So my Brexit post at the start of the week kicked up a bit of a stir.
As I said on Monday, I’m an Aussie so it’s not for me to tell you Pommies how to vote.
But as an Aussie I do have views on our great shared institution The Commonwealth. And as a businessman I understand the economics, and see the trade implications of EU membership first hand.
It beggars belief why any country would choose to shackle itself to a declining economy such as Europe, in a relationship that acts as a straight jacket.
Because that’s what EU membership does. It prevents Britain from forging more meaningful trade relations with other more dynamic countries and trading blocs around the world.
A bit of history. When Britain signed up to the EEC – the European Economic Community – in 1973 she was busy saying goodbye to her Empire.
By the 1970s Britain had had a terrible 30 years. Economically drained by fighting the Nazis. Burdened with debt. And with crippling economic problems. Remember the three-day week? Britain was jettisoning her remaining overseas territories faster than you could say Vanuatu. Kenya: 1963. Botswana: 1966. Fiji: 1970. The UAE: 1971. The Bahamas: 1973. See ya!
So the EU did seem rather attractive at the time. Sunny holidays in Brittany, runny cheese, and cheap plonk.
But that’s not what Britain ended up with. She got far more than she bargained for.
Part of the deal is that EU membership fosters mutual trading relations between the 28 EU members. It does this by means of the ‘Common Commercial Policy.’ This means that Britain cannot sign its own independent trade agreements. But Britain actually trades more with non EU countries than it does with EU countries. So because it can’t strike trade deals with these countries the CCP is actually screwing Britain.
Last year when India’s Prime Minister Modi visited London the UK and India signed commercial deals worth £9bn. Just think how much more straightforward business would be with Britain’s own trade agreement with her friends in India!
The Commonwealth is thriving. It has a young population united by language, culture, shared history, common legal systems, business practices, and institutions. It has growth rates that put Europe to shame.
In 2013 the Commonwealth economy overtook the Eurozone’s economy. And the IMF forecasts that by 2019 the Commonwealth will have overtaken the EU by contributing 17.7% to world output (compared to EU’s 15.3%).
Meanwhile growth in the EU isn’t just declining. It’s doomed. Europe faces a massive population decline and as its population plummets, the ratio of workers to pensioners will fall off a cliff. And it’s been the worst performing economy of the lot. Since the 2008 economic crisis the Eurozone has stagnated, growing this year by a pathetic 1.8% compared with India’s 7.5%. And EU GDP is still 6% below 2008, whilst the rest of the world has grown much more quickly.
And it’s discriminatory. Look at the awful Common Agricultural Policy. It creates dreadful waste, keeps food prices in Britain high, and African farmers are unable to compete. High EU tariff barriers on African exports are stopping Africa from trading its way out of poverty. I should know – I’ve spent 20 years setting up businesses and investing in Africa.
Britain can ditch the EU and benefit from enhanced trade with the rest of the world.
So here’s my version of ‘Project Fear.’ If you don’t vote in June you may end up with another generation of unelected Brussels bureaucrats dictating laws you never chose.
But this time you’re locked in the hold of a sinking ship. Everywhere else in the world countries are thriving, steaming ahead to prosperity. But you can’t do anything about it because the doors are locked and you’re going down in Davy Jones’s Locker.
As Winston Churchill said “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”
Churchill didn’t just have a great turn of phrase. He was a man with a clear, bold, and motivating vision for the people of Britain which he articulated superbly. Where are the Churchills today?