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Brexit: was it worth it? Once a fervent Eurosceptic, I came to believe that leaving would be a terrible blunder

So tired of Brexit. Niklas Halle'n/Getty

So tired of Brexit. Niklas Halle'n/Getty


December 10, 2020   6 mins

Like a never-ending television series that should have been cancelled years ago, the Brexit saga reaches yet another season finale this month with the end of the transition period. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, as in vaguely terrifying at times, and full of hysterical people.

Back on the day of the referendum, four and a half years ago, a curious thing happened as I took my children to school. At the time there was a spate of newspaper features about children saying things that were supposedly profound, which were clearly just them parroting their right-on parents: “Gender is just a word we give to things” or “no human can be illegal, mommy”.

I used to have a regular chuckle at these absurdly pompous New York Times features, and then, on the morning of the vote, my seven-year-old daughter said to me: “Daddy, I don’t want to leave the European Union”. I half-smiled because it had actually definitely happened, and she didn’t get it from me; I just assumed she was repeating something her teachers had told her.

But it was only half a smile, because having been a full-on Eurosceptic for many years, at that point I was riddled with doubt. And as the Brexit process has “advanced”, those doubts have soured into regrets.

People often marvel at how reluctant others are to change their minds about political issues, but politics is hormonal. After the achingly dull 1994 World Cup final, in which Italy lost to Brazil on penalties, researchers found that testosterone levels among Italian men watching the game had fallen by almost 27%. That is why football fans frequently cry in defeat; it’s the body’s response to the shock of defeat, and I imagine something similar is going on with our politics. Realising that your long-held beliefs are mistaken is troubling and emotionally draining, and so few change their minds over big issues — even when, in some cases, the bodies start piling up.

My Eurosceptism was on a fundamental level about the nation-state, which I considered (and still do) the best means of organising society. I’m naturally suspicious of bodies beyond the control of voters, not because I believe in the wisdom of “the people”, but because of the human tendency to self-interest. Technocratic elites are also prone to groupthink; they form their own orthodoxies because they tend to be sociable and so beliefs become markers of belonging and status.

I also thought that democracy was impossible in a body as large as the EU because of the lack of a demos. The euro has been disastrous for countries such as Italy and Greece, but the people in charge — Charlemagne’s descendants — didn’t regard the Greeks as their countrymen. (And if you’re reading this on a train in the north of England, I appreciate that nationality is not a guarantee of solidarity, but it is maybe a requisite.)

I was well-informed about the European issue. I remember reading once that Eurosceptics were much more knowledgeable about the issue than the general public, and took it as confirmation of rightness — as it turned out, the entirely wrong conclusion.

I looked forward to Britain leaving, and genuinely thought we would enjoy better relations with our neighbours. No more bickering, as had been a constant of the Nineties when I was first politically aware. I had voted Ukip in the European elections, which ironically gave people outside the mainstream their biggest voice in politics, far more than the Westminster system. Four months before the referendum I had started working for Eurosceptic Tory MP Owen Paterson; the original remit had been to help with a think-tank he was setting up, but everything got swallowed by the Brexit referendum, as with all British politics in the coming years. So I ended up writing speeches about the EU and reading a vast amount about its workings.

And as I did, I began to have far more serious doubts. I learned, some time later, that climate sceptics also know a fair bit more about their issue than the public at large: more knowledge tends to correlate with more bias, because you learn what you want to learn. The same with Euroscepticism, because in reality the subject was, to use that centrist cliché, far more complicated than anyone could imagine.

It wasn’t just that the British newspapers had told lies about the EU down the years — we all knew about the bendy banana stories, caricatures of a system which was nevertheless genuinely ridiculous. Rather, there were deeper distortions, so that Brussels was blamed for a lot of things that were just unavoidable market forces, technology and globalisation; likewise Westminster politicians used the EU as an excuse to avoid doing things they didn’t want to do.

There are advantages to leaving, of course, in regulatory matters and lawmaking, and we all knew that sovereignty would be a trade-off with short-term economic certainty. But the more I read about it, the more it seemed like there was no form of exiting the EU that wouldn’t bring enormous drawbacks, larger than the limited benefits.

And the problem was that Brexiteers wanted contradictory things; some of us wanted to put the brakes on globalisation, and to have a more egalitarian, high-wage society; others wanted more economic freedom. Clearly those two things contradict each other. Some wanted EEA membership; some wanted out altogether.

As for democracy, the dull truth is that international institutions have to be remote and undemocratic. As global trade has become more complicated, so the rules and bodies behind them have had to become more arcane; governing and rule-making in the 21st century has to be beyond the understanding of most people (journalists included).

All the arguments I had previously used to justify leaving, in particular the hope of entering a sort of half-way house with EFTA, I just no longer believed. All that was left was the emotional reasoning; the elephant was in charge, while the rider was basically asleep.

As Richard Nixon aide Kevin Phillips once said, politics is all about knowing who hates whom, and the European question was driven by social antagonism.

In my case — and many others — this wasn’t towards the EU, its emblems or even the fabled “eurocrats”. The EU flag did and does fill me with indifference. The inevitable superstate the continentals were heading towards probably suited people in Lombardy, Alsace or the various other provinces of core Europe in which gradations of language and culture existed in one continuum. It just didn’t suit us, for reasons of geography and history.

The antagonism was towards other British people, a certain sort of London politico type who reads one of the quartet of the Guardian, Economist, FT or Times, who sees themselves as being on the right side of history yet was wrong about the euro, probably wrong about Iraq, identifies with radicalism but is passionately snobbish towards the provincial and non-academic, and has naked class interests at heart. The sort of person who loves Europe but is in reality far more interested in American politics, and almost certainly went to Oxbridge and likes to tweet about “the lack of diversity at my alma mater”.

Having said that, I’m also repulsed by a certain type of Tory Eurosceptic – purple-faced golf club bores who opine about “what this country needs” and “you can’t say anything anymore”. I don’t trust them, either. And the more I listened to the Brexiteers, the more I came to the belief that they were living in cloud cuckoo land, and were going to sink the economy and also endanger conservatism for a generation.

That social hatred has increased since, to levels not seen in England in generations. And even as I have come to conclude that the Remainers were right all along, I also dislike them more than ever. That same insufferable London type has become even more insufferable, knowing that on the big question they are right but totally unconcerned about the root causes of other people’s unhappiness, and how in particular low-skilled immigration helped to break the social contract. (Of course there are benefits to free movement, but class and income-wise the costs and benefits are incredibly lopsided.)

And yet annoying or unappealing people can be right — indeed they often are.

Since that vote our politics has become more emotional and visceral, giving birth to a new sort of public figure, people like Arron Banks, Jolyon Maugham and a dozen other political celebrities, without whose daily presence we would all be much happier and better people.

It’s characterised by MPs like Mark Francois prattling on about D-Day – because it’s always the bloody war for these people — and David Lammy, once a seemingly normal, level-headed man but now transformed into a hysteric comparing Brexiteers to Nazis while — hilariously — writing a book about the dangers of “tribalism”.

Certainly we are more tribal, and the referendum has caused British people to identify in tribal ways unseen since the 17th century, Remainer and Leaver are far stronger affiliations than Labour or Tory were. It has, paradoxically, been a very parochial affair, and even the EU flags flying from London windows are in this context symbols of a particular British identity.

Yet to some extent it has made many British people feel fully European for the first time, me included. On holiday last year I felt deep regret at the thought of separation from our fellow Europeans, especially while in Holland, with which Britain has an especially strong connection.

My sense of being a European has also grown as the potential menace of the Chinese, Russian and Turkish regimes has become clearer. Most of all, though, has been the realisation this year that American political culture is an irredeemably corrosive and dangerous force.

At the time of the vote, I replied to my daughter that it was more complicated than she realised, and I’d explain to her when she was older. She’s now at secondary school, old enough to understand far more about the world, and if I’m honest I’m now none the wiser.

Perhaps it could have been handled better. But it’s feeble for Eurosceptics to complain that they didn’t get the Brexit they wanted, nor is it any comfort to point to root causes, or to blame Remainers for trying to reverse the vote. Ultimately, if Brexit turns out to be a mistake, it’s the fault of Brexiteers alone. After all, taking control means taking responsibility, too.

Small Men on the Wrong Side of History is published by Constable. The paperback, retitled Tory Boy, comes out in January.


Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable

edwest

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Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago

I don’t regret voting for Brexit but I can sympathise with some of the sentiments in this piece.

Ultimately though, the EU’s constitution, and it has one whether they wish to call it that or not, places a fundamental limitation on permissible sphere of political positions a democracy can adopt and that for me is unacceptable.

Were I to describe my ideological leanings I would call myself a pragmatic pluralist. I believe maximising political diversity, maximises our freedom of choice and this ultimately leads to better governance. This is not achievable within the rigid framework of the European Union.

Whilst I recognise there are benefits to a pan continental approach to many issues, calls for Europe to decentralise and adopt a multi-speed or concentric model, both before and after the referendum were sadly ignored.

If I regret anything. It’s the EU’s failure to reform itself into something I would wish to remain a part of.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

“If I regret anything. It’s the EU’s failure to reform itself into something I would wish to remain a part of.”

I suspect that is exactly what many of us think. And not just in the U.K.

There just didn’t look like any route to reform, short of a major crisis.

Michael Gibson
Michael Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I think the post Covid costs are going to focus European minds. There is already EU discontent in a lot of countries which could bring about a lot of change. Some countries are looking into a black hole of debt and the days of generous hand outs are over…

Julian Flood
Julian Flood
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Gibson

Maybe the countries suffering from the EU’s rigidity could club together as a trading bloc, ignoring the political aspects of le projet. They could call it… oh, something like the New European economic community.

JF

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Julian Flood

I mentioned that I, and many of my age group were actually *the Young* who voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically for *Europe* in 1975 and also *The old* who voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically against it in 2016.

I think that rather than some change in us, or some lazy assumption that as one gets older one simply votes for the wrong things, the cohort who were progressive or radicals in 1975 remained progressive (and a bit radical) in 2016.

They/we didn’t change and the cluse to why the vote changed lies in the label for which we were voting; the European Economic Community in 1975 having become the Europen Union in 2106.

What’s in a name?

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I was one of ‘the young’ in 1975 but voted against joining this club and have never waivered from my view, again voting leave in 2016 and adamant that although there may be a few hurdles to cross in the short term we cannot be subservient to what is morphing into a fourth reich. I cannot believe, in view of the behaviour of the EU in recent weeks, how even the most ardent remainer could still want to be a part of this dictatorship.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I was one of *the young* in 1975, did a course with the OU on the EEC as it was, then voted in favour of joining.

I voted remain four years ago because, although some of the countries both cause trouble and are in trouble, I ffelt we would have a greater say sitting at the table than we will from ‘outside the room.’

I think the bad attitude of the EU throughout the talks have been to a great extent a means of ‘serving us right’ and to deter others from following our example.

The fact we have a load of dishonest fools leading us at the moment has not helped!

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

All I can remember about the 75 vote was that I’d rather not because of the Commonwealth, the Fishing and northern industry!

Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

History tells us that whenever there was a crisis the EU did not allow it to go to waste. They exploited it as an excuse for increasing its power.

paul.thompson.ldn
paul.thompson.ldn
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Or rather, had the EU not continued it’s expansion east we probably wouldn’t be here having this conversation.

Robert Malcolm
Robert Malcolm
3 years ago

Very much so. That was the point when it stopped being a simple trading house to make all our lives easier, (standardised roaming mobile phone tariffs, EHIC cards, etc) and became a political project for Domination.

richard89
richard89
3 years ago

The expansion to the east was driven in a large part by the UK, who wanted a broader rather than deeper union. Failure to do this might very well have resulted in these countries falling back into the orbit of the Russian Federation, which indeed has happened for some of the ex-Soviet states.

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Agree. My sincere hope, as a Brexiteer is for EU reform.

We need to bring a replacement for the ECHR into the European sphere too, and start having a democratic process to change what those laws mean in practice.

A long way off I’m afraid.

On the other hand a properly constructed federal system won’t make things perfect. The US has a great federal system, chock full of unhappy people.

I suspect the real struggles of globalisation are inherent in imperatievs that there are no simple solutions to.

For instance, without balanced trade you are forced to sell your assets to foreigners, or accept massive inflation.

If you don’t accept large scale immigration, you could see jobs go abroad.

These forces are at a head at the moment, and they can’t be wished away via either nostalgia or regret.

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Large countries are ungovernable as there are too many conflicting interests in different regions with different priorities. It’s hard enough to govern the UK. How can Europe do it?
Oh right, now I understand re-education camps. Or just getting to kids while theyr’e still at school. Same difference really.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

The Eurocrats are aware that it will take a strong hand and the long game to bend the colonies.to their will.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Adrian

Margaret Thatcher (meaning her convictions, her government and policies) can’t be understood without understanding the 1970s.

In the 1980s we had inflation that would be thought unbearable now, but we also had the growth in new industries that set the scene for the Blair years, which get referenced now as a period of reasonable wealth and business progress.

So massive out of control inflation…that came in the mid seventies because of the oil price effects on society IS bad, but some inflation can be beneficial.

The basic problem for the EU is that for Spain, Italy, Greece and others that have lost the ability to inflate (via devaluation) they are suffereing what is effectively deflation over a very long period.

M C
M C
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

My issue with this contention is that the Westminster electoral system reduces political diversity. A lot of anger over feeling voiceless is down to this, but that anger was directed at the EU.

Meanwhile, the EU itself is a patchwork of highly diverse thoughts, and its member nations, notably Germany, are nations that allow the representation of a highly diverse set of views.

At the same time, the UK is not reforming itself in this regard. For this reason, I don’t think your idea that Brexit will bring about greater political diversity will pan out.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  M C

I was interested to notice that the UK MEPs were highly diverse. Once gone, the EP has become extraordinarily uniform other than in sex.

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I’ve just written a long post stating that I don’t think the author was ever against the EU. I’m for nation state democracy! Now I realise controlling ourselves, and international trade, is beyond the reach of normal people and that !”The inevitable superstate the continentals were heading towards ” is fine. Oh, I’m also a proud European now. Oh, I also have mentioned D-day, Brexiteers living in cloud cuckooland and posh Tories at golf clubs as my Brexiteer stereotypes. But I was one of you who has now seen the light.

Uh huh. Of course. And if you have reversed your decision then you’re clearly someone with no principles and very weak reasoning.

neilpickard72
neilpickard72
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

We’ve heard their tripe many times. I read it on the newspaper comments boards even now. The regretful Brexiteer meme played out by the committed Europhile.

john lord
john lord
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

If you can’t go for the arguments, go for the man.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  john lord

Are you referring to tim cole, or the author of the article?

Julian Flood
Julian Flood
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

He lost me at “purple-faced golf club bores”. My dear, those ghastly people!

JF
My experience is that the leaver group included people from all strata of society, and I met hundreds face to face while plodding the streets with leaflets.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

I don’t think he has no principles….but I do think with all sincerity that I hardly ever Leave supporters whether on social media or just chatting in ‘real’ life ever mention the Empire as much as Remainers do.

It’s the same with wanting to be a Bertie Big Boots in the world…. Leavers are not bothered about this

We can leverage our position as the Norways, Switzerlands, Canadas do, and with more heft with which to do it than they have…. and leave the ideas of a European Superstate to rank with the USA, China and possibly India to the Neo-Imperialists amongst the usual suspects of High Remainerism.

simon.r.rose
simon.r.rose
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

I would posit that regardless of the outcome in this whole terrible and pointless process of a nation unnecessarily and wantonly tearing itself apart, the biggest failure is one of trust. Would it be so hard to accept the voracity of the author and the article, even if you disagree with them?

For what it’s worth I see the same issues whichever side of the Brexit divide you sit on. One thing’s for sure: this country will not heal (and heal it must) unless we can all learn to listen to, understand and accept each other better.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  simon.r.rose

Oh, NOW Remainers think listening to others is a good idea.

It’s a pity you spent the last 4 years telling people they were thick, racist and ignorant rather than listening to the actual reasons people voted leave.

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Terrific comment.

John McFadyen
John McFadyen
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I totally agree with this. I also note that many of the positions taken under this article major on trade. If the EEC had simply remained a trading ‘collective’ with increased buying power for the good of all members and free trade among members, then there would be little concern about being part of it. However the monster that grew from the EEC dominated many aspects of our democracy and neutered our sovereignty. A federal europe has long been the spectre, and given the way the sands moved with the tides of trade as a European block, there was no other way to go. So in the famous words of several dragons “I’m out”. Oh and yes there will be gains and loses, winners and losers but these matters have an osmotic nature so right themselves in the end.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  John McFadyen

Well put… and remainers trying to use the last 4 years, or the first couple after Jan 1st as the period judge success or not are just trying to rig the argument in advance.

simon.r.rose
simon.r.rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

This is total revisionism. The leave campaign very clearly made the case that a deal as good as being part of the EU would be struck; that it would be easy and quick; that the country would be better off. Not after any transition period, not on leaving, not after some later-to-be-determined number of years. You can’t blame remainers for rigging the argument when leave set the standard

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  simon.r.rose

“SOME people in the Leave campaign made the case that a deal as good as being part of the EU would be struck.”

There, fixed it for you.

Bill Brewer
Bill Brewer
3 years ago
Reply to  simon.r.rose

I don’t think either side were particularly honest; are they ever? It becomes about winning. But ,,, most people had a good reason to vote the way they did. Although people do have a tendency to believe what they want to. I just thought that after we adjusted to leaving, the long term future would be brighter for my children. I can’t prove that anymore than remainers can prove it wont be. It was an act of hope because I didn’t like creeping scope of the EU. You get more democracy in smaller units where you can be heard and the connection to leaders is closer and more immediate.

I do believe there is a slide to authoritarianism taking place aided by technology. We gave them the tools and they are going to use them!

Karadjordjevic
Karadjordjevic
3 years ago
Reply to  John McFadyen


If the EEC had simply remained a trading ‘collective’ with increased
buying power for the good of all members and free trade among members,
then there would be little concern about being part of it.

I think many of the current issues revolve around the arguments for ‘free movement’ within the bloc. Originally this was expressed via the removal of barriers to goods and capital, thus increasing trade and ‘tying’ countries more closely together and creating interdependence; helping to lance the boil of European competitiveness for global or regional resources, and reducing the imperial instincts of individual countries.
The launch of the ñ‚¬uro was supposed to be the crowning achievement, but the removal of the ability of individual countries to set their own monetary policy created a sleeping beast that awake less than a decade later.
The free movement of people and services is a reductive extension which, while well intentioned, reduces individuals to mobile ‘blocks of money’, and creates an equivalence between people and capital which I think is a neo-liberal dream. People are a nations greatest resource; the flow of the educated young (‘human capital’) from ‘distressed’ European regions to wealthier areas has created systemic and ongoing problems which threaten growth and will become an ongoing problem.

wgeoff.56
wgeoff.56
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Ed West fears the divisions in the UK and in some ways he is right because those tensions which pre-date BREXIT are now coming into the open. there are many fights to come and they are unlikely to be nice.

mark.hanson
mark.hanson
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Surely the whole point of the EU was to prevent wars breaking out between European states as had been the case for hundreds of years, The two world wars of the twentieth century finally galvanised some european politiians into a project to bind europe together. That started with the coal and steel community and continued on from there, gradually becoming more and more political in its nature.

The current problems experinced by the south european states are a consequence of a failure or the northern states to recognise that you can’t have monetary union without a complimentary fiscal union. In other words Germay will have to pay for Greece to have the things it needs through fiscal transfers. Absent that the southern states are doomed to ever-decreasing living standards because german producivity growth is way ahead of theirs and the Euro means they can’t inflate and devalue their way out of hard decisions.
Two things worry me about Brexit then; 1. I fundamentally do not trust the Conservative party to keep any promises aabout not reducing employment and environmental safeguards for working people. I strongly suspect that to many backbenchers Brexit is the cover they need to be able to do that.

2. The whole “levelling up” agenda is something too complicated and too expensive for this government- and possibly any government to cope with. The discontent that drove the Brexit vote stemmed – in large part from de-industrialisation. The loss of what might be called “proper jobs” as manufacturing industry collapsed due to a lack of vision and of investment, only to re-appear in China. The Covid induced crisis around PPE is a great example of this, we no longer had the industrial base to make it ourselves. So went to the Chinese to buy it , along with everyone else who’d trashed theur own manufacturing base. Post-brexit are we going to rebuild that base from behind high tarriff walls? Or are we going to be “global Britain” and as Rees-Mogg suggests, reduce people’s shopping bills by inporting cheaper food from low cost producers (thereby wrecking our own agriculture)?

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
3 years ago
Reply to  mark.hanson

I regret that I have but one upvote to give you. Well done, sir.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  mark.hanson

I can only talk with authority about the area I spent my career in, the media, and latterly (of necessity) the digital media.

Last year Manchester was 2nd only to London as an inward investment city for Digital tech.

That’s 2nd in Europe.

(Ahead of Cambridge as well).

Birmingham is also on the up…as basically *outer London*.

Of course London remains very large and indeed larger than the next three nearest centres in Europe combined (usually Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam (or maybe Stockholm) …these are larger than Manchester but Manchester is growing more quickly

I think the biggest failuyre of the EU has been in digital tech. The largest companies in the world now contain hardly any that were the largest companies in the world in 2000, and they contain none from Europe.

But the largest companies in Europe contain many that were large in 200 and indeed the 1980s.

The EU are basically a protectionist project, protecting old industries and European Agriculture, and it’s almost inevitable in doing this they fail to innovate sufficently in theplaces China and the USA have innovated, and seen their companies leave Europe’s largest far behind.

The narrative of British decline and European burgeoning success just isn’t true any more, or at least perhaps not ‘as true as it was’..

Of course there are companies in Europe doing well…everyone in Britain isn’t doing fantastically…but people shouldn’t be blind to the way that the ‘2nd wave’ of digital media..from video news to games to commerce to medicine to AI to fintech..is both a huge area of growth and one that is happening in Northern cities as well.

The stats are present are backward looking, but the endless talk about the North being destroyed by Thatcher and remaining a desert through the 90s and noughties, is not the whole story today.

Nothing in what I say above is meant to imply that there’s some 1950’s or 1960’s German and Japanese economic miracle happening, but I do feel sometimes we overlook some of what is going on in areas that for whatever reason, Britain does seem have had created a society in which more modern business skills can thrive.

cgwbrewer
cgwbrewer
3 years ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

What a splendid comment! From what I can see, I share all of your sentiments and hope your stats are fully robust.

A few years ago, my fintech company was looking for developers and we decided that the best sequence for location was as follows:

1) London – all of the principals and directors live in the south east, and we could find first class skills in the London market. But they are q

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  mark.hanson

” Surely the whole point of the EU was to prevent wars breaking out between European states as had been the case for hundreds of years.”

The EEC did that adequately, without us becoming a supranational corporate club with a democracy deficit.

paul treacle
paul treacle
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Likewise, I think it’s unfortunately necessary to leave the EU, as an entity it lacks a democratic core, and it’s inevitable destination is a United States of Europe but without the democracy.

That, quite frankly, terrifies me, and I can only think it will all end up very not good!

However our politicians need to be honest, it’s going to have a huge negative effect on the economy, which couldn’t have arrived at a less opportune moment.

Stuart McCullough
Stuart McCullough
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I’m afraid that the article’s argument fell over when it typified the leaders of the EU mindset as “prone to groupthink; they form their own orthodoxies because they tend to be sociable and so beliefs become markers of belonging and status.”

It is not just a tendancy to groupthink, it is an active search for the route that gives them the most leverage and enduring power. As the path to building power gets more complicated, so the values and moral compasses of the seekers become more and more corrupted.

Democracy may have its flaws, but fundamentally it allows the electorate to kick the bvggers out when they become stale, lazy or too far removed from the ambitions of the majority.

As far as the EU is concerned, democracy is the smallest of fig leaves.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
3 years ago

The unease felt by Ed West is echoed by many of us who not only voted but campaigned for Brexit. Like him we’ve found ourselves with allies we’d rather not be associated with and lost old friends and a few illusions. It’s been bloody but we are reaching the first step into an independent future. When we voted in that referendum we all had a mixture of motivations. Nothing in the last three years has shaken my conviction that in the long run we are better out of the EU. Any association that deliberately seeks to punish former members is akin to a protection racket. There is no guarantee that this country will be more successful outside the EU than it would be had it remained but at least our future once again be in our own hands.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

What most of the discussion misses is ‘who will take the pain of Brexit?’ It won’t be the well to do Brexiters, it will be those in manufacturing in the north east, and similar areas, who believed all the nonsense spouted by Johnson and Gove. Brexit is not just a theoretical exercise in sovereignty, it will make poor people poorer.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

They chose that path. Sunderland voted to leave despite the concerns of its largest local employer. They can’t even tell you any concrete reasons why they did it. They’d rather be poorer than see the ‘elites’ win. Isn’t that the conclusion to draw?

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

They consistently give concrete reasons. You just arrogantly choose not to listen.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

EU economic policies which drove down labour costs whilst increasing the price of imported goods made already the poor, poorer.

Remaining hitched to the stagnating EU economy would only have done more so.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

The first part of that is true but is a limited explanation. Globalism is reducing wages in the west. As for increasing the cost of imports, of Britain opts for no worldwide tariffs then food gets cheaper but local agriculture is in trouble. The EU is a protectionist entity.

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Yup. The Eu is a localised version of globalism. By leaving we will attempt to subvert some of that.
When people in media start losing their jobs to cheap imports (not gonna happen) then I think they might change their minds about the benefits of the EU/globalism.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

I have no doubt about the hypocrisy of elite classes with regards to immigration.

I think that the EU made a big mistake is opening borders so early to the new European states. But then again it didn’t. That was up to individual States for the first 10 years. And only the UK, Sweden and Ireland (largely because it had to if the UK did) opened up visa free travel. Nobody went to Sweden.

Eastern Europeans flocked to the UK and now Brexit is the result.

Imagine though, for ten years polish people couldn’t travel 100 miles to work in Germany – and nobody thought that weird- but they could go to Blighty. This was Blair’s government.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

And still the majority of Remainers are rabid supporters of ‘no borders’. Go figure.

Frank B Brennan
Frank B Brennan
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Yes that is true, and of course 85% of World growth is outside the EU.Mind you is is very upsetting for some, that we will be unable to pay into that huge black hole, the EU bailout fund, you know the one with the twelve noughts after the number.!!! Dodged a bullet there.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

85% of world growth may be outside the EU but the UK has to get trade agreements with those countries. One of the obvious choices is China which the conservatives were championing a few years ago, but that’s been removed as an option. Meanwhile the EU isn’t as hostile to China and despite the one sided special relationship on that subject America itself isn’t keen on new trade deals and the new admin is hostile to Brexit.

27 countries have signed up so far to roll over agreements that were the same as the EU. The same rules by the way isn’t a bonfire of tariffs. That’s out of 70 leaving 43 with WTO tariffs. That makes the EU more of a world trader than the UK. No new agreements have been signed.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

EU membership hasn’t stopped (say) Denmark (in EU but on EZ) from outperforming UK economically.
And so is with Sweden.

Paul Lock
Paul Lock
3 years ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

The cost of food as a proportion of incomes has fallen dramatically since we joined the common market. Leaving the EU and facing a less than welcoming US and China isn’t likely to send Sterling soaring. Result – pricier imported food.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lock

Or more of our food products grown and processed here?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

If the EU was so wonderful why were there already so many poor people in the UK? Over 40 years in the EC/EU and spiralling inequality and the destruction of manufacturing are some of the outcomes.

Is this all the EC/EUs fault? nope, but it’s hard to claim it has been a great success.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

The UK has thrived in the EU, if you are to believe the UK Conservative government which throughout its time in power up to the referendum was constantly reporting great numbers. It’s a failure of that same government, which imposed austerity measures that impacted the poorest the most, while blaming the EU for anything negative.

For a lot of things, the UK was the leading economic hub of the EU, and was making massive amounts of money out of it, not to mention the broader political influence it enjoyed as one of the leaders of the largest economic alliance in the world.

Against that backdrop, the UK government was pinching pennies about fraudulent unemployment claimants in the aftermath of a financial crisis. Unemployment was and still is a laughably small part of the budget, but they milked it for all it’s worth.

The money and prosperity was there all along, and the UK government chose to make it unavailable to poor people.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

Trye.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago

Out of the EU makes the UK government more accountable to the electorate. We voted to Leave because we want a return to UK manufacturing. We don’t care how well UK finance did because none of that money made its way down to us.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

The obvious response is: If the EU had such power over the UK why has poverty been getting worse here than there since the 1980s? Were they punishing us in advance for Brexit before it happened?
As for spiralling inequality and destruction of manufacturing, those have been Conservative policy since Thatcher’s time. (“There is no such thing as society” all the way to “F**k business”) And they were able to impose those policies precisely because of the UK’s ability to make it’s own laws.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

They didn’t have Thatcher.

Frank B Brennan
Frank B Brennan
3 years ago

Average youth unemployment in the Euro Zone averaged 19% these last 20 years. But it is good this great country, has been able to give thousands of jobs to poor young people in Europe who came here.

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago

You mean those low-paid, seasonal jobs that make no financial sense for someone trying to live permanently in this country? Those workers have stopped coming. Did you respond to Farage’s call to go and pick fruit?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

I can assure you that those seasonal jobs filled by non-UK nationals carried on in spite of Brexit, and indeed in spite of Covid-19. There may have been a reduction in inward migration, but it is still positive.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago

I an sure you are aware of the context of both those “quotes”, so selectively mis-quoting them does nothing for your argument and makes you appear stupid

Real Horrorshow
Real Horrorshow
3 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

I am aware that they are not “quotes” but actual quotes. I am aware that it is the Tory line that Maggie and Bozzer either didn’t say what they said or didn’t mean what they said. But they did and they did.
I am aware that appearing stupid – to you – and being stupid are two different things and I suspect that you had a weather eye on the Comment Rules when you chose that phrasing.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

It was mostly domestic policy. Germany has kept its industry.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

This is a falsehood. The EU’s “four freedoms” (which, incidentally, were lifted wholesale straight from the pages of Reaganomics – how very “progressive”) allowed for companies to move (often with grants or loans) industry and manufacturing to poorer nations solely to exploit cheap labour. This has affected Germany too.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Rose

But the decision to allow the freedom I was taking about (the right to work of new members), also one of the 4 freedoms, was decided by national governments for the first 10 years after they joined.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Which is why us leaving has forced the government’s hand on that one. You see, democracy does work!

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Rose

Fair point!

Charles Lawton
Charles Lawton
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

I think a lot of the loss of UK manufacturing jobs lies with Mrs Thatcher’s rigid moneterist policies, whereas at the time other member states carefully supported their industries.
Much of the second phase of globalisation of jobs in the 1990s was again our own politicians allowing so many jobs to be exported to the rest of the world, not just the EU. Yes the EU has followed Neo-Liberal policies and some jobs have gone there, but so much is down to our own politicians. The classic final example of this is when other EU nations were using EU legislation to restrict immigration when the union expanded in the early 21st century, Tony Blair said we would take all the wanted to come here. The consequence, a massive influx of people from Poland and elsewhere which other EU nations did not have. So many of our problems are the result of our own politicians being lazy. One of the benefits of BREXIT is responsibly and accountability stops here in the UK. Only time will tell if this will change things. I am old enough to remember the UK joining the EEC as it was then my fear is we will go back to those days which were uncertain and with little vision for something better.

gav.green
gav.green
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Tax is a national policy over which each member state has sovereignty (at least for now) Therefore, inequality and poverty are, in the UK, a direct result of UK redistribution and social policy. In other words, our choice. Sweden, France and Denmark are EU members but have much more equal societies but that’s because they make different tax and redistribution choices. It has virtually nothing to do with the EU.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  gav.green

Please tell that to Apple – I’m sure they will be interested – you might mention it to RoI as well.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Pointless – Apple is protect by US GOV. Nothing is stopping UK GOV from taxing tech firms.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Well I just thought they might find it interesting in their current battle with the EU over a mere 13billion euros.

gav.green
gav.green
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The other thing an effective EU could do is fine the large US tax giants for anticompetitive behaviours as they have in the past. In fact, the US regulator announced yesterday it was investigating Facebook. Watch this space! https://www.google.co.uk/am

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Facebook, Trump is having His revenge by making them Sell Instagram &Whatsapp… Not all US Presidents believe in globalism…

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

So you’re not just pro brexit you’re pro trump too?

gav.green
gav.green
3 years ago

It’s a good point you make. Unfortunately, the best way to stand up to US (as most of them are) multinational tax avoiders is through multilateral tax policy – in other words taxing supply of tech services or taxing the offshoring of profits – legally speaking this is totally achievable but it needs political will and unity. Our not being part of the EU makes it almost politically impossible for us to tax the giants on our own. The EU is the gate keeper to the worlds largest single market so any position they take could have real impact. I suppose being outside we could leverage a tax arbitrage situation but that won’t help get tax dollars for the UK!

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  gav.green

Our not being part of the EU makes it almost politically impossible for us to tax the giants on our own.

My memory is getting worse but I recall we’re going to be implementing a transaction type tax on Amazon. Could be the Government have changed their minds.

The EU is the gate keeper to the worlds largest single market

I keep seeing this and its so wrong. China is bigger in people terms, so is India. A large percentage of the people in the EU do not have the sort of disposable income that we, the French, German, Spanish or Italians posses.

Nigel Farrah
Nigel Farrah
3 years ago
Reply to  gav.green

You think France is equitable?

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  gav.green

Tax is not the issue. By the time you’re relying on tax to sort a society out its anyway de facto screwed.

A perhaps fantasy world is one in which people work hard and earn a fair wage.

Redistribution is a soft term for tax the middle to pay for a few of the lazy

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Well apparently that’s down to Thatcher. Still. After all these years.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

It certainly won’t be the well to do remainers. I agree some of what’s left of our manufacturing base will suffer. One major casualty will be the automotive sector because the sweet dear EU made a trade deal with Japan who now no longer need to manufacture in the EU.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Electric Cars take 63% more power to produce, UK needs to build 8 nuclear power stations,to power them,deadline cant be met in 2030 maybe 2050..

Frank B Brennan
Frank B Brennan
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

I am looking for Bookies all over the UK who are willing to take bets that , leaving the EU will make people in the UK poorer , over 1 year ,3 years, 5 years, 10 years 20 years etc. so please rush me their details, I am getting desperate now..

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

We have the ability to be world beating but unfortunately the Conservative party see these world class companies as a pawn on getting “investment” into the Country. Their free market ideology disappeared a long time ago. Am I the only person puzzled by their need to seek new Markets outside the EU while committing genocide on the very Companies we need to do this?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Yes lets have People traffickers dump thousands more on uK, twerp ..Remainiacs lie,cheat at every oppurtunity ..Davey,Blair,Major , trying to get EU to impose tariffs on UK and undermining Democratically elected government IS treasonous…

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Most of our manufactured products are sold in the UK. We keep getting told that there will be a shortage of products from the EU. This is great news for manufacturing in the UK and, in actual fact, will mean better employment prospects for the working class, not less.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

The “take back control” mantra is not only boring, but utterly wrong. NO nation has total control over everything it does. You can’t trade with anyone if they won’t do so on terms you accept. You can’t have unilateral control over immigration without consequences. You can’t, in short, function independently of all other states. This was always true, but even moreso in the modern world.

The much-vaunted “trade on the Australian system”, which we have suddenly started hearing about, is actually trade without agreement – the WTO rules. Anyone who favours this should try food shopping in Australian supermarkets (which I have). The prices will make your eyes water.

Colin Black
Colin Black
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

While as an Australian who spends long periods in the UK, I agree that the cost of living in Australia is considerably higher than in the UK, but it is not for those who earn the higher Australian salaries, which includes shop assistants and farm workers. In addition, most fesh produce eaten by Australians is grown and produced in Australia, not imported from countries with dubious labour laws and very low wages.

Martin Davis
Martin Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Black

According to some Brexiters the ability to import without tariffs from across the world, without requiring labour standards to be equivalent, is precisely one of the advantageous aspects of ‘taking back control’.

Nigel Farrah
Nigel Farrah
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Davis

The point is Martin, the choice is ours to make.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Davis

Name one.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Well I stopped reading before I reached the end of the first line – boring.

Timothy Auger
Timothy Auger
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

David, no one is punishing anyone. The problem lies in the Brexiteers’ assertions that it is possible to enjoy all the benefits of being in a club without signing up to the obligations that go with being a member. There was always this ludicrous, arrogant assumption that ‘they need us as much as we need them’. That was never the case, as events now demonstrate.

Brian Hurst
Brian Hurst
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

Timothy if the EU aren’t trying to punish us why then do they insist on keeping some of the UKs waters, having an EU office in Northern Ireland and restricting our ability to decide for ourselves when companies need propping up.
The disparities within the EU are clear to see, Greece bankrupted and lots of major assets now in German hands. The EU is a club with various levels and those at the top table are not interested in sharing or being equal with those further down the pecking order. We might not get rich from getting out but at least we can make our own decisions.

koningwoning
koningwoning
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Hurst

Hi Brian,

Let me answer those q’s for you.
a) one ALWAYS takes one’s own interests most at heart in negotiations. That’s not punishment… that just not giving everything away without keeping what you believe is fair to yourself
b) the EU is all about the common market and how nothing can come between that. It is a protectionist state. That means that when you step out of it, it will protect itself against you.
With that in mind: we will always be able to prop up our companies… it’s just that the EU will then levvy taxes when we export so we don’t undermine their companies.
c) NI is a bit of a difficult one isn’t it. Because there is no way to patrol all of the borders… and that means that if the (here it comes again) common market is broken there, then they have a problem. And the big problem is that miracle of suddenly having a system in place that would magically scan all goods moving across the border has not materialized…. so the EU needs to patrol borders without setting up a border (due to GF Agreement).

I’ll grant you fishing rights. I too think it’s preposterous that the French feel they have the right to fish in our waters. However within this is another problem which is that large companies have sold their quotas to EU fishing co mpanies.

That the EU is not perfect is very clear. But blaming the EU solely for the problems in many a south european country is also not fair. Yes – I think the Euro is great for big multinationals but ultimately not helpful for the rest. Countries that need to depreciate should be able to do so – but then they should step out of the Euro (which they do not want because it’s also beneficial). The UK was not in the Euro so it would not have this problem. Greece, like Spain, and Italy have the problem that they bind too much to government and from the start did not adhere to the monetary rules that were set out. If you can’t live up to the obligations, you should not join that part of the club. They could have done the same as the UK, but the Drachme, Lire and Peso were already quite worthless on the market so they wanted to have a strong coin. The price they need(ed) to pay was something they did not think about enough.
Choices have consequences….

Anyway – I hope that it turns out okay – but whatever FTA we make – it will always have to be governed by a body outside of our own (meaning that we are ‘giving up sovreignity).

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  koningwoning

a) why do comments from EU officials seem to indicate that we must be made to suffer

b) will they pay us taxes when their countries give illegal state aid – please do not pretend it hasn’t already happened

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

They will if the UK imposed a tarriff on state aided companies.

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago
Reply to  koningwoning

The main problem with the EU has always been the French in my opinion.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  koningwoning

Two things: firstly, if any governing body always promotes its own interests when hammering out trade deals, then why are the UK haters within our own country filled with such venom when our negotiators also follow this rule?

Secondly, a FTA doesn’t mean giving up sovereignty – by any stretch of the imagination.

zoda8
zoda8
3 years ago
Reply to  koningwoning

I think the French fishermen shed considerable light on the nature of these negotiations, because the ownership of British waters is unambiguous. So the French argument cannot be based on rights – it must be based on expectations about how hard the EU will negotiate to force concessions from us on fishing. I voted remain because I figured the EU, being bigger, would have a stronger negotiating position. However they undoubtedly have difficulties of their own and I still hope I am wrong, and that they need a deal as much as we do. For me, from the outset, the whole thing has boiled down to strength of negotiating positions. As you say different states have different interests and will always look out for their own. Why would they give up on French fishing communities if they don’t have to? Boris’s recent shift from accepting 60% of our fish back to 35% of our fish back demonstrates the EU’s ability to get continuing access to our fishing waters not because it is their right, but because it is a price Boris is willing to offer to get a deal.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Hurst

They are trying to negotiate on the waters. Standard practice when a deal (which includes fishing now) is being renegotiated.

The northern Irish office was something the Tories has previously agreed to.

And the state aid is also standard negotiating on trade deals. Why would they allow themselves to be undercut?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Perhaps you should explain Why EU trawlers are allowed 7x catch of UK trawlers 2) Selling back our own fish is NOT good for uk balance of payments £4billion + 2) Conservation of stocks

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Except the EU allows state aid for its members when it sees fit.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

How about:

We would like to keep the benefits we joined for and are happy to pay for that. We do not want all the extras you’ve added over the years which provide costs without commensurate benefits.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

Then we don’t get a deal.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Then No Deal sounds perfectly reasonable.

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

Perhaps, but I wonder if the referendum question had been: ” Do you want to be ruled from Brussels as part of a political union from which there can be no departure?” – what the vote would have looked like?

The overwhelming majority of this country just do not want to be part of a transnational super state ruled from Brussels.

Also: what discussion has seriously been had and/promulgated to the country at large, about the what the future of the EU looks like? Very little, if any.

Go figure.

Paul Lock
Paul Lock
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Gilbert

“ruled from Brussels as part of a political union from which there can be no departure” – er, ruled to what extent?

1. Who’s decided our monetary and fiscal policies for the last 50 years? The policies that drive everything else.
2. Who pursued the ideological destruction of mining and manufacturing – most of it in the midlands, north and Scotland?
3. Who decided to ignore the transitional limits and allow unlimited immigration from eastern Europe in the belief that it would be minuscule? And not to expel the “economically inactive” – a dreadful term but it’s how governments ascribe value to human beings. And failed to plan for it?
4. Who created the housing bubble, the financial crash and the austerity that followed?
5. Who launched an ideological assault on local authorities in the misguided belief that the market will provide? Ok it provided the Grenfell Tower disaster, a housing crisis, record homelessness….

The EU or successive UK governments?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Lock

Grenfell Tower cladding was changed by ALL political parties,as ”Environmentally safer”… The Amount of deaths is A lot higher,as illegal immigrants were put up by others..As first mentioned in london Fire brigade, 42 deaths in one row of flats,which hasn’t been persued..

Simon H
Simon H
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

We originally joined the EEC, grew uneasy with a stealthy quite honestly deceitful creep into a Political Union.
The EU have established a huge trading surplus with one of its biggest markets. Trade works both ways, if they want access to our markets they must offer access to their’s respecting our newly found independence and sovereignty, as they do with Canada. Amongst others.
Club?

Paul
Paul
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

They will when they find the PIIGS cant pay their subscription fees and cant repay the loans. I can pass on German marques, French wine, Greek olives and whatever else we will be “short of”. The traders in the EU wont want to sell us their wares any longer? Are you aware of how stupid that sounds? “Oui, I will make those damned Englishmen pay and write of 50% of my produce as I will not export to those pesky English”. Trade is as old as time. A product is offered, a price agreed, a method of delivery established, the product arrives and is paid for. The ports are no more likely to boycott British goods than we would European. Free market capitalism will always flourish. Foregoing Strawberries for Christmas pudding is a small price to pay for an end to the corrupt and overbloated EU. Facing the sea and trading with the world is what England excelled at. There was life, wealth and trade long before the iron and coal club was launched. There will be life, opportunities and new wealth after we have ditched the EU. It has been an unhappy marriage since day 1. Herr Merkel’s plan to import more than 1.5 million unknown, unstable, poorly educated, low or unskilled, unable and unwilling to integrate, law ignoring, highly benefit reliant prolific breeding Africans came at a price. The thought that the German car market will leave vehicles standing to rot in hundreds of acres of storage because Johnny English left their club is remarkably unlikely as it would be stupid. There was a time when we built the finest of almost everything. There is no reason to suggest we can not do that again. Necessity is the mother of invention.
As far as I am aware no true Brexiter ever wished to leave the lame duck EU and enjoy “all the benefits of being in a club without signing up to the obligations that go with being a member”. We wanted out. We were warned by Cameron’s flyer that this was a once in a lifetime to decide if we chose to leave or stay. We listened to hideous Gideon that overnight thousands of jobs would evaporate and an “emergency budget” would be needed to recoup the “benefits” we would lose. We even baulked at the nerve of Barry Soetero declaring we would be at the back of the queue for any trade deals. We weighed up the incoming Tsunami of the collapse of the United Kingdom that would befall us were we to have the audacity to want to go our own way and like the Y2K millennium bug it didnt happen. No planes fell out of the sky and no ATM’s started dishing out free money. It came and went like a damp squib. Those who the vote went against should start rowing the boat instead of rocking it. After the Great War is was predicted that England would never recover from the loss of so many Sons and the cost of war. We rose after 1918 as we rose after 1945. It is what we English do. We smile in the face of adversity – meet it head on, defeat it and get on with our lives. Doubting England has always been a bad bet. Being English is about as good as it gets. For those who understand, no explanation is necessary – for those who dont, no explanation is possible.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

The whole point of a club is that each member should follow and adhere to the same rules. Ironically Britain was very good at this, often ridiculously so in that we gold-plated even the most arcane legislation coming out of Brussels.
On the other hand the EU and numerous member states (France for example) are serial and selective rule breakers. Just look at their outrageous attempt to deny Britain the use of state aid, while arrogating the option to themselves. It is clear Britain must be punished for daring to leave; perhaps like France, Ireland or the Netherlands we should have kept on having referendums until what the EU considers the “right result.
The EU’s true colours are on display, with devious France pulling the strings. Imperfect though Brexit may turn out to be, better off without them. I hope they can adapt their diets too.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

And Uk Taxpayers pouring in £600 billion since 1973 together with Mays treasonous Withdrawal (Remain) agreements..like A turkey it is ”Oven ready disastrous”

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Timothy Auger

There is no assertion that it is possible to enjoy all the benefits of being in a club without signing up to its obligations, Canada hasn’t done this, Japan hasn’t done this and the US hasn’t done this. We don’t need to either. However, there is a lot of manufacturers within the EU who are going to be pissed of with European Commission for wanting to cut its own nose off just to spite its face.

Steve Weeks
Steve Weeks
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

I think we could have the best of both worlds. Obviously as a tiny economic agency compared to the EU, the UK will have sovereignty only over its future world trade poverty. But what if the UK was to create a NEW EU (“NEU” by the way is German for “New”!). Just as the Deutschemark was renamed the Euro, the Brits could rename the pound to be “The Neuro“. We could invite the other disgruntled countries of Europe to join us, and create the NEU to be what the EU wasn’t, obviously without all those “unelected officials” etc. Nigel Farage could write the NEU Constitution to avoid those past errors. What do you think?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Weeks

This possibility is something I have been thinking about for some years: that the rigid over-centralised EU could break up, with former members willing to coalesce in a looser association of individual, historic nations. That could be the sort of grouping that would appeal to the UK, and I intuitively sense quite a number of current EU countries too. No idea whether it will ever happen, though.

PS: The UK is obviously much smaller than the EU, but it still seems to come in at number 5 in world GDP (between Germany and France).

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Yeh but gdp is a power relationship. The UK is both 5th in the world and about 2% of world GDP.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

saying you are the 5/6th largest economy in the world is like finishing 5th in london marathon. On one actually cares.
You have to be big enough to shape global regulations/rules – UK is not.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But I am afraid it’s not like the London marathon at all. That’s nonsense, even if you’re trying to make a statement about the UK not being that powerful.

By that simile, only the country at the top matters. Which is mental as the US though important doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Nor does any country.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

It is about who set global rules of competition. UK will be a rule taker and not a rule maker.
Does it truly matter to you (or anyone in UK) that East Asia dominates the electronic industry and the rules/regulation about the industry (finished products and components)?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Of course that matters – but it is also one facet – among many others that make up an economy, and the hierarchies between economies. Unlike the London marathon

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Asia dominates the manufacture of electronic goods. It does not dominate in the standards for those goods.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

You could argue if China is not at the top yet it is about be..and most projections have India overtaking the US somewhere around the same timespan as we are now from the Millennium Eve firework displays.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Global trade & standard regulations are shaped by WTO and UN agencies. The EU basically rubber stamps them. By leaving the EU we get our seat back at the top tables (which was subsumed to an EU seat under the Lisbon Treaty.)

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Hall

No the EU doesn’t rubber stamp trade agreements agreed by the WTO and “UN agencies”.the UN has nothing to do with trade agreements. I mean do you think the UN is coming up with the post Brexit trade agreement? Trade agreements are agreed between countries or trading blocks. It’s only when that fails that WTO rules apply.

What “seat at the top table”. Meaningless cliche. The UK does have to renegotiate agreements on its own but that’s clearly harder than being part of a larger block.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Interesting to get downvoted here. If people really believe that the WTO and UN agencies decide most trade deals then why the angst about the present discussions? In fact why are the discussions happening at all in their present form between the EU and the UK? Anybody who downvoted want to explain their position?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

That’s like saying it is of no importance that, say, Singapore has a high standard of living. You might not care, others might not care, but the Singaporeans don’t care what you and the others think.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The PWC projections for largest economies show only two European countries in the top ten by 2050..the UK at tenth and Germany at 9th… (they’re 9 th and 5th right now) and Japan will be 8th.

China will be challenged by India and the USA in 3rd

The G7 (Us, UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy) by 2040 could be half the size of the E7 (China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico and Turkey)

France would fall from the top ten(to 12th) Italy fall out of the top 20 (12 to 21) and Spain struggle to stay in the top 30 falling from 16th

These incoporate demographic changes but it’s clear that even staying in the EU isn’t a guarantee of having the heft to shape global regulations. The EU in 2050 will fall to around 5% of Global GDP.

The fasted growing large economies in Europe to 2050 are predicted to be Poland and the UK.

None of the above is an argument to NOT try and have very close relationships with the EU and EU countries…but close relations with say India and Pakistan, Vietnam , Nigeria and the Phillipnes will also be important.

Albert Kensington
Albert Kensington
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Saying the UK has the 5th largest GDP in the world is akin to saying that RBS was the biggest bank in the world in 2008

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago

IN 2050 the UK is expected to fall to tenth in the world….and Germany fall further to 9th.

The idea that the EU is somehow going to have a big shout is itself laughable…by 2050, and that process is happening now, the EU could account for around 5-6% of global GDP…that will not be enough to impose things on a still powerful USA and the even more powerful China and India…like the UK, and Switzerland, Norway, canada etc the EU will be leveraging position.

It will not be imposing standards

Ieuan Owen
Ieuan Owen
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Weeks

I think I’d like a puff in whatever you’re smoking

julianhodgson
julianhodgson
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Weeks

The UK’s economy is larger than 22 of the EU’s other 27 members combined.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago
Reply to  julianhodgson

No, it’s not, and I am surprised your comment got so many likes with no-one correcting you. Based on exchange-rate-adjusted nominal GDP estimates that is probably true, but that’s not a proper way to rank economies. The IMF real GDP on a purchasing power parity basis estimates for 2020 show the UK economy is only larger than the smallest 16 of the EU’s member states (from the Czech Republic to Malta). If one looks at the 22 smallest states, the largest of which would be The Netherlands, they collectively have more than double the real GDP of the UK. The World Bank and the CIA World Factbook have slightly different measures of GDP on a PPP basis, but their results are very similar to those of the IMF.

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Thats because brexit voters tend to be hive minded and insecure people who need their world-view reinforcing. Unfortunately, most of us who believe in facts and logic are too obsessed with being polite to push back.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  kahir.makhani

That sounds like Remainers to me, who have spent the last 4 years pissing their knickers and doing their utmost to overturn a democratic mandate AND failing miserably.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

But the main point remains ..that the UK is much smaller than the EU but not *tiny*.

And in some key areas like Digital tech and of course financial and associated services which are very improtant it is a European giant…London larger than the next three digital tech cities combined.

And as the present situation around negotiations shows the *point* of the EU isn’t economic it is political, the weaknesses of the Euro become arguments for a single, central Treasury, and at that point with monetary and fiscal union there will be de facto political union whether of not anyone has articulated it at all, far less debated and put it to a vote.
In that respect there are a whole shoe shop full of shoes yet to fall.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  julianhodgson

It’s the other 5 that matter.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

EEC GDP 30% of Worlds in 1973, 14% &slipping 2020, Brasil,,Pacific Rim countries will overtake it very soon..Why does Trade 1)Require A Flag 2) An Army 3) two dozen buildings in Brussels &Strasbourg?..

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Weeks

Or a new old EU – one in which even certain big EU actors realise that they still have enormous common interests with us and should and need not be trumped or precluded by dogma about the virtues of transnationalism.

My view is that, once we leave and we all see the sun keeps coming up in the morning, the EU actors will eventually find a way of maintaining and nurturing the UK as a firm ally – something I will applaud, for sure.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Weeks

I don’t think Nigel Farage is quite up to that job, do you?!

jane.jackman
jane.jackman
3 years ago

He’s the biggest disappointment to me, what has he become?

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Indeed.

We don’t need to be part of a political union to have firm allies. The notion is absurd on its face.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The behavior of the EU during trade negotiations indicates that Brexit was worth even more that anyone knew at the time. Attempting to force the UK to adhere to EU standards on any number of issues after leaving the EU takes some pretty big ones. A bully is a bully whether the UK is in the EU or not. At least this way the UK won’t have to knuckle under to EU demands.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

This feels like grasping at straws. If there’s to be a deal on trade, you need to agree standards. There’s no surprise to this, there never was. It was also obvious from the start that the EU wouldn’t make life easy for a leaving country.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

There is a world of difference between “agreeing on standards” and the EU demands that Britain never change any regulations making its economy more competitive.

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

They are not ‘demanding’ any such thing. They are simply saying that if we lower standards they reserve the right to recoup the social costs via tariffs, etc. We want sovereignty, but so do they.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

They can’t have sovereignty over the UK.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

No, you don’t need to ‘agree on standards’. Of course, anyone selling into the EU has to comply with EU standards, but that doesn’t mean you have to apply those standards within your own country. And in some areas such as animal welfare, UK standards are, I believe, higher than EU standards.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Of course it does mean that you need to apply the standards in your own country. It’s a trade deal. How is your foreign trading partner allowed to compete fairly if your local goods are given laxer treatment than imported ones?

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

I would be happy to accept the while “level playing field” idea is a) the EU had to use our standards if higher than the EU’s and b) it was arbitrated by an independent court not the ECJ

valleydawnltd
valleydawnltd
3 years ago

So every third party nation has signed a trade deal committing to the same standards domestically as they hold for EU products. Are you really sure about that?

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago
Reply to  valleydawnltd

If you want the level of frictionless access that the UK currently enjoys and would like to retain, then yes, standards need to be pretty much the same. The alternative is strict border checks between the UK and the EU, to make sure that sub-standard products from one don’t enter into the other.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I want German beer standards in Germany. French wine and cheese standards in France, U.K. standards in the U.K.-as long as Brussels attempts to homogenize everything this battle will continue, and grow…

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Can’t we think of anything more important than who eats what?

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Obviously who drinks what is of the most supreme importance.

Eating comes second

For the under 25s, who eats and drinks what obviously come a distant second and third.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

We are talking about principles…are we not?

Don Holden
Don Holden
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

I want to be able to buy a nice pork chop with a kidney in it (apologies to any children under 60 Years old ) !!

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

There are plenty of areas where our standards are higher than the EU’s. I’m a Plumbing & Heating engineer and the standard of materials that have flooded the UK market from the EU since the signing of the Maastricht Treaty is extremely shoddy.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Your second point is on target. Your first is baloney. The US doesn’t agree standards with the EU inside the US and it does quite a lot of trade with it.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago

The EU and the USA don’t have a frictionless border with seamless transit and no checks like the UK and EU have currently. If you want diverging standards, you will need a hard border where everything gets checked to make sure it’s not substandard.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The UK has already left the EU. Trade between the two was always going to change. No one expects a frictionless border between them just like Australia doesn’t have a frictionless border between it and the EU. Neither does the US.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago

That’s completely untrue – a litany of brexiters were adamant that the UK would continue having unfettered single market access. Arguably most famously, Boris Johnson talking about having the cake and eating it. The US and Australia are far away and trade comparatively little with the EU and they are looking to improve their situation by removing obstacles to trade. Exact opposite of what the UK is imposing on itself.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Can you name a single country that has unfettered access to the EU market without knuckling under to everything the EU demands and/or without tariffs? What does being far away have to do with anything? The US and China are far away from each other as well. The US trades little with the EU?

It is possible to trade with another entity without being part of it. Countries manage it every day all over the world.

M C
M C
3 years ago

The behaviour of the EU in negotiations is no different than the UK: it tries to get the best deal for its stakeholders.

The fact that it has greater negotiating power is why you feel like they are bullies.

It’s also the reason why many remainers thought staying in the EU, where Britain had a big voice to use this greater negotiating power, was much better.

Don’t complain that the EU is doing exactly what you want the UK to do – use all our resources to get the best deal we can.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  M C

Strangely enough bullies are often bigger than their victims.

Whilst I’m sure its wrong the impression I gained from Barnier is that his “negotiation” consisted of saying NON.

valleydawnltd
valleydawnltd
3 years ago
Reply to  M C

I don’t think they are bullies. I do think that they might have better negotiators, and that is a shame.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  valleydawnltd

I think they are a gang acting as bullies employing better negotiators who have the built-in advantage of having a commission behind him and 27 countries + Wallonia.
Varoufakis advised us not to get entangled in negotiating their way.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  M C

No, that isn’t why the UK sees the EU as bullies. Why would you think the UK would acquiesce to EU demands to maintain EU standards after leaving the EU?

It no longer matters what remainers thought. It’s done.

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  M C

Wrong. The UK isn’t trying to get the best deal for its citizens, if it were then the citizens would get a chance to accept or veto. So much for the “democracy” lie they peddle

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
3 years ago

Yes, blame the pesky EU again….

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Stone

That’s all they know how to do. The problem I have is the lack of pushback from our side

Mike Moschos
Mike Moschos
3 years ago

I think of Ed West is a smart man and a great writer so I must say that I’m quite surprised he wrote that “As global trade has become more complicated, so the rules and bodies behind them have had to become more arcane; governing and rule-making in the 21st century has to be beyond the understanding of most people.”

I’ve taken the time to avail myself of trade policy and law and its actually not very complicated at all. The deals are only so voluminous in rules (and total number of pages) because they pertain so many individual things. All of which can be understood by almost anyone (I’ve read much of NAFTA, USMCA, TPP, and trust me, its all straightforward, just with some ambiguities written into some items because they couldn’t agree and will do future wrangling), its no different than a nations legal code, anyone can understand each individual piece but don’t have the time, so they just influence it through their electoral process.

Take for example CPTPP (formerly known as TPP), well, one of the biggest sticking points (and one I’m particularly against) is its “data localization” provisions, just about everyone in the general population can understand what that means if you explain it to them. It simply means that foreign companies cannot be forced to keep all the data they collect in the host country, that’s basically it.

Tech companies (particularly American ones) want as much data as they can get, but what if the people of South Korea don’t want their personal secrets, medical records, financial history, all their geographic movements, etc. sent to Silicon Valley (and lets be honest, the NSA as well)? Well too bad! We can’t break international law! But this is not needed in the first place, they can welcome Facebook to do business in their country and if they have to build a data center there so be it.

These agreements are not beyond the scope of peoples understanding and they are not more complicated than laws (and by extensions rules and regulations) we’ve influenced through votes on a continuous basis for hundreds of years. The only difference is that some special interests can use them as a vehicle to lock in what they want without any one having a say about it.

We can have free trade without sacrificing democracy, those that tell us different are just special interests (or their agents) who want to trick us into believing that things have gotten more complicated so we have to hand over over power to some remote and arcane body so that they can get more of what they want. But things have not gotten more complicated and we can do trade with democracy.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Moschos

You’ve nailed it really. There’s always an excuse to take away power from the common person and unsuprisingly it always ends up with the same old people. This has happened from ‘divine’ Kings and Priests down to todays CEOs, financial industry and bureaucrats. The rather pathetic veneer over naked power grabs has taken many guises from God’s will down to the ‘protecting’ the peasants from themselves and todays’ international ‘trade’ agreements.

The idea that democracy must give way to international trade is particularly pernicious. In the case of the UK international trade is a euphemism for market access for UK financial institutions whilst sacrificing UK industry, farming and in one case literally giving the fish away. So a few super rich spivs and sod the rest?

When people try to sound reasonable and fair whilst removing people’s right to vote or free speech, they’re only ever talking about other people – never themselves.

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Thanks Luke, you’ve nailed why I don’t believe the author was ever a Brexiteer in the first place. From thinking that democracy was important to saying ‘oh well international trade is too important and complicated so we should give it up’ is quite a turnaround. Unless of course they never really believed the original stated position.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

He didn’t fool me either. He couldn’t resist a few giveaways.

thomaspelham
thomaspelham
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Moschos

Global trade has become more complicated BECAUSE of these sort of arcane super-states busying themselves with justifying themselves. It’s a chicken and egg situation; complex trade and manufactoring rules favour big companies, who lobby supra-national bodies to make it more complex.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  thomaspelham

In the ‘fight’ against Covid, what was the WHO doubling down on? Fat in foods, drinking and smoking.

We don’t NEED such bodies.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Moschos

You missed one other key factor. If the language and the documents weren’t so arcane how could the writers and interpreters of them justify their salaries?

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Moschos

It’s almost as if he’s not as clever as he thinks and maybe, just maybe, he didn’t ever really support Brexit as his assertion that he is concerned for nation state democracy gets quickly ditched due to a lack of control on trade (which you disagree with) and the fact that he now ‘feels European.’

If he ever believed in Brexit then I doubt his intellect to explain his conversion, and I also doubt his strength of character for shamelessly deciding that democracy isn’t as important as he thought.

cheseeeee222
cheseeeee222
3 years ago

I live in an EU country (Holland). On the short term, this will hurt a lot, because of leaving the EU internal marketplace. However we live in another era then when the EU was conceived. Today, technology provides for building quicker alliances with other countries and with needing a lesser level of trust (think of bitcoin technology).

The reason I ‘dig’ the brexit standpoint is that technology is coming more and more into the equation, which brings “off-the-scale” opportunities AND threats: It gives control to a very limited number of people. The only thing standing between the individual and omniscient technology is a very strong democracy. This democracy should lie not higher than at a national level, but preferably on a regional level. Otherwise government turns into an administrative moloch living in a separate universe, alike a multinational. And technology can facilitate in just that if we organise our societies in the right way. I believe that in hindsight this era may well be a turning point.

I think Britain will have a hard time, but it is never a bad idea to regain control of your country and choose for a perhaps less perfect or less efficient future, but with the ability to take your own course. The only reason this is being so difficult is because the EU realises that if this goes easy, other countries can follow. Take a good look at the countries that are within the EU, and I assure you in time, maybe not in the near future, but it can be in 10 years or 20, EU goals will not align at all with individual countries’ goals. Most likely economically, but it can be in all sorts of areas.

PS: fighting multinationals, where they pay taxes and how they handle data etc. requires cooperation and has proved tough within the EU, but doesn’t necessarily have to be tougher outside the EU. As if those goals suddenly don’t align anymore.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  cheseeeee222

I think there are only two outcomes for Britain which will really suit the EU agenda: humiliation or failure. Currently they are doing their best to make us choose one or the other. A lesson to anyone else who thinks of leaving.

Neither is in the interests of either Britain or the countries that make up the EU.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Britain never had a useful move, because its “red lines” make none of what it wants realistically achievable. Failure is guaranteed a priori. Humiliation is just a substitute word for going through the stages of grief of finally realising this, as the author of this article has.

Even if some consider “no deal” to be the best option which will ultimately be a great success, rather than a failure, that’s not possible either due to the Northern Ireland issue – the result would be a border in the Irish sea, which is a monumental failure in itself.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago

Well, not everyone treats politics as a realm of overwhelming emotional commitment, as you do. I am as cold as ice, when I say that the freedoms allowed by the UK being soveriegn, having been thrown away, are far more valuable than any vacuous, boring, unimportant ‘Trade Deal’. No fully competent human being ever really cared about the latter.

testtestov112233
testtestov112233
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Read my second paragraph.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

If you are ice cold as you say (I take your word for it) you seem to ignore that every major decision is a British deicision
-taxation
-NHS, Pensions
-education, job training
-CAPEX and R&D
– labour reforms
-iraq, Libya, Siria
– monetary and fiscal policy
-commerce and business law

What am I missing – VAT on tampons’?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

VAT itself. It was a requirement of joining the EEC.

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

No, what you’re missing is we don’t want to be a member of a corporate club that habitually uses its ECJ to rule in favour of corporations over and above Trade Unions and ordinary people. A supranational entity that was set up specifically with the exploitation of cheap labour in mind.

We voted Leave in David Cameron’s “in or out” referendum. The political, corporate, financial and judicial Establishment’s efforts to sabotage this – aided and abetted by those intolerant authoritarians masquerading as “progressives” amongst the middle classes – does nothing to detract from this fact.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

Well, let me attempt to change your mind back again, that the instinctive decision of a sliver-thin majority was in fact the best available to the UK in the 21st century.

One of the loudest and most often repeated agonised refrains I have heard from dismayed pro-EU people I have discussed the roller-coaster with is: Leaving is going to make us very much poorer. But the evidence, hiding in plain sight, is that since the dawn of the 21st century, the EU is in fact well on the way to making Europe poorer and powerless. Let me point to Tech to illustrate, see if you can offer an explanation that the evidence of my eyes is nothing to do with the EU.

Example: no Tech giants originating from the EU. No European Tech companies in the global top 20 and in fact only a tiny smattering in the top 100. Why do you think that is? And this is notwithstanding top quality intellectual firepower available across Europe and the huge pool of tech talent that still exists across Europe and especially in the UK. The EU, for various reasons, shows all the signs of already having as good as lost the Tech war. Tech stands in contrast to global European companies in every other 20th century domain, Manufacturing, Pharma, Banking/Finance, Energy, Mining etc.

And the long term meaning of this failure to comprehend and contend with the realities of the 21st century? Total tech dependence on external tech, primarily US and to a lesser extent Far Eastern. No longer a player in creating the tech driven world of the 21st century. Which is a recipe for powerlessness. And soon enough will determine if you have control over what social models you can create. The only big weapon in Europe’s armory at the moment is that they are wealthy buyers of Tech, and the Tech giants covet this market. But this is mechanically set to reduce as Tech markets grow worldwide, and European wealth declines on the back of European lack of growth. So the EU is now busy creating Tech regulation frameworks with the aim of regulating externally owned, bought-in tech, so it doesn’t carve up it’s existing non-hightech industries and sectors with disruption – in effect the embrace of a management-of-decline mentality. It imagines it’s frameworks will influence the US and China (ha!), but is doing so not from a position of strength, but to regulate a vacuum. The EU nations are living on the borrowed time of past wealth, they just don’t know it yet.

And the EU’s responsibility in all this? It’s the agglomeration of the various technocratic components and values of the EU, not organic but engineered and all imposed from on high, sans direct demos as you say, – the Euro, the love of bickering (having got fed up of blasting each other for centuries), the ringfence of structures to ensure that no one jumps the gun, the focus on becoming a sausage factory of regulation rather than one of innovation, and to pick one topical policy bind, state aid and level playing field stuff, so lets look at that as an example of how the EU disables via it’s technocratic minutiae.

There is an inherent contradiction at the heart of EU state-aid and state-subsidy rules. The EU doesn’t prevent state involvement in industries but the rules are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The EU insists, in the situation where a state takes a stake in a business, it must behave exactly like any other company in the free market, lest non state actors (potentially from other countries) are at a competitive disadvantage. That is, state involvement mustn’t distort the free market. This would for example prevent any EU nation from doing what Churchill did, when he bought out BP for national strategic reasons rather than to make a profit. But there are two other huge problems with EU level playing field rules:

1) if state-backed action into an industry mustn’t distort the free market, then what exactly is the point of any state government taking such actions?

2) The EU has become so concentrated on preventing companies from each others countries from disadvantaging each other that they’ve become oblivious to the fact that they have been getting stuffed by developments outside Europe for two decades.

The EU has in effect formed a circular firing squad. The UK’s attempt to break out of the losing spiral may or may not work. But better than going gentle into that good night.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

‘Circular firing squad.’ Apt, vivid, memorable.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

An excellent summary.

I saw it my self at first hand in telecoms. The EU attempting in cahoots with European manufacturers attempting to ring fence the European Market oblivious to the fact that Far East manufacturers were set first to eclipse and them annihilate the European mobile handset industry

Diarmid Weir
Diarmid Weir
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Interesting points – but it’s not clear that the rise of ‘Big Tech’, wherever it has happened, has been to anyone’s advantage except that of Big Tech.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Diarmid Weir

I’m under no illusions whatsoever that ‘Big Tech’ will lead to a more equitable world – I don’t think that is remotely the case. I have a four decade background in computing and electronics, and a long engagement with the machine intelligence and automation debate, and I have flipped 180 degrees in the last decade or so, from being a big tech optimist, to reluctantly coming to the conclusion that ever-accelerating tech-driven change is going to be disastrous for huge tranches of humanity, because most of humanity cannot adapt fast enough to avoid getting hurt.

But that is a debate for another day. One thing I do know: Europe falling behind in the Tech War means Europe’s influence will fade and it’s wealth and options will be truncated. If they want to accept that because those are the values of the EU, then that is fine. I don’t see that we in the UK have to make the same choices.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Ah, so it’s all about rats and sinking ships… well, I guess that makes it easier to stomach. In a way. Thanks…

Adrian
Adrian
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Rage! Rage!….

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Your excellent comment reminded me of a programme I saw a few years back about the rise of the British Empire. The commentator posed the question how did the British manage to supplant the French as the world power. From memory it was something to do with the development of cannon technology which had improved to the point that the Royal Navy could outgun the French Navy. Apparently, innovation in Britain was relatively free of red tape whilst and improvements to French hardware had to be approved by committees which lead to delays in implementation. In other words, you snooze, ya lose. P.S, it was on the BBC so may not be true. ðƾ˜‰

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Indeed. History shows, any bunch of brigands with a technological edge, the guts to take big risks, some nous and some luck, can bring down and plunder entire empires. A similar story against the Spanish Armada, a huge systematic war machine, outmanoeuvred by savvy privateer commanders with a smaller but more agile navy with technological advantages (faster loading cannons, longer range heavy guns etc) and of course luck (the weather forcing the Spanish ships back etc).

Luck and smart commanders play less of a role in the our age of technology though. Just need the superior tech.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago

I’m the opposite of the author in a way, in that I voted remain, but now feel that we must leave. In part, because leaving the EU should not feel like leaving an empire, and the behaviour of the EU itself towards us should not look like a warning to other vassal states.

Im pro Europe – but I feel that the EU has lumbered Europe with a project which most people do not want in its present form. One onto which a fairly limited European elite has projected its own fantasies.

To read Macron, for example, he seems to see the EU as a means to elevate France from lapdog to Rottweiler, capable of barking at China and the US. Matching political clout to the cultural clout the french, bizarrely, still think they have.

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

I am sorry to see that you have lost your nerve Ed.
But I still believe that there is no demos in the EU.
I voted for Brexit for the sake of Democracy.
I still believe in Democracy.

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago

So why are you not in favour of having a chance to reject the deal that the tories have negotiated?

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
3 years ago

Like any article lamenting our departure from the EU, this is full of emotional hyperbole and distinctly lacking in substance. Possibly because the topic is “far more complicated than anyone could imagine,” Ed tells us that there are “enormous drawbacks” without getting into any detail about what these are.

Is the issue that people opposed to something don’t have a coherent or unified view of what should replace it? It was ever thus; most recently with the fall of communism in Europe. Ed seems to have forgotten the multitude of reasons people voted to leave. And do we not walk away from a bad relationship just because it might be hard to negotiate who gets what from the house? On this point, I stand by an article I wrote back in 2016: https://medium.com/@nothowg….

As a sovereign nation, we can more effectively determine if we wish Britain to be global or insular at the ballot box. Brexit might be associated with the Conservative party, but it’s not about conservatism: would the same charge be levelled at Scottish or Catalan independence? Once Brexit is delivered, UK citizens will get an opportunity to vote in 2025 (or earlier) for the sort of politics they want to define their future. There are many parallels with what brought Labour to power in 1945, which through nationalisation and other policies brought seismic change. Yes, the next few months and years will be hard, but I’ve certainly seen nothing that would lead me to regret my decision.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago

A thought-provoking article. I had friends who voted for Leave and those who voted for Remain. None of them have changed their minds as I suspect it has become part of their tribal identity. It strikes me its a debate between what you are willing to give up in terms of the economy in exchange for sovereignty. What needs to be negotiated are the proportions and over what time frame.

Whether that exchange is worth it is the hottest argument among my friends. My Leaver friends thought sovereignty carried few costs and that Brexit was mainly upside. They believed the EU membership was a drag on the UK and that the money could be directed to better causes. My Remainer friends thought the price was too high and that sovereignty was worthless if it meant damage to their livelihoods. They felt being out of the EU meant the UK would not be strong enough to compete with the US/China. And that being in the EU gave the UK more global clout.

But this argument fall flat among my Leaver friends. Sovereignty for them meant independence and this had great enormous emotional significance. They thought there would be many benefits from lawmaking to immigration. Ultimately the two tribes measure the issues on completely different scales. Both sides will be disappointed if they expect some definitive moment of vindication for Brexit.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

“great enormous emotional significance”
Exactly that. Hurrah for England! Now let’s all go celebrate down the food bank.

L Paw
L Paw
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Negativity writ large. Use 4 words in Mr Creeds 3 paragraphs amplify and undermine.
What a classic left wing agitating position.

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  L Paw

Truth hurts doesn’t it?

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  kahir.makhani

Not when there’s no truth in it.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

I quite like this forum. Most of the comments use argument rather than unfunny mockery, but there are exceptions……

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

I don’t think it’s funny either. I think it’s pathetic. The whole country sold down the river for the sake of jingoistic bullsh:t that really boiled down to keeping out the brown people. You reap what you sow.

kahir.makhani
kahir.makhani
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Kevin,

You based in the UK?

Pete Rose
Pete Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

That old chestnut. You do realise that the EU is as racist as the day is long, don’t you? Google “how the EU starves Africa” for more information on how the EU dumps surplus food products in Africa to maintain artificially inflated food prices, which in turn puts African farmers out of business.

I love how white middle class people who, on the whole, live in exclusively white middle class enclaves get to lecture the rest of us on our supposed racism.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

Clearly, the UK must have less clout on its own. A friend told me that, the day after the 2016 vote, 40 countries were queueing up to make trade deals with us. OF COURSE they were: they will get much better deals with the UK, which has about 10% of the market that the EU had to offer.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

When the EU can marshal the economies of several powerful countries, it certainly has clout, but what I started questioning as the years went by is in whose interests that clout is wielded. Major never found his way to the centre of the EU, and nor did Blair, for all their toadying.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

From what I was told the original target was 40 rollover deals with 70 countries by 31st March 2019. Its now December 2020, and the UK is at 29 rollover deals with 58 countries.

tim cole
tim cole
3 years ago

Won’t less trade help the planet? All those middle class London remainers must be ecstatic.

aemiliuspaullus
aemiliuspaullus
3 years ago
Reply to  tim cole

Not everyone of my friends who voted for Remain were based in London or even concerned about the environment. Many didn’t have strong feelings about the EU either. The reason some voted Remain was because a lot of them had businesses or worked for companies that had suffered because of the financial crisis in 2008 and due to austerity. They didn’t want the risk of more financial instability because they were worried about losing their jobs or businesses and not being able to pay their workers especially after having seen what had happened in the aftermath of 2008.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone
3 years ago

You have lost a lot of credibility with me for this article. Basically you seem to be saying you want the wo