Wednesday , April 14 2021
Home / Dr. Eamonn Butler /So, we’ve left, now what?

So, we’ve left, now what?

Summary:
It’s morning in the United Kingdom. Strangely, World War III has not broken out. Japanese carmakers are still investing here. House prices have not plummeted; indeed, in recent months they have surged. No punishment budgets are planned. The pound has held up, the stock market has had a bit of a surge. The banks have not left. Freight still seems to be crossing into Calais, and medicines back to Dover. It’s also morning in Europe. And as Boris keeps saying, we are still European. We account for 12% of Europe’s 513m population and 93,000 square miles of its land area. Not to mention 9.6m square miles of fishing grounds.We are the largest military power in Europe by a long, long way, and the only nuclear power other than France. We account for around a quarter of European defence spending. We

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It’s morning in the United Kingdom. Strangely, World War III has not broken out. Japanese carmakers are still investing here. House prices have not plummeted; indeed, in recent months they have surged. No punishment budgets are planned. The pound has held up, the stock market has had a bit of a surge. The banks have not left. Freight still seems to be crossing into Calais, and medicines back to Dover. 

It’s also morning in Europe. And as Boris keeps saying, we are still European. We account for 12% of Europe’s 513m population and 93,000 square miles of its land area. Not to mention 9.6m square miles of fishing grounds.

We are the largest military power in Europe by a long, long way, and the only nuclear power other than France. We account for around a quarter of European defence spending. We have a seat on the UN Security Council. We are Europe’s closest ally to the world’s largest military (and economic power), the one that bankrolls NATO, the United States. 

Britain is one of the handful of leading financial centres in the world. It is by far Europe’s most prominent one. It accounts for a third of Europe’s capital market and is essential to the operations of (probably most) European firms. It is the leader in financial technology investment, attracting more than the entire EU. It can now resist moves to transaction taxes, clearing house rules, bans on short selling and micro-management that EU chiefs were about to impose. It remains, as before, outside the eurozone and now, there is no question of it paying into the eurozone rescue fund that will be needed to avert a eurozone crisis, perhaps soon.

We are one of the world’s largest manufacturing nations. Our share of trade with the EU has fallen from 60% to 40% since 1999, leaving us with a trade deficit against them. But out trade with the rest of the world has risen, and that is where 90% of global growth now happens — not in the EU. We have signed around 60 free trade agreements with other countries in no time flat. We have historic and friendly relations with many of the world’s leading nations, and with scores of developing countries in the Commonwealth. We will henceforth be able to buy goods at world prices rather than imposing EU tariffs that in some cases (such as certain agricultural products such as cocoa and chocolate) can reach nearly 30%. 

We will also enjoy free trade with the European Union. And yet, the 95% of UK firms who do not export to the EU will not have to abide by EU regulations. It remains to be seen how far the UK will ease regulations on them, but there is no logical case while anything other than our exports to the EU should be bound by EU standards. And the EU constitutional court, the European Court of Justice, which has imposed billions of pounds worth of restrictions on our economy, will have no jurisdiction here.

Soon, the sun will be dawning over the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and then, across the pacific, over New Zealand, Australia, and the rest of the world. We can trade and collaborate with all these nations, free of the protectionist armour we have been forced to wear for the past decades. We might even be able to organise the right to live and work throughout the CANZUK nations. If we like, we can go even further. We can recruit experts from anywhere in the world, without being obliged to accept people from EU countries whether they are needed here or not.

As Joel Rodriques recently pointed out, of the ten best universities in Europe, eight are in Britain. Culturally, we have the English language, the most widely spoken language in Europe and one of the most widely spoken in the world — the language of business, commerce, trade, aviation, shipping and much else. Paris and Vienna may have Opera Houses for the rich too, but it is to London’s West End (Covid permitting) that world tourists come to see theatre. In Edinburgh we have one of the world’s biggest arts festivals. Our Premier League is the leading soccer league in the world. Our English citizens play a game that could be mistaken for cricket, but which at least makes us part of a diverse association of countries in which we are respected for our values, if not our fielding. And they are used to our warm, flat beer.

We could brag about this. Talk about how great we are. The world’s best at so many things. Well able to stand up for ourselves, and indeed inspire the world in the direction of free trade, free markets, the rule of law, human rights, and indeed common decency. We could brag about how great we know that our future is going to be now we can choose our own path. We could talk ourselves up, and we would be well justified to do so. We could do all that. But it wouldn’t be very British, would it?

Still, we will manage.

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Dr. Eamonn Butler
Eamonn Butler is Director of the Adam Smith Institute, rated one of the world’s leading policy think-tanks. He has degrees in economics, philosophy and psychology, gaining a PhD from the University of St Andrews in 1978.

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