We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by idle threats from politicians in Paris

In 2016 the greatest democratic event in this country’s history took place. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. They wanted us to become a strong, independent trading nation once again – a country unafraid of standing on its own two feet. That is why we’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be bullied […]

The post We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by idle threats from politicians in Paris appeared first on BrexitCentral.

In 2016 the greatest democratic event in this country’s history took place. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. They wanted us to become a strong, independent trading nation once again – a country unafraid of standing on its own two feet. That is why we’ve got to stop allowing ourselves to be bullied by our EU counterparts and start believing in Britain.

It’s only by accepting that we’re strong enough to walk away from the negotiating table – and thoroughly preparing to do so – that we will secure a trade deal with the EU that is good for our consumers and businesses.

We’ve heard some ridiculous suggestions from France recently. Apparently it will grind the Port of Calais to a halt unless we hand over £39 billion of taxpayers’ money, even if we don’t finalise any deal at all.

There are around 60 sailings to my constituency port of Dover from Dunkirk and Calais every day. The cross-Channel trading route is a huge success story. More than £120 billion of trade moves through Dover’s docks every year and when you add Eurotunnel to the mix, the Channel Ports account for about a third of the UK’s trade in goods.

Clearly the French and the Europeans want to keep this flowing after Brexit day next year. Indeed, a desire for any other outcome would be irrational economic self-harm. EU nations sell twice as much to us as we do to them, so any extra tariffs or traffic slowdowns would hit French farmers and German car-makers twice as hard.

Yet the public continue to be spoon-fed doom and gloom about border chaos, food shortages, price hikes, gridlocked motorways and even civil unrest from within this country – the latest manifestation of Project Fear. These vacuous threats from across the Channel represent a serving of Projet Peur 3.

To find the source, look no further than the Élysée Palace in Paris. President Macron and the EU want to bully us into accepting a bad deal. They think Britain’s greatest days are behind us and that we must be punished for daring to leave.

They are wrong about the British people. We know what it takes to stand up to bullies.

Fortunately, Xavier Bertrand – the forward-thinking boss of the Calais and Dunkirk region – takes the opposite view to President Macron. M. Bertrand knows the Port of Dover is an economic powerhouse that benefits the people of Calais and Kent. He wants to do the right thing, keep trade flowing and look after the people he serves.

But while calling out empty threats from across the Channel, we’ve got to strengthen our hand in the negotiations as well. We need to turbocharge preparations to leave the EU on World Trade terms and get serious about preparing to strike a World Trade deal. Unfortunately this week’s Budget did no such thing.

The truth is this work should have started the day after the 2016 referendum. I have long argued we need to be ready on day one for every eventuality – deal or no deal. No-deal preparations seem to have been held up by Whitehall officials who never believed Brexit would happen, and certainly don’t want it to now.

This week was crunch time and the Chancellor had the perfect opportunity in his Budget to prepare, ambitiously and positively, for a no-deal outcome. Instead he chose to set aside an extra £500 million – a drop in the ocean in terms of both government spending terms and what is actually needed.

He should be announcing an expansion of off-road lorry parking and committing to significant investment in our borders. The M2/A2 to Dover needs to be upgraded and widened. And we must start modernising our border systems, joining the likes of Singapore as world leaders in frictionless trade and security.

I state again that 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU – well over three million more than have ever voted for a political party in an election. They all believed in creating a better country for our children and grandchildren, where everyone has the chance to get on and succeed, where we are free to run our own nation and economy in a way that works best for us – not Brussels. Remainers are right when they say Brexit is the most important challenge our nation has faced since the Second World War. But they are wrong when they ignore its exciting opportunities, and dismiss what we must do to take them.

We need our leaders to start demonstrating a full commitment to making it work – no matter what happens in the negotiations. By continuing to talk our country down, allowing us to be bullied by idle threats from abroad and failing to prepare for any eventuality, all we’ll achieve for our country is a bad deal.

A bad deal would shackle us forever. EU rules are bad for hard-working taxpayers, as they allow giant corporations to dodge taxes. EU regulations are bad for business, as they protect those firms from honest competition. EU tariffs are bad for consumers, as they increase the cost of food and clothing. And all of it is bad for the rest of the world, as we cut off developing nations, as well as allies who not so long ago fought beside us for our freedom.

That’s why it is so important to agree a deal with the EU that works for us. And if we can’t agree one, we will walk away. Many countries are waiting in the wings, ready to strike free trade deals with their old friends. We cannot let the opportunity slip.

We must believe in Britain. We are strong enough to go our own way. Future generations won’t forgive us if we become so desperate to secure a trade deal with the EU that we do so at the expense of Brexit’s great opportunities.

Let’s stop being defeatist. Let’s become a truly free-trading, global nation again. We have had some great days. But if we hold firm, the greatest yet lie ahead.

The post We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by idle threats from politicians in Paris appeared first on BrexitCentral.

In so many areas the EU’s negotiating stance is sadly defined by the politics of punishment, rather than economics

The news that Boeing has just opened a £40 million manufacturing facility in Sheffield to make parts for their latest 737 and 767 aircraft, which are assembled in the United States, serves to remind us that our world-class aerospace business is global and to torpedo the claims of Airbus – and some car manufacturers – […]

The post In so many areas the EU’s negotiating stance is sadly defined by the politics of punishment, rather than economics appeared first on BrexitCentral.

The news that Boeing has just opened a £40 million manufacturing facility in Sheffield to make parts for their latest 737 and 767 aircraft, which are assembled in the United States, serves to remind us that our world-class aerospace business is global and to torpedo the claims of Airbus – and some car manufacturers – that Brexit will threaten jobs in the UK because it will cause havoc to the just-in-time manufacturing process. Boeing’s plans call for the production of 52 aircraft a month with thousands of parts being shipped every month to Portland, Oregon, so timely delivery will be just as critical to Boeing as it is to Airbus.

So, the question arises: if Boeing can operate a slick production process using parts made in Britain, shipped six times the distance to their assembly line compared to shipping Airbus parts from Bristol or North Wales to Hamburg or Toulouse (and BAE ship 15% of every single F35 Joint Strike Fighter to the Lockheed Martin plant in Dallas), what is Airbus’s problem? The answer lies not in economics but in politics.

As is increasingly clear, despite protestations to the contrary, elements of the EU really do want to punish the UK for having had the insolence to Leave and to deter other countries from following our lead. France seems to be the most determined to press for punishment, partly to try to seize the City of London’s business and partly to promote President Macron as the new EU leader as Angela Merkel’s grip weakens.

Recently there were reports, subsequently denied, that President Macron intended to require UK visitors to France to obtain visas whilst those Brits with homes in France would immediately upon Brexit become illegal visitors. Apparently, the word ‘not’ was omitted in translation and the proposed new law designed to prevent such action. However, Dominic Raab subsequently spoke about the possibility of France ‘deliberately’ delaying lorries entering the port of Calais.

Earlier this year, the EU announced the creation of a fund to develop new defence equipment, a programme from which the UK, home to Europe’s largest defence contractor and with the largest defence budget in Europe, was to be excluded. Furthermore, the UK is to be ejected from key parts of the EU satellite navigation programme, Galileo, despite having contributed £1.2 billion and constituting, through Airbus subsidiary Surrey Satellites, a key portion of the technology. Any reasonable person would ask where was the commercial, let alone defence, interest in excluding such a major European player. Again, the answer lies not in economics but in politics: the UK has to be punished even if it means damaging the defence interests of the continent.

As we approach the sombre commemorations of the centenary of the 1918 armistice which ended The Great War, it is worth pausing to reflect on the role of some of those nations who, in the famous words of Margaret Thatcher, ‘we either rescued or defeated’.  The British people have voted freely but decisively to Leave the EU, yet face punitive measures by some on the continent for whose liberation in two world wars this country and its Empire shed 1,300,000 lives. Whilst falling over themselves to secure favourable trade deals with the rest of the world, the EU’s leaders have adopted the reverse policy with their closest neighbour, refusing to discuss trade arrangements before sorting out an artificial problem of their creation by weaponising the Irish border, a clear solution to which has been proposed by the ERG and others.

In another example of the pathetic approach in Brussels, I understand that the EU’s aviation safety agency, EASA, is debarred from discussing with our CAA how we manage air travel post Brexit.  Given the UK’s prominence in air transport, with Heathrow being the most important transatlantic gateway airport in Europe, why is EASA not engaged in constructive debate? Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are members of EASA even though they are not EU members, so why remove the UK? Again, the answer lies in politics, not economics. They want to cause inconvenience, if not chaos, to rub home to the others the cost of recovering national sovereignty.

All this illustrates the fundamental naivety exhibited by the UK at the outset of the negotiations, namely that if we conceded and acted in a friendly fashion the EU would respond in similar vein, leading many Leave voters to question the motives of those in charge. We never acknowledged the determination of the Commission to protect The Project (to create the United States of Europe) and we failed to recognise the strength of the cards in our hands.

So we threw away the security card, offering unconditional support to the 27, only to be rewarded by exclusion from EU defence programmes. The Prime Minister offered to pay a staggering £39 billion of our money in return for – nothing. Well, if she thinks British taxpayers will tolerate that, I fear she is mistaken. I can no longer withhold my vote in Parliament, but I can withhold my taxes unless I see a fair trade deal is secured.

The post In so many areas the EU’s negotiating stance is sadly defined by the politics of punishment, rather than economics appeared first on BrexitCentral.

If Czechoslovakia could be split up in six months in 1992, why should Brexit take six years?

Two years, four months and a few days ago, on 23rd June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. The date of the UK leaving is currently set at 29th March 2019 – almost three years after the vote. It could be postponed further. In the case of a transitional arrangement that could last […]

The post If Czechoslovakia could be split up in six months in 1992, why should Brexit take six years? appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Two years, four months and a few days ago, on 23rd June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. The date of the UK leaving is currently set at 29th March 2019 – almost three years after the vote. It could be postponed further. In the case of a transitional arrangement that could last until at least the end of 2020, possibly even beyond the general election in 2022. That would be an enormous six years after the historic vote.

EU mandarins as well as Whitehall mandarins will tell you it must be this way because the relationship the UK has with the EU is too complex to untangle sooner.

However, history offers a different angle. World War I lasted four years, World War II lasted six. Perhaps it’s easier to conquer and then lose an entire continent than to separate two jurisdictions peacefully?

Instead, look at Czechoslovakia, the country where I was born, but a country I never think of as my birthplace. That is because before I even went to school, it had not only transformed from a socialist republic and a Soviet satellite to a liberal democracy, but it also split into two nations. All I have ever known, therefore, has been the Czech Republic. All the turbulent history – Václav Havel elected President, the Velvet Revolution, the first free election, the beginning of economic transformation, Václav Klaus elected Prime Minister, the Velvet Divorce – happened within the first six years of my life.

The curious thing about this is the Velvet Divorce. Let me just briefly remind you of the timeline: the pivotal elections that took place on 5th and 6th June 1992 saw Václav Klaus’s party in the Czech Republic and Vladimír Mečiar’s party in Slovakia both take the lion’s share of the vote in their respective state parliaments and the federal parliament (Czechoslovakia had already been a federation for over 20 years at this point).

Tensions erupted quickly. The Czech PM Václav Klaus met the Slovak PM Vladimír Mečiar in Brno on 8th July and they agreed to split up the federation. The agreement was signed on 26th August and Václav Havel resigned his seat in the meantime (20th July). By 13th November, a law had been enacted as to how the federal assets were going to be divvied up and twelve days later, an act was passed that set the dissolution date at 31st December. Complex matters such as the continuity of the Czech Parliament, continuity of laws, arrangements for courts and so on were all swiftly determined by December. A new Czech Constitution was passed on 16th December.

Czechoslovakia was dissolved at midnight on New Year’s Eve. When the people woke up the next morning, they had new nationalities and the Czech Parliament re-elected Václav Havel as President on 26th January 1993.

Within a mere six months, a comprehensive settlement had been agreed and activated. Immobile assets were distributed to the country where they sat, mobile assets and assets abroad were distributed according to the rough population ratio 2:1. Amendments to international treaties signed by Czechoslovakia were negotiated and signed very quickly by both new republics, confirming the continuation of such treaties. In 1996, the two countries signed a protocol specifying the distribution of duties enshrined by treaties signed as Czechoslovakia.

All of this happened whilst Czechoslovakia and its constituent countries were undergoing a massive economic transformation.

Czechoslovakia was privatising on an unprecedented scale and at an unprecedented pace. In a way, it was like Brexit and the UK’s 1980s privatisations combined, only a lot more complicated. Whereas the 1980s UK privatised two companies a year, the early 1990s Czechoslovakia privatised two companies an hour. Taken together, these companies’ accounting value was a big share of GDP. The voucher privatisation alone (there were other methods of privatisation) privatised companies worth one third of Czechoslovak GDP. All of this was taking place at the exact same time the republics were being separated.

Let us not forget the fact that Czechoslovakia was also a currency union. The original idea was that the currency would continue after the separation, but the Czechoslovak koruna outlived Czechoslovakia by a mere six weeks.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Two things made this possible: Klaus’s insistence that it must happen fast, before organised business interests as well as government could mount a successful defence of the status quo. Then the fact that the two newly-created governments, for all the tension between them, worked together to apply current or previous arrangements in good faith. Wherever questions or differences arose, they sought an amicable solution where none of the parties would score a win for their side but rather one where future cooperation could be maintained.

Nobody was proposing divorce bills or ridiculous notions of planes not flying, trucks stuck at the border, licences not being recognised, or one country continuing to have jurisdiction over the other for the next 100 years. Time, and good faith, were of the essence.

If Czechs and Slovaks were able to separate an entire country in six months, surely Whitehall and the Berlaymont can find a way to extract one member state sooner than in six years.

The post If Czechoslovakia could be split up in six months in 1992, why should Brexit take six years? appeared first on BrexitCentral.