On the eve of the Farage v Clegg In or Out of the EU debate on the BBC, it is predictable what the pro-EU Clegg will state as his big argument. Even though it has been firmly disproved, the three establishment political parties will continue to trot out the line that if we were not part of the European Union (EU), the UK would not be able to do any business and 3 million jobs would be lost.
There are 3 million jobs connected to our trade with the European Union, but that is because of our trade with the EU, and not because of our membership. More importantly, we buy from the EU much more than we sell, and the customer is king. The UK is now the worldwide number one export destination for goods from Germany. There is no prospect of a trade war with Germany. The likes of Audi, Mercedes, and Volkswagen would not allow the German Chancellor to enter such a war. Overall the UK is also the EU’s biggest customer, larger even than the United States. Many more EU jobs depend on UK custom. It is obviously in the interests of the EU to have a free trade agreement with the UK to keep their biggest customer. In any case, the Lisbon Treaty requires the EU to make a trade agreement with any nation that leaves the EU.
As members of the EU, we are members of a customs union that forbids us legally from entering our own free trade agreements with any part of the world. Britain would have greater global influence if we could negotiate our own trade deals. The EU is declining as a percentage of global trade every year, and the continental interests are clearly different to British interests.
This point is explicitly clear when it comes to free trade agreements with the Commonwealth or the rest of the English-speaking world – who have obvious close bonds with the UK. The EU has been useless in entering free trade agreements with Commonwealth countries. After 40 years the EU today has entered a free trade agreement with just one of the 53 other member states in the Commonwealth. Could there be a clearer example of the EU having totally different priorities and interests than Britain?
Compared with 0.5 billion in the EU, there are 2.2 billion people in the Commonwealth – 30% of the population of the world. They largely speak English, they share common business practices to Britain, have similar contract law, share a common history, have parliamentary democracies and rule of law based on the British system, individual liberty and free trade, have our Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth, and most important of all, are willing to do business with us.
Last March, Iceland, which has a population of 320,000, entered a free trade deal with China. In the world the UK is the 6th largest economy, the 8th largest manufacturer, the 5th largest trading nation, and our capital is the world’s largest financial centre. Britain and British business would be better off out of the costly, meddling EU.