This blog was first posted on The Commentator.
Britain’s trade figures released by the ONS last week have provided further evidence of how the nation’s trading future lies outside the EU.
The UK’s trade deficit with the EU rose to an all-time high of £89 billion — a figure which fully demonstrates the importance of Britain as the EU’s biggest single trade market. For those who have argued Britain would be prevented from securing a favourable trade deal following Brexit, the figures make humbling reading.
British importers and consumers have been propping up the economies of struggling eurozone countries — including Spain and Italy — alongside being vital markets for the European economic heavyweights of France and Germany. This major imbalance should greatly strengthen the negotiating position of the UK post-Brexit, as the British Prime Minister could have simply threatened to walk away if he was not offered a good enough deal.
Such a decision would be disastrous for major European producers and manufacturers, such as German car manufactures, who would demand their respective governments offer Britain a better deal – despite the latest threats from Brussels they will make it hard for Britain with huge trade tarriffs. This is unlikely to happen, as they want to sell more to us then the other way around.
It is a shame Cameron instead decided to go into the negotiations shutting the proverbial door behind him, with his fellow EU leaders well aware he wants to keep Britain inside the EU — at any cost. Instead of putting forward the deal he promised Britain in his famous Bloomberg speech, and being prepared to walk away if he did not succeed — Cameron bottled it, abandoning any attempt to bring necessary reform to the EU.
What is undeniable is the EU is in decline as an economic force. In 2003 its share of the world economy was 30.7 percent. This has fallen to 23.7 percent and looks to drop below 20 percent by the end of the decade. Leaving would allow Britain to sign trade deals with countries like China and India, whose economies will dominate the 21st century.
The ONS figures for 2015 support this, revealing how UK sales to EU countries lagged behind its exports to the rest of the world, for a second year in a row. For 2015 the EU accounted for 47 percent of British exports — a major decline from the 62 percent of 10 years ago. Indeed current projections place exports to the EU as low as 40% by 2019 — further evidence of the EU’s declining importance to UK businesses.
Those who attempt to scare us into remaining will claim Britain is no longer economically powerful enough to secure important trade deals without the EU. This is a complete fallacy. An examination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership reveals how New Zealand — a country 54th in world economic rankings — has secured trading access to nearly 40 percent of global GDP. All this was achieved without the need for any political union.
We could ask why we should be sacrificing so much of our national sovereignty to gain access to such a small proportion of world trade. We should not permit the UK to be left behind in a declining Europe whilst the rest of the world speeds past us.
New Zealand and other TPP nations are signing vast trade deals, while the EU is instead focussing on maintaining its deeply flawed policies such as the borderless Schengen Zone. The federalists have hailed this as one of the EU’s landmark projects, yet we have seen its gradual demise as Brussels struggles to deal with the political and economic destabilisation which comes with unchecked migration flows.
The EU is at its heart protectionist. It’s more interested in protecting French farmers, Spanish fishermen and Italian designers, than securing trade deals with the rest of the world.
As the new ONS trade statistics demonstrate, Britain’s future looks rosier outside of the Union. If the world truly has reached Cold War levels of risk — as the World Economic Forum suggests — it makes no sense for our politicians to attach ourselves to the hip of a declining and stagnant economic entity, determined to secure political union at all costs.
To avoid further risk to Britain’s future, we must Get Britain Out.