WHEN PEOPLE disagree, it is tempting to assume that a compromise means both parties conceding ground to meet in the middle, but that is not always possible.
Few doubted that a majority for Brexit would have consequences. To leave the EU means leaving the Common Market and much more. Remainers still argue for a compromise, and seek to continue to some extent, to be beholden and subservient to the failing EU with its increasing regulation and control.
Those who told us that there was no loss of sovereignty involved in being in the EU are now telling us that we no longer have the capability to thrive on our own. The EU leadership has ignored previous referendum defeats and apparently seeks to do the same thing with the United Kingdom. Indeed many of our MPs also share this contempt for the majority vote and wish to overturn the decision of the British people. To do so would destroy trust in our Parliament which called for a referendum in the first place.
Yet some Remainers claim that any price is worth paying to keep the City’s passporting rights, and to meet the demands of some foreign companies, and those who benefit from the EU’s regulation gravy train. Those MPs who most eagerly supported delegating their own parliamentary authority to the EU now insist, supported by a damaging legal judgment, that Parliament must have control of the negotiations to leave.
Even more obtuse is Corbyn’s intention to block Article 50 until he understands what the post-Brexit terms are – which he knows the EU will not discuss prior to Article 50 being triggered. Nick Clegg, amongst others, wants to amend and limit the terms of our negotiations because he disagrees with the voters’ decision, while obstructive MPs and Lords think that they should be consulted. Some lawyers have argued that we should involve the European Court to endeavour to establish that Article 50 is reversible, with a view to securing a second Referendum on the terms of our exit. That of course would incentivise the EU to offer the most punitive terms; and the SNP wish to pick a fight with the UK and block our exit totally.
You can guess what the game plan is, but does their stance make any sense, and does their refusal to accept the consequences of the referendum result, which means that we should leave the EU completely, help or hinder our access to the ninety per cent of world trade outside the EU, or even the diminishing ten per cent still held by the EU?
The EU’s share of world trade has halved since we joined, and the share of our exports that go to the Common Market has dropped by a third. The EU leaders are threatening to punish us and make us suffer as an example to other countries trapped in its punitive embrace. Even the collapse of the Soviet Union was less vindictive. A vengeful EU will persuade most freedom-loving people that we are best out, whatever the cost.
To compromise our negotiating position is foolish and self-destructive. To imagine that we can determine in advance what the EU terms of trade will be after Brexit is futile. The more we concede, the more the EU will demand. The EU’s ruling elite, despite persistent mass unemployment, especially of the young, and the inevitable demise of the euro, is bent on marching towards an ever closer union and apparently endless expansion, with an EU army in defiance of their pre-referendum assurances.
When the EU rejected Britain’s request for substantially renegotiated terms, they squandered an opportunity to keep Britain at least partially in and accept the will of most people in the UK and Europe who want to retain defensible borders and to protect their national identity before it is too late. When Britain eventually leaves, both the EU and the UK will be compelled to face the consequences of their divorce arrangements.
It is time for politicians, judges and businesses in the UK to pull together for all our sakes. The EU has a poor poker hand. When international companies ask the UK to secure good terms for future trade agreements with the EU after we leave, their message is effectively directed as much at the EU as the UK. It takes two sides to reach any trade agreement but the EU has twenty seven vetoes. To allow Parliament and the Lords to vote on the terms of our departure will add more vetoes to the negotiations, and will incentivise the EU to make their post-Brexit terms as unpalatable as possible to try to overturn our referendum decision. For Britain’s politicians to argue about matters over which we have little control, damages our national interests and ignores the fact that the EU alone will decide what our future relationship will be. We can only point out how we will both suffer from a bad deal, but as we know to our cost the EU is inept, protectionist and punitively inclined.
British prosperity was built on free trade. The entire world has been improved by mutually beneficial free trade. In stark contrast the EU is an anti-competitive trading block. Most EU trade agreements are about protecting vested interests and are the antithesis of free trade. That is why they often fail to happen, or take so long to be negotiated, and why they have limited benefits and cause widespread resentment. The advantages of free trade between the EU and the UK has nothing to do with the free movement of people or working conditions or domestic law, and indeed not all the member states of the EU permit free movement, have habeas corpus, or trial by jury, or a presumption of innocence, or even maintain a fair independent judicial system.
Europe is set on the road to ruin and unfortunately we cannot save it from itself. We have repeatedly tried and failed. The instincts that the British people expressed in the referendum are sound because Europe is a disaster in the making, and it has failed to serve our vital interests or those of all its member states. The best thing we can do now for both the EU and ourselves is to leave as quickly and cleanly as possible. Internal dispute and lengthy prevarication will only damage our future prospects. If we commit to making Brexit successful we can thrive outside the EU. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Division and uncertainty are bad for business, but the costs and risks of remaining in or being tied to the EU are far greater than a clean break.
Ivor Tiefenbrun is a highly successful Scottish engineer and businessmen