General discussion


What should the UK do next?

By neilb@uk ·
Europe is heading towards federalism and a hyper-regulatory European socialist system that just won?t work for the UK. The apathy of the UK?s citizens will result in the wrecking of our economy if we sit back and let our government move us closer to the European model. I think we need a wake-up call to get out before we get sucked into the Euro and our exit becomes a lot more messy.

The creation of a federalist Europe can only succeed for those countries with an aptitude for it. Britain is certainly not one of them. Unlike Britain, none of the larger continental European countries has truly effective political institutions. Those of Germany date from 1949, France from 1958 and Spain from 1975. The Italians are still trying to reform their constitution. All have proportional representation voting systems and usually cumbersome coalition governments. It is obvious that these countries, unlike Britain, might feel that in moving toward federation they are not giving up much.

There are now 50,000 European regulations, filling over 230,000 pages, applicable to Britain. I accept that not all of these are detrimental to our way of life but a significant number of them fit into this category whereas a number of others can best be described as ?more trouble than they are worth?.

Monetary union would be soon followed by a common foreign and defense policy. This would reduce national sovereignty in the member countries virtually to the level of local government.

For an example of ?European Common Foreign Policy?, look no further than the events in the Middle East. The general EU Middle Eastern policy is to wait for the Americans to do something and then stake out positions more favorable to the Arab powers. I know that the Americans are not always right but surely the EU can manage to be a bit more honest than to go against them every time. The EU?s treatment of Turkey will destabilize that crucial country and the entire region. The Greeks need a serious slapping but, while the leading continental European powers hide behind the Greeks, we ? and more recently, Spain ? seem to be the only ones with a consistent policy to keep Turkey on-side.

Getting out wouldn?t be so bad, surely. We would still continue to trade with our ex-partners. Probably on better terms than before.

The World Trade Organisation has reduced the EU?s common external tariff from 5.7% to 3.6%. Not too much to pay with our lower production costs. Attempts by the EU to limit imports from non-members can only be sustained if unanimously upheld by multi-national trade panels, which is practically almost impossible. So, the scare story of being frozen out of Europe by vindictive Community bureaucrats is not tenable. Anyway, as we have a negative balance of payments with Europe, they need us more than we need them!

The annual direct cost of our membership of the European Union is made up as follows: we make ?10 billion in gross budgetary contributions. Almost half of this is returned in EU spending but we, the UK citizens, don?t get to choose what that ?5 billion is spent on! Higher food prices in the UK, because of the Common Agricultural Policy, cost us more than ?6 billion annually although about half of that is rebated directly to British farmers usually for things that, again, we don?t want or need anyway. So, the overall cost of the EU to Britain is between ?8 and ?12 billion, or around 1.5% of G.D.P. We also have that ?3 billion trade deficit with the EU.

There are also the indirect costs of regulation, and the heavy political costs of eroding sovereignty and the tacit encouragement of provincial separatism as Scottish and Welsh nationalists envision receiving the sort of direct grants that have benefited Ireland. The true federalization of Europe will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom and there will be no way of putting it back together.

Westminster has served Britain reasonably satisfactorily for centuries. The institutions of Brussels and Strasbourg are both undemocratic and inefficient when viewed from the political standpoint of our democratic system. Almost all continental European governments, because of the proportional voting system, are multi-party coalitions incapable of decisive action. We?re not.

We have absolutely no chance of guiding the Europeans towards transparency, privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes and labour flexibility until it has got a lot worse and they have dragged us down with them. Do we really want to re-live the Thatcher years because that is what will be needed in Europe?

So, if we did leave. What could we do?

We could join the European Economic Area with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This would maintain our full access to the Single Market and avoid further political integration. We would save most of the present financial cost of the EU. The Swiss option, the European Free Trade Association but not the European Economic Area, gives almost as good access to the EU market but only free movement of goods and not of people. Given the existence of our large current account deficit with the EU, we should be in a position to negotiate complete reciprocal access of goods and people but with complete withdrawal from the political and judicial institutions if we just had the cojones!

Hey, let?s join NAFTA! NAFTA is already negotiating with the EFTA and with Chile. We are currently the world?s fourth economy, after the U.S., Japan, and Germany so I can?t imagine there would be any great difficulty negotiating entry. Earlier EU initiatives to promote free trade between the EU and NAFTA have been typically vetoed by the French.

Hey you Yanks and Canadians. Would we be welcome in a renamed, expanded NAFTA if we kicked the EU into touch? I reckon we would.


This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

Or 4 States

by Montgomery Gator In reply to I don't think that you'd ...

If the UK joined the USA, it might be as 4 states: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

And we would also have to deal with the status of the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Falkland Islands, Bermuda, and the UK Virgin Islands. I guess they would be territories similar in status as Guam and the US Virgin Islands.

Then there would be the problem of the Royal Family and the British Nobility. The USA Constitution forbids the granting of Royal and Noble titles. As part of the USA, Prince Charles would just be citizen Charles Windsor, just another guy with lots of money, big ears and goofy opinions. We already got a guy like that, we call him Ross Perot. :-)

Collapse -

Yeah, but

by jdclyde In reply to Or 4 States

Perot did something to EARN his money. Poor Charles. What would he be qualified to do? Maybe he could run the fries and McDonalds? He would be bound to hear when the buzzer went off!

Collapse -

He's a farmer

by neilb@uk In reply to Yeah, but

Or so he would have us believe. He's very big on organic farming and shoots his mouth off at any opportunity.

Collapse -

How about .....

by gadgetgirl In reply to He's a farmer

horse breeder....




Collapse -


by Montgomery Gator In reply to How about .....

But Camilla is beyond breeding age. Charles may have a good time riding that mare, but she is not going to drop any foals. ]:)

Collapse -

Like a moped

by jdclyde In reply to How about .....

both are fun to ride until your friends see you on it......

moped = scooter?

Collapse -

You mean we aren't ?

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Become a Colony of the Un ...

Serious comments later, just reading about Governor Blair's latest mishap and planning some Macdonald's haute cuisine.

Collapse -

Declare Independence and Leave Europe!!

by Montgomery Gator In reply to What should the UK do nex ...

The European Union is a threat to British sovereignty. As far back as 19** (when I was in London), I remember people in the UK were upset because the EU was regulating the flavors and ingredients in crisp packets (or potato chip packages, as we call them here in the USA). There was a threat that favorite flavors, such as prawn (shrimp), might be regulated out of existence. I imagine it must be much worse, now. Is the Imperial measure pint still allowed in the UK in the pubs? Or has the EU outlawed that because it is not "metric"?

The UK should leave the EU, then negotiate trade agreements with the EU. That way, international trade can still exist between the UK and Europe, much like the way the USA can trade with the UK and Europe without being part of the EU. Leave the EU, otherwise all the efforts to keep the UK independent from Europe (from the defeat of the Spanish Armada, to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, to the defeat of Nazi Germany) will be for naught. Do not dishonor those brave British soldiers and sailors who defeated those threats from the Continent to keep Britain free.

"This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England"

I have no problem with the UK being part of an expanded NAFTA. How about a trade agreement for the Anglosphere, call it AFTA, the Anglosphere Free Trade Agreement? It can include English-speaking nations, and nations with similar legal traditions and economic systems as the UK and the USA, including Australia, Canada, South Africa, India, Singapore, New Zealand, and so forth.

Collapse -

Is the world DOOMED. . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to What should the UK do nex ...

. collectivism?

The trend must be stopped. The tides must be turned back.

The next great world war will undoubtedly be between those who want to take something that does not belong to them, and they will use "collectivism" -- the greater good -- as their justification, and those who want to protect that which is theirs.

These people are HUGE threat -- perhaps even a bigger threat than terrorism.

Neil, are we converting you?

Collapse -

Doomed? Yes - but not with a bang...

by Snak In reply to Is the world DOOMED. . . ...

Yes the world is doomed. Don't assume a world war will be the cause though. The world is more likely to go out with a whimper than a bang. When the overpopulation of rats in a sewer becomes an infestation, disease usually wipes out most of them. There are 50,000,000 people with AIDS or HIV today. This is partly due to ignorance, partly the Pope. As people are still obscenely and stupidly having more than enough children to replace them, famine is likely to be a contributing factor. It's only a short time since the 'official' 6bn people mark was's now > 6.5bn. Work it out. Ultimately, and ironically, it's stupidity that will defeat so-called 'intelligent' Mankind.

Related Discussions

Related Forums