I’m the Conservative candidate for Guildford Council’s Lovelace ward at the coming election on 2nd May. I’m standing in a part of Surrey that voted Remain and only a few years ago my ward was the safest Conservative seat on Guildford Council, before local problems with development and illegal waste destroyed a lot of trust and the Lib Dems seized their chance. Still, in normal times, it should be eminently possible to win it back.

Instead, the message from voters on all sides has been deafening: the failure of the Government to deliver the manifesto promises it made on Brexit has destroyed trust in the party. You might expect to come across the occasional hostile voter in any election, but now the anger is universal. And the most vitriolic are those who voted Conservative last time. They feel totally betrayed over Brexit.

They increasingly see the Withdrawal Agreement as a sham. Trust in the Government has been destroyed as voters see every lever pulled in the attempt to avoid delivering on the referendum result, including offering the reins to the most extreme Labour leadership there has ever been.

The message on the doorstep is the same as the message from recent polls: more and more people have had enough and just want out. They see leaving on WTO terms – the ‘no deal’ that our overwhelmingly Remain-backing MPs so hate – as the only way forward now. They see the Government as doubly to blame: first for failing to negotiate an acceptable deal and then for failing to live up to its own promise that it would leave without a deal rather than take a bad one.   

Talking to candidates in neighbouring wards, I quickly found that everyone was having the same experience. We had to make our voices heard – we wanted to let the Government know the damage that fudge and failure are doing to the Conservative Party and plead for a change in policy while there was still time.

We drafted a letter to the Prime Minister and circulated amongst our network to see how many candidates felt the same. In less than 24 hours, we had over 100 council candidates signing up across the country and the letter was published last weekend in the Sunday Telegraph.

There are no channels by which council candidates can easily contact each other, so the speed at which support grew and the message spread was a shock. Someone would contact a candidate for another council and in no time, we’d find that an entire slate of local Conservative councillors had signed up.

Unlike Remain, who have drawn on eye-watering sums from big financiers to fund stunts and campaigns pushing for a re-run of the referendum, we had no money or organisation behind us. We’re just genuine Conservative councillors and candidates who want our party to succeed.

Undoubtedly, if we’d kept on longer, we would have had hundreds, perhaps thousands of names. But with events in Westminster moving fast, we decided it was more important to get the message out to the party quickly, while there was still time to change course.

Over and over again, candidates told the same story. Everywhere, Conservative support is collapsing – voters are furious – and the only real hope is that somehow, at the last minute, the parliamentary party will see sense and deliver a Brexit on WTO terms – the so-called ‘no deal’ that polling shows is now backed by a majority of the British public.

What I hear in Surrey is echoed all over the country. Here’s Cllr Jacob Young, who is standing in Redcar and Cleveland, relaying the view from his area:

“It’s hard knocking on the same doors where they told us they were voting Conservative last year but now are turning away from us – especially since the news we’re now negotiating not just with Barnier and Juncker, but with Corbyn too. Many people say that we were supposed to have left by now and whether they’re a Leaver or Remainer, they’re upset that we’re still talking about the same thing we have been for the last three years. People just want us to get on and leave, and if that means no deal – we’re ready for it. The only thing saving us is that the Labour Party want to extend all this mess into a second referendum, lock us into the Customs Union and keep freedom of movement as part of a future deal. It would be catastrophic if we even considered these things.”

Some candidates relayed quotes to me they’ve heard while canvassing. They underline just how tough it’s been to campaign. Here are just a few:

“I’d rather vote Monster Raving Loony than Conservative now. She’s totally humiliated the country. Please tell everyone how angry people are. I am sick of seeing pictures of MPs laughing in Parliament while they trash our democracy. There’s no respect at all. I voted to Leave and so did my family.”

“After she’s gone in with Corbyn, I’m voting for Nigel. I hate Corbyn and she’s gone in with him.”

“I’ve left the Conservative Party. I feel totally betrayed. I wouldn’t trust you lot now if you came round clutching personal endorsements from the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.”

“May has humiliated our great country in the eyes of the world. No deal is better than a bad deal – what happened to that?”

“I thought Theresa May meant it when she said she was going to give us Brexit. Kick her out and the rest of them – Dominic Grieve and all the others who lied to us about respecting the referendum – then maybe I’d think about the Conservatives again.”

All this, remember, is for council elections – elections where the focus is on local issues and Brexit is in reality irrelevant. If we see an extension until after the European elections and we therefore have to fight them, it is hard to imagine who will possibly vote for the Conservative Party – or who will go out to campaign. It is very possible that for the first time in history, the party of Government could win absolutely no seats at a national election.

The Brexit Party will surely storm to victory. It seems that no consideration on earth will make Theresa May and Remain-backing ministers like David Lidington and Amber Rudd consider honouring the 2016 referendum vote and the promises they made when they were elected in 2017. The public now believes that for them, no humiliation is too base, no dishonour too shameful, no betrayal too great. And as candidates for the Conservative Party, the likes of me are judged as complicit in this behaviour.

Let Theresa May and her Government prove the judgement of voters wrong. It’s not too late. They could still turn away from deals with Jeremy Corbyn, from further delays, capitulations and betrayals. They could uphold democracy and regain respect.

They should reflect on what they are doing to the great party that gave them power and what history will say of them. Perhaps if they can clear their minds and think sensibly, they will make wiser decisions. It’s not too late to change course. But there’s only one way to do that – by delivering a proper Brexit, which means leaving on WTO terms.

The post Tory council candidates like me will be punished for the Government’s failure to deliver a proper Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

How vital is it for the UK to maintain the absolute right to exit the Customs Union? As pro-Brexit MPs have their political will tested to destruction, this question has become the fulcrum of the UK’s attempt to exit the EU.

The answer lies in a painstaking assessment of the UK’s trading performance within the EU. Using Office of National Statistics Data, Part 1 of my analysis showed how the Customs Union accounts for easily the worst-performing element of UK trade. Part 2 analysed the cost — in particular to the UK’s car producers and food consumers. Here I put the UK’s performance inside the Customs Union into global perspective. With multiple, 20-year comparisons — in US–EU trade, intra-EU trade, UK productivity and EU growth — this analysis reveals that the UK’s track record inside the Customs Union has been uniquely poor, by every reasonable measure or comparison. (All data used here is presented and sourced in: UK Trade: Goods & Services and UK’s Top 10 Sectors. Readers are invited to peruse both.)

The UK’s stagnant exports: What’s not to blame

The UK’s poor EU goods-export performance – a growth rate of just 0.22% per year since 1998 – is often attributed to the EU’s own flaccid economic growth. As a root cause, however, this is easy to eliminate by making two comparisons: first by measuring the UK’s performance inside the Customs Union against the exporting prowess of multiple non-EU countries; and second, by analysing how our EU partners have fared with each other over a similar period.

First, the track record of non-EU countries. In April 2017, Michael Burrage compared the growth rate of the UK’s goods exports into the EU with the growth rates achieved by multiple non-EU countries in It’s Quite OK to Walk Away. Using seven international trade databases, Burrage calculated that the growth rate of UK goods exports traded tariff-free into the EU’s Single Market from 1993–2015 was lower than for 35 other countries, many trading under Word Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. In no particular order, the countries that outperformed the UK included: Canada, the United States, Singapore, Brazil, Switzerland, India, Bangladesh, and – just– Australia.

Of the major global economies, only Japan has performed worse.

Second, the record of the UK’s own partners within the EU. What should deeply worry Customs Union supporters is that the UK’s performance inside the Customs Union is uniquely poor even by European standards. According to Eurostat data, the UK’s goods export/import ratio (expressed as a percentage) within the EU has plummeted from 80% in 2003 to just 63% in 2017, far below Germany (now at 124%), France (86%), Italy (112%), Netherlands (113%), and Spain (91%). Incidentally, Ireland’s export–import ration with the EU stands at an impressive 155%.

As shown in Part 1, the UK’s services exports to the EU do not and cannot redress the UK’s resulting trade-in-goods deficit, so long as the UK stays in the Customs Union.

What these comparisons reveal is that the UK’s goods-export performance with the EU since 1998 is uniquely poor, even though the UK’s EU-bound goods exports is precisely the sector the Customs Union is supposed to promote. The UK’s failure cannot be attributed to the EU’s own poor economic performance, since virtually every other major economy in the world has performed better over the past 20 years whether they happen to have been a member of the Customs Union or not. Suppose, then, the UK has just been uniquely unlucky in the range of goods it exports to the EU? Suppose the types of goods the UK makes are flukishly unsuited to the terms of the Customs Union and the tastes of Europe’s consumers?

Uncle Sam thrashes the UK in Europe

Fortunately, we can test this assertion too, because the United States’ own trade with the EU presents an almost heaven-sent comparison. The reason is the near equivalence in the value of the UK’s and US’s goods exports to EU back in 1998, and a startlingly similar range of export products – from aerospace goods and motorbikes to construction-site diggers and whisky.

Back in 1998, US goods exports to the EU were fractionally lower than the UK’s: £91.7 bn to the UK’s £99.9 bn at the prevailing exchange rate (UK Trade: Goods & Services, Tab 3, Section 10). But since then  – more precisely, since 2008 – US goods exports have grown far more quickly. Over the entire, two-decade period, US goods exports to the EU have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.11% per year — as opposed to the UK’s 0.22% per year (Section 9).

Analysts can never say how the UK’s EU trade would have evolved from 1998 to 2017 if the UK had been outside the Customs Union. But a few deft comparisons – with non-EU countries’ trade, with intra-EU trade, with US trade growth, with the UK’s productivity growth, and with the EU’s own growth rate – reveal that by any reasonable comparison, the Customs Union has failed to deliver value to UK exporters since 1998 (For calculations and sources see UK Trade: Goods & Services).


The result: after 20 years of not being in the Customs Union, nor having a bilateral trade agreement with the EU, nor participating in Single Market rules, the US has comprehensively outstripped the UK as a goods exporter to the EU, with exports worth £219.8 bn in 2017 as opposed to the UK’s £164 bn. From near parity in 1998, US goods exports to the EU have grown almost 2% faster per year than the UK’s and are now 35% more valuable. As far as any analysis ever can, this dramatic divergence in export performance proves that seamless, tariff-free trade with the EU is absolutely not vital to exporters.

So, what is going on? Economists may one day discover that the Customs Union has been positively deleterious to UK producers as opposed to plain unhelpful. For what it’s worth, this author observes that Customs Union confers no commercial advantage in sectors where the UK is highly competitive (aerospace, defence jet engines, pharmaceuticals), and gives EU companies preferential access where the UK typically isn’t (mass-market cars, food, agriculture, machinery). And where the Customs Union provides no advantage, EU customers often procure US goods: EU airlines’ general preference for US-made turbo-jet engines would be a good example (UK’s Top 10 Sectors, Tab 2 (Transport), Section 5).

Nevertheless, the immediate issue is practical: Is the UK’s experience inside the Customs Union sufficiently bad that the absolute right to exit is worth the risks of a unilateral exit from negotiations and trading with the EU on WTO terms? In the global scale of poor trade relationships, does the end result of the UK’s experience in the Customs Union – a steadily deteriorating £95 trade deficit – really matter? 

The £95 billion warning sign

The most logical comparison is, again, with the United States. That country, too, runs huge trade deficits in goods, which are partly redressed by surpluses in services. It’s biggest is the (2017) US$337 billion trade deficit with China. Highlighting this deficit formed a major element in Mr Trump’s campaign for the White House. US trade policy aims to reduce it.

So how does the scale of the UK’s deficit with the EU stack up with the US deficit with China? Are they of equal import? Or, to fashion the question more bluntly: should MPs worry that at some point, the UK’s £95 bn deficit with the EU will become an incendiary political issue all of its own?


If you convert the UK’s overall 2017 EU deficit into US dollars (goods plus services) at an exchange rate of $1.35 to £1, the resulting UK–EU deficit is $78.7 billion. But then the US economy is approximately 6‒7 times larger than the UK economy. Taking that into account, the UK has a deficit in comparative terms approximately 47% bigger than the US’s (Tab 3, Section 8).

More generously, you can translate the dollar trade deficit into a deficit per head of population, which gives a UK‒EU deficit of $1,216 per head, as opposed to a US‒China deficit of $1,050 per head. Calculated this way, the UK has a headache that is 16% more painful than the one that helped get Mr Trump elected.

Regardless of how adeptly the UK uses this deficit in future trade negotiations, it will, since it is deteriorating, eventually transmute into a political debate about the impact the Customs Union has on jobs. At that point, proponents of a new UK‒EU customs union – or indeed, any form of apparently seamless trade –  are likely to hit extremely choppy political waters.

No, the Customs Union doesn’t create jobs

The reason for caution is the glaring discrepancy between the growth rates of exports and the UK’s own productivity growth rate (UK Trade: Goods & Services, Tab 3, Section 9). Observing that hundreds of thousands of jobs currently depend on trade with the EU is a quite different proposition to saying that membership of  the Customs Union and Single Market has created jobs that otherwise wouldn’t exist — or that it isn’t steadily removing them.

The difficulty here is that the UK’s annual goods-export growth rate to EU (0.22%) is far lower than those other metrics which economists would normally expect it to exceed. It is just one-tenth of the UK’s average 1998–2017 GDP growth rate (2%, according to ONS). It is also slower that the Eurozone’s own growth rate, of 1.56% per year (calculated from 1995 – 2018, Section 5).


But the UK’s goods-export growth to EU is also far slower than the UK’s productivity growth rate over the same period ‒ 1.19%, according to ONS ‒ which is the rate at which UK companies and organisations become more efficient each year. This means it is statistically impossible for there to be more people engaged in EU goods-export activities in 2017 than in 1998. Which means, in turn, that the Customs Union cannot – net – have added a single job to the UK economy since 1998. Statistically, there have to be fewer jobs (as measured in value) involved in exporting goods to the EU in 2017 as compared to 1998 — despite the Customs Union.

In contrast, the growth in the UK’s EU trade deficit from -£5.6 bn in 1998 to -£95 in 2017 denotes the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in other EU countries, to supply goods to UK markets. This author roughly estimates the number created in EU to supply the UK’s motor market alone since 1998 at just over 40,000 (see Part 2). It is clear that continental Europe benefits greatly from keeping the UK in the Customs Union. What the UK gets out of it is – statistically – a mystery.

Summary – The Customs Union fails to deliver

So: if the Customs Union and Single Market have gently throttled UK export growth over 20 years; if they deliver crushing deficits that the UK’s non-EU trade then has to pay for; if their quality of seamlessness lies principally in helping investment slide overseas; if they force-feed UK households on the most expensive food on earth while offering no reciprocal advantage to any sector of UK trade except financial services, and then only in a limited way; if the reason for stagnant exports can’t easily be attributed to anything other than the Customs Union and Single Market themselves; and if the end result is a deficit 16% worse than the one that helped gain the Presidency for Mr Trump, then the UK’s strategic interest should be crystal clear.

Whatever its theoretical benefits, it has proven to be the wrong customs union for the UK since 1998. It delivers no commercial benefit to the UK’s fastest-growing manufacturing sectors (pharmaceuticals and aerospace); and leaves all the UK’s other major goods-export sectors in a state of either stagnant growth, huge deficits, or both. By any reasonable comparative measure the UK’s performance inside the Customs Union since 1998 is the picture of a failed trading relationship. And yet clinging to that failed relationship may now prevent the UK from liberalising trade with export markets that have grown quickly during the past 20 years – markets that are receptive to UK goods; markets that actually create jobs.

If the price of the UK’s exit from the EU is remaining in the Customs Union, then the cost will be paid by the UK’s manufacturing industry. That’s the lesson of the past 20 years.

The post The pointlessness of the EU Customs Union exposed appeared first on BrexitCentral.

As I mulled over writing what you are about to read while walking past the pro-Brexit demonstrators outside Parliament yesterday, I don’t mind admitting that my eyes welled up and I was overcome with emotion.

I thought about the strength of feeling among those demonstrators – and indeed amongst the tens of thousands of loyal BrexitCentral readers – about the need to deliver on the historic referendum result of 2016 where our fellow countrymen voted in unprecedented numbers for that proposition which defied the will of the political establishment; and I thought about how some of them may feel let down.

That’s because I have, with the heaviest of hearts, come to the conclusion that Parliament should pass the deal which Theresa May is putting to the House of Commons again later today. Please hear me out as I explain why.

There can be few who have been more invested in the whole process of getting Brexit delivered than me, having been chronicling the process on a daily basis since September 2016, firing up my laptop before the crack of dawn most days and then staying up later than is healthy to read the first editions of the following day’s papers in order to provide the comprehensive service that I know is appreciated by so many. And from the start, BrexitCentral has been unapologetically in favour of promoting the delivery of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU with an optimistic attitude about our future as an independent nation.

As the details of the likely shape of the Brexit deal emerged with the Chequers proposals last summer, we published numerous articles critical of the approach being taken by the Government. And ever since the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration emerged last November, barely a day has gone by when BrexitCentral has not carried pieces exposing the shortcomings and failings of the deal for a whole variety of reasons.

I understand the strength of hostility to the deal. I share the feeling. It is a bad deal. I vividly remember welcoming Theresa May’s statement at Lancaster House that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”. So after she presented the country with a bad deal, I concluded that leaving the EU on WTO terms with numerous mini-deals on the side – because that’s what ‘No Deal’ would actually entail – was the optimal outcome. Judging from my daily inbox, I know that huge numbers of BrexitCentral readers agree.

And, of course, leaving without a deal is the default position in law, as I have said in many an interview on TV and radio over the last few months.

However, as someone who has nerdily followed politics and Parliament for the best part of three decades, I thought there were also a number of other things that were taken to be default positions and incontrovertible rules of our parliamentary system. Such as neutral motions in the House of Commons not being able to be subject to amendment. Or the Government being in charge of the parliamentary timetable. Or ministers being expected to resign if they are not willing to vote with the Government. Or the Speaker of the House of Commons observing and protecting long-standing rules of procedure. Yet I’m afraid the events of recent days and weeks have seen all these norms – and more – discarded and abandoned.

The default position might be to leave on WTO terms if the deal is not agreed, but the House of Commons has shown itself to be fervently against allowing a no-deal scenario: in Wednesday’s indicative votes, only 160 MPs were willing to say they would back No Deal while no fewer than 400 voted against it – a majority of 240. And twice now Speaker John Bercow has allowed MPs on a mission to scupper the Brexit for which I yearn to vote to seize control of the House of Commons’ agenda. And that’s just the beginning of their antics.

I have concluded that those same MPs would therefore have it within their power to use every trick in the book – and most probably tricks that aren’t even codified in books – to prevent a no-deal Brexit over the coming fortnight if the deal is not passed. In extremis they might be able to contrive to act in a way that resulted in the revocation of Article 50. At the very least, they would likely cause the imposition of a long extension to Article 50, during which their parliamentary shenanigans would continue and by the end of which the mandate of our 2016 referendum would doubtless be called into question.

We are into serious uncharted territory with precedents being ripped up here, there and everywhere. So failing to back the bad deal on the table gravely risks the prospect of any form of Brexit being delivered at all.

There is one particular saving grace of backing the deal and formally leaving the EU, as former Cabinet minister Lord Lilley sets out in today’s Sun newspaper:

“Once outside the EU, there will be a ratchet preventing our return – because that would involve accepting the euro, Schengen, free movement and an annual contribution without Mrs Thatcher’s rebate. Moreover, the very humiliation of our Vassal status – being subject to EU laws, tariffs and trading policies without any say – will amplify pressures to extricate ourselves from this status.”

He concludes that “in this fallen world we often have to make choices between two evils” and that “this appalling Withdrawal Agreement is the lesser evil”. I believe he is correct.

I’m not giving the deal an enthusiastic endorsement. Far from it. I am merely saying that MPs should, with the greatest of reluctance, vote for it on the basis that the realistic alternatives are even more unpalatable.

I know some people – including passionate campaigners who have written for and supported BrexitCentral – will be disappointed by my conclusion. I hope that we can disagree respectfully; and they should know that they will continue to have access to the BrexitCentral platform to put their case as I have always sought to make this website a place for the range of opinions from within the Brexit-backing family to be heard (and today, for example, Alasdair Dow makes the case for rejecting the deal on the basis of the Irish backstop here).

This has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to write. I have agonised over the issue these last few days, ever since the Government lost control of the parliamentary agenda. I dare say some will believe me to be deserting the cause of a clean break Brexit. But I’m afraid the simple truth is that political reality and parliamentary arithmetic dictate that such an option is not now available to us.

The post Why I’ve reluctantly concluded that MPs need to vote for Theresa May’s deal appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Over recent weeks, there have been renewed efforts to claim that the UK leaving the EU on WTO terms will result in economic catastrophe. The general approach has been to claim huge downsides while ignoring or minimising possible upsides. We and colleagues at Briefings for Brexit have argued repeatedly that claims that UK trade and GDP will collapse in case of a move to trading with the EU on WTO terms are hugely exaggerated, being based on wildly unrealistic assumptions about productivity shifts and other factors.

Trade barriers will rise and bilateral trade volumes between the UK and EU will decline, to some extent, in a WTO scenario. But some of what will also happen is that UK exports will be diverted to the home market and other destinations, and EU imports will be displaced by UK production and imports from third countries (weaker sterling will also help this shift).  Because of these offsetting shifts in sales patterns, the net effect on UK GDP of a WTO Brexit will be a small fraction of the effect on UK-EU trade. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman estimates for the US that even a 70% fall in trade would only cut GDP by 2%. Using the same approach, we estimate the likely effect on UK GDP from rising UK-EU trade barriers at just 0.5% of UK GDP. Distinguished economist Ashoka Mody suggests a similar figure, which would amount to £10.5bn. This is ten to fifteen times smaller than the effects the Treasury and Bank of England are claiming.

Meanwhile, there are a range of potential positives from a WTO-based Brexit that could outweigh these losses:


The UK fishing industry could potentially double in size after Brexit, as the UK takes full control of a natural resource which currently is mostly harvested by EU boats. Estimates by Napier (2018) and others suggest a rise in catch of up to £700m-800m per year which with positive supply chain effects could see a total boost to output of around £3bn per year – already offsetting a third of the possible trade losses.

Ending budgetary payments to the EU

Over the last three years net contributions to the EU have totalled £10 billion per year, or around 0.5% of UK GDP. Ending these payments alone essentially cancels out the possible trade-related losses.

Abolishing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The CAP costs British taxpayers twice over – once through subsidies paid to farmers and twice by keeping food prices artificially high. OECD data suggests EU farm prices are around 5% above world prices and our estimates based on this data suggest UK consumers pay around £2billion per year in higher prices due to the CAP.

Cutting EU tariffs

The EU imposes high tariffs on foodstuffs and also some other areas including clothing and textiles, where applied tariffs on third-country imports are 6%-8%. UK tariff revenue from these items totals about £1bn per year but gains to consumers from the abolition of tariffs on these items could be much larger than that as domestic prices for clothing and textile products generally (not just the imported items) would likely fall. With textile and clothing spending at £82bn per year even a 3% price fall would boost consumer incomes (and potentially spending) by £2.5bn.

More broadly, the IFS has estimated that the abolition of all EU tariffs would cut consumer prices by up to 1.2%. With UK consumer spending at £1.3tn in 2017, this implies gains for consumers of up to £15bn (note tariff cuts discussed here would reduce budgetary gains by £1-3.5bn depending on how broad they were).

Reducing benefit payments to EU immigrants

A targeted immigration policy could keep the fiscal benefits accruing to the UK from high-skilled immigrants while cutting the burden associated with the lower-skilled. The Migration Advisory Committee suggests the fiscal ‘break-even’ point for EEA immigrants is a salary of around £30,000 per year while government figures suggest benefit payments to EEA nationals of around £1.6bn per year. This latter figure could be reduced to near-zero by appropriate immigration rules.

Striking trade deals with third countries

An EU assessment of the benefits of striking free trade deals with a range of third countries including the US and Asian economies suggested these could boost EU GDP by 1.2% and by up to 2% if productivity effects are allowed. For the UK alone this would represent an annual gain in GDP of £25-£40bn. But the figures could easily be higher for the UK due to the UK’s bigger trade with non-EU countries.

Increased restrictions on trade with the EU could lead to some negative effects on UK productivity, though these tend to be greatly exaggerated. But the net productivity effect if the UK opened up trade with the rest of the world would be likely to be positive given the rest of the world’s greater dynamism and higher productivity levels in e.g. North America. A recent study by the Minnesota Fed suggested reducing trade and investment barriers with the rest of the world by 5% would raise UK welfare by £25-30 billion per year even with increased restrictions on trade and investment with the EU.

Reducing regulatory burdens

The cost of EU regulations is hard to calculate but the EU’s own estimates suggest the cost to business is large, as much as 4%-6% of GDP. Removing all of this is unrealistic, but even reducing the burden by 25% would potentially yield savings of 1%-1.5% of UK GDP or £20-£30bn per year in business costs. And the positive impact on GDP could be bigger than this: The UK better regulation taskforce in 2005 reported a Danish government estimate implying that for every £1 decline in the administrative burden of regulation, GDP could rise by £2.70. Importantly, we are not talking about a regulatory ‘race to the bottom’ here – just smarter regulation better targeted at the interests of the UK economy.


Adding all these upsides together (with appropriate netting on the budgetary side), we can easily come to a figure for net gains of around £80bn or nearly 4% of GDP, far outweighing the potential trade costs mentioned earlier of £10.6bn or 0.5% of GDP.

Now it is quite likely that not all the upsides would materialise, and also that trade costs might be higher. But even more pessimistic – but still realistic – takes on trade costs such as in the German IFO study of 2017, CEP (2017)Gudgin, Coutts et al (2017) or Ciuriak et al (2018) suggest costs of only around 1.5%-2.5% of GDP. The midpoint of these estimates is still only half of the potential upsides we have identified.

A smart WTO Brexit with well-designed trade, immigration, agricultural, fishing and regulatory policies would, far from being a ‘disaster’, have an excellent chance of delivering substantial long-term net benefits.

The post Let’s recall the benefits of ‘No Deal’ – a WTO-based Brexit could yield the UK £80 billion per year appeared first on BrexitCentral.

As we draw closer to the next Meaningful Vote (despite Bercow), I can only imagine the pressure the ERG and DUP MPs are under.

Cast as hard Brexiteers, extremists and fantasists by their peers and mainstream media, I can see why some have started to crack.

I have immense admiration and respect for these individuals and for others outside of these groupings who have stood up to those who wish to deceive the British people and betray the largest ever democratic decision this country has made. They are the people who have put country before party politics.

These individuals have shown leadership, courage, integrity and determination and they should be applauded regardless of their political associations by all of us. Thank you.

Notwithstanding the above, the biggest decision since the 1930s now rests with our elected Members of Parliament: to vote for or against the Government’s deal with the EU.

I ask only this of our MPs whose salaries we all pay: that they vote down this terrible deal not just the next time it is put before them, but for evermore; it is not Brexit.

What is the Government’s deal? It is a misnomer. To all intents and purposes, it is actually the only ‘no deal’ on offer. Why? It would see us pay £39 billion for no trading arrangements, which would have to be negotiated after we have given away our leverage.

It is what the Remain-supporting politicians have been angling for while deceiving the British people by labelling it as a ‘deal’ that satisfies the referendum result.

It does no such thing and anyone can see that the tortuous negotiations that will follow will result in the Remain establishment saying “we told you it was a bad idea to leave”.

And guess what would happen as we drew closer to the expiry of the so-called implementation period? The EU and referendum deniers will draw us back in and we would be forced onto our knees with cap in hand to accept whatever we are offered.

I hear some say ‘nonsense’ – but just look at what has happened when the public has ever disagreed with the EU before. Democracy as we know it is lost in the sphere of the EU. They believe the people should never be asked for their opinion as their answer will go against the EU’s ideology.

To Leave without a deal is the only realistic option. This has always been the case and it was what we voted for. Yes, we were told a deal would be easy and we thought so too. It should and would have been, had we started from the basis of a clean Brexit, i.e. working toward WTO terms and preparing for it.

So what is the so-called no-deal outcome? In effect, it is a deal: the complete opposite of the Government’s deal. Already lots of side deals are being made in preparation for our departure and terms for trade would be upon the basis of the WTO which is how most world trade is done. Most importantly, it is what we voted for.

This is Brexit, and this is how we will secure a trade deal with the EU that favours both parties. It is and remains the only feasible way we were ever going to get one.

It is highly unlikely that Theresa May will gain any concessions from Brussels over the backstop; and even if she does, her deal will still be Brexit in name only and leave us at the mercy of Brussels in future negotiations over trade.

Courage, determination, integrity and leadership is what we, the people, need more than anything now from our elected Members of Parliament. Even if we are thrown into a delay, which will deflate all of us, these essential virtues that could be lost in a sea of despair at the end of our democracy.

Never give up.

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We live in febrile times, but in many ways it is just the calm before the next storm, each one battering at the very foundations of the edifice we know of as the United Kingdom. We as Britons are very fortunate to have managed to build a system of government envied by many in the rest of the world for its stability; a stability given to it by the careful balance between the power of the individual and the state.

We owe this to Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution, the Common Law, the Acts of Union, Simon de Montfort, John Wilkes, suffragettes and many other events and people in our history. However, over the last 45 years the EU has come like a bull through this and has not just upset it, but as we try to leave is threatening to destroy it.

We, the people, elect representatives to Parliament to run the country on our behalf, yet over the last 45 years they have increasingly delegated this responsibility to Brussels without declaring in many cases that this is the case. They have in many areas been reduced simply to ciphers for the Commission in Brussels. Nearly four years ago Parliament voted to put this situation to a referendum and give the people the decision as to whether the UK and its institutions should be fully independent of the EU. Three years ago it was decided quite clearly that this was so and all decision-making that had moved to the organs of the EU should return to the UK.

Now, nearly three years later, due to EU intransigence – with, one can only assume, a certain complicity on the UK side – a Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration have been proposed that is not Brexit. It is Remain with a Brexit wrapper, converting our membership to that of a colony that can be asset stripped with impunity by the EU without repercussions. It is a disgrace and epitomises a deep low point in British statecraft.

We have got to this point because MPs and the Government have consistently taken the easiest option. They voted for a referendum, thinking it would be won by Remain, and then backed the triggering of Article 50 because they knew they could not look the voters in the eye if they didn’t. In voting through Article 50 and then the EU Withdrawal Act they set a deadline of 29th March to leave with or without a deal with the EU.

Now that the choice is between a No Deal exit on WTO terms or the Prime Minister’s flawed deal, many MPs and ministers are trying to backslide on their previous commitments. They quote business as being the reason, the need to avoid chaos or the devastation that will be caused by No Deal etc. I write this as someone in business importing assemblies and components from all over the world and exporting more than two-thirds of our turnover to more than 120 countries around world. Whenever I ask who it is that is going to cause all these problems, no one can tell me; initially it was going to be due to delays at the Channel ports due to extra checks, but the port operators, Border Force and HMRC all say “Not us, Guv”!

With any changes, such as applying new procedures to almost anything, there is always an element of disruption – but it will be small in the overall context and in a few months’ time we will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. However, what we are witnessing is a groupthink bubble that has been inflated to such a size that those propagating it have to keep inflating it, because if we do leave on WTO terms and it is as I expect a relatively straightforward change, they will be shown to have been crying wolf.

I can understand that ministers and MPs are continually buffeted by the professional lobbyists of the CBI and others who are looking at any way of preserving the status quo. For them the fear of sudden change is paramount; they can happily cope with the drip drip draining of sovereignty and they may whinge about bad regulation, but they find it hard to handle change that might adversely affect their vested interests and the status quo.

However, ministers and MPs have been charged by the electorate, who under our system are ultimately sovereign, to take back control. They seem reluctant to take on the extra responsibility that this entails; they appear to think that they are not able to do it. How do the other 165 non-EU countries of the world cope? Instead they wriggle and fidget in every way possible to try and thwart the wishes of the people, using every sort of excuse from the downright arrogant – that Leave voters are stupid – to telling us that if we had known it was so complicated, we would not have voted Leave. It is only complicated because they have chosen to make it complicated. Instead of carping, they all need to concentrate on making departure under WTO on 29th March as smooth as possible. The irony is that because it is the only option we in business can plan for, it is the only one we are prepared for.

It is worth remembering that these are the same MPs who say that we must increase voter participation at elections. Yet when we had the highest turnout in a generation for the EU referendum, they attempt to ignore it!

There is considerably more at stake here than just leaving the EU, there is the whole fabric of what makes Britain what it is and that is worth more than a possible temporary shortage of lettuce. The problem is that at each stage the Government and Parliament have made the mistake of never seriously addressing our relationship with the EU – in part because our membership is based on a lie, that it would not affect sovereignty, over which politicians have always been in denial. An ever-increasing proportion of the population, meanwhile, have smelt a rat especially as whatever the politicians say we have seen more and more areas of policy drift out of our control.

Now in theory in the departure lounge, we see the same pressures coming into play because what has been presented as a Withdrawal Treaty plainly is not, so the only escape is to leave on WTO terms. As the date for departure was set two years ago, this has become a totem from which any slippage will be seen by the voters as betrayal.

The time for kicking the can down the road has come to an end and MPs – especially in the governing party – have to look over the edge at the train of events that they are going to set off if they don’t hold out for No Deal and leaving on 29th March.

The first thing is that the Conservative Party would be finished for at least a generation, if not ever; and secondly, the UK would probably be finished: the SNP-run Scottish Government say they will call a referendum in the event of a No Deal. They are looking for any excuse, but the likelihood of them winning it is probably higher in the event of No Brexit, a delayed Brexit or even under the terms of the proposed treaty. Thirdly, society would become ever more polarised between Leavers and Remainers. Fourthly, the very roots of British democracy, envied around the world, would have been cast aside, and the votes of 17.4 million people disregarded by an arrogant elite.

The EU has behaved just as Yanis Varoufakis predicted and in turn the UK has fallen into the traps he predicted. There is only one way out and that is to go WTO on 29th March, otherwise the conversation between MPs and voters is going to go something like: “Sorry old boy, I am afraid your vote didn’t count but mine did so we are staying in”. That would set off a chain of events over which politicians of all parties would have little control.

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There’s a difference between what the Customs Union was supposed to achieve in theory and what it’s actually achieved in practice. Thanks to historical trade data published by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) in September 2018, we now know the difference is huge. By making multiple comparisons in UK, EU and non-EU trade since 1998, it’s possible to judge the UK’s record inside the Customs Union over the past 20 years, and assess the value of seamless, tariff-free trade with the EU in terms of what it’s actually achieved.

All my data is sourced from ONS September 2018 release unless otherwise stated and compiled in two spreadsheets: UK’s Top Ten Sectors, which analyses each principal UK traded sector in turn, from motor vehicles to beverages; and UK Trade in Goods & Services which directly compares UK’s trade in goods and services. Both cover the period 1998 to 2017 and I would encourage readers to download are inspect them.

Export Growth: 1998 to 2017

For a first-pass assessment of UK’s trade record in the Customs Union, divide all UK exports into four, roughly equal parts: exports of goods to the EU (worth £164 billion in 2017); exports of services to the EU (£117 billion); exports of goods to non-EU countries (£175 billion); and exports of services to non-EU countries (£162 billion). Now, using the historical trade data published by the ONS in September 2018, calculate the average yearly growth rate for each of these four categories from 1998 (or 1999 for the services data) to 2017 (the method used is to take a three-year average at the start and end of the time period, and then adjust for inflation using the ONS’ own import/export deflator).

non-food imports

The results are perverse. The UK’s slowest-growing export trade since 1998 is goods exports to the EU, which have grown by just 0.2% per year since 1998, or 3.7% over 20 years. Yet this is precisely the sector that is supposed to benefit from tariff-free trade within the Customs Union. And even 0.2% is misleading. Most growth occurred pre-2007; adjusting for inflation, average annual exports in 2008‒2017 were actually lower than 1998‒2007 (See Tab 3 in UK Trade in Goods & Services, Section 2, line 77. £144.7 bn as opposed to £145.6 bn in 2015 prices).

Conversely, the UK’s fastest growing exports are services exports outside the EU, unimpacted by either the Customs Union or Single Market regulation. At 5.6% per year over 20 years, these exports have grown so fast in the last 20 years, they are now worth almost as much as UK’s entire goods exports inside the Customs Union.

Next fastest is UK’s services exports to the EU, growing an impressive 5.2% per year. This sector is marginally impacted by the Single Market. A portion of financial services are impacted by EU regulation, although financial services exports contribute just under one-third, or 31% of UK services exports to EU. (Overall, just 11% of UK services exports are financial services exports to the EU – for a breakdown of UK’s services trade see Tab 2, UK Trade in Goods & Services).

Meanwhile UK’s goods exports to countries outside the EU countries – and outside the Customs Union – have grown at a crisp 3.3% per year since 1998. This sector is heavily influenced by the Single Market, whose rules apply to most goods made in UK, but they are conducted outside the Customs Union. And thanks to the trade-database research of Michael Burrage, It’s Quite OK to Walk Away, we can approximately calculate the proportion of UK’s non-EU exports that has been conducted on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

Taking the year 2015, Burrage estimates that 6% of UK’s exports went countries with whom UK enjoys an EU-negotiated free trade agreement (FTA). Another 8% went to European Free Trade Agreement markets. This means, approximately 73% of UK’s exports to non-EU countries was conducted on WTO terms. Much of the rest (principally Switzerland) is with countries that impose near-negligible tariffs on non-food imports.

Office for National Statistics

Consequently, the 3.3% per year growth rate achieved by UK’s non-EU goods exports is a strong and accurate reflection of UK companies’ ability to trade on WTO terms. Since 1998, UK businesses have proved more adept at growing markets outside the Customs Union than in it, despite the tariff and customs barriers they confront in most non-EU trade. Meanwhile, UK businesses have failed to grow markets inside the Customs Union, despite the fact that this trade with the EU is tariff free.

What’s to blame for this discrepancy – or more accurately, what’s not to blame – will be analysed in Part 3 of this analysis, when UK’s export growth is compared to Euro-area growth, intra-EU trade, UK productivity, and EU–US trade over the same period. But in a straightforward assessment of the value of the Customs Union to UK, the data are unforgiving: that part of UK exports that is governed by the Customs Union is easily UK’s worst performing.

The Customs Union: Qui Bono?

Not so with EU imports, however. Back in 1998, UK’s EU goods trade was roughly in balance, -£5.6 bn in current prices). But since then, imports from the EU have grown at a strapping 3.4% per year. The import sectors displaying the fastest growth are motor vehicles, (with imports growing 3.6% p.a., to reach £47.7 bn in 2017), food products (5.3% p.a., to £23.2 bn) and pharmaceuticals (7.3%p.a., to £22 bn), with this last import category showing especially rapid growth since 2011.

So, since 1998, the track record of the Customs Union has been to take a trade relationship that was trim and balanced and turn it into a £95 billion deficit, which is larger – per head – than the US trade deficit with China.


Here again, the ONS November-release trade data helps because we can see to what extent UK’s services trade with the EU will ever balance this equation out. And the answer is: it won’t.

Services exports to EU may be growing nicely (5.2% p.a., as opposed to services imports growth of 3.0% p.a.) but the £36 bn surplus it generates pays for just one-third of UK’s deficit in trade in goods. And since the difference between UK’s goods export‒import growth rate (3%) is wider than the difference in the UK’s services export‒import growth rate (2.2%) it never will – so long as UK maintains its current terms of trade with the EU.

The perverseness of UK’s EU-trade outcomes extends to the deficits UK incurs on those individual trade sectors most impacted by the Customs Union (See Tabs 2-11 of UK’s Top Ten Sectors. Data for each sector is presented in turn, in order of the total value of UK exports. Together, these top ten sectors contribute 80.9% of UK manufacturing exports, or 71.1% of UK goods exports). The UK’s two biggest two-way trade sectors with EU are motor vehicles (worth a combined £67.3 in 2017) and food & agriculture (£39.8 bn). These are also the two sectors where the EU’s common external tariff (CET) exerts the biggest impact on UK trade, and theoretically provides the greatest ‘protection’. Yet these are simultaneously the sectors where UK incurs its biggest deficits (See Tab 1, UK’s Top Ten Sectors. ‘Manufacturing’).

non-food imports

Both of these deficits have increased dramatically since 1998: by £19.2 bn (current prices) for motor vehicles, and £14.1 bn for food & agriculture. These deficits reflect a surge in imports from fellow Customs Union member states, for which no commensurate reciprocal gain or trade-off can be found in any other sector of UK’s goods trade. In other words, there is no trade-off within the Customs Union.

At this point in the analysis, it’s worth stepping through the 20-year trajectories of each of UK’s top ten goods-trade sectors to try to map supposed tariff-free advantage with actual outcome. What you find is either a sizeable and growing deficit: food products (-£14.4bn ); and beverages (-£2bn ); or stagnant growth plus a sizeable deficit: motor vehicles (0.4% p.a., -£28.bn); machinery (-0.1% p.a., -£7.2bn); chemicals (0.7% p.a., -£3.5 bn); computers and electronics (-5.8% p.a., -£11.3 bn); basic metals ( 1.% p.a., -£3.4 bn ); and electrical goods (-0.9% p.a., -£4.4 bn). Since we have now compassed 72% of UK’s goods exports, the obvious verdict is hard to swerve.

Damningly, the only two of UK’s top-ten EU traded sectors that have performed strongly since 1998 derive next-to-zero commercial advantage from the Customs Union. The UK’s second biggest export sector – transport equipment, which is 92% aerospace related (and therefore trades tariff-free) – has climbed a decent 2.7% per year. And UK’s pharmaceuticals exports (up 6.3% p.a. to EU, since 1998) gain minimal competitive advantage because major developed economies abolished tariffs on end-user pharmaceuticals during the Uruguay Round, which concluded in 1993.

Office for National Statistics

So, on the basis of the UK’s own 20-year trade data, there is not one, single major sector of trade in which the Customs Union has delivered clear, demonstrable benefit to UK since 1998. Shown in aggregate, across all UK trade, the failure is stark. What’s troubling – for UK consumers, at least – is that the Customs Union appears to be turning the UK into a series of tightly controlled captive markets for EU producers. To see how, I shall in due course take a detailed look at the 20-year history of UK’s two biggest EU traded sectors — motor vehicles and food.

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A few honourable MPs aside, the Labour Party has now dumped its manifesto commitment on Brexit to respect the referendum result. It is now calling for Britain to stay in the EU’s customs union forever – which would effectively mean being locked into the EU forever while having no say at all over how it works.

Say what you like about Theresa May’s negotiating skills, her task would anyway have been nigh on impossible given the continual attempts at sabotage from politicians and others in Britain.

One example: when May went to Brussels last week, she was told by Donald Tusk that Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals for a permanent customs union represented “a promising way out” of the current impasse on Brexit.

Another form of sabotage is the constant exhortations from the establishment calling for the EU to give no ground to the Government.

Brexit is in danger. A clean Brexit is still the default position, leaving on 29th March to trade on WTO terms. Yet despite the defeat in parliament on 29th January of every binding amendment to block or delay Brexit – including Labour’s permanent customs union – Theresa May’s so-called Withdrawal Agreement is still on the table.

Even though MPs voted against it on 24th January, May still wants MPs to vote again on it, once again using No Deal as a threat not as an opportunity.

Her current deal with the EU is not a Withdrawal Agreement – it is a Remainer Agreement, in every clause on every one of its 585 pages. It is No Brexit. It would bind us forever into a United States of Europe.

It is meant to be permanent, inescapable. The Attorney General told the Cabinet that there was no legal escape route from the backstop Protocol and that it would “endure indefinitely”.

Her deal would give the EU tariff-free access to our market and control of our trade policy, force us to fund the EU’s defence programme, give EU fishing vessels free access to our waters, give the EU control of our farms, and allow free movement of labour through clauses about “mobility”.  In sum, it would bind us into the EU in perpetuity.

No surprise, then, that Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, boasted that the EU got “almost everything” it wanted with the deal.

MPs rejected May’s deal – almost the only thing they can agree on – then voted to tell her to go yet again to Brussels with her faithful lieutenant Oliver Robbins, to beg the EU to drop the Irish backstop.

But the EU will not give up the huge advantages they gain under the backstop. As Robbins observed, renegotiating the backstop with the EU is “for the birds”.

We do not need to beg the EU to change its position – that would be fruitless, as all experience from Harold Macmillan 50 years ago to David Cameron has proven. We do not need to beg the EU for a new deal, as Boris Johnson has suggested. We do not need to pay the EU £39 billion for the privilege of leaving, nor even the £20 billion that Johnson proposed.

We can and should just declare our policies on trade, fishing, the Irish border, immigration and everything else. We do not need to ask the EU’s permission. We declare our independence and then, if we wish, we can negotiate with the EU.

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Theresa May is going back to Brussels today following her visit to Northern Ireland, to meet Jean-Claude Juncker and seek changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

But we already know that the EU has said many times that they will not re-open the Withdrawal Agreement, as doing so would mean completely re-writing it after two years’ work on the task.

On 14th December at a Leave Means Leave event, Jacob Rees-Mogg said that of the 585 pages that make up the Withdrawal Agreement, 68 pages concerned the backstop. However, he said that these 68 pages were not pure legal text, they were in fact a 68-page list of legal directives that apply to it!

How exactly can all of this be unpicked to create a new Withdrawal Agreement in time for 29th March, bearing in mind that the European Parliament’s five-year term ends on 18th April? There simply would not be time.

The Telegraph reported yesterday that Theresa May plans to put her revised Withdrawal Agreement to another vote before Parliament at the end of February but this may well end in another crushing defeat, especially if there are no concrete changes to the backstop.

David Davis is now saying he wants to present the Free Trade deal to the EU that he authored last summer, but was rejected in favour of the Chequers blueprint. Will they accept this at the eleventh hour, as he believes?

We also heard yesterday that some Cabinet ministers are suggesting they would need until 24th May in order to get through important Brexit legislation – but it is unclear yet whether the EU would accept this and whether it would mean a formal extension of Article 50.

There is also talk of an amendment being tabled at the end of February to block a no-deal Brexit after the Caroline Spelman amendment passed by eight votes on 29th January. Again, what would this mean?

It would certainly mean extending Article 50 to prolong talks with the EU to create a new Withdrawal Agreement, so that we do not leave without a deal in place. Extending Article 50 would also require the agreement of all 27 Member States – and if just one disagreed, it could not be extended.

However, as I mentioned above, the European Parliament ends its five-year session on 18th April and does not come back until July, in the wake of the European elections taking place between 23rd and 26th May.

If we were to extend Article 50, would it mean that we would have to fight those European elections in May, as we would still be a member of the EU?

This would surely not now be possible because the EU has already re-allocated 27 of the 73 British seats to other Member States, with 46 of them remaining empty to be used in future for any new Member States.

It seems unlikely that the EU would want its timetable disrupted by our Brexit indecision. We have already heard quite clearly from Michel Barnier that they do not want to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to make any changes. They feel they have given enough time to it and need to move on to other things, since there are 27 other countries with their own issues to deal with.

Nevertheless, the Remainers in Parliament will be racking their brains right now as to how to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal on 29th March.

A second referendum would most likely take at least a year to put together, which would mean an extension to Article 50 of a year or longer.

Would Remain MPs try to force the Government to revoke Article 50 altogether? This seems highly unlikely because of the huge backlash it would cause in Britain, not to mention the extreme embarrassment of our country spending nearly three years trying to get Britain out of the EU, with the whole world watching, only to drop the whole idea.

So the conclusion is that the only thing that Remainers could try to foist upon us is an extension of Article 50, in order to avert a No Deal. Yet, from the above it appears this would not be possible due to the EU’s timetable and the upcoming European elections.

So many Brexiteers are keeping their fingers crossed that the clock keeps ticking and that nothing can stop us leaving on Friday 29th March on WTO rules.

Unfortunately, the case for this has not been properly presented to the country, certainly not by what I would call our “Remainstream media”. The golden opportunities need to be clearly set out, especially if the EU will cave in and accept Article 24 of GATT, allowing us to trade with them without tariffs for at least two years or longer, until we do finally agree a trade deal.

90% of world trade is done on WTO terms and a considerable percentage of our trade is currently conducted on those terms – and of course the EU sell us £90 billion more than we sell to them.

Leaving on WTO terms gives us everything we wanted when we voted to Leave: taking back control of our country, our laws, our borders, our fishing rights and our money, as well as the ability to agree free trade deals with the rest of the world. The jobs that will be created will far outweigh any short term disruption.

Roll on 29th March!

The post With 50 days until 29th March, the clock is ticking and many of us are hoping for a WTO Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Many businesses are concerned that Brexit on WTO terms would be less than ideal. I’ve heard claims of catastrophe and others of years-long hangovers as a result, but my experience suggests that whilst there may be some short-term turmoil the outcome will be very much more positive.

We’re a third-generation family-run business which supplies de- and anti-icing fluids to the aviation sector. And when winter hits, it’s our business which keeps the majority of UK and Irish airports open. We’ll continue to be the global leader in this safety-critical task after Brexit, and we’ll continue to serve markets across the world. That won’t change, regardless of the type of connection we choose to have with Europe.

It has been claimed UK-EU air traffic will grind to a halt after 29th March, but this simply won’t be the case. I understand the sector better than most, and I know that if planes could suddenly not land on either side it would potentially cost billions of pounds each day. It’s absolutely not in the EU’s interest to halt air traffic.

Likewise we’ve been warned that trade and cross-border commerce will stall; however what will actually happen in the event of a WTO-terms Brexit is just that – we’ll continue to trade with the EU on WTO terms.

Our company operated successfully before we joined the EU, and I know that we’ll do so, well after we leave, continuing to sell products from the UK, to Dubai to New Zealand. In fact, I chose to back Brexit in the 2016 referendum precisely because I was excited by the global opportunities it would offer for future trade deals.

My concern has been that the Government’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement, and particularly the so-called Northern Irish ‘backstop’, would hinder the UK’s future trading options and tie us into the Single Market and Customs Union. This would effectively stop us making free trade deals with the rest of the world, and we can’t allow that to happen.

After all, the UK has always been an outward-looking, global, dynamic trading nation, and it’s right that we seek the greatest freedom and opportunities available to us. This is a once-in-a-generation chance and one I hope that we seize.

The post Rather than a deal tying us into EU structures, let’s embrace a Brexit on WTO terms appeared first on BrexitCentral.

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