In the Daily Mail this week Dr Nigel West was revealed as the first boss of a FSTE 100 company, Legal & General, to advocate withdrawal from the European Union if Prime Minister David Cameron cannot negotiate acceptable reforms. It seems big British businesses are finally recognising we have nothing to fear and much to gain from a withdrawal from the EU. But why has this change taken so long to come about?
In the past, big business has told us how “vital” our membership of the EU is to our economy. The cynics would say this is because it’s easier for large companies to lobby one very corrupt and unaccountable bureaucracy than twenty-eight less corrupt governments. By cosying up to Brussels, big business has been able to influence EU regulation for decades and submerge its smaller scale competitors in a sea of red tape.
As the EU’s share of world Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) has shrunk, so too has the percentage of British goods exported to the continent. As London Mayor Boris Johnson said this week, the streets of London use buses from the Netherlands, Germany and France and yet Paris only uses French buses – he believes there is hope for us yet if the EU starts to see sense. This has left British business torn between staying in the EU – allowing it to influence legislation in a shrinking market – or getting out and creating free trade agreements with emerging markets such as the Far East, India and South America.
The EU still makes up almost 19% of world GDP, with 45% of British exports going there. As such, it is still a vital trade partner. However, whilst the Single Market brings in €120 billion a year for the EU, the Internal Market Commission itself calculated regulation from Brussels costs €600 billion a year – five times as much. If Britain leaves the EU and retains access to the Single Market via free trade agreements, we can continue to get the benefits of the market without the politics and unnecessary red tape.
It may take some time for other big British businesses to realise our future lies outside the EU. But the tide is turning as the shrinking EU market makes it ever more obvious withdrawal is an economic necessity. Until then, we must ignore the Europhile doom-mongering about how “essential” our access to the Single Market is. When we Get Britain Out of the EU, we will still have access to the Single Market. But we will also be able to trade freely with much larger global markets. The world will be our oyster!