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Where is Brexit heading?

By John Mills

Where is Brexit heading? How do current developments look to those of us who voted Leave in 2016 – and what do we think the Labour Party should now be doing?

There is always scope for the unexpected, but the way head is now looking clearer. We are probably heading for being outside the Single Market, the Customs Union – despite recent Labour announcements - with a deal with the EU27 similar to the one recently negotiated by the EU with Canada.  This will provide us with tariff free trade on almost all goods, including most agricultural products, and roughly the same amount of access on services as we have now. As regards all the many ways in which we co-operate with our continental neighbours, nearly all of them will continue, because it is so much in our common interest that this should happen – albeit our relationship will be on an inter-governmental basis rather than as part of an overarching political project..

There will be minuses, which we have always recognised.  We will not be at the EU top table and therefore in a position directly to shape its future, although our capacity to do this has always been limited. If we are outside the Single Market and the Customs Union, there will be some additional frictions – although really not that much - on trade between the UK and the EU although as we have such a huge trade deficit with the EU27 this may not be such a bad thing.  Examples of independent nations such as Norway and Canada do not make it seem particularly likely that the UK will be unable to play a useful and constructive role in world affairs as an independent country.

On the plus side, we will regain control of our borders, our law-making capacity and our money. We will be able to reshape in more sensible forms the Common Agricultural and Common fisheries Policies, neither of which have any significant support in their existing form in the UK. We will be able to negotiate our own trade treaties with the rest of the world. We will be free to devise our own regulations where it makes sense for us to diverge from those adopted by the EU27. We will be less engaged than we are now with the major downsides which the EU exhibits – the Single Currency which has been so disastrous for growth in the EU economy, and problems of migration and democracy on which the EU has conspicuously failed to carry its electorate.

Those of us who campaigned and voted for “Leave” in the June 2016 referendum therefore still feel reasonably confident that, on balance, the UK will be better off outside the EU than within it – a good friend rather than a bad tenant. We are quietly confident that Brexit should have a positive impact on our living standards over the coming years and we certainly feel very confident that the woe-woe projections still being produced by the authorities will be as wide of the mark as were those predicting immediate disaster if the 2016 referendum produced a Leave outcome.  

Brexit is not going to be a silver bullet which solves all our problems. If handled well, however, as seems reasonably likely, it should provide a better platform for us for the future than would continuing EU membership. This is where the British people decided they wanted their future to be in June 2016 and it is now down to us to make a success of it. Surely this is an outcome which Labour ought to support rather than getting involved with trying to derail it.

Labour Leave shares a number of viewpoints from external commentators, both Leave and Remain, without necessarily endorsing any of the viewpoints therein.


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