Wednesday 25 May 2016

We won't get a better deal?

"We won't get a better deal than the one we have now". They keep saying that don't they? But who says we actually have a good deal? For sure we have full market access, but it requires us to gradually merge governments, have less say in the rules, sometimes being overridden completely and having increasingly less say at the global top tables.

It rather sounds like one of those mortgages where you make regular payments every month for twenty five years and at the end of it you don't own the house.

What we could have if we came out and joined Efta is pretty much the same market access, membership of Europol, Erasmus and all of the other cooperation programmes, pay less for the privilege, have a greater say in the rules and and the right to say no to the rules we don't want. Sound like a better deal to me. More to the point we get to make our own trade deals. What's not to like?

And whenever I mention this, the retort is always the same... "but you'll have to accept freedom of movement!" as if to say "Ah gotcha!" - as if I could give a tinkers damn about that. But that is not to say I don't care about immigration.

We are are told that it's almost universally good for the economy, but we are not slaves to the economy. There are quality of life aspects to consider and in some areas it is quite clear we are taking on more people than we can comfortable absorb.

However, I'm not going to blame the EU for that. There are plenty of domestic measures we could take that would reduce the opportunities for foreign labourers to undercut British workers, not least by enforcing housing standards and minimum wage. But then there's the wider migration problem.

I'm not going to obsess about competing with a Polish programmer. What bothers me is the butchery in the Mediterranean. As much as it is a consequence of closing off land routes for political expediency, lumbering Greece with problems it does not need, it's a consequence of the EU's bullying and dogmatic trade policies in Africa and the lacklustre response the the fallout.

As much as I will be pleased such will not being done in my name when we leave the EU, we will be on the outside of the EU's common external tariff and free to trade with Africa. We can export our expertise in engineering and standards implementation - and by doing so, Africa has a viable export system and supply chain.

We can work with global regulators and standards bodies to ensure African goods can get to market and ensure that we don't force African states into reliance on aid and corporate bribes. As much as we can help modernise African trade we can help undo some of the damage done by the grubby fishing deals stitched up by the EU in West Africa - which is to our eternal shame. The bottom line is that if we want them to stop coming to Europe we could try removing the need.

Leaving the EU would be the best thing we could do to help the global migration crisis, pressurising the EU into dropping its protectionist measures by competing, and at the same time do more to solve poverty. We will accomplish more than the EU's careless and unaccountable aid system has in the last two decades.

So yes, I'm happy to accept freedom of movement - totally happy with trade independence, happy with the freedom to sort of the EU's messes - and most of all happy not to be killing people by the thousands. Why is that not a better deal?

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