Andrew Tyrie’s paper “Giving Meaning to Brexit”

A paper called Giving meaning to Brexit by Andrew Tyrie MP, has just been published by Open Europe.

Mr Tyrie is Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee and former Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. Given he supported remain during the referendum campaign, it is highly unlikely that  you will agree with everything he says, but it is nonetheless interesting to read the thoughts of one influential backbench MP on the subject of Brexit.

He spends some time explaining why he feels the so-called “WTO option” is not viable except as an emergency fall-back if negotiations with the EU break down.

He also addresses the issue of single market in some detail, although like many other commentators on this subject, he hasn’t done his homework very thoroughly. He talks of a Norway-type relationship giving us “no formal say” over the development of financial services regulation. This is not true. Norway is widely consulted in the framing of EEA-relevant regulation, even if it does not have a vote. He does, however, mention that with much financial regulation originating in global organisations (with the EU merely acting as a conduit),  withdrawal from the EU would give us an independent seat on all those bodies where we are currently represented by someone from the EU.

Given the influence of global bodies in dictating the terms of international trade, he feels that the promised “bonfire of regulations” upon withdrawal will not be anything like as great as has been claimed, although he identifies one or two beneficial changes that may be possible .

He also says little about the possibility for non-EU members of the EEA to restrict free movement of people, which Liechtenstein has done, merely usng the phrase “emergency brake”, which is not a very accurate description of the possibilities under articles 112 and 113 of the EEA arrangment.

He is critical of the substantial savings promised by some “leavers” and is very sceptical that we will be £350 million per week better off.  He also doubts that a settled arrangment with the EU will be complete within the two years stipulated by Article 50.

On a more positive note, he does see the freedom to make our own trade arrangements as one of the big benefits of Brexit.

He says that Parliament should be given a chance to “express a view” on the planned negotiations before Article 50 is triggered, but does not call for a vote.

As for the future of the EU without the UK, he feels that sudden collapse of the project would be disastrous for us as well as the EU, but he does not mention the possibility of other nations peeling off one at a time, which cannot be ruled out and which would not necessarily cause a collapse. His description of the EU project as the “most sophisticated system of cooperation and integration, supported by the rule of law, between a large number of nation states – freely entered into – ever attempted” is a bit wide of the mark, given the deceit used by Edward Heath to take us in and the considerable sweeteners and twisting of the rules used to ensure that other candidate states vote to join when they get round to holding referendums on membership.  I recall being told that in Malta, for instance, voters were told that not voting would count as voting not to join the EU, which was a lie.

In spite of these reservations, the essay is worth reading if for no other reason than it shows that most erstwhile Tory remainers have accepted the result and just want to make Brexit work as best as it can,  for which we must give thanks.

BREXIT – Onwards from the Referendum by Edward Spalton

(This article was written for our Chairman’s local newspaper, the “Three villages” magazine)

The leading campaigns on both sides of the EU referendum were lacking in honesty. In that, they followed the example of successive British governments which have all pretended that the European project concerned the economy (“The Common Market”) when it was always about developing a single European government under which the nations of Europe would be subordinated in a new polity. We know from official documents that the government understood this from 1960.

The Remain side presented the EU as being about the economy and the Leave side emphasised the cash savings from leaving. Both exaggerated greatly.

In 1971 the Foreign Office advised the government “…there would be a major responsibility on HM Government and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular policies to the remote and unmanageable workings of the (European) Community”. The referendum was the last hurrah for this long-maintained policy of deceit. The leaders of all the main parties stuck to it and lost. So we are now moving in a new direction and the impetus has come from the people not from the political establishment.

Mrs May has said that “Brexit means Brexit” but people are naturally apprehensive about how things will develop. There are three main approaches to forming a new relationship with our European neighbours:

  • The Bilateral Option – An agreement or series of agreements negotiated individually, as Switzerland has done. This takes a very long time – 16 years for the Swiss.
  • The WTO Option – To have a minimal agreement with the EU and to rely on the rules of the World Trade Organisation. This would involve paying tariffs on certain classes of goods exported to the EU (and vice versa) but would be very cumbersome if it was not accompanied by a Mutual Recognition Agreement on quality standards, allowing containers to pass EU customs without having to be individually inspected(and vice versa).
  • The EEA/Efta Option.  This is sometimes called “The Norway Option”. EEA stands for European Economic Area and Efta for European Free Trade Association.

Effectively this is inside the “Common Market” but outside  the EU political union. Britain is free from most EU policies including Foreign & Security, Justice & Home Affairs, Economic & Monetary Union, the EU Court of Justice, the Customs Union, Common Trade Policy, Common Fisheries Policy, Common Agricultural Policy.  But we would have to observe the rules of the Single Market. Contrary to the general belief it is possible for EEA countries to impose their own restrictions on excessive inward migration of EU citizens under Articles 112 and 113 of the EEA agreement.

Some 80% of EU regulation on trade is now adopted from global bodies such as the UN and WTO. EU membership keeps Britain from having a voice there. So paradoxically, EEA states, which are not EU members, have a bigger direct say on many EU regulations than EU members which are bound by the “Common Position” decided by the EU Commission.

By Googling “FLEXCIT” you can get a full description of how the EEA/Efta option might work. The short version is 48 pages. The full document is over 420 pages. The government may, of course, choose to combine some elements of these three listed options. Things are more complicated than the sloganeering of the referendum suggested but, given careful thought and steady purpose, there is not really anything to fear.



Brexit progress at the beginning of September

To ensure a successful and permanent separation from the EU, three tasks need to be accomplished. Firstly, Article 50 needs to be invoked, beginning the two-year process (which can be extended subject to mutual agreement)  which will actually take us out of the EU. Secondly, the government needs to have studied the alternatives and come up with a well-researched Brexit strategy that will ensure that we arrive at the exit door with the best possible future ahead of us, our trade with both the EU and the rest of the world in good shape. Thirdly,  remain voters, especially the young, need to be de-programmed and years of indoctrination undone so that the scales of europhilia will fall from their eyes. At the same time our democratic processes need to be renewed to ensure that no politician will ever be able to repeat Edward Heath’s litany of deceit to drag us back in.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain will do what we can to put pressure on HMG to ensure the first of these tasks takes place as soon as practically possible. As far as the second is concerned, we have sought to provide a forum for an exchange of views on the subject. Tackling the third will be a major long-term challenge and one which, no doubt in common with other pro-independence campaign groups, we are only starting to get to grips with. The Harrogate Agenda has gone some way to devising a blueprint for democratic renewal, but more needs to be done, especially in our schools and universities, to provide a counter-weight to years of pro-EU propaganda which young people have been fed and – in many cases – uncritically imbibed.

Another part of the de-indoctrination process is to provide resources. There is a need to disseminate news of post-Brexit developments, including informed comment. The shock of Brexit has left something of a vacuum and there has been no shortage of on-line doom mongers claiming that Brexit will never happen, while disgruntled remainers continue to call for a second referendum and to latch onto any piece of bad economic news.

We are therefore producing pieces like this article both to reassure worried leave voters and to provide them with information to use in their dealings with any remainers among their acquaintences. Once we separate the wood form the trees, the picture is actually pretty encouraging. Early economic indicators suggest that the “do-it-yourself recession” over which George Osborne fretted has not happened and is not going to. Meanwhile Theresa  May has proved much firmer on the issue of Brexit than many leave voters had expected. She intends to trigger Article 50 at some point next year and has ruled out a second referendum or an early general election. Her comments at yesterday’s cabinet meeting at Chequers have been quite unequivocal:-

“We must continue to be very clear that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, that we’re going to make a success of it. That means there’s no second referendum; no attempts to sort of stay in the EU by the back door; that we’re actually going to deliver on this.”

She also added that “quite a lot of work” had already been done over the summer to prepare the way for the Article 50 exit negotiations, although no more details were provided. She has stated that there will be a “red line” on free movement from the EU and thus that we would pursue an unique relationship with the EU rather than adopting an off the shelf solution such as the Norwegian or Swiss models.

Mrs May has also confirmed that there will be no parliamentary vote before Article 50 is triggered. This will spike Owen Smith’s guns, but is perfectly fair. After all, the referendum bill saw Parliament hand over to the electorate the final decision about whether or not to stay in the EU. Even if both Houses of Parliament have strong europhile majorities, it would still be nothing less than immoral to ride roughshod over June 23rd’s vote.

So it does look like Article 50 will be triggered and that we will therefore begin the withdrawal process at some point next year. This is all very positive. It would be good to know a bit more about the likely exit route and how the key issues of restricting migration and access to the single market will be dealt with.  It is no secret that there are disagreements over these issues within Mrs May’s cabinet. However, in view of her tough rhetoric on immigration at last year’s Conservative conference, it is no surprise that she has thrown her weight behind some restriction on freedom of movement – after all, immigration was one of the main factors behind the leave victory and recent statistics have underlined the scale of the task which her government faces if these aspirations are to be met.

Returning to the economy, things look pretty positive.  Last week, we mentioned Anatole Kaletsky, who claimed that over time, public opinion would shift back towards EU membership. In the interest of fairness, it’s only right that we report his “Remainer’s Recantation”  – in other words, his admission that  the post-June 23rd armageddon he predicted hasn’t come to pass:- “Nobody can say at present whether this newfound indifference to Brexit will turn out to be well-founded realism, complacency or wishful thinking, but it is definitely not the attitude that I expected in the panicky hours immediately after the vote.”

The CBI’s latest quarterly survey also shows that business and professional services firms – which include accountancy, legal and marketing firms – reported that business volumes were unchanged on the quarter, after rising in May. Meanwhile, consumer services companies – which include hotels, bars, restaurants, travel, leisure – saw further moderate growth in business volumes. The report highlighted a decline in optimism, but given that the CBI was a staunch supporter of remain, this isn’t really a great surprise. With business performing better than expected, it is likely that this lack of optimism will prove a short-term issue, which will dissipate once a clear timetable for Article 50 and details of the withdrawal strategy are spelt out.

This article from the oil and gas industry’s magazine expresses some concern about the possible effects of Brexit on a very unstable EU, claiming that it could trigger a fall in demand, but the article goes on to say that “things rarely turn out as bad as we feared or as well as we hoped.”  Meanwhile, consumer spending has rebounded, with strong high street sales figures reported for July.

All in all, a pretty upbeat picture of our economy. In fact, in view of the data, it is highly questionable whether the Bank of England should have re-started its Quantitative Easing. The economist Tim Congdon called the move “crazy”.

For all that, we did the right thing on June 23rd and if anyone is in any doubt, the recent behaviour of the European Commission should put their minds at rest. Less than two months after  the decision by one of the biggest EU member states to leave this project, the Commission President, the arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker showed just what a different world he lives in compared with the average UK voter. “Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians”, he recently said in a recent meeting to discuss the future of the EU following the Brexit vote.  Our Prime Minister replied that people of the United Kingdom consider the control over their country’s borders to be important.  Indeed, the desire to regain a greater degree of control of our borders was a big factor in the Leave vote.

But we are not alone in our concerns. The migration crisis is causing borders to be reinstated in many frontiers across Europe, even between countries who signed the Schengen accord. Mr Juncker’s desire to see national borders sompletely abolished is increasingly out of step with the wishes of many EU “citizens”.

Meanwhile, his colleagues at the Commission have seriously upset the Irish.  Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s Competition Commissioner, ordered Apple to pay €13 billion in tax to the Irish government, claiming that its arrangement with the Irish government is illegal under state aid rules. Not only is Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, annoyed by this decision, calling it “maddening” and “political”, but reaction in Ireland has been very hostile. The Irish cabinet is contemplating an appeal against the decision, while Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, one of Ireland’s most well-known businessman, used somewhat stronger language to register his disapproval.

While such resentment is unlikely to build up a sifficient head of steam to lead to calls for Irexit, there is no doubt that the European Commission could prove one of the withdrawal movement’s key allies in our longer term campaign to ensure we never re-join the EU.  Its behaviour makes our end-game a lot more achievable – namely when we reach the same point as Switzerland where, to quote  Thomas Minder, a counsellor for Schaffhausen state, only ‘a few lunatics’ want to join the EU,

June’s result must be respected

The result we achieved on 23rd June 2016 was a key victory but it is clear that this was not the end of the war. There are still key obstacles to be overcome before we find ourselves fully disengaged from EU membership.

The first issue is to ensure that we all agree, at least broadly, on what our negotiating strategy should be. Here, a broad consensus has emerged. Starting with trade, unless there are massive and permanent –  and thus very unlikely – derogations, we will have to be outside the Single Market, if we are going to secure control of our own borders, to reduce very substantially our payments to the EU and to be outside the jurisdiction of the EU’s Luxembourg Court. Ideally, we should then combine this with a Free Trade deal with the rest of the EU, which would keep our existing trade relations in place more or less as they are at the moment.

There is a school of thought which says that we would be better to be outside the Single Market but in the European Economic Area (EEA). This might be easier to negotiate but it could still leave us with obligations on free movement of labour, payments and jurisdiction which nearly everyone who voted Leave would like to avoid. Being outside the EEA – but in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) – would therefore be a better bet, but this could be more difficult to negotiate. To secure a deal along these preferred lines, therefore, we may well need to be willing to walk away altogether from free trade with the EU, falling back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariff levels which are actually quite low – averaging around 3%. UK willingness to do this, however, if push comes to shove, may concentrate minds on achieving a free trade deal, which would make much more sense for everyone, within the two year period stipulated by Article 50 in the Lisbon Treaty.

Sorting out our trade relationships with the EU would very probably be the most difficult part of our Brexit negotiations, but it would leave a large number of other areas where co-operating with other countries in Europe on the right terms would make sense. Here our objective should be to ensure that there is maximum continuity but on the basis of inter-governmental co-operation rather than the UK being part of the EU’s federal project. As co-operation in all these areas is in everyone’s mutual interest, hopefully, reaching agreement will not be too difficult.

Having set the scene on where we would like to be, how are we going to make sure that we get there? There are significant obstacles in the way.  There is a large majority – probably between 75% and 80% – of MPs who were not Leave supporters. Some of them – ignoring the clear referendum result – are threatening to derail negotiations by opposing them on principle rather than in detail, either by calling for a second referendum or by having reversing Brexit as part of their manifestos for the next general election.  Others are preparing to oppose details of negotiations in such a way that the effect will be the same.

These are dangerous tactics, however, for those who want to win elections.  The outcome of the recent EU referendum was a decisive vote for Brexit. Those who feel they have the right to overturn the biggest vote ever in the UK for any proposition put before the electorate do so at their peril. A recent poll showed that 69% of those questioned thought that the decision taken on the referendum should be respected whether or not they agreed with it and only 22% were against.  Voters are not likely to be happy with either political parties or individuals who fail to support the electorate’s clearly expressed view. Eurosceptics should make sure that those standing for election know this.

Meet the whingers!

As we reported last week, at grassroots level,  most people, whatever position they took in the referendum debate, have been sufficiently grown-up to accept the result and get on with life.  A You Gov poll published on Friday provides some hard statistics to back this up:-  69% of people believe the result of the EU referendum should be respected, with only 22% thinking it should be overturned. Similarly, only 34% of people thought a second EU referendum would be acceptable while 56% said it would not.

There remain, regrettably, a few outposts of childishness – sulky remainers who still cannot bring themselves to accept the result.  Lloyd Evans, writing in the Spectator, came across some of them at the Edinburgh Fringe.  Apparently support for remain among the arts world stood at 96%. Only one comedian cracked a pro-Brexit joke. Other comedians did their best to lighten their spirits with a bit of humour, such as  Andy Zaltzman, who claimed that  ‘Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for Remain with all the ferocity of a cornered blancmange’ but then went on to talk about who was to “blame” for the result.

As the article points out, one reason for the anger of these arty-types is that they have been heavily reliant on the EU for their funding. “Quitting the union means withdrawing from a little-known body, Creative Europe, which has astronomical sums to splurge around. Between 2014 and 2020 it intends to disburse a total of €1.46 billion to successful applicants“.

One has to ask, what has got into these people, moaning about not being able to go over to a foreign country with a begging bowl to demand the crumbs that fall from their table. Surely citizens of our great nation should have a bit more self-respect?

And it’s not just a few throughly spoilt arty types. The left of centre blogger Jon Worth who calls himself “an EU policy specialist by background” refuses to “Embrace it, make a success of it and shut up and move on.” Instead he writes, “If the Conservatives got into power and starting privatising something I didn’t like, what would I do? I’d come up with every possible way to stop it happening – using parliamentary means, legal means, protest means, trying to get press coverage. Until the law is passed, the thing actually happens, you do not give up. I see no reason why it should not be the same with the EU referendum.” he further states that he does not believe that Brexit will happen.

“Keep making your case and don’t apologise” he adds. “Find legal routes, use political parties and parliamentary means to oppose Brexit.” in other words, don’t accept the democratic will of the people  – an historical result achieved against overwhelming odds.  What a contrast to the attitude of the losing side after the 1975 referendum, which was simply “The people have spoken” .

Dear Reader, I expect by now your blood must be boiling, but before I sign off, let me introduce one more whinger for the collection: the Russian-born economist Anatole Kaletsky. Writing in the Guardian, he claims that “over time, with help from Brussels, public opinion will shift”.  His reasoning is simple – the referendum vote cannot hold back the tide of globalisation.  There are major flaws in his arguments, however. Increasing grobal trade is not causing other nations in other continents to construct federal superstates and pool their sovereignty.   ASEAN, NAFTA and, yes, EFTA  are trading blocs, nothing more.

The idea that the UK can secure “additional reforms” and then we’ll all be happy with EU membership is absolute rot.  Kaletsky’s proposal is essentially for the EU to play hardball  – offering no special deal. This will force the UK back to the negotiating table and, in exchange for a few minor concessions, the electorate would somehow see that EU membership is a good thing.

This argument falls down primarily because the referendum  was won by the Leavers in spite of considerable confusion about the bext exit strategy.  The only reform acceptable to most leavers would involve the complete dismantling of the EU institutions, the end of its political ambitions and its shrinkage to a mere free trade organisation. Some hope!

In addition, Kaletsky indulges in consderable speculation regarding which exit routes the Government has chosen. We know that much time is being spent behind the scenes evaluating the various options. Mrs May, to her credit, seems to be keen to ensure that a thorough plan is devised before  Article 50 is invoked.

In summary, for all the pitiful whinging of these incorrigible remainers, we are confident that the UK WILL exit the EU and that process will begin with Article 50 being invoked during 2017. Last Friday, Bloomberg suggested that Mrs May was going to set things moving by April at the latest. The waiting is frustrating, but there is nothing we can about it, except remain vigilant. Remainers cannot and will not be allowed to snatch defeat from the jaws of our great victory.


Photo by antigallery

Labour Leave will campaign for a fair exit

With the Labour Party currently occupied with choosing its leader, reporting of Brexit developments has largely focussed on the Government  – in particular Prime Minister Theresa May and the three ministers apointed to oversee the process – Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox.

However, the Labour Leave campaign, like CIB, is still very much in existence and will continue working hard to ensure that Brexit will mean Brexit and that there will be no second referendum. Its website has recently been updated to highlight its intentions to hold both the Government and the Labour Party to account. “Labour Leave will demand that the government leads us out of the EU” it states.

Labour Leave’s five principles are:

  1. Return all law-making powers to the UK Parliament, renewing our democracy.
  2. Ensure complete control over immigration policy and visas.
  3. Secure free trade in goods and services with Europe.
  4. Pursue global trade deals which protect our public services.
  5. Rebalance our economy, helping firms to achieve higher productivity, with rising wages and investing in the infrastructure to support export-led growth.

The website also features an interview with John Mills (depicted above) who, besides his involvement with Labour Leave, is a Committee Member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain. His upbeat assessment of the state of the UK  economy is well worth a listen.