see that the right tariff is being charged and correct regulation observed?’

    but (a) there’s been no suggestion we would put tariffs on EU goods, and it would be stupid to do so (because tariffs are in general a terrible idea), so why would we?

    and (b) why would we not just accept any good which meet EU regulations?

    In short I don’t see why, in the short term at least, any such onerous checks on inbound goods would be necessary.

    In the long term, other countries manage outside the EU; why can’t we?

  • i have read the article and have bookmarked it for later use. What use will i make of it, well as Brexit goes badly I will point brave Brexiteers too it and say “Don’t say you received no warning of the path you choose to take”

  • Andrew Toye 5th Jun '17 - 11:31am

    A lot of people who voted ‘in’ in 1975 and ‘leave’ in 2016 said that they voted to join an economic union but not a political one. Could not that offer be put? (i.e. retaining membership of the Single Market but outside of the EU?)

    Also I agree that the debate is not all about nationalism, racism or immigration – there are legitimate points to be made about sovereignty (democracy) and it is perfectly within Lib Dem values to oppose EU membership on those grounds (although a minority view in the party).

    Good luck to everyone on Thursday!

  • A lot of people who voted ‘in’ in 1975 and ‘leave’ in 2016 said that they voted to join an economic union but not a political one. Could not that offer be put?

    As I understand it, the problem is that that is seen inside the EU as getting all the good bits of membership without the bad bits, and therefore not offerable to Britain because then other countries would want the same deal.

    Why they do not take this as a message that maybe they should be offering all countries a deal which is the good bits without the bad bits, is anyone’s guess.

  • @Dav

    No tariffs on EU goods? In which case no tariffs on any goods from any WTO member. At the same time the EU and other WTO members will be charging tariffs on our exports ( and also operating tariff quotas on some goods). What do you think will be the impact on agriculture and industry in the UK of that approach?

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 12:05pm

    Andrew Toye

    Just as for individuals, real freedom depends on what others are prepared to allow one to do, so the same applies to nations. In reality, unless we are to become a completely isolated country (and the nature of the UK means that is not possible), what our country can do outside the EU will depend on agreements with other countries, and they may be just as restrictive in practice as membership of the EU. Given the dominance of our economy by international big business, it also depends on what big business does to us.

    I think the Leave campaign made plenty of vague and exaggerated claims about the EU in order to gain support. In reality, what is it that the EU has control over that affects what happens in our country? It seems to me that the different countries in the EU run things as they want in many ways, and the problems that people feel about our country aren’t down to membership of the EU. For example, it wasn’t the EU that imposed tuition fees, was it? How higher education, and most other services are provided is down to individual countries, not to the EU.

    So, people were misled into thinking the EU was the source of our woes, when it isn’t.

    For those who say it is about sovereignty and democracy, what do you think of Trump? He says that having an international agreement on climate change is an attack on the democracy and sovereignty of his country “rule by Paris” as he put it. Well, do you agree with him on that?

    If we don’t have international agreements on environmental issues and the way big business can play one country off agains another, we all lose out it in the end. To what extent is the EU really going beyond the sort of things where international agreement is needed?

  • Tony Greaves 5th Jun '17 - 12:06pm

    What a sad collection of comments we read here. Hutton is right as he often is. How sad, too, that the Liberal Democrats have not been able to put this across in this election campaign.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 12:20pm

    Dav

    Why they do not take this as a message that maybe they should be offering all countries a deal which is the good bits without the bad bits, is anyone’s guess.

    But isn’t that what politics is all about? To get the things that seem pleasant you have to accept things that in isolation seem unpleasant. For example, why can’t we have the “good bits” of Conservative Party policy without the “bad bits” i.e. low taxes, but without any cuts to public services. Or the “good bits” of Labour Party policy without the “bad bits” i.e. much more spending on public services, but without any tax rises?

  • Matthew,
    The Flip side is that remain voters insist the EU is a block against those things and that it has lead to unprecedented progress. As I said empty barrels making a lots of noise.

  • For example, why can’t we have the “good bits” of Conservative Party policy without the “bad bits” i.e. low taxes, but without any cuts to public services. Or the “good bits” of Labour Party policy without the “bad bits” i.e. much more spending on public services, but without any tax rises?

    Because those things are logically impossible. You cut taxes (and you aren’t prepared to increase borrowing) and you have to cut spending. You want to increase spending, you have to get the money form somewhere, and that means tax rises (or more borrowing).

    However, there is no logical reason why it is impossible to have a free trade area, with a mechanism for arbitrating trade disputes and trade disputes only, without a would-be superstate that have legislative competence over member nations’ social policy. It would be perfectly possible to harmonise trade rules, without, for example, having a common currency, or a common foreign policy, or a common defence policy, or a Social Chapter, or a Charter of Fundamental Rights, or a common border force, or a court which hears cases from citizens suing their own government and can overrule the state in question’s supreme court, on matters completely unrelated to trade like residence rights of EU citizens’ family members or prisoners’ voting rights.

    Those things are all completely unrelated to the EU’s purpose of being a frictionless free trade area. If we could have the free trade area without all those things, we’d sign up in a second, and there’s no logical reason we can’t: the only reason they are bundled together is because of federalists (like, I’m afraid to say, a lot of Lib Dems) who want the EU to be a federal superstate on the model of the United States, and who use the free trade area as the carrot to induce nations to give up their sovereignty.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 12:44pm

    Glenn

    Productivity down. Home ownership falling, wages stagnant, debt through the roof. all whilst we were in the EU.

    To what extent has any of this been caused by membership of the EU? I would say exactly none of it. The root cause of all of these things is the long-term effect of the economic and social policies initiated by the Thatcher government and carried on by every government since. For example, home ownership is falling because of the long-term effects of Tory policies on housing (doing away with council housing, and having little or no tax on housing) that in the short-term were proposed as doing the opposite.

    To me, the Leave campaign was all about diverting attention from this, the real cause of people’s woes, by trying to put the blame on the EU. People who were unhappy about the way our country is going were talked into voting Leave as a sort of protest against it, when in reality leaving the EU is not going to solve these problems at all, and if it results in our country being run by even more extreme economic right-wingers (the sort of people who funded the Leave campaign and relied on their puppets in the right-wing press to push it), it will make it worse, not better.

    Unfortunately, the shift at the top of our party towards people who just say “we too” to Thatcherite economics means there was not the willingness to say this. Our party made the catastrophic mistake of putting itself across as “the party of the 48%” rather than trying to find a way of reaching out to the others and showing understanding of their concerns, and doing something to persuade them that, no, the EU was not the real cause of what was worrying them.

  • Glenn
    In 1973 the economy contracted because of the massive increase in the price of oil.
    Europe is an important market for the UK. It is unlikely that the UK will be able to double its trade with SE Asia in the next few years.

  • @Paul Barker: the liberal democrats on this site seem to be saying the they want Brexit stopped no matter what the majority of the population say because they believe leaving the EU will be a disaster for the UK and that the general population have not or cannot fully understand that unless the consequences actually happen because by that time it will be too late?

    If this is the case then why did the parties MPs vote to put the decision to the people when the government were clear that they would implement the result, there was no talk about a 2nd vote or the opinion expressed in the referendum being worth nothing more than a non-binding opinion poll.

    I can understand MPs thinking that a referendum is not the right way to settle an issue, but not after they have decided to vote for a referendum to settle the issue.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 12:52pm

    Dav, your line is essentially that the Leave propaganda is the truth, and then to ask do you want the EU as the Leave campaign says it is or do you not. Unfortunately, it always seems to end up like that, with no space for those like myself who do not believe the Leave propaganda is anything like the truth.

  • Unfortunately, it always seems to end up like that, with no space for those like myself who do not believe the Leave propaganda is anything like the truth.

    Which bit do you not believe — that the EU wants to be a federal state along the lines of the USA, or that that is entirely independent of it being a frictionless free trade area?

    Because as to the first, I have certainly met people — Liberal Democrats even — who have explicitly said that they want to see the UK become, basically, the equivalent of a California in a United States of Europe, making local laws with legislative powers delegated from (and overrulable by) a federal government in Brussels, and with the EU handling all foreign and defence policy.

  • Mathew,
    I never said it did, but to what extent did the EU stop it? Coz to me fans of the EU keep talking about how awesome, economically beneficial and progressive it is. I’m just pointing out the evidence suggest it does nothing.
    Manafarang,
    So what, growth still went down not up and stayed down all through the 70s and into the 80s. Plus it has now been stagnant for the best part of 20 years. So where’s this unprecedented growth and economic stability pro EU people talk about. I would suggest that it’s a myth true believers perpetuate despite the evidence.

  • I meant 10 years, typo

  • A lot of people looking for a scape goat found the EU. Now they don’t have that what will the next scape goat be, because it could never be the failure of our politicians or us as a society, we are special. I think they are about to find out how special they are and they are not going to like it, but then reality can be a bitter fruit.

  • Bill le Breton 5th Jun '17 - 1:53pm

    with four days to go to close of polls there really is only one issue: the competence of the Prime Minister to keep us safe!

    Concentrate on that with every breathe.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 2:03pm

    Glenn

    So where’s this unprecedented growth and economic stability pro EU people talk about. I would suggest that it’s a myth true believers perpetuate despite the evidence.

    There we go again, this is what is happening all the time and stopping satisfactory logical debate on this issue. You Leave people just go on and on and on with this gross exaggeration. You just can’t or won’t accept that someone can be in favour of membership of the EU on balance of the issues. Oh, no, you insist that everyone who on balance is in favour of Remain is some sort of fanatic who thinks it is super-duper wonderful.

  • Oh, no, you insist that everyone who on balance is in favour of Remain is some sort of fanatic who thinks it is super-duper wonderful.

    The article at the head of this page says that leaving the EU will result in food shortages in the UK.

    That’s quite a bit beyond being ‘in favour of membership of the EU on balance of the issues’ and well into ‘the UK cannot cope without out EU’ territory.

    You may be in favour of the EU based on the balance of probabilities (though in that case you must accept that people who weight the various factors slightly differently might come to a different balance), but the comment is responding to an article with a position which is much stronger than yours.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jun '17 - 2:57pm

    ” But I am old enough to have experienced what economic hardship and chaos feels, to an extent”

    You were born 1950 so you must mean the Thatcher years? Weren’t we in the EU then?

    If we look at a graph of UK GDP since the war there isn’t much evidence that we’ve done better inside the EU than out. The squiggly bit on the end of the graph is due to the GFC and the EU doesn’t protect us from that.

    http://www.economicshelp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/real-gdp-growth-55-14-600×567.png

  • @Peter Martin
    Where is the comparable graph of GDP with us outside the EU. I have more respect for you than to take that comment with anything other than a pinch of salt.

  • @Dav
    I would be more than happy to have people weigh the factors differently. Problem is that the factors in this debate were ill defined, unexamined and some were just outright falsehoods. The most important decision in the last fifty years and most of it is done on gut instinct and media spin.
    When I said previously that politicians are being dishonest with us I mean that the remain camp voted for the referendum not thinking they could ever lose. They are too dishonest to say that they made a mistake. They are now spinning us a line of everything will be OK if we ‘negotiate’ hard. If they were honest, what they should be saying is that it’s not going to be easy. The country’s GDP is going to take a hit. Many people are going to suffer. Hopefully in 20 years time we may be able to adjust the economy so that overall, we are not too badly off. If that is what you voted for then that’s fine. At least you will feel part of a democratic system that ignores the votes of 60% of the electorate.

  • For a moment I thought we were going to have to go back to John Stuart Mill and start putting a case for democracy that has been there since the nineteenth century. But on reflection I’ll settle for going back to Tony Benn – “If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you , you do not live in a democratic system”. That is why we must not live under the tyranny of one referendum result. You can’t sack the voters, however large the turnout.

  • David Evershed 5th Jun '17 - 4:46pm

    Geoff Reid
    “That is why we must not live under the tyranny of one referendum result. ”

    We had one Europe referendum in 1975 and now one in 2016.

    So our next Europe referendum is due in 2057.

  • Mathew,
    I can see that some people on balance believe in the EU, but I’m sitting here reading an article that is predicting rationing and roadblocks so I think I’m allowed to exaggerate a little. Although, I have heard claims that the EU is protecting us from right-wing economics even though they’ve happened anyway and that it has lead to growth and stability when it plainly has done no such thing. I’ve also been told that leaving the EU means we will become like North Korea. So I don’t think Leave people have a monopoly on exaggeration or irrational fear mongering. .

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 5:11pm

    Glenn

    Although, I have heard claims that the EU is protecting us from right-wing economics

    Well, if the EU was really the global super-state that exerts control over our country, as the Leavers claim, it would be able to do so, wouldn’t it? It is a sign that the EU has nowhere near the power that the Leavers claim that it can’t do so. It’s up to the UK government whether it has a right-wing or left-wing economic bias. For example, it is not the EU that dictated the end of government subsidy of university education, and other EU countries do have full government subsidy.

    The EU can have some minor influence, that’s all. International co-operation is needed to prevent power moving from government to international big business playing off one country against another. I think there may be need for more international co-operation of this sort, and we need organisations such as the EU to put that in place. If one looks at those funding and running the Leave campaign, and what they say among themselves, that’s precisely why they are against the EU – though they don’t put it that way when speaking to the masses.

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Jun '17 - 5:17pm

    Dav

    The article at the head of this page says that leaving the EU will result in food shortages in the UK.

    But that’s a different issue from your original claim. Your original claim was not that people who support remaining in the EU do so for practical reasons, it was because you said they just love the idea of the EU enforcing common rules on all of us. It is perfectly possible that one may not like the idea of common EU rules, but one accepts it because one realises that it is necessary for practical reasons like avoiding big problems as in the original article. If that is one’s position, it is entirely different from regarding the EU as just “awesome”.

  • It is perfectly possible that one may not like the idea of common EU rules, but one accepts it because one realises that it is necessary for practical reasons like avoiding big problems as in the original article

    In which case it’s perfectly reasonable to point out that it is not necessary for those reasons at all, as other countries manage perfectly well outside the EU and don’t have the terrible problems the article predicts.

    And it’s also perfectly reasonable to point out that even if some of the stuff the EU does is helpful in avoiding those problems, the EU also does lots of other stuff that has nothing to do with avoiding trade problems, and that if we Leavers could sign up to a version of the EU that had just the enabling-trade stuff and not any of the other stuff which the EU has, like the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy , for example, which is not necessary for the trade enabling, we would do it like a shot.

  • Peter Martin 5th Jun '17 - 5:23pm

    @ PJ,

    Thanks but I’m not sure what you mean. I think my point is that the UK’s growth trajectory wouldn’t have been much different if we’d been inside or outside the Common Market/EC/EEC/EU since 1973. We’d need to find a parallel universe where that hadn’t happened to confirm that point though!

    I’d also make the point that the EU is much less successful than its predecessors the EC etc. It started off well in 1993 but the rules it has set itself are too inflexible to allow different economies to respond in different ways to changing world trading conditions.

  • Arnold Kiel 5th Jun '17 - 5:34pm

    The NYT titles aptly and concisely: Why ‘Brexit’ Will Make Britain’s Mediocre Economy Worse
    have a look ($$):
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/opinion/britain-brexit-economy.html?rref=collection%2Fnewseventcollection%2F‘Brexit’:%20Britain’s%20Decision%20to%20Leave%20the%20E.U.&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Collection&region=Marginalia&src=me&version=newsevent&pgtype=article

    Apparently, continuing to exchange arguments with leavers is hopeless; just wait and see, and remember one thing: every day of the next 18 months, the British people or Parliament can stop this.

  • Matthew,
    You keep talking about those funding the Leave campaign saying this or that in private, but the fact is most of the international big businesses and corporations supported remain!

  • @Peter Martin
    ‘We’d need to find a parallel universe where that hadn’t happened to confirm that point though!’
    Exactly. In the absence of which, I don’t we how you can refer to a graph of GDP growth with us inside the EU and say that it shows that the EU hasn’t made that much difference.

  • @Dav “However, there is no logical reason why it is impossible to have a free trade area, with a mechanism for arbitrating trade disputes and trade disputes only, without a would-be superstate that have legislative competence over member nations’ social policy. It would be perfectly possible to harmonise trade rules, without, for example, having a common currency, or a common foreign policy, or a common defence policy, or a Social Chapter, or a Charter of Fundamental Rights, or a common border force, or a court which hears cases from citizens suing their own government and can overrule the state in question’s supreme court, on matters completely unrelated to trade like residence rights of EU citizens’ family members or prisoners’ voting rights.”

    That is effectively the Single Market, however as we know, May and her backers have publicly stated they don’t want to remain in the Single Market. So there is no reason for the EU to spend time developing an agreement based on the UK remaining in the Single Market – which takes us back to a previous LDV article, namely we know that May will get a bad deal as she hasn’t left the option of alternative deals on the table…

  • @Dav re: “Dav 5th Jun ’17 – 11:23am
    Hutton’s arguments seem to be based on: …”

    I agree Hutton’s argument is not that well presented, in sensationalising the “14,000 trucks a day” he has lost clarity and weakened his point.

    The key issue is that currently the Folkestone/Channel Tunnel/Port of Calais is an internal border, with the only real ‘border’ functions being concerned with the movement of people and not goods. Post-Brexit the UK, without remaining in the Single Market, will trade on RoW terms, which will mean full customs services – and the delays these will necessarily introduce into the movement of goods. the question is whether the EU will allow the UK to continue to use it’s internal access point or has to use the EU access points the RoW uses…

    It is these delays that will determine whether the M2/M20 becomes a near permanent lorry park or not for trucks wanting to get to the continent – as the Port of Calais will obviously regulate the flow. This might not be a bad thing, given the investments being made in our rail freight infrastructure and connected ports such as Felixstowe.

    With respect to food imports, I think you are largely correct, the UK government will have little choice but to fast track these, given most of these are of fresh foods and the lack of storage capacity in the UK distribution system, a failure to keep these flowing will become highly visible in 2~3 days with food shortages within 5~10 days. (You only need to look back a few Christmas’s where storms in the channel prevented the movement of fresh food for 1~2 days and resulted in the fruit and vegetable sections of many supermarkets being empty.

    Once you take these into consideration I think it is fair to say that Brexit is an epic act of self-harm that will reverberate down the centuries.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '17 - 6:29am

    Glenn

    You keep talking about those funding the Leave campaign saying this or that in private, but the fact is most of the international big businesses and corporations supported remain!

    Yes, it tended to be the shadier fringe elements of the economic right who were most in favour of Leave. See the Wikipedia page on Vote Leave.

    Part of the issue is that what you say and what I’ve pointed out led to the referendum being largely a fight between rival factions of the economic right. The consequence of this is that the Remain campaign put most of its attention into economic right-wing arguments for Remain to try and win over economic right-wing Leavers. And the consequences of that were that people who are unhappy with right-wing economics saw Remain basing its case on right-wing economics, and so were attracted to voting Leave.

    Back in the 1980s, there were serious left-wing arguments for Brexit, in those days the claim was that Britain was naturally a socialist-inclined country, and membership of the EU was a barrier to socialism. Did we hear any of that in the 2016 referendum? No. The arguments made for Brexit from the right-wing propaganda sheets Daily Mail, THE Sun and Daily Express were all the exact opposite of that.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '17 - 7:05am

    Dav

    not any of the other stuff which the EU has, like the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy , for example,

    I rather think that in the current world, working together with other countries who share our western liberal values is a good idea.

    Look, if any if you Leavers could give me serious concrete examples of things the EU is forcing on us that we don’t want and aren’t useful for long-term global reasons, I’d be more sympathetic to your case. This is something I’ve asked for again and again, and have yet to have a convincing response.

    There are plenty of things I don’t like about the way our country is run, yet I find it hard to see how any of them have been forced on us by the EU apart from one: I do actually share some of the concerns about the influx of immigrants from the poorer countries of the EU. However, I still find it hard to see how leaving the EU is “British independence” as the propaganda sheets put it, implying that we are like a colony run by an empire as if there were all sorts of oppressive things the EU was doing to us.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Jun '17 - 7:13am

    Dav

    a court which hears cases from citizens suing their own government and can overrule the state in question’s supreme court, on matters completely unrelated to trade

    Well, I rather like this idea, because I see it valuable to have a way of appealing against the sort of one-party unrepresentative governments we have in this country. I want protection against the possibility of a dictatorial one-party state.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jun '17 - 9:26am

    The calling of the current election means that the untruth of all untruths (far worse than the mendacious £350M. on the bus) is still believed by many who should know better. The untruth of all untruths? That the EU will offer the UK a trade deal and other co-operative arrangements virtually identical to what we have now without (a) financial contribution, (b) freedom of movement of labour and (c) any jurisdiction by the European Court , while at the same time continuing to impose all of these on their own countries. I predict that as reality dawns it will become necessary for the issue to be put to the people in some form – thereby completely vindicating the Lib Dem position. We can only hope we have enough MPs to be a significant factor in the ongoing situation.

  • Well, I rather like this idea, because I see it valuable to have a way of appealing against the sort of one-party unrepresentative governments we have in this country

    That’s what the Supreme Court is meant to be. Do you not trust the UK Supreme Court? Why would you trust a foreign court more?

  • I rather think that in the current world, working together with other countries who share our western liberal values is a good idea.

    Working together, yes. Being absorbed into some kind of confederation, no.

    Look, if any if you Leavers could give me serious concrete examples of things the EU is forcing on us that we don’t want and aren’t useful for long-term global reasons

    I gave a list above! Let me repeat it:

    ‘a common currency, or a common foreign policy, or a common defence policy, or a Social Chapter, or a Charter of Fundamental Rights, or a common border force, or a court which hears cases from citizens suing their own government and can overrule the state in question’s supreme court, on matters completely unrelated to trade like residence rights of EU citizens’ family members or prisoners’ voting rights’

    And that’s only a partial list, but surely enough to be getting on with?

    [You can claim that some of those don’t yet apply to the UK, but it’s clear that, for instance, the EU sees the Eurozone as the ‘core’ of the EU and that it will need to integrate more closely together in order to survive, as the current arrangement is unstable; so i the fullness of time the UK would have to either adopt the Euro or (more likely) end up outside the EU anyway, in a similar way to how Norway currently is]

  • That is effectively the Single Market, however as we know, May and her backers have publicly stated they don’t want to remain in the Single Market.

    No. They’ve said they won’t accept free movement and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Neither of these are logically necessary for Single Market membership. It is the EU which makes accepting free movement, say, a political condition of being in the single market, but there’s nothing inherent in the idea of a free market that it must include free movement.

    If there was a deal that gave the UK single market membership without free movement and with ECJ jurisdiction limited only to matter of extra-territorial trade, I’m sure that May would sign up to it like a shot.

    So why won’t the EU offer that deal?

    [Mainly because if they did, lots of other countries would want it too]

  • Andrew Melmoth 6th Jun '17 - 11:32am

    Dav
    Your list consists of things which don’t affect us (common currency), things which don’t exist (common defence policy), things which have nothing to do with the EU (prisoner’s voting rights), and things the majority will want anyway when we are outside the EU (Social Chapter). As to your argument that one day we will be forced to join the euro, well, one day I might stub my toe but that is not a good reason to amputate my foot today.

  • Your list consists of things which don’t affect us (common currency),

    I did point that out. Why does the EU have a common currency anyway? There’s no economic reason for it, indeed, economically it causes massive problems.

    It’s entirely a symbolic thing: they want to be a country, countries have a currency, so they have to have a currency.

    things which don’t exist (common defence policy),

    It exists as a plan, and an ambition.

    things which have nothing to do with the EU (prisoner’s voting rights),

    If that has ‘nothing to do with the EU’, why did the ECJ (not the ECHR) rule on a case regarding prisoners’ voting rights in France?

    and things the majority will want anyway when we are outside the EU (Social Chapter).

    If the majority want it then it will be enacted by the UK parliament, if they don’t it will be repealed by the UK parliament: the point is it should be up to the parliament elected only by the UK electorate.

    Oh, another thing we Leavers object to: the European Parliament. Why does a free trade organisation need a parliament? No other intergovernmental organisations has one. There’s no NAFTA parliament, we don’t elect people to NATO supreme command.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jun '17 - 12:09pm

    @Dav

    You really cannot re-invent the Conservative position to embrace some form of membership of the single market. Their manifesto says “As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement. ” No question of exploring amended conditions for single market membership – perhaps going beyond the Norwegian model which already exists. No – all ruled out before negotiations even commence. Does that approach to the most important negotiation in most of our lifetimes make any sense whatsoever?

  • we will seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement

    Actually that sounds to me very much like, ‘we want all the good bits of the single market, but not the bits we don’t like’.

    Which would clearly, by definition, be a better deal than what we have now, where we have the good bits of the single market but also have the bits we don’t like.

    Now it may be that the EU won’t make that offer, but it seems to me that you can’t say May has ruled out an ‘all the good bits, none of the bad bits’ deal.

  • Daniel Walker 6th Jun '17 - 12:37pm

    @Dav “Oh, another thing we Leavers object to: the European Parliament. Why does a free trade organisation need a parliament? No other intergovernmental organisations has one. There’s no NAFTA parliament, we don’t elect people to NATO supreme command
    Because it’s more democratic? And ECOWAS has one, as does the Council of Europe, and all these other ones. Not many are directly elected, granted (ECOWAS’ is intending to become so, I gather), but I can’t quite see direct elections to the EU Parliament as a bad thing.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jun '17 - 12:49pm

    Now we’re back in cloud cuckoo land, Dav. If you or Theresa May think they can negotiate what would in effect be a replica of the single market (without as you put it the “bad bits”) just in order to say “Look, ukippers, we got out of the single market”, you have another think coming. Surely a reading of Will Hutton’s article must show you just how complicated this all is? Might it not just be more sensible to test out under what conditions retention of single market membership could be possible?

  • My point is that it’s not Theresa May who has ruled out the UK remaining within the single market, it’s the EU, by attaching unacceptable conditions to single market membership that are not economically necessary, but politically motivated, such as accepting ECJ jurisdiction.

    The EU didn’t have to attach those conditions, so it seems unfair to blame Theresa May for the fact they did.

  • Denis Loretto 6th Jun '17 - 2:46pm

    @Dav

    As I said up above there somewhere, there is absolutely no question of the UK managing to negotiate a replica of the single market while avoiding all the obligations accepted by the 27 remaining members. However some amelioration may have been feasible and that should have been put to the test. If you think that “some amelioration” sounds like thin gruel just wait until you see what is going to be on offer.

    Anyhow the rain has gone off and I am getting out on the campaigning trail so this is a sign off from me on this thread.

  • I think whoever wins the election and ends up negotiating Brexit has got a shock coming. The Deal will be what the EU says the Deal is!

  • Peter Martin 6th Jun '17 - 4:34pm

    @ PJ

    “I don’t we how you can refer to a graph of GDP growth with us inside the EU and say that it shows that the EU hasn’t made that much difference.”

    The graph shows growth in the post war period. The UK hasn’t been in the EU all of the time.

    I’m sure I could find lots of similar graphs showing similar levels of growth for many other countries too which weren’t in the EU. Not only large countries like the USA but NZ, Switzerland and Australia too. There’s no evidence that the current level of UK prosperity has anything at all to do with our membership of the Common Market/EEC/EC/EU.

  • Daniel Walker 7th Jun '17 - 8:01am

    @Dav “If that has ‘nothing to do with the EU’, why did the ECJ (not the ECHR) rule on a case regarding prisoners’ voting rights in France?

    I hadn’t heard of that case, so I looked it up. Took me all of two minutes to discover that it was heard in the ECJ because the prisoner bringing the case was suing for the right to vote in European Parliament elections, so the ECJ was clearly the correct venue.

    https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2015-10/cp150118en.pdf

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