Coffee House

What Brexit would look like for Britain

21 February 2016

6:09 PM

21 February 2016

6:09 PM

‘So what’s your alternative?’ demand Euro-enthusiasts. ‘D’you want Britain to be like Norway? Or like Switzerland? Making cuckoo clocks? Is that what you want? Is it? Eh?’

The alternative to remaining in a structurally unsafe building is, of course, walking out; but I accept that this won’t quite do as an answer. Although staying in the EU is a greater risk than leaving — the migration and euro crises are deepening, and Britain is being dragged into them — change-aversion is deep in our genome, and we vote accordingly. Europhiles know that most referendums go the way of the status quo, which is why their campaign is based around conjuring inchoate fears of change.

What is the alternative? Well, all the options involve remaining part of the European free-trade zone that stretches from non-EU Iceland to non-EU Turkey. No one in Brussels argues that Britain would leave that common market if it left the EU. Nor, in fairness, do Remainers. Instead, they talk about jobs being ‘dependent on our trade with the EU’, hoping that at least some voters will hear that line as ‘dependent on our membership of the EU’.

So when every non-EU territory from the Isle of Man to Montenegro has access to the European free trade area, which model should we follow? The nations arguably most comparable to Britain, being neither microstates nor ex-communist countries, are Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. All three prefer their current deal to ours: 60 per cent of Icelanders, 79 per cent of Norwegians and 82 per cent of Swiss oppose EU membership. Who can blame them? Norway and Switzerland are the wealthiest and second-wealthiest nations on Earth.

Norway is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA); Switzerland is in EFTA. The EEA was established in 1992 as a waiting room for the EU. It contains what was originally envisaged as a transitional mechanism for the adoption of EU legislation — the ‘fax democracy’ which Europhiles like to bang on about.

Never mind the archaic metaphor: Little Europeans are nostalgists at heart. The charge is that Norway has no vote in some EU regulations that it later enforces. But this is more a problem in theory than in practice. According to the EFTA Secretariat, the EU generated 52,183 legal instruments between 2000 and 2013, of which Norway adopted 4,724 — 9 per cent. A written answer to a parliamentary question in Iceland found a similar proportion: 6,326 out of 62,809 EU legal acts between 1994 and 2014. Yet rather than use the official statistics, Europhiles have seized on a remark by a Eurofanatical Norwegian minister to the effect that ‘three quarters of our laws’ come from Brussels, and have -solemnly translated that throwaway line into an official-sounding ‘75 per cent’.

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In Switzerland, there is no ambiguity: the figure is zero per cent. The Swiss sometimes copy EU regulations for reasons of economy of scale, though more often both Switzerland and the EU are adopting global rules. But though Swiss exporters must meet EU standards when selling to the EU (just as they must meet Japanese standards when selling to Japan), they generally don’t apply those standards to their domestic economy. Britain, by contrast, must apply 100 per cent of EU regulations to 100 per cent of its economy.

Switzerland is not a full participant in the single market in services. This doesn’t mean, obviously, that UBS can’t operate in Frankfurt, but it does mean that Swiss financial institutions are not part of the same regulatory structure as those in the EU. If they want to trade there, they must adopt different rules. The flipside, of course, is that Zurich doesn’t need to worry about the expensive and sometimes downright malicious EU regulations that menace London: the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, the short-selling ban, the bonus cap, the Financial Transactions Tax.

Now here’s the clinching statistic. The EU takes 64 per cent of Swiss exports, as opposed to 45 per cent of British exports. Europhiles like to claim that ‘around’ half of our exports go to the EU, but that figure has fallen by 10 per cent since 2006. How much lower must it go before we drop the idea that we need to merge our political institutions?

To summarise, then, Norway gets a better deal than Britain currently does, and Switzerland a better deal than Norway. But a post-EU Britain, with 65 million people to Switzerland’s eight million and Norway’s five, should expect something better yet.

The deal on offer is based on free trade and intergovernmental co-operation. We’ll recover our parliamentary sovereignty and, with it, the ability to sign bilateral trade deals with non-EU countries, as Norway and Switzerland do — an increasingly important advantage when every continent in the world is growing except Antarctica and Europe. We’d obviously remain outside Schengen.

Would we have to pay a participation fee? According to Professor Herman Matthijs of the Free University of Brussels, who has produced the only like-with-like comparator, Iceland’s annual per capita contribution is €50, Switzerland’s €68 and Norway’s €107 — largely because Norway insists on opting into lots of EU aid and research projects. Iceland, though it has precisely the same treaty terms, chooses to participate in fewer common activities and so pays less. The United Kingdom’s -current per -capita annual payment, by the same methodology, is €229.

Why should the other member states allow Britain such a deal? Because it would be in everyone’s interest. The UK runs a structural deficit with the EU, only partly offset by its surplus with the rest of the world. On the day we left, we would immediately become the EU’s biggest export market. The idea that either side would wish to jeopardise the flow of cross-Channel trade is bizarre. And, in any case, it is remarkably difficult, under WTO rules, to apply a trade barrier where you previously didn’t have one.

Many European federalists actively campaign for Britain to be given an economics-only relationship — what Jacques Delors calls ‘privileged partnership’ and Guy Verhofstadt ‘associate membership’. It would allow them to push ahead with a European army, a common tax system and so on, while Britain led an outer tier of some 20 European states and territories, part of a common -market but not a common government.

‘Iceland is much better off outside the EU,’ says prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. ‘Unemployment is minimal, purchasing power has never been higher, and we have control over our own legal framework, currency and natural resources.’

Iceland has 300,000 people. Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world, the fourth military power, a leading member of the G7 and one of five permanent seat-holders on the UN Security Council. I think we might just about scrape by.

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Show comments
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  • P 266

    This article ignores certain points

    1) Iceland, Switzerland and Norway all have to accept immigration from EU like any other EU member. The EU may give up trying to make UK part of the future federal EU, but they will probably not give up free movement of people. From behind the English Channel it may sound hard to understand but for the continental Europe with their history of permanent wars this conflict reducing mechanism matters a bit more than for us.

    2) As for signing free trade deals with other countries, Norway and Switzerland are too small to be true competitors to EU and the EU still tries to lure them in but why would the EU allow escaping UK to become its competitor while at the same time benefiting from access to EU’s market? Protecting its exports to UK is one thing but leaving the UK to undermine EU economically abroad while still needing EU’s markets is another. Will the EU countries really behave that self-harmingly?

  • Suggy

    That €229 per capita number looks high. If I take our true contribution to be nearer £8.5bn (once we tackle rebates and all that) and our population to be 64.6m, then I get £131.58 for each UK citizen versus £134.09 for each Norwegian citizen. I’m basing that on Norway’s contribution being 681.7 million (figures from http://www.eu-norway.org/eu/Financial-contribution/ and converted from Euro to £). I could be well off here, so I’d like to see the raw numbers and sources for a fair comparison.

    • Suggy

      Answered my own question, the numbers are from ‘Professor Herman Matthijs of the Free University of Brussels, like-with-like annual per capita contribution comparator’, but that looks like member state contribution before rebates, which I don’t think provides a fair comparison. Page 17 on this paper http://iasir.net/AIJRHASSpapers/AIJRHASS14-306.pdf – I’m no expert on this, just trying to get an decent, unbiased comparison figure.

  • martyp88

    So I take it Hannan hasn’t noticed not just that EU ministers and EU country leaders have said that it will be all but impossible to get this wonderful post Brexit deal we’re counting on, but also that gov officials, former ministers and business leaders from Iceland, Switzerland and Norway are saying that what works for them, won’t work for us.

    ‘Here are some statistics on other countries. Trust me, it will work out exactly the same for us.’ No. It won’t.

  • Robert Puddy

    despite the rhetoric in the article, there is no chance on earth, that the eu will negotiate any FTA with us that didn’t include free movement of labour, or adherence to EU rules.

    Simply because it would set a precedent that other full members might try to follow

  • Robert Puddy

    despite the rhetoric in the article, there is no chance on earth, that the eu will negotiate any FTA with us that didn’t include free movement of labour, or adherence to EU rules.

    Simply because it would set a precedent that other full members might try to follow

  • serialluncher

    You forgot to mention that the Norway option (presuming it exists for the UK) wouldn’t satisfy most Brexiters. I’m sure that’s just a slight oversight.

  • Old Gerry

    Apologies if this has been covered before, but why does the illustration to this piece show a fallen star? Surely the star should be floating above the chained circle, free and independant?

  • Stephen Wolstenholme
  • Callipygian

    Great article. I have two words on Brexit: DO IT.

  • Mary Ann

    The pound is still fallling, the world is not impress with the idea of our leaving the EU, how foolish can the British people be.

    • Toy Pupanbai

      ‘how foolish can the British people be.’?
      We will soon see.
      We buy more from the EU than they do from us.
      If they are the stupid, vindictive ones, we will take our trade elsewhere.
      We shell out to make other countries more competitive at the expense of our infra structure.
      Did my grandfather and uncles, die for that?
      I do not recognise the country of my birth!

    • ButcombeMan

      You are losing the debate Mary Ann.

  • johnb1945

    The idea that the WTO guarantees us an FTA without having to accept a package of regulations (the implication here, if not explicit) is pure, simple, fanciful cr@…p

    • canadianhegemony

      Selling into any country requires meeting local regulations for products or commodities sold. Whether it is the UK selling into Korea, Canada or the US. Or for that matter, any of those nations selling into the EU. Which would be no different for a self-governing and sovereign UK after Brexit.

      The idea that the UK would have to be a member of EFTA and accept EU’s free movement of people to trade with the EU “is pure, simple, fanciful cr@…p”.

      • johnb1945

        No it isn’t.

        This is the dissonance in the Brexit argument.

        They (correctly) criticise the EU for putting ideology above pragmatism.

        Yet they assume the EU will do the pragmatic and reasonable thing if we Brexit.

        It’s an assumption based on no evidence.

        • canadianhegemony

          Yes I agree that the EU is not guaranteed to be either pragmatic or reasonable. But that should be an argument for getting out, not staying in.

          As to the contention that the UK would have to be a member of EFTA and accept EU’s free movement of people to trade with the EU, that is still “pure, simple, fanciful cr@…p”.

          The UK has already rejected free movement and Cameron flatly stated Monday in the House of Commons that “out means out.”

          China and the US trade massively with the EU without being members of EFTA. New Zealand sells products into the EU without having to accept free movement of people from the EU. Somehow Korea, Argentina, Chile and Brazil all manage to do the same.

          No sovereign and self-governing nation would even consider waiving all their immigration and visa regulations just to trade with the EU.

          Nor would Britain, the 5th largest trading nation in the world. That’s an absurdity, even for the EU. At the end of the day, it’s our market and our ₤55 million per day contribution.

          Why stay in an anti-democratic, sclerotic and corrupt association with massive financial exposure when Greece and Portugal (or scarier yet) Italy defaults on their bonds? Get out now.

          • johnb1945

            No it is not pure fanciful cr@p to suggest we’d have to be De facto EU members to trade with them.

            It is a risk.

            Nobody knows how a brexit will pan out. You’re guessing. Same as all of us. And the EU ideology is not a reason to leave unless you believe you cannot change it.

            It is fanciful cr@p to suggest the wto will enforce Free trade between the EU and UK post brexit. They will not.

  • jennybloggs

    Brilliant article. Should be sent to every household.

  • johninkermen

    This article is one of the first that sets out some real facts! Well don Dan! I wish the swivel eyed ones would present some real fact in parliament, For and Against instead of the unruly, antisocial behaviour that would not be tolerated anywhere else!

  • Bodkinn

    Shame the outers do not seem so far to have equipped themselves with this sort of info.

  • Phyllyp Sparowe

    Brilliant piece Dan, Can we address this 50 trade treaty issue? How many can simply be quickly re-signed with these countries.

  • Mary Ann

    With the inners using fear of change and the outers using fear of foreigners, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to choose between them.

    • ButcombeMan

      You are just silly.

      It is not “fear of foreigners” it is that for the UK, unlimited free movement cannot work.

  • rinfrance

    It is rather silly really, the UK as is cannot be compared to any other country simply. The problem that the UK currently has is that many are not committed to the UK being European. WTF do you thing that the UK is. As you are not really it seems aware the Isles of Britain float around of the coast of North west Europe. We have a density of people far in excess of most other country’s around the world, far and away ahead of Iceland and no volcanoes. What the UK needs to do is wake up to the fact that it cannot any longer continue its insular attitude.
    If the UK were to depart, then britain as it would soon become known would be a fractured bankrupt. This is because large factions would then need to gain adhesion to something larger. Scotland would depart the Union and apply to join the EU, as would it seems probable would Northern Ireland.
    Wales would then be like a kicking stick in the side of the country as it too would want independence and probable future alliance with the EU.
    The silly sods that want to leave the EU have not taken into account that the other members of the Union do want to be part of the EU as they DO gain from being in. Under those circumstances, britain would soon find that the various businesses would say bye bye to britain.
    If you are naive enough to think that this will not happen, then look at the USSR and the countries that have “left”. Historically, look at the Roman Empire and other large groups. China is currently walking a tight rope.
    The other problem that would as a consequence hit britain and be a future serious problem is the large multinational contingent. Overloaded country, no way to go elsewhere, many different factions, one could see even a war of the factions appearing, Imagine Birmingham verses Sheffield.
    Sorry, we must stay in the EU if not then the total destruction of the UK is imminent.
    Just a point, do realise that the politicians want to be top of the heap. Its easy to become top of a small heap, a lot more difficult to become top of a large heap.

    • ButcombeMan

      Staying in the EU with free movement and our population on track to over 90 million is just not possible.
      Free movement cannot work for Britain, too many want, quite naturally, to come to the UK.
      If the EU refuses to recognize that and help us, out of the EU we must come.

      • rinfrance

        Actually, coming out of the EU could bring down, not only the UK which it undoubtedly will, but also the EU. The thing is, that whilst there are many EU nationals in the UK, there are many UK nationals, not only abroad, but also those that want to go abroad. One has to realise that IF the UK were to come out of the EU, under international law, the current persons can stay exactly as they are, BUT the UK nationals may be forced, financially, into a return to a bankrupt blighty. So a swingeing 3-5 million many of which are retired, would come back to the UK, basically whilst not broke but unable to sell their EU houses flats etc and having no where in the UK to live! (large numbers, France, Malta, Spain, Portugal, high numbers, Germany, Romania, to name the largest number of inhabitants.)
        The free movement will have to stay anyway for between 2 and 5 years. The frightening thing is the potential break up of the EU. THAT will immediately screw France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and of course the UK.
        In a twisted, perverted kind of way, I would almost like to see the masochistic twits no job, no money, the country going into a sort of brown out. Immigrants rushing out and Britain, out on its own looking across the Irish sea from a Wales that wants independence, and the various boats leaving with the Banking files for Isle of Man.
        I could almost see Isle of Wight suing for independence.
        Yes I know that that is extreme, however, there is more than a grain of possibility.
        You see, the I want outs are shouting as loud as they can to try and intimidate those of us that want to look to the future, whilst they want to drive along looking through the rear window, driving backwards along the motorway of life!
        Just a thought to go, a wild animal that has been domesticated cannot go back, it would die, think that of britain, after Rome collapsed britain died for about 500years, it took another 500 years before it became of note again. It may only take 200 years for each step, that is still 400 years! Ha! Ha! Ha! Some winter of discontent. I am 70, but my poor grandchildren.
        (in last year £1:00 = €1:42+ to now £1:00 = €1:26- and sinking!)

  • Clarke Pitts

    Interesting but what about the point raised by Anatole Kaletsky (and others) that our exports are mainly services and our imports mainly goods, which matters because the international trade in the latter is protected by WTO rules while the former are not. I am in favour of leaving the EU but am left wondering about how messy the transition will be.

    • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

      It’s an important point and a good reason why comparisons with Norway are inappropriate. Norway makes its money from oil, shipping, wood products and hydro-electric power. Basing a decision for the UK on what works for Norway is completely mad.

  • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

    “Why should the other member states allow Britain such a deal? Because it would be in everyone’s interest.”
    The same argument was made by the SNP during the Scottish referendum for all sorts of things like currency sharing etc. If it wasn’t true for Scottish independence, why is it true for Brexit?

  • FF42

    The Swiss voted in a 2014 referendum to overturn a clause in their bilateral agreements that allows free migration from the EEA, including the EU. The bilaterals have a guillotine clause which means that if one clause goes, the entire set of agreements falls with it. This will come to a head during any UK Brexit negotiations and will be very messy. The Swiss bilaterals started as a stepping stone to full membership of the EU and it is fair to say they are very unpopular with other member states and the parliament. The Swiss have got themselves into a difficult situation.

    Membership of the EEA (the Norwegian option) requires free movement of EEA citizens. If control over migration was the reason for people to vote Leave, they won’t get anything if Britain then does a deal with the EU.

    • canadianhegemony

      “If control over migration was the reason for people to vote Leave, they won’t get anything if Britain then does a deal with the EU.”
      Unless of course that deal is the same as any other sovereign, self-governing nation.

      China and the US trade massively with the EU without being members of EFTA. New Zealand sells products into the EU without having to accept free movement of people from the EU. Somehow Korea, Argentina, Chile and Brazil all manage to do the same. Amazing isn’t it?

      No sovereign and self-governing nation would even consider waiving all their immigration and visa regulations just to trade with the EU. Nor would Britain.

  • Marvin

    Who needs any “BIG” names to lead the leave campaign? With people like Dan Hannan, John Redwood, Owen Patterson, Bill Cash, Rees Mogg, Bernard Jenkins, and now Michael Gove and Boris, “Onward To Victory!”

  • abystander

    Leaving the EU is leaving the Single Market.

    There is no legal basis for access to the Single Market unless we remain in the EU or negotiate access from outside the EU.

    In the latter case we accept the regulations and directives as well as the judgements of the Court of Justice without a say or presence.

    • canadianhegemony

      I’m sorry this is just absurd. I realize this is an old thread. But honestly, just how hard do you think it is to “negotiate access from outside the EU”?

      Free trade agreements are done all the time within a common framework of the WTO. Where have you been the last 20 years? Tariffs are the exception, not the rule.
      We run a substantial trade deficit to the rest of the EU, which means they need our markets more than we need theirs. As far as “accepting the regulations and directives” of the EU, not true. Our products sold into the EU would only need to meet EU specs just as our products sold into the US or Canada or Japan or Korea need to meet local standards. Welcome to the modern world. Embrace it. Britain is the 5th largest trading economy in the world.
      Right now we’re being impeded not enabled by membership in the EU. Latvia and Croatia have the same voice and the same vote as we do on each and every trade deal that effectively must account for the interests of 28 nations. Which is why EU trade deals are notoriously drawn out. Why stay in a sclerotic and corrupt association with massive financial exposure when (not if) Greece and Portugal (or scarier yet) Italy defaults on their bonds? Get out now.

      • abystander

        Want a free trade Agreement with the eu?

        Implement every directive and regulation. Otherwise no market access. You think the Brits are going to get some favour or other?

        • canadianhegemony

          Reading comprehension. Do you think Korea or Argentina or Chile follows EU working hours directives? EU environmental rules? EU renewable energy requirements?

          Read carefully. To sell goods or services or commodities to the EU, they have to meet the standards APPLICABLE TO THE GOODS or services or commodities being sold. Just as when they (or the UK) sell to any market. Period.

          • abystander

            Intelligence comprehension.

            No good or service is provided in the eu without meeting it’s standards. The eu also makes extensive use of anti dumping provisions. Comply or you do not trade in the single market.

            • canadianhegemony

              Agreed. That’s not the same as being required to meet all the EU’s directives and regulations.

              We merely need to meet the standards for the products being sold. Which is no different than any other country in the world selling to the EU. Or to each other.

              So tell me again. Why is that an impediment to leaving the EU?

  • MrBishi

    The question that Daniel Hannan always avoids is, “what happens if the EU refuses to play ball and insists that the UK accept EFTA or nothing”?

    • Observer1951

      Ain’t going to happen the UK has a large trade deficit with the EU. So they are going to threaten to stop selling us goods are they? Money always speaks, of course we will formulate a deal

      • MrBishi

        Yawn.

        • Observer1951

          My reaction exactly when I read your comment

    • sidor

      Of course they will use whatever means at their disposal to make Britain’s life as hard as possible in the case of Brexit, even by inflicting damage to their own economy. This is predictable since their priority is not economy: their strategic goal is creation of Euroempire at whatever cost. This is one compelling argument for leaving.

    • ButcombeMan

      They can try bullying Britain but the British are at their best when being bullied.

      The EU knows full well that trying it on with Britain is pointless and not in their interests, the interests of their manufacturers or their trade unions. The Euro zone in particular is too weak to take on the concept of bullying Britain.

      The EU will be desperate to reach an accommodation with the UK because it is their interests to do so.

      • MrBishi

        In fact, it is the UK trying to bully the EU.
        Stupid?
        Yes, only a bunch of halfwits would countenance such stupidity.
        The EU WITHOUT the UK will be the second largest trading bloc in the world; they are quaking in their boots.

        • ButcombeMan

          No it is the UK responding to the democratic will of its people. The UK will bully no one. The UK will set out what are red lines, no free movement into the UK is one, no contribution to the EU budget, repatriation of our fishing grounds. Then everything else is a matter for negotiation. There is an issue with agricultural produce and limiting shocks to all. If that includes tapering for EU fishers in UK grounds, to facilitate and oil the wheels that will be considered.

          The EU will not seek confrontation, nor will the UK. The negotiations are for grown-ups, not people like you.

          The half wits are those who seem to be putting forward the idea that the UK cannot exist outside the EU or is too weak to robustly negotiate in our own interests.

          The Commisson KNOWS the UK can do very well outside, what they want to do in the event of a Brexit, is limit the damage. A war of words with the UK would be very damaging. The Eurozone particularly, cannot stand economic damage. EU manufacturers and Unions, will be pressing for early resolution.

          • MrBishi

            But – and I will keep repeating this question until I get an answer – what happens if the EU simply turns a deaf ‘un?
            We are out of the EU, tariffs will apply to our exports and all worldwide FTAs will lapse?
            What happens then?

            • ButcombeMan

              Well you can stop repeating it, here is the answer:

              If the EU declines to negotiate on anything and imposes WTO tariffs on the UK (ridiculously unlikely but I humour you), the UK will apply the same tariffs that the EU imposes, making them impose them first.. That will make all German goods, cars, white goods etc more expensive. The UK will also buy agricultural produce and everything else at world prices. there would be no transitional agricultural agreement, no transitional fishing agreement. Ireland would suffer severe economic collapse as would France and Spain.

              If the EU promotes a trade war, the British would stop buying French wine. Paris would be ringed by French farmers demanding an agreement, they would even drive to Brussels demanding an agreement.

              Do you not see how ridiculous you are.
              None of this will happen because it is in everyone’s interest for it not to..

              The EU is no position economically to bully Britain. Too many countries have an interest in an accommodation. The EU will just have to live with the fact that the UK does not want to be in political union, we just want a simple trading relationship.

              • MrBishi

                You describe the most likely outcome.
                The UK will leave the EU, the EU will apply tariffs as it is required to by its own laws and the UK will add tariffs to its imports to avoid dumping. These UK tariffs will add some £12 billion to the cost of UK households so good luck getting that past the UK electorate.
                Tariffs reduce trade – this highlights just one of the big Brexit lies, that leaving the EU will improve our trade, when there is not a single example of tariffs improving trade anywhere in the world – and because of this our motor manufacturers have said they will relocate to the EU.
                http://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/SMMT-KPMG-EU-Report.pdf
                Taking some £60 billion of our GDP with them.
                This is why everyone who knows anything about economics is counselling against Brexit.
                We will have a £1.7 TRILLION debt by the time Brexit happens and we will be unable to service the interest payments and so we will default and you should look to recent Greek history to see the consequences of a default.
                State pensions reduced by 40% along with state jobs and state salaries.
                Who looks ridiculous now?

                • ButcombeMan

                  What utter silliness, were you born stupid or did you have special training in being an idiot? OF COURSE it is not the most likely scenario.

                  Have you studied Article 50?

                  Do you not know that the provisions are that after a nation declares its intention to leave the political EU, there is a Statutory period of two years to negotiate the terms of leaving and any arrangements to make the leaving orderly.

                  That two years can be extended by agreement of all parties.

                  It will be in the interests of everyone, all countries, to reach agreement. The UK on Brexit will be the EUs biggest trading partner.

                  Further discourse with you, in your ignorant state, is pointless,

                  Read it all up then come back when you have digested. You are sadly typical of so many people who post on the net, just profoundly ignorant.

                • MrBishi

                  I do so love debating with halfwits.
                  The two year period is to negotiate the ending of all of the treaties.
                  There is NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER of the EU to offer alternative terms of membership or accept any entreaties from the UK.
                  So please, you unmitigated halfwit, link to me the relevant pages of the treaties or article 50 that disagrees with what I have said.
                  Why on earth would all 27 other members want to have the UK – who will have the status of a leper colony – in the EU for one second longer than necessary?
                  Do you really think that the other EU members will want to give thew UK special treatment with all the European right wing political parties snapping at their heels? Are you really that stupid?
                  You are just another Brexit halfwit, making up scenarios to suit your deluded fantasies.
                  Feel free to stay away from me, you are way out of your depth.

                • ButcombeMan

                  I see you do not like being challenged. You should get out of Tunbridge Wells more. Learn something.

                  There is no obligation on anyone to agree to anything but the UK will be the EUs largest external market AND on its doorstep AND much of the EUs exports elsewhere, especially motor vehicles and particularly AIRBUS, contain high value UK sourced content.

                  In the case of Airbus, the wings and engines are really high value, they are not easily replaceable from ANYWHERE else and the engines are customer specified.

                  The EU will be hurting itself by not seeking trading arrangements with the UK, it even has them with Turkey, The UK is a far richer market than Turkey.

                  In fact Ford moved production from Southampton to Turkey and to outside the EU. I scan read your SMMT report I did not see them mention that.

                  Despite all the talk about trade, Trade is not the big issue, it is the political union that Brits want out of. The British have always been free traders, indeed in many ways we have to drag the protectionist EU along, on trade.

                  I notice in post to another, you accuse your opponent of not having read the acquis, I have and I have worked for the Commission

                  The Commission knows full well there will have to be an accommodation with the UK if the UK votes to leave the political union. In particular the Commission will want interim arrangements, from the off, on fishing and agriculture, to avoid problems in EU states.

                  And as regards auto manufacturing, that will go wherever it is most efficient and cheapest. The UK has no automatic right to expect to keep it all, We have to deliver and fortunately are doing.

                  The SMMT report did I think I speed read) also neglect to cover the stability and geopolitical arguments. New investment NOW, in Turkey, by a motor vehicle manufacturer would incur a risk premium because of instability in Syria and possible Turk/Kurd problems. The UK is managing to re-shore some manufacturing because of our relative stability and nearness to markets. I expect that to continue.

                  And a piece of advice. Keep your temper.

                • MrBishi

                  I thought that you didn’t want to speak to me again – and yet here you are with even more rubbish.
                  1. No one – not even me – is suggesting that if we leave the EU, trade between the EU and the UK will stop. This is another desperate Brexit canard to prop up their threadbare arguments. All that will happen is that tariffs will be applied by the EU to UK exports and doubtless vice versa. This will slowly strangle UK export trade and give the EU ample time to fund the transfer of the UK’s manufacturing base to the EU.
                  2. Cameron has negotiated an opt out from “ever closer union” so, yet another bogus canard from the Brexit side.
                  3. I didn’t accuse you of not reading the acquis, you simply didn’t understand it.
                  4. Farming and fishing are two good examples of why two years will be needed to unwind the treaties. It is not, however, the great problem you suggest; there are existing arrangements with Norway (who is not party to EU farming or fishing arrangements) to draw from.
                  5. Of course the motor industry will go where manufacturing is cheapest and a minimum 5.5% tariff has caused them to make up their minds already. The SMMT report was commissioned by ALL of the motor manufacturers and produced by KPMG. I’m sure that the readers of this blog will agree that you know better than this group.
                  If you don’t want me to call you a halfwit, then don’t open your posts with, “what utter silliness, were you born stupid or did you have special training in being an idiot?”

                • ButcombeMan

                  I don’t really want to speak to you, I think you utterly ridiculous but I found I still had a round in the chamber. I may or may not open another box.

                  The SMMT report is presenting only one side of the issue, Britain will not stay or leave Europe on the basis of a biased report written by consultants employed by just one sectional interest and interested in only a narrow POV and which is flawed in its representations of the geopolitics. The kids who do such reports tend to have no real knowledge of much. What they say fits whoever is paying, hence all the banking problems.

                  The issue is POLITICAL. As you say, trade will continue.. Tariffs are much less likely than you suggest for reasons I have given. The bottom line for the UK is that we just cannot cope with another 30 years or more of unlimited inward EU immigration, not good for us, bad for losing countries.

                  The British people are by nature free traders and dislike the concept of surrendering too much sovereignty.

                  The leavers you so dislike, have seen the flawed nature of the EU (and the Euro), It is falling apart before our eyes. It is failing the Greeks, the Portuguese and (shortly) the French, if we are ever to leave, now is the time while the EU is weak and before it drags us down..

                • MrBishi

                  Your level of desperation is becoming embarrassing.
                  The SMMT report is the considered view of the motor industry and must be taken seriously. Why would you not take it seriously unless you are a halfwit?
                  Nissan and Toyota have both confirmed its conclusions and the richest man in China has said that leaving the EU would be a serious mistake and that Chinese industry in the UK would rethink their presence here.
                  Now you moved onto the “sovereignty” bo**ocks I have nothing to say, you are beyond ignorant.
                  Just for the record, the UK parliament is sovereign and that ends the debate.

                • ButcombeMan

                  You are not keeping your temper. If you insist on coming on here spouting nonsense you must expect occasionally to get put back in your box.

                • MrBishi

                  You couldn’t put a ball of cotton wool back into its box.
                  I’m surprised you haven’t used the Brexit side’s best argument:
                  “Staying in the EU will give you genital warts”.
                  Mrs Bishi is a Daily Mail reader and to the right of Genghis Khan; and she recently said to me that she is tempted by Brexit but is put off by their obvious lies.
                  You should realise that the only people attracted to Brexit are halfwits and direct your propaganda lies at them. You are only going to get buried in facts and the truth when you argue with me.

    • canadianhegemony

      Silly. EU members are signatories to the WTO which provides the framework for free trade deals the world over, as has been the case for 20 years. Which is why free trade is ubiquitous and tariffs are more the exception not the rule.

      Second the UK has massive leverage since we run a substantial trade deficit to the rest of the EU. Meaning they need our market more than we need theirs. And if they start giving us any static during our Article 50 exit, I suggest we freeze payment on our ₤55 million per day contribution.

      • MrBishi

        What a halfwit.
        Have a look at the WTO regulations on most favoured nation and then come back and apologise.

        • canadianhegemony

          Are you one of the half-wits who believes that the UK would have to be a member of EFTA and accept EU’s free movement of people to trade with the EU?
          Or perhaps you are one of the propagandists promoting that falsehood?

          • MrBishi

            Yes.
            But that’s because I have read the EU’s aquis, while you haven’t got a clue what it is.
            Only Brexiters are liars, and I don’t mean the occassional untruth. The whole Brexit campaign is one big lie, not a word of truth to date, not one.

            • canadianhegemony

              Seriously? You actually believe that the UK would have to be a member of EFTA and accept EU’s free movement of people to trade with the EU?

              Amazing. How on earth do China and the US manage to trade with the EU without being members of EFTA? How does New Zealand sell products into the EU without having to accept free movement of people from the EU? How does Argentina manage to do the same?

              Please tell me more.

              Why should any sovereign and self-governing nation waive all their immigration and visa regulations just to trade with the EU?

              • MrBishi

                The clue is in the “E” in EU.
                Mind you, perhaps a Canadian thinks that China is in Europe.
                BTW, these FTAs you so proudly boast of do not include access for their service sector business which is about 30% of UK exports.
                We control our borders at the moment as you would know if you ever went through them and it is quite simply a lie to suggest that anything will change if we left the EU.

  • douglas redmayne

    I am only interested in Brexit if it allows us to immediately kick out millions of unskilled migrants and let’s us ignore the ECHR and remove hundreds and thousands of Non EEA migrants and dump them where we like.

    • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

      You realise that the ECHR has nothing to do with the EU and is in fact an entirely separate organisation?
      Voting to leave the EU will NOT remove us from the ECHR.

      • douglas redmayne

        I do know that but leaving Europe would make it more likely that we would leave the ECHR IMHO.

        • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

          Why would it be more likely? There referendum is about the EU, not the ECHR.
          The UK was a member of the Council of Europe that gave birth to the ECHR from its very beginning. Indeed it was originally Churchill’s idea and the founding treaty was signed in London.
          I can’t see any government pulling the UK out of the Council of Europe. The only European countries outside the Council of Europe are Belarus, Northern Cyprus and Kosovo..

      • Linda Smith

        Don’t you know that if we are in the EU we are subservient to the ECHR – it’s in the last Treaty we didn’t get a referendum on, no if’s no but’s.

        • UnhygienixTheFishmonger

          But we are subservient to the ECHR even if we leave the EU. We’d have to leave the Council of Europe and this referendum isn’t about leaving the Council of Europe. Indeed I am not aware of any proposal to leave the Council of Europe,

  • http://figures-of-speech.com/index.htm Richard

    In an otherwise excellent piece, Mr Hannan’s views on the Swiss are sort of correct, but are incomplete.

    The Swiss are not happy with their present half-in, half-out position in the EU. Something has to give.

    Despite the Swiss electorate’s rejection of membership of the European Economic Area in 1992, the Swiss government applied for membership of the EU and that application is still on the table. It looks as though it will be reactivated soon.

    The bilateral treaties between Switzerland and the EU are an administrative mess and offer Switzerland no real advantage over full membership.

    The discontent many Swiss feel over their loss of control of their own affairs came to a head in 2010 with the acceptance of a referendum that would have seen the deportation of foreign criminals. However, deportation runs counter to the rulings of all the EU and international courts to which Switzerland has freely subjugated itself.

    The political classes in Switzerland could not implement the referendum decision and tried to water it down into irrelevance. Next Sunday the Swiss will vote on a new referendum designed to force the Government and judiciary finally to implement the will of the people as expressed in the previous referendum.

    Whatever the outcome, the Swiss are in trouble. If the proposal is accepted their government will be forced to tear up all those beautiful human rights obligations or will have to refuse to follow a referendum decision.

    If it is rejected their government can override direct democracy and they will be moved step-by-step into full membership of the EU.

    Not the happy bunnies that Mr Hannan and so many commentators think they are.

  • Raimo Kangasniemi

    United Kingdom as a state would certainly look smaller – Scotland would go independent, at least. Re-united Ireland would look like more favourable option to many in Northern Ireland. Wales would have no benefits in staying beside England.

    Basically, it’s possible there would soon be no Britain left except as a geographical term.

    Not a bad vision of the future.

    • startledcod

      Raimo, me old fruit, you have this all wrong. No matter how much huffing and puffing that goes on in northern Britain in the privacy of the voting booth the Scotch would think two things: oil below $30 per barrel and the Euro and vote to stay in the UK and continue biting the hand that feeds them. Whilst the Scotch would survive away from England, albeit in a poorer state, the Welsh could not as they are totally reliant on England as are Northern Ireland. In NI’s case they wouldn’t go until there was a clear Republican majority (probably a generation away) and when Eire wouldn’t be looking at a huge subsidy.

      • ButcombeMan

        Can you imagine the impoverished Jockistan, out of the UK but back in Europe, major financial industry largely gone to where its market is, shipbuilding gone, Faslane on the move, house prices down capital flight, VAT on food in Scotland with very high prices and cross border shopping with their Euros to huge Tesco & Morrisons in England?

        Will the Scots vote for that? Will wee Nippy try to sell them that?

    • Phyllyp Sparowe

      If you add up all those non-core disposals England would be tens of billions in the black.

  • trobrianders

    The EU is communism by the back door.
    ”The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.”
    Mikhail Gorbachev

    • McRobbie

      And here there is poor me, thinking that the EU is bankers and business by the back door? Why do you think big business and the financial world are so keen to stay in ? I mean, communism is really attractive to them is it not ..not !! What Gorby meant was a central dictatorship run by un elected bureaucrats….he got that bit right.

      • jeremy Morfey

        Not a lot of difference between a corrupt Single Market run by bankers and crony business and a corrupt Single Market run by the Party, essentially bankers and crony business masquerading as “The People”.

      • trobrianders

        Communists such as yourself wet your pants at the thought of that concentration of power which you believe you can quickly take control of come the revolution. You can’t build your own power base so you dream of stealing one from others. You are hyenas.

  • colchar

    What would Britain look like? Probably the same as it did before it joined!

  • Conway

    .. change-aversion is deep in our genome, and we vote accordingly. Europhiles know that most referendums go the way of the status quo, which is why their campaign is based around conjuring inchoate fears of change.” There is no status quo, though. Staying in will mean change as the EU continues its progress towards the creation of a superstate. The REMAIN campaign is based on fear mongering because they cannot make a positive case for staying in.

  • bramhall

    Firstly neither Norway nor Switzerland is anything like Britain. They are no wealthy because they are not in the EU; they are not in the EU because they are wealthy and do not need anything extra to retain ha wealth. Norway has huge oil and gas reserves; almost unlimited low cost hydro electric power, a gigantic sovereign wealth fund and a per capita income twice that of Britain. Switzerland is a repository to the world’s wealthy and has a substantial and very high quality manufacturing base. These countries have nothing economically in common with Britain which, despite being apparently he fifth largest economy in the world, cannot afford the best levels of health care, has very overcrowded roads and trains; and a dreadful housing shortage, even though most new houses are built to a miniscule size and poor build quality. In addition Britain has one of the worst deficits of all the advanced Western countries. The comparison with Norway, Switzerland and Iceland is one of he most fatuous I have come across and only be made by people without any understanding of economics.

    • mohdanga

      Norway’s population: 5 million, made up of a homogeneous population (but not for long as the elites there seem infatuated with having Muslim enrichers overrun them). UK population: 64 million, of which millions are either illegal 3rd worlders or “legal” 3rd worlders, all sucking off the system which has to borrow tens of billions to support this, as well as all the other pandering, all in the name of “diversity”.

  • Jonathan Burns

    How do Canada, Australia and New Zealand survive?
    Poor, poor countries being independent, how they must wish to surrender sovereignty to the EU.
    SARCASM!

    • Les

      Canada’s in NAFTA, TPP and APEC.
      Australia and New Zealand are in APEC, CER, TPP and Cairns.

      • Conway

        Those are trade agreements not nascent empires.

        • Les

          They are multilateral agreements. Our equivalent is the EEA. Which we cannot participate in without being a member of the EU or EFTA.

          • Conway

            The point being that Canada does not have to be ruled by the USA in NAFTA and Oz and NZ do not have to have their laws made by any of the other Asian countries. Trade deals are made via the WTO. We can have our own seat back and make our deals with whomever we like once we’ve left the EU.

            • Les

              Those countries voluntarily entered into those agreements and are entering into even more agreements. All developed countries are members of trading blocs and the Brexit people are saying Britain should just have a collection of unilateral trade agreements? It’s madness!

          • Bones

            The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

  • Les

    By the way, the reason that the EU takes a higher percentage of Swiss exports than British exports is pretty obvious. The Swiss make better stuff than us, and are pretty narrow in the things they do export. We export some good stuff, but we also try to flog a bunch of nasty old tat.

    • Malcolm Stevas

      I don’t think many of us are thinking “big and powerful” so much as independent, different, of ancient lineage, and of proven ability to govern ourselves. No-one sensible would chuck away such things lightly. I certainly don’t want to be merely Brussels’s Airstrip One.

      • Les

        Our exports aren’t going to increase if we leave the EU – they will decrease. They’re already buying a lot of stuff from us that they don’t really want just because we’re in Europe.

        • E.Blackadder

          “They’re already buying a lot of stuff from us that they don’t really want just because we’re in Europe.”
          You’re out of your mind.
          Please, please tell me you’ll be prominently campaigning for “in”? With insane scaremongering nonsense like this, you’ll be doing the “out” campaign a favour.

        • Hybird

          There’ll be a huge export market for our fish when we’ve reclaimed our fishing grounds and the French, Belgians, Spaniards etc can’t fish plunder them anymore. And a booming fishing industry will provide thousands of jobs.

    • mohdanga

      “…we have this thing in Britain about rewarding investors with big dividends whether or not companies are profitable”. Err, OK.

  • canadianhegemony

    Excellent. Well researched, well reasoned and well written. In short, very Hannan-like altogether.

    It (yet again) puts to lie all the scaremongering about trading with the EU.

    But it also doesn’t quite go far enough. To quote:
    “Iceland’s annual per capita contribution is €50, Switzerland’s €68 and Norway’s €107… The United Kingdom’s current per-capita annual payment, by the same methodology, is €229.”

    How about zero €0.00 per capita contribution? Neither China nor the US pay for the privilege of trading with the EU, and their trade volume is massive.

    No half measures please. No backsliding, no hidden agreements, no bureaucratic negating the will of the voters. Out means out.

    • Les

      No it isn’t – it’s factually incorrect in a half dozen different ways.

      • canadianhegemony

        The UK is the 5th largest trading nation in the world. Nothing laughable about it.

        Either way the size of the examples I selected is not remotely the point.

        The point is that an independent UK would not have to be a member of the EEA or the EFTA to trade with the EU. If you are seriously claiming otherwise, “Don’t make me laugh!”

        • justejudexultionis

          ‘Trading nation’. I thought the UK was just a giant hedge fund.

        • Les

          We used to be the 11th largest exporter in money terms before the oil market collapsed. Four out of five of our top exports are oil and gas related (including refined and crude petroleum at Nos 2 and 3).

          As the Telegraph noted last month, now the price of a barrel of oil is less than the price of the barrel. Our renewables industry is unsustainable without massive government subsidies. The declining oil prices will eventually hit the financial services industry big time as UK banks and pension funds have investments in energy. Experts say the UK oil industry is “close to collapse”. We’ve got a very high level of foreign ownership of our infrastructure and national assets, more than any other country I can think of, and a very high debt to GDP ratio (not just government debt but personal debt).

          This is not the right time (if ever there was one) to go it alone.

          • Conway

            This is precisely the right time to get free – before the EU merde hits the revolving blades.

            • Les

              We are in a position of extreme weakness. We need to institute massive domestic reforms to our tax and benefits systems and make major investments in national infrastructure and wait for the positive effects before we would be in any kind of a position of strength.

              • Malcolm Stevas

                The changes you mention are indeed desirable, but far more readily achievable outside the EU.

                • Gilbert White

                  Need to get the unproductive illegals happily settled in work camps in Papua New Guinea and then motivate our own underclass?

                • Malcolm Stevas

                  That kind of thing, certainly – and if Somalis, Afghans, Moroccans et al objected to being returned to their own countries for fear (allegedly) of persecution, PNG would be a humanitarian alternative…

          • canadianhegemony

            So “This is not the right time”? You do realize that the UK is one of the “rich” nations in the EU, and our contributions constitute a net subsidy to the poor ones, predominantly in eastern and southern Europe. Right?

            Do you honestly think they are in better shape than the UK? And we are better off continuing in the subsidy mode?

            Now is the ideal time to get out. Before the whole thing cracks like an ostrich egg, Greece and Portugal default, the ECB goes belly up and the supporting nation guarantors are on the hook.

            Thankfully the UK has massive leverage and a much better situation for making this choice than other EU members. We kept our own currency. We didn’t sign Schengen. We have a large trading deficit with Europe so they need our trade more than we need theirs.

            And unlike other nations we actually have an opportunity to vote on it and our leadership has agreed to abide by the result. Now could not be a better time.

            • Les

              Our GDP could drop by 2.2% if we leave. Britain would have to negotiate the terms of its exit with the EU. Do you think they’ll do us any favours?

              The other problem is we have quite a lot of economically active European citizens living and working in the UK. Many if not all who have not adopted British nationality will have to leave. As would the tens or hundreds of thousands of economically inactive Brits living in Europe.

              Scotland will certainly vote to leave the UK, and Northern Ireland will be a mess.

              • canadianhegemony

                OK. So we’ve moved past all the “we’ll never be able to trade with the EU” arguments and on to new topics entirely? Fair enough.

                btw the study that said leaving the EU could drop our GDP by 2.2% also said that leaving the EU could boost our GDP by 1.6%. But you knew that, right?

                If want to select statistics, how about the EU bureaucracy costs UK business £3 billion per year. And EU regulations inflate UK electricity cost by 15%, making all kinds of businesses uncompetitive.

                Here’s one that’s not in doubt: Our NET contribution to the EU is around £10 billion per year.

                And as to foreign workers leaving the UK, not if they are given work permits. The point about having control of your own immigration policy is that you can chose to issue visas for skilled workers and deny entrance to criminals or medical tourists solely here to exploit our NHS.

                As to surely losing Scotland because they are so enamored with the EU, not likely. In another year the EU will be even more chaotic, indebted and worse off than today. In that club Scotland would be a subsidizer, not a subsidizee.

              • Bones

                A whole series of presumptions. Scotland chose to remain part of UK in their recent referendum, you presume that they will have another referendum paid for once again by other UK countries. The arrangement with economically active European citizens will no doubt be made to cause the least disruption to all concerned, and likely as not the same will be for Brits living in Europe.
                The mess you predict is scaremongering.
                Either way, the reasons for remaining are generally short-term and the reasons for leaving are generally long-term.

              • McRobbie

                What is this tripe about negotiating our exit..we would be leaving and on our terms. Immediately stopping paying the EU mountains of our money and all we would have to do is deal with the EU workers here..stopping payment for benefits etc would have to be phased but ALL THESE DECISIONS WOULD BE IN OUR HANDS TO PROGRESS.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Les is ranting, but he is right about negotiations.
                  The arrangements are laid down in the Lisbon Treaty Article 50.

              • mohdanga

                Why would non-Brits have to leave the UK and “economically inactive Brits” leave Europe??? Such a dumb argument. Millions of Canadians live, vacation and work in the US without being US citizens and, shock, there is no freedom of movement across the border!! I can’t see Spain kicking out a million UK pensioners who contribute to their economy and pose no threat.

    • Sue Ward

      I agree entirely. However, I should like to know whether the Leave movement is working on a detailed plan for exit. This is essential as we are so tightly bound to the EU who has legal responsibility for much of the UK’s day to day activities – civil airspace springs to mind. A withdrawal will have to be tightly plotted and each step tested for legality. This must start now and all spokespeople fully briefed on the steps and legal requirements.

  • frank davidson

    Good article. One or two commentators mention the volume of our export trade with the EU. As DH said that it is reducing but it is only £120 billions per year, this after allowing for the “Rotterdam Effect”. Now since we pay £12 billions in EU subs this equated to a tax on our exports of some 10%. Surely this is not a good deal and to boot we don’t get to make our own laws.

    • Scott Moore

      I am interested in this “making our own laws”. Which particular laws do we wish to make that are vastly different to the EU? Are they detrimental to the vast majority of the UK workforce, benefitting only those who are fortunate enough to be CEO’s or have vast sums of disposable income? Is this an excuse to remove the idealism of universal human rights to a more practical “you only have the rights we want you to have at the moment”? There is a general feeling that the money paid to the EU would somehow find it’s way to public sector services or reinforcing the crumbling infrastructure of the UK, but it will be in the hands of people who are working hard to drive the middle class down to the poverty line while ensuring financial protection for their donors. Does this not worry anybody?

      • Jonathan Burns

        ECHR is separate from the EU.
        Anyway who does it benefit, criminals, terrorists and Fat Cat Lawyers?

      • Malcolm Stevas

        Our EEC/EU membership is really very recent. Prior to 1975 we’d actually established rather a lot of human rights over several centuries, indeed we exported the idea to much of the world. EU major players such as France & Germany have been subverting their people’s rights by importing large quantities of aliens with very different conceptions of “rights”.

  • Les

    This article is actually wrong. EFTA was fhe forerunner to the EU – Norway is a member. Switzerland is a member. All existing EFTA members are in the EEA except for Switzerland, which has a series of bilateral treaties. The UK was a founding member. Like the EU, you must be accepted by the other members before you can join (or in our case, rejoin) the club. So the UK would need to apply for membership of EFTA and gain unanimous acceptance – likely with a set of criteria including the state of our public finances.

    The EEA (including EFTA) agreement with the EU provides for the free movement of people. All EFTA countries are in Schengen. Turkey, Morocco and Israel (plus a collection of smaller states such as Andorra) are under consideration for membership of EFTA. Size doesn’t matter, as each EFTA state only has one vote on the Council, regardless of its population or wealth. EFTA has its own court but abides by all EU legislation. The EFTA Surveillance Authority and the EFTA Court make sure that EFTA members abide by EEA rules which are dictated by the EU. EFTA members give large contributions to the EU to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe, in exchange for participation in the EU market. The money all goes to Eastern and Southern Europe. The EFTA Secretariat is based in Geneva, but its other headquarters are in Brussels and Luxembourg. In fact in Brussels they share the same office as the HQ of the European Commission, and in Luxembourg the EFTA Court is in the same building as the ECJ. Norway is also in the European Defence Agency.

    So it seems you don’t get to play unless you play by the EU’s rules. Yet EFTA members do not have a seat at the table in any EU decisions. There are no MEPs representing EFTA countries.

    You can make up your own rhetoric, but you can’t make up your own facts!

    • canadianhegemony

      “So it seems you don’t get to play unless you play by the EU’s rules.”

      Who’s making up facts now? Are you claiming an independent Britain couldn’t trade with the EU under the same terms as the US or China?

      Last time I looked neither one is a member of the EU, the EEA or the EFTA.

      • Les

        I don’t see China or the US mentioned here – only Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.

        “We’d obviously stay out of Schengen” – not necessarily if you want to be in the EEA and drop out of the EU. EFTA isn’t part of that arrangement – or is the author suggesting that EFTA tear up and re-write all its treaties to accommodate the UK?

        The arrogance is breathtaking!

        • canadianhegemony

          I don’t see China or the US mentioned in the article either.

          I see a commentator conflating a trade relationship with the EU as necessitating membership in the EFTA. And then compounding that by suggesting that we need to join the Schengen Agreement.

          Simple points made simpler:
          a) China and the US trade massively with the EU and are not members of the the EU, the EEA or the EFTA.
          b) An independent and self-governing UK could do the same.
          c) In which case there is no need to “tear up and re-write” anything.

          • Les

            Again, it’s the author who suggests we should be like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Which just happened to be three out of the four EFTA members.

            Perhaps the author didn’t notice that pretty much everybody is in some kind of RTA. NAFTA, Caricom, APEC, Cairns, ASEAN, TPP.

            Let’s start from the premise that you can be in the EEA without being in the EU or EFTA. Point is, you cannot. You can trade, but you will trade on terms largely dictated by the EU, which represents the biggest economy and market in the economic area.

            So you say, effectively, the author is suggesting that the UK go out completely on its own and not be signed up to an RTA. That’s insane. Everybody else in the world is going in the opposite direction. We would be at a complete negotiating disadvantage. Our market IS NOT THAT BIG.

            • canadianhegemony

              Well there are hundreds more bilateral trade deals than RTA’s because they are so much easier to consummate. Iceland seems to have had no difficulty negotiating dozens and if a pop. 300,000 nation can secure multiple free trade agreements all over Asia and elsewhere, the UK would have no difficulty either.

              The UK market is PLENTY BIG and RTA’s would welcome direct negotiation with Britain. That process can start as soon as the referendum results are in and be in place months before exit. Being out of the EU would speed access to markets that are currently bogged down in prolonged EU negotiations requiring approval by representatives of 28 nations.

              Outside the EU, other nations who share the same language and legal framework derived from English common law would be natural trading partners. I respectfully suggest there is nothing “insane” about it.

              Nor do I think “completely on its own” is an accurate description. It would be voiding a set of agreements with onerous political baggage and entering simple trade agreements. Like the rest of the world outside the EU.

              Again, once we are outside of the EU, EEA and EFTA, any fear mongering about Schengen or throwing up barriers about having to re-apply for membership and all the rest simply become irrelevant.

            • ButcombeMan

              The terms are actually (at least) WTO terms and after Brexit we become a member again, not just an observer.

        • ButcombeMan

          A lot of the ignorance is yours.
          The starting point for the UKs exit negotiations is that “free movement” is not on the table because the British people have rejected it.
          The second point is that Britain will not seek to impose Customs Duties on the products of any member of the EEA, unless a particular country or bloc imposes them on us.
          Thirdly that the UK recognizes the desirability of maintaining trade in agricultural products in order not to hurt our neighbours, especially Ireland. We are open to discussion about methods for doing that.

          • canadianhegemony

            Exactly correct.

  • Generalginger

    It seems unfair to compare the UK to those three countries when they are so much smaller than us. Their combined exonomies in 2013 were around 1.8 trillion USD compared to our 2.6 trillion USD. Their combined populations are only around 23 million people (2013) nearly a third of the UK population of over 64 million (2013).

    These are very small countries compared to us and comparing their trade agreements and laws
    to us without even mentioning this fact is disingenuous.

  • Fernando5

    I have no problems with this arrangement. It would get my vote.
    However, is this what is on offer? The UKIPpers seem obsessed with immigration and have therefore ruled out the EEA/EFTA as an option because it entails accepting the free movement of labour. They just want a loose trade arrangement like India or Canada. For a number of reasons this would disrupt existing flows of goods and could take years to negotiate.
    So is Norway or Canada the model we should have in our minds when we vote?

    • ButcombeMan

      It does not take years to trade under general WTO rules. it is simple.
      BUT the interests of the EU are in having an agreement with the UK..

  • Italicus

    Staying out of the Schengen zone isn’t an obvious fact. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland are all part of the Schengen area.
    In case of Brexit, the UK would have to enter the Schengen zone or limit itself to a customs union with the EU, as it is the case of Turkey in its relationship with the EU. The choices are limited in nature.

    • canadianhegemony

      Sure. Or it could trade with the EU like any other independent, self-governing sovereign nation. Ever think about that possibility?

      • ButcombeMan

        Italicus is new creation, probably a sock puppet.

        Not worth serious attention.

    • FF42

      The same customs union as Turkey isn’t a given either. It would have to be negotiated.The default arrangement is WTO. I am sure Britain could negotiate something specific, but it is going to be hard work if it doesn’t accept freedom of movement of individuals.

      • ButcombeMan

        Why?
        The UK will have REJECTED freedom of movement in a plebiscite.
        This is real world politics. The EU will need to accept that.

    • ButcombeMan

      Hannan never really explained Turkey.

      My view is that the UK will create a new class of association with the EU. Not precisely modeled on any other pre existing.

  • X-Wing

    When Luke Skywalker sped off to destroy The Death Star, I am sure he was not worrying too much about how the galaxy would be without the “evil empire” to maintain law & order. It was enough to know targeting the well-defended, huge, floating device in space was an heroic act. Without a doubt if The European Death Star is destroyed (namely the OUTS have it) there will be chaos, the grinding of teeth & some immediate problems we can only wildly guess at. However we have Trident & a big, wide world to trade with. So once the dust has settled, the surviving remnants of the “evil empire” will beg for our involvement on a new, normalised basis to stabilize what we left behind. Is it worth it? Yes, because our national honour likely means we will try to save one of the most ancient of civilizations, The Greeks. That is from the horrors The Germans inflict upon it. They flaunt their national trait for pig-headed obstinacy with their single, economic vision for a whole continent. Once out of this union The UK can selectively intervene in Europe and expect the gratitude of all nations. Launch all X-Wing fighters.

    • Generalginger

      There are two things that bother me about this post 1) Someone has used Star Wars as their model for whether or not it’s a good idea to leave the EU. (Also have you not seen 5-7? The problems haven’t really gone away).

      2) This is more worrying; pointing to the fact we have a nuclear arsenal as a reason why we won’t have any trouble leaving the EU. What just threaten them? Or are you suggesting that the political repercussions might lead to thermonuclear warfare?

      Either way I’m not convinced.

      • X-Wing

        1. In cinematic terms the countdown of 3 months is less than 30 minutes away. We believe we will be able to fire a pair of proton torpedoes down a small thermal exhaust port. To miss our mark will be worse than not to try.

        2. Read Sir John Nott’s, Secretary of State for Defence (1981-83), autobiography “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” if interested in “nuclear theology.”

        As we own a nuclear deterrent, Trident, we are freer than other nations to pick and choose with whom we trade. It is a deterrent and so no threat can be made. Yet a willingness to fire, to attempt to restore a deterrent posture, must be there to keep the peace.

        Germany’s economic unification is complete, symbolised by the treaty of 2004 to enlarge Europe. Germany has new economic theory. It is hidden under the benign flag of “free movement” which in reality relegates peace in Europe to a secondary place. All change has risk, including the new posture necessary as soon as The UK has left The European Union but remains essential to NATO. Germany overplayed its hand. If we leave, the balance is healthily re-addressed. Stay in and the political repercussions are more likely to lead to war. “Nuclear theology” is best reserved for obscure, back-room discussions. However, in my opinion, it is the political repercussions of failure, a vote to stay IN, which is less likely to keep the peace.

        Destroying a Death Star, in cinematic terms, is fun. Preserving peace in Europe is serious. All X-Wing fighters, target exhaust port leading to reactor core. Wilco.

  • The Masked Marvel

    Nothing new here. We’ve heard it all before, and many here have said it all as well. This isn’t a criticism of Hannan’s piece, but rather an indictment of all those who have been saying nobody on the Out side has ever said what a post-Brexit Britain would look like (I’m looking at you, James Forsyth).

  • Ron Todd

    The amount of trade we do with the EU is irrelevant. Even if we did 100% of our trade with the EU that would not be sufficient reason to stick with an arrangement that will inevitable lead to political union.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Or that even at 100% of our trade it would still only amount to less than a fifth of our economic activity. So why should a fifth of economy dictate the terms for the other 80%?

  • stickywicket

    First class again. Can we somehow arrange for this to be read out in full on the BBC (and Sky).

    • telemachus

      No
      And indeed why do we have to read the rubbish that the likes of Hannan and Gove peddle here
      Hannan particularly is a hypocrite trousering hundreds of thousands of Euros supporting the European Parliament
      And then trying to con us that he is anti Europe
      *
      When this is all over we will need to do some reckoning with the likes of Hannan

      • Will Rees

        “….trying to con us that…”
        Please define “us”

        • telemachus

          Us
          Are the intelligent Speccie readers
          Who do not want to read tripe from Hannan

          • Iffy

            Why do you distrust Hannan?

            • WFC

              He distrusts every politician who isn’t a current leader of the Labour Party.

            • telemachus

              Because he writes drivel like this

              I think the origins actually go back to the very beginning of the EU. The founding fathers had had a very mixed experience of democracy, especially of the referendum, plebiscitary kind of democracy that had existed in the 1930s. They saw democracy as a potentially dangerous force that could lead to demagoguery, to fascism, to war. They were quite open about deliberately vesting supreme power in the hands of wise technocratic experts who wouldn’t have to worry about public opinion, who would be able to make the tough decisions, and of course there is no such person as the wise disinterested expert. They will have their prejudices, the will have their assumptions.

              • Iffy

                Maybe we don’t disagree about so much.

              • Davedeparis

                Hannan is correct. The Eurocrats do indeed have deep and virulent contempt for democracy and all its works. In public they mouth non-committal pro-democratic platitudes of the broadest but in private basic democratic ideas seem to almost physically disgust them.

                • telemachus

                  Like all Leave proponents he is motivated by love of the short term and self glorification

                • polidorisghost

                  “Like all Leave proponents he is motivated by love of the short term and self glorification”

                  And you are motivated by what, little pr man?

                • telemachus

                  The greater good of my fellow man

                • polidorisghost

                  The squeal of self -servers down the ages.
                  And you’re no different.

                • Desperate Dan’s Porridge

                  Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

                • Davedeparis

                  Firstly that is not an argument but a sort of mild, but not quite, ad hominem. Not quite sure what “love of the short term” looks like when its at home although I wouldn’t object to politicians of any stripe being accused of that.

                • ButcombeMan

                  Interesting that you are attacking the man, not rebutting his ideas.

                • Scott Moore

                  In that respect they are just like any government we have ever had, then. When you have a group of politicians together, corruption is surely inevitable, as people seek to sway their views with “gifts”. I am currently “on the fence” as it were, but couldn’t miss the bit about capping bonuses for bankers in the EU. these would be the same bankers (not rhyming slang) that effectively caused the global economic crash and didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, which has led to “austerity” for middle class people in the UK. This turns me towards staying in the EU to ensure the bankers don’t get a free ride to f£$% up everything again.

                • Davedeparis

                  I wouldn’t worry about bankers. Technological changes currently underway mean that banking will never be the power it once was.

              • sfin

                The “referendum, plebiscitary kind of democracy” definitely did not exist in the 1930’s – except in one country (where it has always existed) – Switzerland.

                The EU founding fathers made the mistake of assuming that it was representative democracy that caused wars and they failed to look at the Swiss model – which would have told them, quite clearly, that people don’t start wars – governments do.

                And they still fail to see that every top down, imposed regime in history has led to bloodshed and failure.

              • polidorisghost

                perfectly reasonable view

            • St Louis

              Don’t ask him questions like that. It suggests he may be a member of the human race.

          • weejonnie✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

            Something that you aspire to – and fail miserably.

          • WFC

            So you didn’t read the article before commenting?

          • colchar

            And yet you read it and are commenting on it. Says a lot about you.

          • AtilaTheHen

            It crosses my mind that there is nothing terribly clever in your posts – nothing witty – nothing memorable. You are like a fly buzzing round the boards, sometimes settling to spew forth some boring bile, and sometimes excreting some ridiculous rant. Your posts are nothing more than an insignificant irritant.

          • rtj1211

            You’re saying that the majority of Speccie readers aren’t intelligent?!

          • polidorisghost

            And yet you subject us to yours -day in day out.

          • Desperate Dan’s Porridge

            Because you are a coward and frightened of alternative opinions.

      • 2trueblue

        He is an elected MEP. What are you on about?

      • stickywicket

        I must be on to something if I get a reply from Telemachus.

        • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

          technically yes: if you’re an early comment that gets a few ‘likes’ building up telemachus will attach himself with some contrived BS bent on distracting and deflecting the comment thread. Sadly he is often successful.

          • In2minds

            No he’s not.

        • In2minds

          I often think he’s on something!

          • Stu

            Benefits?

      • sfin

        So when the facts run counter to the narrative…you move to bury the facts?

        Standard left wing fare.

        • colchar

          You had to ask?

      • Commonman

        “When this is all over we will need to do some reckoning with the likes of Hannan”. That includes me and many like me tele. Issuing threats like that would indicate that you’re getting frightened that we may, after all, have the courage and good sense to get out of the EU abomination before it inevitably fails, as it surely will do in its present form.

        • Gilbert White

          Get out before it gets messy?

        • CANZUK

          Hear, Hear!

      • Roger Hudson

        You are truly ” far from battle”, always trolling from the sidelines, stop it and use your real identity like I do ( even though i have a doppleganger who often writes rot).
        This article by Dan Hannan is as clear an exposition of a great British future as any .
        Vote ‘out’, you know it makes sense.

        • telemachus

          I have to look to the future of my children and grandchildren

          • saffrin

            Adopt them to a few gays.
            They’ll no doubt grow-up well adjusted.

            • AtilaTheHen

              But, make sure they are raised gender-neutral. Force the little boys to wear fairy princess outfits. Insist that the little girls play war games. That should do the trick.

              • rtj1211

                That will turn girls into go-getting aggressive, sharp-elbowed aspirers and boys into effete, passive, withdrawn wimps.

                No equality of outcomes there, I’m afraid.

                • Attila Borguet

                  That’s Thatcher and Cameron you’re describing, what’s not to like there? 😉

          • Greenslime

            Little Kim and Baby Kim?

          • colchar

            If you were actually to do so you would realize that voting to leave is the best choice for their futures, and that of the country. On another note, the fact that you have reproduced is depressing.

          • polidorisghost

            “I have to look to the future of my children and grandchildren ”

            Do you really?
            Then you should take more notice of the judgement of Anthony Benn who, many years ago now, descibed the EU project as:
            “a coup d’état by a political class who did not believe in popular sovereignty”.
            It is only popular sovereignty that can protect your childrens future. So telemachus, if you really care about them, stop bowing and scraping to unelected masters.

          • Roger Hudson

            Your shortsightedness is staggering.

          • Jonathan Tedd

            Oh god not little telemachi – is that correct plural?

          • ButcombeMan

            Issuing threats like that, you need to look to try ensure your collar does not get felt.

      • Essexman

        Please explain to us which parts of this article are rubbish, Telemachus ?

      • itdoesntaddup

        Why do we have to suffer all the rubbish that comes out of Project Fear? After all, it truly is rubbish.

      • St Louis

        There won’t be a “we” if you resort to vulgar and childish threats. You will be alone and exposed for the poisonous Stalinist you are.

      • Hugh1

        if you were the person who reckoned with Hannan you’d punch yourself in the face.

      • saffrin

        “When this is all over we will need to do some reckoning with the likes of Hannan”
        What like making it a hate crime to have ideas of freedom, democracy, law?

      • Greenslime

        No hypocrite Mr Telemachus. He was elected to represent his constituents in the EU parliament. His stance, is constant and those who voted for him will have known exactly where he stands vis-a-vis the EU and the UK. So he is not “trousering hundreds of thousands of Euros supporting the European parliament”, he is being paid to represent his constituents with the views which got him elected there.

        What is more interesting to me is your menacing comment with which you conclude. Very Che. Very democratic.

        • ButcombeMan

          A “kinder, gentler politics”: maybe, from tele?

          Like Cameron, he is losing the plot and cracking up

      • polidorisghost

        “When this is all over we will need to do some reckoning with the likes of Hannan”

        I’m sure he’s running scared of you, little pipsqueak.

        • telemachus

          Delist him from the next MEP slate for example

          • polidorisghost

            Like I said – running scared of little telemachus – the fixer. You watch too much TV boy.

      • Marvin

        You have a desperate urge to be constantly be treated like a miserable spineless slave to the Cretinic idiots of Europe who are crumbling and self destructing under the weight of unending migration, open borders and infestation of ISIS terrorists. Get your head out of your waste pipe.

        • P 266

          Especially if the problem of ISIS and migration was partly caused by the EU’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, right?

      • siphil

        It all seems perfectly logical to me and a counter to the endless claims by the Remain camp that Leave supporters don’t have a vision of what the UK would be like post-Brexit. They can read this article.

      • Desperate Dan’s Porridge

        Because they have opinions which in a country which supposedly values free speech is to be encouraged. I accept that such accommodations fall outside of the remit of the fascist Labour Party.

      • Desperate Dan’s Porridge

        I enjoyed his defenestration of that scumbag And incompetent Gordon Brown. That was worth his EU salary by itself.

      • Robbydot1

        You don’t.

    • SalmondFishing

      Why would you want to do that. You are comparing yourselves with Iceland and Turkey, again.

      God almighty, how boring and very stupid, actually.

      • Desperate Dan’s Porridge

        Your second sentence sums up your ridiculous first sentence very well. The article, for the most part, compares us to Switzeland and Norway mentioning Turkey only as a geographical point.

      • Jon

        Actually he’s contrasting us with Iceland et al – if they can achieve what they have with their populations and economies, we can do much better.

        • SalmondFishing

          He’s not contrasting anything. He comparing wee England with wee Icland and wee Norway, contrasting England with Germany or France would be a shot in the foot. Glad to help you understand this simple and quite obvious game play, Jon.

          • CANZUK

            Wee UK actually.

      • evad666

        Iceland is a really nice place.

    • Marvin

      This article by Mr Hannan is extremely dangerous to the far left media circus of the BBC and Sky. They cannot handle the truth. Just like the BBC exploiting us with the thieving licence fee, so they want The EU to depend on our over generous fees to them.

      • Trini’s dad

        Richard, why your comment MUST be up ‘ere? You tryin very haad!

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