We have already made it clear on The Conservative Woman that we believe the wisest and most honest way forward from the near-catastrophic mess Mrs May has landed the country in is to repudiate her so-called deal and leave the EU (all of it, the customs union, the single market, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice) as intended on 29 March 2019, on No-Deal, World Trade Organisation terms. Philip Foster has explained why, contrary to the BBC’s and the Treasury’s scaremongering, a WTO deal would actually benefit the British taxpayer.
Irrational fear is all that stands in the way of Britain restoring its sovereignty and reclaiming control of its borders. This is the logical conclusion of former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont’s plea in the Telegraph for the Government’s scaremongering about the World Trade Organisation ‘option’ to come to an end.
This is why. First the Treasury’s (Project Fear) forecasts were wrong before; none has come anywhere near the truth: ‘Since those forecasts, the average British family has remained just as well off and the UK economy has grown by 3.9 per cent. There has been no recession, and taxes have been cut and spending increased.’
Second, Lord Lamont shows that the Treasury has not just been wrong again more recently, but duplicitous. It has never backed up its leaked ‘Cross-Whitehall Brexit analysis’, he writes, which predicts ‘a huge 7.7 per cent of GDP hit to the economy in the event of an exit on World Trade Organisation terms’, and has refused to publish and debate details of its economic model or the assumptions it contains.
Thirdly, he points out, it does not have a monopoly on forecasting:
‘Economists for Free Trade have also done their modelling and come up with very different outcomes, envisaging that the public finances would be £80billion a year stronger over 15 years if we embraced a World Trade Deal. Other independent bodies have not corroborated the Treasury gloom.’
Elsewhere on the TCW site today we give a layman’s guide to the WTO – a benign international organisation that many are ignorant of, or have been given a skewed description of.
Our reason is that the sooner people realise it is not the bogeyman Mrs May would have us believe, the better. Quite simply because it is becoming increasingly clear that a WTO Brexit is the only way out of Mrs May’s shambles.
In another article in yesterday’s Telegraph, economist Patrick Minford explains why Mrs May’s dismissal of a WTO deal as the road to ruin is wrong to the point of scandalous:
‘The scandal – given the national importance of these forecasts – is that the Treasury has not actually told us how it reached these assumptions. After almost a year of repeated requests from economists, business and more than 60 MPs, no serious information has been forthcoming from the Treasury. Thus we have had to piece the picture together from published work on the models they are using, from some two dozen PowerPoint slides they released under protest to the House of Commons and from sketchy information leaked from Whitehall to the media.
‘This detective work has revealed why Whitehall is so reluctant to admit to its assumptions. The reason is simple: on the basis of the evidence we have, they are weak to the point of absurdity.
‘They assume that after Brexit the EU will introduce costly border delays on our trade with them; and also new non-tariff barriers in the form of new demands on product standards. Yet we know the EU cannot do either of these things legally under international law. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and the Kyoto Convention of the World Customs Organisation all forbid it.
‘They commit the EU to computerised pre-cleared border processing activities and physical inspections that must be intelligence-led (typically only about 2 per cent of shipments).
‘Standards that have been long enunciated as “EU standards” and to which we currently adhere cannot be arbitrarily changed with respect to our goods. Such discrimination has long been outlawed by the WTO.
‘Some scoff at this, saying that WTO rules can be easily ignored without much pushback. It is not true. WTO law is written into EU law, which itself is a creation of international treaty law. Businesses are expected to abide by this law and its implementation is overseen by all European courts and ultimately by the European Court of Justice.
‘Furthermore, it is clear that these are mostly half-baked threats from some, mainly French, politicians. It is equally clear that the multitude of ports such as Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Antwerp and Hanover are poised to take business from any port – such as Calais – that would attempt to effect such procedures. And the President of the Calais Region has made clear in no uncertain terms that their business interests lie in continuing to process trade smoothly in observation of the law.’
Compared with the the cost of the effective surrender of our independence from the EU intrusions that the current ‘deal’ envisages, Minford concludes, an exit from the EU under WTO rules promises a strong boost to the economy.
The full article is also available here.
More important than that, with this bogeyman (fears of lorry queues, shortages and so on) removed, Britain is free to be the independent nation state that the people voted for. It is truly bizarre that the fact that cross-border checks on some goods might lengthen from one second to seven seconds is what stands in the way of Britain’s freedom to assert its sovereignty, be its own jurisdiction once again and, most fundamental of all, control its own borders.