The Brexit Debate on Europe Continues – Peter Lilley Trade Minister Joins Debate

posted in: Welwyn Hatfield 3

I was at Oaklands College this morning presenting the case for the leave campaign. Kate from the Potteries was presenting the Remain Campaign.

My take on the debate was Remain seem to expect the Leave campaign to have a pretty comprehensive view as to how deals yet to be made will look.

My position was that having been running things for the last 20 years, under Blair and Cameron, they had a responsibility to have checked this out themselves. Further that having fundamentally failed to do their duty in this respect, they were hardly in a position comment upon the likely outcomes.

This thought process comes from Mark Carneys comments in last week’s Inflation interviews, where he says

1/. “George Osborne’s Words are his” (Not Mine) ie he does not agree with them.

2/. “We (The BoE) ran with the Remain scenario and factored in the risk of uncertainty”. Thereby delivering data showing a diminished Leave scenario

3/. “We did not even look at the the upsides of Brexit”.

Upon this one sided piece of analysis the Government is spending millions of pounds of our money to give us a misleading assessment of the truth.

Mervyn King ex BoE Govenor describes the Governments position as a gross exageration of the facts.  Bottom line we are being misled by our own Government. This is not acceptable. This is the end of any credibility for Cameron and Osbourne.

Peter Lilley is an ex Trade Minister who understands the importance of these trade deals. He basically says They are Not Very Important. Peter has kindly sent us his thoughts on the subject of Why Leave and Trade Myths. He is far more eloquent and experienced than I, so please read his comments.

Please see his thoughts Below:-

WHY LEAVE

 I LOVE EUROPE.   I DID AN APPRENTICESHIP IN A FRENCH LABORATORY, MY FIRST WORK WAS IN HOLLAND AND BELGIUM, I HAVE BEEN CHAIRMAN OF A SMALL GERMAN COMPANY, I HAVE A HOLIDAY HOME IN FRANCE AND SPEAK FRENCH.

IN 1975 I CAMPAIGNED TO KEEP BRITAIN IN EUROPE.   ADMITTEDLY I WAS RECRUITED TO THE MOVEMENT BY AN EXTREMELY PRETTY GIRL – WHOM I SUBSEQUENTLY MARRIED.   SO I HAVE DONE WELL OUT OF EUROPE!

BUT EUROPE IS NOT THE SAME AS THE EU.   AND THE EU IS NOT THE SAME AS THE COMMON MARKET WE VOTED FOR IN 1975.    LET ME EXPLAIN WHY I NOW BELIEVE WE SHOULD LEAVE.

THIS REFERENDUM IS ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND PROSPERITY.

THE TWO GO HAND IN HAND – BECAUSE IN A DEMOCRACY IF THE GOVERNMENT FAILS TO DELIVER RISING LIVING STANDARDS THE PEOPLE CAN CHUCK IT OUT.

THE EU IS NOT LIKE THAT.  THE COMMISSION – EFFECTIVELY ITS GOVERNMENT – IS NOT ELECTED.   ITS FLAGSHIP PROJECT, THE EURO, HAS BEEN A CATASTROPHIC FAILURE WHICH HAS LED TO YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT OF 25% IN FRANCE, 39% IN ITALY, 45% IN SPAIN AND 52% IN GREECE.   YET NOT A SINGLE COMMISSIONER LOST THEIR JOB EVEN THOUGH MILLIONS OF EUROPEANS HAVE LOST THEIRS.

MERCIFULLY BRITAIN STAYED OUT OF THE EURO – DESPITE THE FACT THAT MOST OF THOSE WHO NOW BACK REMAIN – THE CBI, THE CITY, THE AMERICAN BANKS, BLAIR, MANDELSON, THE GERMAN CHANCELLOR AND FRENCH PRESIDENT – URGED US TO JOIN WITH THE SAME DIRE WARNINGS OF OUR FATE IF WE IGNORED THEIR ADVICE.

WRONG THEN, WRONG NOW.

BUT THE EU STILL CONTROLS VAST AREAS OF OUR LIFE.

THIS IS OUR OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE BACK CONTROL OVER OUR LAWS, OUR MONEY AND OUR BORDERS.

CONTROL OUR LAWS BECAUSE, ACCORDING TO THE INDEPENDENT HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY, ALREADY AROUND HALF OF OUR LAWS ORIGINATE IN BRUSSELS.

CONTROL OUR MONEY SO THAT INSTEAD OF HANDING OVER OUR NET CONTRIBUTION OF £10 BILLION WE COULD SPEND IT ON THE NHS OR OTHER PUBLIC SERVICES.

CONTROL OUR BORDERS – NOT BECAUSE ANYONE PROPOSES TO STOP ALL IMMIGRATION BUT BECAUSE WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DECIDE HOW MANY, WITH WHAT SKILLS AND FROM WHERE PEOPLE COME.

 

THIS IS NOT A CHOICE BETWEEN THE STATUS QUO AND CHANGE.   THE EU IS ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A HUGE LEAP FORWARD TOWARDS A UNITED STATES OF EUROPE.   THAT WAS ALWAYS ITS ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE.   LAST YEAR THE THE 5 PRESIDENTS’ REPORT – ONLY THE EU NEEDS FIVE PRESIDENTS! – SPELT OUT THE EU HAS TO MOVE TO A POLITICAL UNION IF THE EURO IS TO SURVIVE.   AND THEY ARE RIGHT.   NO CURRENCY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS SURVIVED WITHOUT A STATE TO RUN IT EQUIPPED WITH POWERS TO TAX AND SPEND, BORROW AND REGULATE, TRANSFER MONEY FORM STRONG AREAS TO WEAK AREAS AND ENFORCE ITS OWN LAWS THROUGHOUT ITS TERRITORY.

WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT OUR RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE WITH THIS EMERGING UNITED STATES OF EUROPE.   TO USE A NORTH AMERICAN ANALOGY: SHOULD WE BECOME A COMPONENT PART OF THE UNITED STATES – LIKE FLORIDA (BUT WITHOUT THE SUNSHINE) – OR AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY LIKE CANADA – LINKED WITH THE US IN THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AREA, FREE TO MAKE ITS OWN LAWS, FREE TO SPEND ITS OWN MONEY, FREE TO MAKE ITS OWN DECISIONS ON WAR AND PEACE?   I BELIEVE THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF BRITISH PEOPLE WOULD CHOOSE SOMETHING LIKE THE CANADIAN OPTION.

REMAIN’S CASE FOR NOT LEAVING THIS RAPIDLY CHANGING EU IS ALMOST ENTIRELY NEGATIVE.   FIRST, THAT WE WON’T ADOPT THE EURO, ENTER THE SCHENGEN AREA OR JOIN THE POLITICAL UNION.   HOW BIZARRE TO REMAIN PART OF A CLUB WHOSE KEY ACTIVITIES ONE REJECTS.

BECAUSE IF WE DO REMAIN, ONE THING IS CERTAIN: WE WILL VERY QUICKLY FACE IMMENSE PRESSURE TO EMBRACE THE EURO, SCHENGEN AND POLITICAL UNION.   AND BECAUSE THE EUROZONE COUNTRIES WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE OUR LAWS, SPEND OUR MONEY AND REGULATE OUR BUSINESSES THEY WILL RETAIN GREAT POWER OVER US.   ANYONE WHO IMAGINES OTHERWISE IS DELUDING THEMSELVES OR TRYING TO DELUDE US.

SECOND, REMAIN ARGUE THAT IF WE LEAVE THE ECONOMY WILL COLLAPSE, WORLD WAR 3 WILL ERUPT AND IT WILL BE THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT.   IT IS BARELY CREDIBLE AND FRANKLY INSULTING.

BY CONTRAST OUR CASE FOR LEAVING IS WHOLLY POSITIVE.

LEAVE AND WE RECOVER OUR NET CONTRIBUTION TO SPEND ON OUR PRIORITIES LIKE THE NHS.

LEAVE AND WE CAN LIGHTEN THE BURDEN OF REGULATION ON THE 85% OF BUSINESSES WHICH DO NOT TRADE WITH THE EU SAVING THEM, ON THE EU’S OWN ESTIMATES, BILLIONS OF £S MORE.

LEAVE AND WE CAN NEGOTIATE OUR OWN TRADE DEALS WITH THE GROWTH MARKETS OF THE FUTURE LIKE CHINA, INDIA AND BRAZIL ON WHICH THE FUTURE PROSPERITY OF OUR CHILDREN WILL DEPEND.

LEAVE AND WE WILL GET OUR DEMOCRACY BACK.

 

TRADE MYTHS – ONLINE VERSION

The past returned to haunt colleagues recently – relationship with a dominatrix, an offshore company, an inheritance.   So I was alarmed when a journalist called to discuss ‘two events in my past’.   Mercifully they were two of my least controversial actions – negotiating the Uruguay Trade Round and implementing the Single Market – as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Why the interest?   Because Trade and the Single Market are key referendum issues yet I am the only MP with first hand experience of both.   Sadly, when politicians debate issues of which they have no experience they seize on any plausible argument which supports their case.   Unfortunately, in matters of trade what sounds plausible is often the reverse of the truth.  So let me bring facts to bear on plausible assertions which dominate discussion of trade.

How important are trade deals?  As a former trade minister it pains me to admit – their importance is grossly exaggerated.   Countries succeed, with or without trade deals, if they produce goods and services other countries want.   Thanks to the Uruguay Round, tariffs between developed countries now average low single figures – small beer compared with recent movements in exchange rates.    So the most worthwhile trade agreements are with fast growing developing countries which still have high tariffs.

Is our net £10 billion contribution to the EU ‘a small price to pay for tariff free access to the EU market’?    If we left the EU with no trade deal – inconceivable given the tariff free zone from Iceland to Turkey – our exports would face EU tariffs averaging just 2.4%[1].   But our net contribution to the EU budget is equivalent to a 7% tariff.   Paying 7% to avoid 2-3% is miss-selling that dwarfs the PPI scandal!  

So if we left before finalising a trade deal we could use our contribution to ensure our exporters are no worse off[2] and still have several billion £s left over for the NHS.   Our partners will not delay a deal once they realise British exporters will not suffer, whereas theirs would face tariffs to enter the UK – their biggest market, bigger than the USA.

Does ‘EU membership help us negotiate free trade deals with the rest of the world’?   Tariff free access to the fast growing, protected markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America would be worthwhile.   Unfortunately, EU membership prevents us negotiating free trade deals – and the EU has negotiated few deals for us: none with China, India, Brazil.  

Does the EU’s size mean it gets better deals than we could alone?   From my experience that is the reverse of the truth.  The more countries involved in a trade deal the harder, slower and worse the result.   All 28 EU members have a veto on their negotiations which is why EU deals take so long and exclude so much.   Bilateral deals are simpler, quicker and more comprehensive.   

Hence Chile has deals covering countries with collective GDP five times the EU’s deals.   Even Iceland – population less than Croydon – has a Trade Agreement with China – as does Switzerland. 

A study[3] of bilateral deals by Switzerland, Korea, Singapore and Chile shows they boost trade far more than the EU’s.   Indeed, UK exports have grown slower under two thirds of EU trade deals[4].

Although services are particularly important to the UK, a third of EU deals exclude services whereas Switzerland invariably includes them.   So could an independent UK.

Would Britain have to renegotiate from scratch the EU’s existing trade deals?   Under the ‘principle of continuity’ in international law we can novate existing EU treaties to the UK.   We should start that process ahead of leaving the EU.

Would negotiating continuing free trade with the EU take as long as the EU-Canada deal?   Trade deals to remove tariffs involve complex trade-offs between differing tariffs on thousands of products and facing up to the vested interests they protect.   Negotiating continuing tariff-free trade between the UK and EU simply means keeping zero tariffs.  Zero to zero is pretty simple!

Do only European Economic Area members have access to the Single Market?  The Single Market is talked about as if it were some inner sanctum accessible to a privileged few.   In fact, every country has access to the Single Market – with or without tariffs.   The Single Market programme, which I implemented, involved harmonising product rules – sensible, since businesses can now make one product range for the European market, not 28.   But that benefits American and Japanese exporters as much as German or British firms.  

Although often invoked as particularly benefiting UK service companies, in fact UK service exports to the EU have grown less rapidly since the Single Market reforms than any member state except Greece and Italy.[5]

Will we lose out if we don’t help shape the rules?   People assume Britain benefits from participating in setting these rules.   But rules provide a framework within which all companies operate – not an advantage to any individual country.   Britain set the rules of tennis but rarely wins Wimbledon!   British exports to the EU have grown less rapidly since the Single Market than they did before 1993, less than our partners’ and much less than non-EU countries’ exports!   Maybe that is partly because we suffer EU regulations on 100% of our companies (costing our economy billions of £s) whereas non-EU firms need only comply with EU regulations on activities carried out within the EU.

How important is the right to passport services to the EU?    Passporting lets financial institutions operate throughout the EU via branches supervised by their home country regulator without seeking authorisation from local regulators.   Having introduced the Single Market measures, I decided to make a speech extolling how they had removed barriers to trade, not least through passporting.   Unfortunately, my officials could not find a single company doing business it previously could not do!    Banks were almost invariably operating, not through branches, but via subsidiaries which still needed local authorisation and regulation.  

Since then the UCITS, MiFID and AIFM directives have extended passporting rights to other financial service providers who do take advantage of it.    However, most UCITS funds choose to operate via subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Dublin without causing an exodus of jobs from London.   Also the AIFM directive provides for recognition of equivalent standards of regulation by non-EU providers which is intended to be granted to Hong Kong and Singapore, so could scarcely be refused to the UK post Brexit.  

After claims that failure to join the Euro would cause a mass exodus to Frankfurt and Paris, no-one seriously pretends that MiFID firms would depart on mass even should some firms need to operate via subsidiaries.

Historically many foreign financial firms set up in London to escape their home country regulators.   Long before the Single Market was established there were more American banks in London than in New York as they escaped onerous American rules like ‘regulation Q’.   Big Bang attracted another wave into London.   Also, prior to the Single Market, when other EU countries could still give preference to their domestic financial service industries their attempts to do so had a perverse effect and drove business to London.   Should the EU impose their planned Financial Transactions Tax, as well as extending the heavy handed regulation which stopped their national banking centres becoming world centres, we can look forward to a further influx of financial business to the UK.

London’s strength did not derive from our membership of the Single Market but but from Common Law, UK accounting standards, flexible regulation, good governance, the time zone, the English language etc.   It is no coincidence that the four great world finance centres – London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore – all have a similar basis of Common Law, and related institutions.   Only New York is part of a continental block.   The rest have benefitted historically from independence from their big neighbours whose own financial centres gained little from being part of a larger jurisdiction.  

I am convinced that the City, where I used to work, has most to lose in the long term from the gradual erosion of its historic advantages if we stay in the EU subject to regulation by countries who are at best indifferent and at worst hostile to what they refer to as “Anglo-Saxon Finance Capitalism”.   But once again many in the City establishment follow the herd or oppose change, even changes which are in their own interest, just as they opposed Big Bang, leaving the ERM and opting out of the Euro.  

[1] Trade Policy Research Centre, Discussion Paper, Ronald Stewart-Brown and Ben Lodge March 2014.

[2] To avoid challenge under WTO rules, support for exporters to offset tariffs would be channeled through an Export Growth Fund or tax relief.

[3] Myth and Paradox of the Single Market by Michael Burrage, Civitas 2016.

[4] Burrage examines results of the 15 deals which have been in force for at least 5 years.  The five which did boost growth were with Turkey, Chile, Lebanon, Fiji and Papua New Guinea!

[5] Myth and Paradox of the Single Market by Michael Burrage, Civitas 2016.

 

 

3 Responses

  1. Sionaidh
    | Reply

    This is really helpful and insightful..many thanks. Also, the piece is written in such a way as to give real clarity to the financial situation for Britain after Brexit.
    I went to St.Albans Abbey’s Brexit debate and listened to Peter Lilley and Anne Main during the evening. They were very well informed and conveyed their insights succinctly.
    Regards,
    Shauna

  2. Richard Peeters
    | Reply

    I too heard Mr Lilley present on this topic, pre-referendum, as my former MP for Hitchin &Harpenden. It beggars belief that the basic facts that he presents so well, should remain buried (Remain buried?) in all this time. Why don’t the Media (especially the pro-Brexit side) seek him out, to at least put these factual arguments on the table to be properly debated, and then to put the misinformation to bed, once and for all?

    Although the Brexit path is not without risk or effort, to me the Remain argument is akin to an entrepreneur’s anxiety over quitting the day job to start up his/her own business. There is a great fear of failing, and the apparent safety of the steady job holds them tight in employment, immobilised. They are unable to leave the clutches of the day job to go independent, aim high and go for it, to build something substantial for themselves and to leave to their children. But how often do we hear about big companies making thousands of lifelong employees redundant? Where’s the job security then?

    Likewise, where is the security in being part of a big organisation like the EU, when it can so easily crush a smaller country like Greece, and “bully” its most rebellious member, the UK? As one of 28 members, even the larger economies can only move as fast as the smallest allow (with all their veto rights).

    At the risk of mixing metaphors even more … Britain has a history of being pretty adaptable and successful on the high seas, whether with naval vessels, merchant fleets or pirate ships. On its own, the UK will be able to move faster and further in its own boat that it can when tightly bound to this drifting juggernaut.

    Getting back to Mr Lilley: the Hatfield House event is of course business-focussed, so how can we get the message out to the public, who currently only see the fear-mongering going unchallenged, to hear properly debated realities of trade agreements?

    • nick brown
      | Reply

      Richard hi,
      Thank you for your thoughts. Personally, I agree though I don’t speak for all our members.
      I will be presenting my thoughts around medium-sized, innovative, adaptable businesses, exporting and helping to reduce our trade deficit vs, bureaucrats in the pockets of large businesses who stop innovation, are not adaptable and run at an enormous cost to the taxpayer.

      On your point around getting the word out, I will invite some journalists.

      Have a good weekend.
      Nick

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