Time for a palace revolution
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Time for a palace revolution

Before the Brexit negotiations even start, it might be helpful to pause and have a look at Britain’s current involvement with fellow member states of the EU and a few ‘British’ household names. Cadbury Schweppes has opened factories in France and Poland (as well as in Australia, South Africa and India).

Proctor and Gamble (Ariel, Bold, Tide, Head & Shoulders, Braun, Tampax) is in almost every country in Europe. Texas instruments is in Germany, and Hoover has a factory in the Czech Republic. The Mini cars that David Cameron once stood in front of, as an example of ‘British engineering’, are now built by BMW, mostly in Holland and Austria.

The British army’s new Ajax fighting vehicles are being built in Spain (using Swedish steel), rather than in Wales, with a grant from the EU to provide jobs for Spain. There are hundreds more examples like that. Meanwhile, Scottish Power is a subsidiary of a Spanish utilities company, and the owners of Heathrow are also Spanish. Does this help UK industry?

Presumably it does, otherwise it would not be pumping money into Europe, just as Spain has been investing in the UK. Does it help the EU and its member states? Of course, because it builds factories and provides jobs in areas of high unemployment. Is the EU a factor in any of this?

It could be, because there may be grants for creating industry (getting some UK money back). Could it be done without EU membership? Of course, because every nation welcomes new business in unemployment areas: for example, the non-EU Japanese (Nissan and Toyota) investment in the northeast of England and in the midlands.

What all this means is that any suggestion of introducing tariffs between the UK and what will probably henceforth be known as “mainland Europe” will be difficult, if not impossible.

Any suggestion of introducing tariffs between the UK and what will probably henceforth be known as “mainland Europe” will be difficult, if not impossible.

 

This is without the basic logic that, since the EU exports more to the UK than it imports, tariffs would not be in the interest of the remaining member states. The two surviving net contributors – France and Germany – would be seriously damaged, because Germany exports more cars and France exports more wine and cheese to the UK than to any other country in the world. Looked at like this, the aims of Brexit might even begin to seem modest.

The UK does not want to ban EU immigration but merely to control it – to have a say in who enters the country and, if socially necessary, to limit numbers. It wants to be free from EU laws and regulations. Meanwhile, it wants to trade freely with the mainland and vice versa.

It also wants to realign with the Commonwealth and trade with any other nation in the world. It does not seem much to ask. Ask around, look around, read the national newspapers. most of the industrial, manufacturing and agricultural nations want the same for themselves.

If there is any country in Europe that would rather be ruled from Brussels than by its own Parliament, it has elected the wrong MPs. The Brexit negotiations could be quick and simple. Or they could be intentionally difficult and awkward. But the bottom line is that in giving way, the fat turkeys in Brussels will be discovering that it is Christmas.

But since nobody elected them or even knows who they are, nobody else is going to worry much about that. the truth is that they – including the 10,000 people in Brussels who earn more than the British Prime minister – and not the 27 other member states, are the only likely stumbling block. Time, I think, for a very polite palace revolution...

Revel Barker is an author and publisher.

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