The referendum result suggests we should take back control of our borders, laws and money and if possible, be better off economically out of, than we otherwise would have been in, the EU.
I would argue that these objectives can be achieved without a Free Trade Agreement.
The negotiations did not get off to a good start. Why would we pursue a deal that delays leaving the EU by at least two years (and some in Parliament and beyond would have it forever)?
Why would we agree to take all the rules of the EU and pay a huge fee in taxpayers’ money for the privilege? It could only be worse if we then agreed to allow the ECJ to have continuing jurisdiction and restrict our freedoms to act for example in respect of tax, regulation, tariffs, fisheries and CAP reforms.
It has been reported that a sum as large as £55 billion has been offered by the UK. This £55 billion would be enough to “compensate” UK business for all the industrial tariffs the EU could apply, every year, for almost the next fourteen years.
Not that business needs compensating in order to prosper in exports to the EU, since most of the world exports to the EU without being members of the EU, the Single Market or the Customs Union and without having a Free Trade Arrangement.
UK business is now enjoying a competitive currency valuation which will more than compensate for any tariffs the EU might apply.
We can simply adopt WTO rules of trade and gradually remove external tariffs, starting with food, clothing, footwear and industrial components, and our economy would boom.
We could also deploy the taxpayers’ money sent to the EU to boosting the economy further through business and personal tax cuts and meaningful investment in infrastructure, housing and R&D.
This will help to improve productivity, particularly if coupled with investment in training and reduction in the supply of cheap labour from the EU.
Low productivity is not difficult to understand. Business has been under-investing by comparison with Germany by about half, every year since 1870.
When the eventual settlement with the EU becomes clear we must ask the question, what we are getting for it?
But let’s not forget. Even a sum of £55 billion represents just five years of net contribution to the EU had we stayed in.
It is bad enough to pay huge sums of taxpayers’ money when there is a better alternative to be had (WTO), but to do this and give up any of our newly-won freedoms would be an act of national betrayal. This must not be allowed to happen.
We should pay a little for our obligations. Reduce the transition discussions to for specific technical issues. Focus talks on open skies, customs arrangements, access to finance, visa and residency rights.
Stop trying to pursue an FTA of marginal benefit and instead declare for WTO.
It is time to show show leadership, courage and self belief and be rewarded at the ballot box.