Vince Cable was chosen, unopposed, as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats and promised to continue his party’s policy of denying us the Brexit we voted for. “The people didn’t vote to be poorer”, he said in his acceptance speech, repeating the lie given last year by Philip Hammond and echoed by George Osborne. We refuted this in our recent post (see Richer or Poorer?). The Government warned us in writing that we would be poorer now and forever if we left the EU. It hasn’t been true now and it needn’t be in future if we have the guts to leave and implement appropriate economic policies.
Lord Adonis recently said Brexit was a mistake equivalent to Appeasement in the 1930s. This is absurd. In facing a dominating force from Continental Europe he is not on the side of today’s defiant Churchills but in Lord Halifax’s camp. Adonis is a historian and he’s not a fool, so he must be a knave.
German business leaders have said they won’t be lobbying to get the UK a trade deal with the EU when we leave because the Single Market is such a major asset and its integrity must be maintained, with its four freedoms. They would say that wouldn’t they? The EU as it is now suits Germany very well so ideally Brexit will fail to change anything very much. But if there is a proper Brexit then we would see if they mean what they say. There are lies, damned lies and negotiating tactics.
Older folk, we’re told, don’t care about the burdens their children and grandchildren will have to live with as a consequence of rejecting EU membership. In truth the older generation cares deeply about their families’ future welfare; they invested so much and want to pass on all they can to help them. But by voting to return their country to the dark ages, before we joined the happy, forward-looking Union beyond the English Channel, a fog of misery and isolation will blight them.
Tony Blair has been officially condemned for misleading us about Iraq and seems to be at it again. He says that in private discussions with EU leaders he has been told they will make concessions on freedom of movement so we don’t have to leave after all. That contradicts what they tell the rest of us and what they proved to David Cameron. Blair provides no names, no corroboration and has no credibility with the British public.
Market size matters most when negotiating free trade agreements. Not when 28 countries and several regions have to agree the terms. That takes forever, as we’ve seen. Small economies like Singapore and Switzerland have concluded numerous FTAs with much larger markets, and more quickly. The UK is not going to be at “the back of queue” in most cases, probably not even with the EU because they have so much to lose.
Michel Barnier is a good negotiator. In fact he’s a serial failure. He has no experience outside French and EU politics and even there, in his position as Minister of State for European Affairs he couldn’t persuade the French people to approve the EU constitution proposed by their ex-President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing. As European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Barnier didn’t succeed in getting new bank laws into EU regulation against UK opposition. As the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator his hands have been tied by the Commission’s mandate; he is not even permitted to accept a fair compromise with the British side to appoint a neutral arbitrator on legal judgements (a Canadian judge, say). How can he possibly succeed in reaching a workable and lasting deal?
Just Punishment “There must be a threat, there must be a risk, there must be a price … otherwise other parties will want to leave the European Union”, said Francois Hollande.
Why should they bend over backwards to do favours for a third country. That would be a good reason but it clearly isn’t sufficient to explain their approach, as Hollande clearly stated. If the EU leaders and supporters were confident that their project would retain members because of its obvious benefits, they could afford to take a less hard line. But they aren’t; in fact they fear for their project because so many citizens in so many member states actively demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the EU. It has not delivered on its promises, and can’t. Too many people know this. The EU has reason to fear for its future but, unfortunately, while the remedy is in their hands – real reform of the federalist agenda – they are too wedded to their ideology to make that change. And their ideology is founded in disdain for voters and elections, which is why their putative government is not open to democratic replacement.