By declaring an intended WTO trade option now, the government will provide the business community with the direction and certainty they need, whilst giving them time to prepare ahead of the March 2019 deadline, says John Longworth.
As if Halloween were not scary enough, on Tuesday the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, will brief the Cabinet on the implications for the UK of having no deal with the EU on trade. This is a scary prospect not because no deal is frightening, in fact it could be the best deal, but because there is a huge push by the economic establishment in the Treasury, business groups like the CBI and the Bank of England, to accept any old deal and to pay through the nose for it.
The sort of deal currently being touted by the vested interest groups would have us sign up to a delay in leaving the EU of at least two years (and possibly forever if Remainers get their way) for which we will pay untold billions of pounds for the privilege of having the European Court still rule over us, having no say in EU decision making and being prevented from seizing the opportunities of Brexit. This, by definition, will make us worse off, fulfilling the dire prognostications of the Treasury and Bank of England, who no doubt will feel justified.
Only an idiot would sign up to such a deal, but it is exactly what was implied in the PMs Florence speech, ably inspired by our un-inspirational Chancellor.
By contrast what David Davis should be telling the Cabinet on Halloween is that if we go for a new broom (preferably in the Treasury) and adopt World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade in March 2019 we can be flying high as a nation.
By declaring for WTO now the government will provide absolute certainty for business as it will be clear where we are going and there will be plenty of time to prepare, before the March 2019 deadline.
It will have the further advantage of being a game changer in the negotiations, the UK will at last be in charge of the agenda and the EU under enormous pressure.
It will also mean that we can concentrate on sorting out the Admin ; open skies, customs documentation, visa and residency rules and, most importantly, preparing to seize the real opportunities on Brexit Day plus one.
It is these opportunities that Davis should focus on. We can immediately control our borders and reduce excessive and costly immigration. Each migrant into low skilled work costs UK taxpayers £3500 per year. We can reduce the cost of living for hard working families by removing tariffs (an EU tax we all pay hidden in the cost of goods), which would reduce the price of food, clothing and footwear by an average of 20%. This in turn would boost the economy. The UK can then implement trade deals around the world, as it is in the world outside the EU that 90% of growth will take place in the coming years. Our competitive currency rate, which is already boosting exports, manufacturing and the regions, will continue under WTO. It also allows us to get rid of EU red tape where it is a drag on jobs and prosperity. We can get back our net contribution to the EU of around £11 billion per year, reduce taxes on business and improve public services. And we can get back our fishing grounds and provide a big boost to fishing towns, not to mention great fish!
Very importantly, choosing WTO means that we won’t be paying the EU the billions of pounds they will try to extract from us in the negotiations as a punishment beating.
Davis should tell the Cabinet that signing up to a delay in leaving and allowing the EU to charge us billions is madness, it is swallowing the witches brew (no reference to Angela Merkel). Instead we should stop the EU bleeding us dry, drive a stake into the black heart of Brussels and set ourselves free.