Britain must not be taken in by the “soft Brexit” snake oil peddlers

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There are a growing number of snake oil peddlers circulating amongst a willing, left-liberal media. Anna Soubry, George Osborne and Gina Miller spring to mind, ably supported by the CBI and others.

Their tincture is a mild, aromatic Brexit of the most faux desirable kind. It comes in many flavours; EEA, EFTA, Single Market, Customs Union or simply, the most enigmatic of all, “Access”. All of course branded “the soft Brexit” as if a bed to lie in.

After all, who could not be bewitched by the palatability of this heady brew, the reasonableness of the sales pitch. Surely it must be good for you, after all, we have it now and have had it before, sour as it may sometimes be.

And now with the patient, Britannia herself, weak and wobbly, a dose of the tincture is just the ticket, washed down with a little schnapps from Frau Merkel and Cassis from the handsome Monsieur Macron. And such a good price, only £100 billion. Roll up, roll up!

But do not be taken in by these Europhile journeymen – the aroma is foul and the tincture poisonous to our future wellbeing. Do not be wooed by the spider at the centre of the Euro-web, Germany, and its handmaiden, France.

Our recent plebiscite saw 84% of the population of Great Britain vote for parties which affirmed Brexit in their manifestos and a further tranche in Northern Ireland. Explicitly or implicitly, these commitments included the sovereignty of the UK Parliament over UK Affairs, the ultimate jurisdiction of our courts, the control of our borders and the freedom to run our economy as we wish.

That being the case, there is only one flavour of Brexit – that which will deliver these things. Only one brand of Brexit worth its name. And there is only one Brexit that will see us economically better off than we otherwise would have been, by remaining in the EU. Of course, there are a variety of aromatics that can be added to flavour this pure English Brexit gin – nuances here and there to excite even the most politically demanding palate, but this draught is distinct from the Euro snake oil in every way.

The EEA, EFTA, Single Market and Customs Union membership all subvert the ingredients of Brexit in varying combinations, by restricting economic freedoms, free trade arrangements (FTAs) around the world, the unilateral removal of external tariffs, deregulation, restriction of costly migrants, along with the requirements for financial contribution, all thereby undermining the fantastic opportunity Brexit presents. They also dilute the constitutional basis of Brexit by imposing the continuing interference of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – the operation of extra-territorial law-making beyond our Parliament and the removal of our ability to control our borders.

In fact, in varying degrees they sour the very notion of Brexit to the extent that they are not Brexit at all, but pass themselves off as such. Such a “con” by the purveyors of “snake oil” would be a fraud on the electorate of monumental proportions.

And what of “access” to the Single Market? After all, who could argue with that flavour of the devil’s brew?

Firstly, everyone has access to the Single Market. Countries like the USA and China – which neither have an FTA with the EU, nor are members of the Single Market and Customs Union – access the Single Market every day, selling billions of pounds’ worth of goods to the EU. If there are goods or services to be sold and people who want them and are prepared to pay the price, trade will happen, irrespective of the Single Market or Customs Union. “Access” is therefore merely a question of the terms of trade, administrative and tariff.

Naturally, we all want terms as frictionless as possible, but all of the industrial tariffs added together that the EU could apply to UK goods add up to little more than a third of our current net contribution per annum to the Single Market. The administrative terms are dealt with by common consent across the WTO right now and should be the focus of discussions with the EU.

It’s vitally important to understand that just three measures of our English gin – deregulation, the re-investment in the UK of our net contribution to the EU and the removal of external tariffs imposed by the EU – would together amount to a 7.2% boost to our economy, between £120 and £150 billion. This would be like increasing our economic growth rate by a third every year for twelve years.

On top of this, we can abolish the Common Agricultural Policy, repatriate our fisheries, make Free Trade deals around the world and cut out the cost of migrants. Each migrant in a low-skill job costs the UK taxpayer a net £3,500 per year in welfare subsidies and public services.

Making Britain an open enterprise economy is the way to prosperity and to making Brexit an economic success, while retaining the sovereignty that people voted for.

To reap these rewards will require the government to take back control of the timescale and to truly believe we can make our own way in the world. The Prime Minister must put a stop date on negotiations around an FTA of Q2 2018. If there are no signs of agreement by then, we should stop talks on an FTA and instead should concentrate on administrative measures and devote valuable time and resource to preparing to implement the great economic opportunities presented by Brexit the moment we leave.

Under no circumstances must we sacrifice these economic freedoms or our newly-won constitutional liberties for the wares of the “snake oil” merchants. To do so would be an act of national betrayal. There must be a concerted effort to explain and win the argument on what Brexit means and what benefits it presents. The oleaginous traitors can only offer an inferior and costly version of what we have now. Given that, it must be in the gift of even our most intellectually and charismatically challenged politicians to gather some “Dutch courage” and engage the nation, otherwise we will all be taking to the gin.

June 15th, 2017: Brexit Central