MOON COMMENT – THE BENEFITS OF BREXIT
Those who are pro leaving the EU on Twitter will often get the question thrown in ‘Give me one benefit of Brexit.’ This of course is a trolling ambush attempt, by giving one it allows the questioner to come back with something along the lines ‘of ‘Is that it, is that all you have got?’ Which of course is nonsense because they only asked for one. Also the benefits to one person will not be considered such by others, it is subjective and the intention of the questioner is to rubbish your response on their own terms. On Twitter the best way to deal with such a question is to ignore it in my view.
However the benefit of a blog rather than 280 characters on Twitter challenged by a rabid pro EU Supporter is you can answer the question in your own terms. So what are the benefits of Brexit? To answer this I am go to start from an assumption that is not likely to happen in practice. I am going to assume the post Brexit arrangement is acceptance of an EFTA deal which includes, yes that’s right, includes accepting free movement. In doing so I reduce my own scope to answer the question, as I take away my right to include something very obvious.
Many would argue if we accept free movement then we are still in the EU in all but name and surely then there are no benefits. But most polls show the number one reason for voting leave was sovereignty and the freedom the nation has to make it’s own laws to go with it. As a result there are still many benefits. An EFTA deal would mean we have to accept Single Market Rules, but this only account for roughly 20% of EU law.
1) 80% of EU law is returned to be determined by the UK.
Within that there are several policy areas that Britain will now be back in full control of
2) We leave the CAP. Decisions on subsides or how that money is distributed, or indeed not, will be in full control of the UK. This could include eliminating subsidies for rich land owners to do little. (Michael Hesletine is in my head, not sure why)
3) We will leave the Common Fisheries policy and fishing rules will be back under the control of the UK. This policy is considered so bad by Norway and Iceland both refuse to join the EU on the basis of this alone. It was also the main cause of Greenland asking to leave the EU
4) We will no longer be part of the European Home Affairs policy, in it’s early stages but something the EU wanted to take control of and would, had we remained in the EU, watered down the Home Offices control over UK internal security. This will now be back in full control of the UK
5) We will no longer be part of the EU security policy and will be free to commit more resources to the five eyes intelligence service (Including the USA, Canada, New Zealand & Australia) Which is the cornerstone of our international intelligence co-operation. This may also encourage France to consider joining it, which so far they have refused to do, as the EU no longer has a member state involved in this vital organisation.
6) We will have full control of Foreign policy and no longer part of the emerging Common EU foreign policy. We will be free to continue to pursue our interests, which are not always the same as that of the EU.
7) We will leave the emerging European defence policy and free to renew our commitment to NATO as the cornerstone of our international defence commitment, the only credible guarantee of peace and security in Europe and wider western democracy.
We would no longer be part of the Customs Union or common external tariff as EFTA members are not subject to this. This leads to two further benefits
8) We will no longer be forced to impose big tariffs on imports outside the EU. This means we can back up our commitment to international aid and the work of many charities helping the poorest in the third world, including Comic Relief, by reducing or removing these tariffs and helping the poorest economies the chance to trade and grow, which can play a big role in reducing poverty too
9) We are free to sign trade deals with whomever we wish, which we are banned from doing as a member of the EU through having to accept the Common External Tariff rules.
So all of those policies will be back under UK control even if we stay in the single market and accepted free movement. You can hear Corbynites shouting ‘What about workers rights.’ Good point. Remaining in the EU would mean in time common policies on workers rights, acceptance of EU minimums. Therefore opening the door to legal challenges should a nation state go beyond those minimums. Leaving the EU ensures.
10) UK policy on maternity leave giving a minimum of 52 weeks pay cannot be reduced to the EU minimum of 14 weeks.
11) We will be able to maintain legislation giving workers 5.6 weeks holiday, and not have it reduced to four weeks which is what EU policy mandates
12) The living/minimum wage in UK law does not exist in EU law. We will be able to keep it without legal challenge to the concept.
All of these things would be open to an ECJ challenge if we remained in the EU as common policy in these areas develops, as it will. In addition integration will also continue to develop. Since the Referendum we have seen briefings on plans for further integration on defence, economic policy and Martin Schultz call for a United States of Europe by 2025. That may be ambitious, but it is where the EU is going. Thus it is inconceivable that had we stayed in the EU, two key opt outs would credibly stay in place. Leading to two more major benefits of leaving.
13) We will never be pushed into joining the Euro from outside the EU.
14) We will never have to sign the Schengen agreement outside the EU.
Some will claim these would never happen. For me they are kidding themselves. Remaining in the EU and not signing up to those key areas of the EU in the medium term is simply not credible. The only way to ensure both never happens is to leave the EU. This is also true regarding places on international bodies too. The EU has before eyed up the places of the UK and France on the UN Security council. I wish France luck in resisting this as they will be under more pressure but for the UK leaving the EU means
15) Our place as a permanent member of the UN Security council, including the power of veto, is secure for the future
All of these things happen even if we accepted the Single Market in full. But there is a myth that the EU makes all the Single Market rules. The Single Market without EU Membership means taking rules but having no say right? Well in a few cases this is true, but not that often in reality. The majority of Single Market rules are made by the WTO or a range of sector specific bodies, usually run through the UN that the WTO presides over. Right now our vote at these bodes lies with the EU Commission. We can speak as the UK but have no vote and no say. After we leave the EU however
16) We will have our own seat, vote, even at times veto, at the WTO & other international trade bodies. Meaning while now on many of these issue our vote within the EU is actually meaningless because we cannot block the measure made at WTO level anyway, we would then have a meaningful position in these negotiations.
There are also those what the Daily Mail unkindly called ‘enemies of the people.’ The judiciary. The reality is an Independent judiciary is an important part of a sovereign nation even if you don’t always like the calls they make (Which is actually the fault of politicians for creating a system ambiguous enough that the judicary can make those calls.) In leaving the EU
17) THE UK judiciary will be free to make calls based on UK law and UK law alone, not based on EU law or have to take into account ruling from the ECJ. (With the small exception in regard to citizens rights for a time limited period, as agreed in the phase 1 Agreement between Theresa May and the EU)
So as you can see, those who wanted sovereignty would get plenty of what they wanted even if we accepted what for many is the worst scenario of staying in the Single Market & free movement. If you now ditch that assumption you can add
18) Control of immigration policy return to UK control
19) We no longer have to discriminate in favour of immigration applications from the EU and against those coming from outside the EU
20) The few areas under EFTA we would have to take laws without a say, would not be the case.
Some will argue that some or all of these last three are worth trading for an EFTA deal and it is an argument not totally without merit. As I said at the start, what constitutes a benefit of Brexit is subjective. That is true between leavers with different views on the future as it is between those keen to leave and those desperate to stay.
I’m sure there are things I have missed, quietly developing EU policies. I am unaware of that we will no longer be part of and a range of opportunities that will come that are as yet unknown. Even so for those who ask for one I have given you potentially 20. Even if you prefer the first 17, you can rest assured there are plenty of benefits to leaving the EU if you believe in a free independent nation as opposed to believe in an EU single entity. And don’t forget those trying to block the process believe in the latter, as it is the inevitable consequence of their position, even though many of them, whether through naivety or knowing complicity, claim they don’t or claim it isn’t going to happen. It is, it will, and Britain is better off out of it.