Leaving the EU on WTO terms will make our businesses more competitive and innovative

At the end of last year, the Global Competitiveness Report ranked the UK as the eighth most competitive country in the world, praising its ‘very well-functioning markets, a top innovation ecosystem and vibrant business dynamism’. However, the top-performing countries in the 2018 study by the World Economic Forum were dominated by non-EU countries including the […]

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At the end of last year, the Global Competitiveness Report ranked the UK as the eighth most competitive country in the world, praising its ‘very well-functioning markets, a top innovation ecosystem and vibrant business dynamism’.

However, the top-performing countries in the 2018 study by the World Economic Forum were dominated by non-EU countries including the United States, Singapore, Switzerland and Japan.

Despite this, politicians, businesses and the media appear to cling on to our ties to Europe. Leaving without a deal with Europe has been brandished as the height of irresponsibility, falling off the cliff edge and other such fearsome but conjectural words. Yet in reality 98 per cent of world trade occurs within the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The UK is a member of this global platform.

For my companies the horizons have always stretched far beyond continental Europe. Corrocoat, for instance, exports 68% of its anti-corrosion products globally and less than 10% of that goes to Europe, whilst Glassflake exports over 80% of its output with only circa 7% to Europe. We have operations in some of the most exciting, fastest-growing places in the world such as South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, China and the United States.

The EU has stifled growth with its rules and regulations, reduced appetite for competition and hindered the sort of innovation and entrepreneurship that has made both our sister companies Corrocoat and Glassflake success stories.

Companies do need to prepare for a WTO exit, but the myths around a no-deal scenario and fear of the unknown have wrongly led us to believe that vital sectors in our economy are at risk.

In actual fact, departing on WTO terms will act as a catalyst for businesses to become more competitive and more innovative. Gerard Lyons, a leading British economist, has argued that stifling EU regulation has made UK exporters less competitive and less productive in global markets whilst also doing little to increase wages. Only once the UK is open to trade with the world can we reverse this trend.

The IMF estimates that 90 per cent of global growth in the next 10 to 15 years is likely to come from outside the EU. If the UK goes back to bulldog Britain instead of the pussycat Britain it has become under the EU, it can be part of this global success story. We should embrace such an opportunity instead of listening to the hearsay and doom-mongering.

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Chloe Westley: A message to Remain politicians and their second referendum plot. Vote Leave 2 will end your careers.

These politicians have no idea about the wave of contempt that will engulf them, just as they didn’t understand England outside the M25 in 2016.

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Last week, 25 Conservative MPs voted to give themselves and others the power to stop Brexit. After first voting to hold a referendum, and then standing on an election manifesto to deliver on the result of that referendum, these MPs have concluded that their collective wisdom is far superior than that of the 17.4 million who voted leave, or the 13 million who voted for the Conservative Party on the understanding that Brexit would be delivered. Labour MPs who voted for the same motion have also reneged on their manifesto pledge to take Britain out of the EU.

They truly believe, that of the millions of people living and working in Britain, it is only they – the few hundred who sit in Parliament – who are of sound mind and judgement to decide what happens in this country.

The motion in question about a meaningful vote – which seeks to give MPs the ability to stop or delay the Brexit process if May loses the vote on her deal next week – isn’t legally binding. But it would be politically difficult for the government to ignore. It also provides the rest of us with a list of MPs who is trying to stop Brexit.

Since the election last year, MPs have been sheltered in Westminster, surrounded by friendly Remain-supporting Londoners, comforted by the pro-Remain bias in the media, all patting themselves on the back about just how much smarter they are than all those deplorable Leave voters. They’ve convinced themselves that, even after a majority voted leave in 2016 and for pro-Brexit parties in 2017, it didn’t really mean to.

The establishment view, as it stands, is that the majority of the population are too stupid or uneducated to stake a claim in Britain’s future. They are there to work hard and provide tax and wealth to the state – but their opinions must not be heard. This view was characterised best in this interview with Guardian writer Howard Jacobson. “You can’t trust the people…you can be certain the people will get it wrong” he says, before expressing his profound horror that “the people (have been) given this new confidence in their own opinions.”

Whilst MPs who voted for Grieve’s amendment would never admit to being that arrogant, I am sure that some would find themselves nodding along in agreement. In order to justify ignoring the expressed will of the British people, anti-Brexit MPs express profound concern for their wellbeing and proclaim to be their saviours.

If Theresa May’s deal is voted down this week, politicians have threatened to seize control of the process and, if needs be, postpone Britain’s exit from the EU. Democracy hangs on a knife edge. What is decided this week could determine whether Britain’s proud democratic tradition is restored or destroyed.

Vote Leave was successful because it mobilised a desire for change that has been brewing in this country for decades. We were outspent by millions of pounds, we were up against the UK Government and entire civil service, the OECD, the IMF, the EU-funded CBI, the Treasury, the Bank of England, the cultural elite, Barack Obama – and yet the majority of voters heard our call to take back control.

Vote Leave’s vision was global, practical, positive. Taking back control of law-making powers, a skills-based immigration system, trade deals around the world, taxpayers’ money spent on the things that matter. This vision was popular and the country voted for it. It was a blueprint for change.

We proposed that the UK Government should not commit to the Article 50 process, which was designed to stop countries leaving the EU and that triggering Article 50 before having a plan and before making preparations would be ‘like putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger’ (read Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave’s campaign director, on this matter here).

The Remain-voting Prime Minister and Chancellor did the exact opposite of all of these three things – and now they tell us we’ve got no choice but to surrender because they totally failed to prepare to leave without a deal. A second referendum would not be about Britain’s membership of the EU, or about the final deal. It will be about Westminster.

Anti-Brexit politicians seem to think they’ll be able to persuade the public that Westminster’s failure was inevitable because ‘Brexit is impossible’. These politicians have no idea about the wave of contempt that will smash them when they make this argument, just as they didn’t understand England outside the M25 in 2016.

Make no mistake – Vote Leave 2 would be every Remain politician’s worst nightmare. Our argument is made stronger by every vote against democracy, and every MP proclaiming that people didn’t know what they were voting for. You are confirming Leave voters’ worst fears.

It’s not just the European Union that makes a mockery of democracy: its British politicians.  Vote Leave 2 would be career-ending for those who promised to respect the referendum, promised 2016 was ‘a choice for a generation’, stood on manifestoes to leave the Single Market and Customs Union – then completely betrayed all of these promises.