why brexit arguments about trade tariffs and immigration ‘are nonsense’
TEN days before the June 23 referendum and I receivedaninvitationtospeakonthetopic:“Would Brexit benefit India?” I was tempted until I no- ticed the date of the meeting – August 14.
I have always been of the view that if you want to stop your horse from escaping, you bolt the door before it leaves the stable, not afterward. But I guess I should be used to Indian time by now.
Let’s be clear – this is probably the most far- reaching political decision any of us will ever take in our lives. It will affect every one of our families, our jobs, our income and our security and it is happening on Thursday (23).
I want to stay in. India wants us to stay in. In- dia’s prime minister Narendra Modi wants us to stay in. In fact, every one of our friends around the world, from US president Barack Obama to German chancellor Angela Merkel want us to stay in because they understand that it is in our inter- est and it is in the world’s interest.
I spent 12 years running a business in the City before I came into parliament. Where I live in Brent North, I am surrounded by some of the most en- trepreneurial people I have ever met. We under- stand the importance of a single market. It means that when we export to the 27 other countries of the EU, we don’t have to deal with 27 different sets of import tariffs and 27 different sets of product standards. Imagine the nightmare!
And yet the Brexiteers have the cheek to tell us the EU creates bureaucracy. The EU is the biggest destroyer of bureaucracy we have. Britain attracts jobs and investment for many reasons – the English language is perhaps the most important, closely followed by a strong system of law where contracts can be enforced. But we know only too well that many companies locate and invest here, bringing jobs to the UK, precisely because our membership of the EU allows them to export freely into the largest single market in the world.
“Apples. If the Belgians want to buy our apples now, then it stands to reason they’re going to want to buy our apples afterwards. I can’t see it will make any difference.” This was the comment I heard on the train back from Brussels last week.
On the face of it, it sounded like common sense. In fact it is nonsense. The Belgians want to buy our apples now because they are sweeter and crisper and juicier than French apples. The Belgians will still prefer our apples if we are outside the single market, but the French will want to ensure the Belgians buy more French apples and so they will insist on a tariff for British apples. Those then become much more expensive for the Belgians and our apple exporters suffer the consequences.
It is not the countries who want your goods that you have to worry about when you are outside of the single market. It is the countries that are competing against you who will see the opportunity to gain market share for themselves.
“The Germans are still going to want to sell us their cars.” Here is another common-sense
sounding piece of nonsense. Certainly the Germans will still want to sell us their BMWs and Mercedes, but a tariff on German cars into the UK would be just one small segment of the market for them.
With the UK outside the single market, Germany is still able to sell tariff-free
to the rest of Europe, but their UK competition from Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley would have a tariff in 27 other countries, making British products less affordable and improving the German share of the market. That would more than compensate them for the tariff they would face coming into the UK.
Perhaps the most dishonest argument I have heard in favour of Brexit, though, comes from those who say that they want to stop immigration from Europe so there can be more immigration from the Commonwealth.
Really? What astonishes me about this argument is that the Brexiteers only ever seem to make it when they are talking to people from the Com- monwealth. Strangely they never make the same point when they are talking to audiences from exclusively white communities.
Just look at the track record of most of these people. They have been against immigration for years. In fact, the only sort of regulation they have ever shown enthusiasm for has been tighter immigration rules. Do they really expect us to beli eve that the reason they now want to leave the EU is so they can welcome more people from India and Pakistan. How stupid do they think we are?
I want to stay in the EU because I believe Britain can exercise greater influence in the world as part of the largest trading block on the planet. I want to stay in the EU because I don’t want to see a return to the days when there was no maternity or paternity leave and when our beaches had raw sewage floating in them. I want to stay in the EU because I recognise that it is EU regulation which has protected ordinary working people against exploitation and has protected our environment against pollution. I want to stay in the EU because I know that the only way we are going to get globalised companies to pay their fair share of tax is by saying that if they want to do business in the largest single market in the world then they need to stop internal pricing and tax arbitrage between nations. They need to show the full profits they make and pay tax like everybody else. I want to stay in the EU because we will have a larger economy to tackle the real hardships ordinary people in my constituency face.
No scare stories. No threats. Just the simple observation that if someone thinks they still need to try to sell you something in August when it’s sell- by date is June, then it is probably snake oil.