Friday, 29 April 2016

The City should keep its nose out

More than 100 leading City grandees have backed the Vote Leave campaign arguing that Brussels meddling represents “a genuine threat” to Britain’s financial services industry. Senior figures from the worlds of banking, stockbroking, insurance and fund management said in a letter to the Standard that the Square Mile “can thrive and grow outside the European Union”.

And you know something? I couldn't care less. I couldn't care less for the same reason I don't care about the city grandees who have come out against Brexit. It is not their decision. It is not an economic issue.

As much as anything the rules that the City abide by are in the main global agreements and your average trader or financial CEO has no more clue than the next schmuck - as Arron Banks and Richard Tice demonstrated in front of a select committee the other day.

The only economic consideration in the whole Brexit debate is the question of how we disentangle ourselves from the EU without doing economic harm. The answer to that is slowly and carefully. If we choose to leave the EU, the job of politics is to work out how to do it. In that regard, there are, as highlighted, paths available to us, trade-offs to make and compromises to endure.

This is purely a question of whether the public wants Britain to be a subordinate of a supreme government for Europe. It's a question of whether we want to be a self-governing nation or whether we want to be gradually erased on the world stage. This entirely comes down to your own estimation as to whether you prefer self-rule and democracy - and whether you think Britain has what it takes to make it.

My own view is that democracy is not for sale at any price and that Britain's prosperity is not contingent on being an EU supplicant. Nor do I believe that Brexit significantly impacts European cooperation. What the multinational corporates think is neither here not there. We are an island of sixty five million people and the majority of us are employed by small to medium sized enterprises.

Though many of them are suppliers and service providers to large corporates, those same corporates would find life a lot harder outside of the UK. Britain is an advanced, first world economy and one that believes first and foremost in property rights and the rule of law. That is why we are top of the league in soft power and it that which makes us the best place in the world to do business. A deal struck in the UK means something.

What should concern us here is that we have handed over far too much responsibility for policy making to Brussels and will continue to do so despite the fraudulent reassurances of David Cameron. Increasingly we are passive recipients of laws we had no real say in - and with no real democratic scrutiny.

Leaving the EU is not an economic estimation. It's not about bean counting or saving a few quid. Our choice at the ballot box is about our democracy. What is convenient, or preferred by corporates, banks, bosses and politicians is the least of our concerns. They are all in their own way prostitutes who will suck up to power. In that regard, Brexit is a timely reminder that it is we who hold the true power.

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