Monday, April 22, 2024
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Simon Roberts: The EU will have to trade with us post-Brexit


(Simon Roberts is a runner-up in the TCW Brexit competition. We invited our readers to spell out the best trade and economic arrangements for Britain independent of the EU. We have had some splendid entries rebutting the pessimism of David Cameron’s Project Fear. The other runners-up and then the winner will be appearing over the next few days. Congratulations to Simon Roberts. A bottle of TCW champagne is on its way to him.)

Britain derives no economic benefit from its membership of the European Union. Quite the reverse.

When pro-Unionists tell us that a certain amount of our trade depends on EU membership, they are taking the false position that said trade will cease when we leave. This is nonsense.

Trade is based on the voluntary exchange of currency for goods and services to mutual benefit. People in the UK buy German cars because they want them, not because we are members of the EU. Similarly, when Germany buys British medical equipment, it is not because we are in the EU but because they want them.

Our membership of the EU (or indeed Germany’s) has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Our trade would continue regardless if we left.

However, if we were to leave the EU, then we would be able to make our own trade agreements with countries outside the EU, which would broaden our export base. At the moment we are unable to do so, relying instead on trade negotiations at an EU level – trade negotiations which will be seeing the best deal for the EU as a whole, not for the UK.

It’s a common misconception that the EU is in some way protectionist. This is inaccurate. What the EU does do is impose endless rules, regulations and specifications for compliance of imported goods. However, these rules already apply to all countries wishing to export to the EU and they already apply to any goods or services that we export to other countries within the EU. Nothing would change in this respect if we left the EU. We would merely have to continue to ensure that our goods met their requirements – just as Japan, China etc. already do. Does being outside the EU limit Japan’s exports to the EU?  Of course not.

Although it was originally named the European Economic Community, the EU is a political union not an economic union. Like all political unions, financial well-being takes second place to political control. The announcements that the European Central Bank will print as many euros as is necessary to preserve the EU are a classic example of political will over economic reality. It will ultimately fail, but not before terrible damage is done to the southern European countries.

If we free ourselves from the EU’s ambition and appetite for greater, more centralised power, we will be able to concentrate on our own best interests – without having to worry about whether Mrs Merkel approves.

In summary:

  • All trade that we currently do with the EU will continue as it is based on mutual benefit. Nothing will change.
  • Leaving the EU would not diminish our trade with other EU countries and it would increase our trade with non-EU countries.
  • Our overall exports will increase, creating more jobs.
  • The EU is interested in political union rather than economic well-being. Leaving will allow us to concentrate on job and wealth creation, without the interference of empire-building Eurocrats.


Simon Roberts is a retired civil servant, manager for multi-national services companies and a large UK bank. 

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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