Thursday, 10 March 2016

Why I'm not caving into Brexit fears

They are threatening us with all sorts of horrible things if we vote to leave the EU. None of which will happen. You see the EU does not like uncertainty and our government doesn't either. And since neither really knows what will happen if we go out of the EU all the way and all at once, neither side will take the gamble. We can expect possibly these most risk averse negotiations of the last hundred years. Nothing will be left to chance. That means an agreement very close to actual EU membership.

As much as that means little or no change to the immediate business environment, it also means that there is no real competitive advantage in businesses decamping to greener pastures. It's just not worth it. If there are no new tariffs, no major changes to regulations and the same availability of people, why would you bother? Simple answer - you wouldn't.

But even then there is every reason to believe Britain thrives regardless. Norway's $830 billion (£584 billion) sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, does not see the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union as a significant risk to its investments. Its chief executive told Reuters this on Wednesday. If anyone knows about thriving outside the EU it's Norway. We will do better. And here's why.

London is a global city of commerce and was a global city of commerce before the EU was even thought of. It is a native English speaking country with a first class education system which is 99% funded by UK taxpayers. It's more liberal than New York, it's more interesting than Paris, and more fun than Berlin. It has first rate public transport in the capital, despite the petty whinges of Londoners and its road network is one of the best, if not the best in the world.

It is also a country that despite being under the dead hand of EU supranationalism still manages to punch above its weight simply because of how it wields soft power. It is a nation build on respect for the letter of the law and the sanctity of the contract. When we say we will adopt rules and enforce them we mean it, unlike France for whom single market compliance is largely optional. If you want to do honest, professional business, London is the place to come. And if you want to do dishonest, unprofessional business, well, there's plenty of scope for that too.

And while we drag our feet over building new runways, the capital is served by Luton, Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow and City airport. The whole of the UK is a global hub for aerospace and engineering knowledge. We are also a nation of diverse and beautiful landscapes - most within a few hours drive from London. There's everything you could possibly want.

We are told that young professionals will decamp for the far east or mainland Europe. Who cares? Let them go. We are always going to have a vast exchange of people by way of being one of the most liberal and open nations on earth - and one that is used to accommodating and adapting to massive change. If there is an opportunity, somebody will step up and grab it. Talent is not a finite resource in Britain because our culture nurtures and incentivises it.

In this, I don't speak as some hyper-patriotic scribbler. I am aware of the problems and I have seen the dark underside of the UK - and those places where light never shines. I've seen the farthest extremes of wealth and poverty in the UK. I've lived in Dundee, Leeds, Bradford and Bristol - and I have visited every city more than once. I know Britain. I know its peoples, customs, culture and many of its more arcane attributes. From the geology of the North York Moors to the drainage system of the Somerset Levels. I know Britain. I know what it is made of and I know what it can do.

When it comes to the Brexit question, one person cannot be expected to have all the answers. What matters is that we have the capability to rise to the challenges presented by the process. It doesn't matter what those challenges are. We will either find a workaround or a mitigation strategy or a solution - but we won't simply take a hit and live with it. That's loser talk. For every door that closes, another opens and Brexit most certainly opens up a great many opportunities - and not just for us.

In fact, the more I think about the possibilities, the more intrigued I am by the prospect of Brexit. Possibility is far better than certainty. I am weary of these pettifogging europhile whinges by ever more microscopic special interest groups - who might be marginally affected on the basis of their limited understanding of what might happen. These utterly depressing miserablists always believe the worst case scenario. It's just white noise.

And then we have the corporates. When a multinational says Britain should stay in the EU the only correct response is "fuck off". Since they are all exporters and importers of goods, in order for maximum market reach, they abide by ISO standards, which have international supremacy over EU rules. If you comply with ISO standards and there is a mutual recognition of inspections in place, then even the EU cannot refuse entry of goods.

Since all of these multinationals have their own voice at all of the major global bodies - WTO, UNECE and ISO, with influence surpassing most countries in producing the rules the EU adopts (and incidentally the UK whether it is in or out of the EU), their input is wholly disingenuous and completely irrelevant. What you are hearing is political opinion dressed up in prestigious garb but as an opinion it should carry no greater weight than the bloke in the pub. 

It's ultimately a question of whether we want to be ruled by a supreme government for Europe that decides our trade, aid and foreign policy and tells us what to do. As anti-democratic as that is, I am still waiting for an explanation as to why that is a good idea.

In the end, we know why the leftists think it's a good idea. Leftists keep saying "If we leave the EU, the Tories might do stuff I don't like" - which roughly translates as "I don't want to live in a democracy where the government responds to the views and wishes of the public". It also translates as "I am happy to deprive others of the right to choose because my politics are superior". There's not really much I can say to that. Traditionally, people like that are wearing uniforms and we shoot them rather than engage in polite discourse. 

Whichever way you look at it, there is life beyond the EU. Brexit does not mean ending cooperation with Europe, it doesn't make security cooperation or economic cooperation impossible and there is a whole world outside the EU that doesn't feel the need to throw their right of refusal down the toilet. 

We're just not going to see a rolling disaster movie Brexit. What we are going to see is a very gradual, careful and safe reversal process. The biggest "shockwave" will be a cultural one when the entire EU political establishment realises that leaving the EU actually has very little immediate effect on anybody - and probably won't for a decade.

There are always options in this. There are multiple fallback positions and there are plenty of instruments available to get round the largely administrative technicalities. What matters is that it can be done if there is the political will. And so what it really comes down to is whether you, dear reader, are going to be browbeaten by a bunch of fussbuckets who always imagine the very worst. 

What you could have a Britain revitalising its own democracy and its going its own way - breaking this forty year deadlock of Euro-tedium - or you can have Jean-Claude Junckers placing limitations on us - forever. Your choice.

Brexit though, is not a leap into the dark as some suggest - it's a step into the spotlight. The world will watch what we do with interest to to see how this goes. And how it goes is entirely down to your estimation of what we are. Are we a bunch of "can't win, don't try" whingers who go running off to nanny Europe, or are we still that kickass rainy little island that shows the rest of the world how to do stuff? I think it's the latter. That's why I am voting to leave - and you can stick your "Brexit fears" where the sun don't shine, losers. 

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