Skip to main content

The price of EU withdrawal: be careful what you wish for

There is a substantial minority in the UK that would like to see the country withdraw from the European Union. Not reform, not regroup, but leave, period. They base this argument upon they idea that the EU is the enemy of Liberal economics and increasingly is restricting and not enhancing the cause of freedom in Europe.

Nevertheless, over the course of the past 20 years, the cause of Liberal economics has won many victories inside the European Union. From the Single European Act, which proved to be a breakthrough in the creation of a genuinely common market, to the expansion of the Union to include the Liberal economies of the east, to the erosion of the old statist consensus in trade, competition and agriculture, much as certainly been achieved to create a dramatically more liberal economy amongst the states of the EU.

For the anti-Europeans, though this does not go far enough- "too little, too late"- seems to be a fairly constant refrain.

I see too major risks about the exit of the UK from the EU, one is political and one is economic. It is generally accepted that should the UK leave the structure of the EU, it is not likely to want to leave the economic zone, since being outside the common external tariff would be damaging to both our exports and inward investment to the UK. So to a considerable extent, we are likely to have to retain most of the regulation and tariffs that we have now. The difference of course is that these would now be set without reference to the UK. Furthermore, without British influence it may well be that mercantilist voices in France and Germany can be heard more loudly, so there is an increased risk of a "fortress Europe"- a far less liberal economic direction, and event the possibility of the kind of beggar they neighbour policies that were last seen in Europe before the Second World War.

The political risks of withdrawal could be yet more serious. At the edge of our continent, Russia continues to nurse old grievances, and since the end of the democratic experiment, there are powerful forces in the Kremlin that are flirting with fascism- as the advent of the Nashi groups show all too clearly. The disruption of the EU is highly unlikely to reinforce NATO, indeed it is probable that the organisation will be weakened further. The USA, humiliated in Iraq and distrustful of its European allies be become more disengaged at precisely the time when Russia is resurgent. The new weapons of the Kremlin are money and oil. Already murky deals have implicated Gerhard Schroder and Jacques Chirac in allegations of corruption involving Russian money. An EU that lacks the shining torchlight of accountability that liberal economics demands could see the triumph of a corrupt and somewhat pro-Russian policy. In the meantime, a British withdrawal may well make the SNP, whose policy, let us not forget is Independence within Europe", far more assertive in its attempts to break up the UK- and backed by a great deal of money, they may even achieve their goal.

The Anti Europeans believe that liberal economics can only be served by withdrawal. I believe that the risks of withdrawal are so high that they can not seriously be countenanced. The world is increasingly unstable. As the Credit crunch begins to unleash a financial hurricane, from which no economy can remain immune, I believe we will look back on the last 15 years as an oasis. As the threat of tyrannical China in alliance with tyrannical Russia grows, as the Environmental meltdown has more economic effects, as the financial system stands on the brink, the idea that such a fundamental plank of our economic and political security can be so lightly abandoned is at best fool hardy, at worst an major challenge to our future political and economic stability and prosperity.

I am happy to fight a referendum campaign in support of the reform treaty which contains, I believe, necessary reforms. The EU is essential as a part of the future of the United Kingdom, and on that basis let us take our case to the British people.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

In praise of off-shore tax havens

The last few years has seen a spate of "scandals" about the use of off-shore tax havens. The hacking and subsequent leaking of data about who does and does not hold assets in off-shore jurisdictions has become an old perennial in the British press, rather like the "COLD weather happens in winter and QUITE HOT weather happens in summer", whose alarmist capital letter laced headlines are such a lazy part of contemporary "journalism". 

The increasing sophistication of the hackers, whether Russian-inspired or not, has resulted in a steady trickle of information becoming a torrent. After the relatively filleted release of data in the so-called "Panama Papers", the data release of the "Paradise Papers" is even larger.  Of course, just natural curiosity dictates that the off-shore ownership, or even just "ownership", of assets is of general public interest.  Celebrities, from the Royal family to the cast of Mrs Brown's Boys, are …