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 -

Politically Incorrect

by jdclyde In reply to Doomed? Yes - but not wit ...

yet technically correct. (although I don't follow the Pope comment).

The other side of that problem with the over population is people are not held RESPONSIBLE for the large families that they are having.

You do NOT have a right to have more kids than you can take care of! Yet there are many that will make excuses for them and GIVE them MY money that was taken as TAXES for the running of the country, NOT to pay for people to make babies.
Although over population isn't that big of a deal. we can just send them all to Canada! PLENTY of room and firewood up there! They can even hunt the elks before our drilling in the ANWR can wipe our all life up there?


Collapse -

Why it's doomed. . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Doomed? Yes - but not wit ...

I was suggesting that the rampant spread of collectivism will doom the world -- because there is no escape from it.

Collapse -

Funny this should hit the news now.....

by gadgetgirl In reply to What should the UK do nex ...

interesting view, good point

Well, I'm British and Proud Of It! The only multiculturalism in me is part Geordie, part Scottish and the rest British...

(with a hint of silliness running right the way through....! )


Collapse -

Ironic but good for the Archbishop of York

by Montgomery Gator In reply to Funny this should hit the ...

It is ironic that the new Archbishop of York, has that opinion, since he was born and raised in Uganda. However, I say, good for him. I wish that more immigrants embraced the culture of their new countries. Many recent immigrants to the USA have adopted our language and culture, but many have not and insist that they be catered to in their native languages, including on the ballots.

If the immigrants to France who have been causing trouble recently had adopted French culture, then there would not have been the riots they had there. Instead, all they would have done is act arrogant and snotty, but not have the balls to do anything about it. :-)

As an aside, I find it interesting that he is from Uganda. My church recently left the Episcopal church to join the Anglican Communion, and we are now under the Archbishop of Uganda, at least until there are enough Anglican churches over here to have our own Archbishop.

Collapse -

"arrogant and snotty"

by neilb@uk In reply to Ironic but good for the A ...

Ah, but they wouldn't have! It's very French to riot!

Half of the trouble with the EU is that the social and economic structures are geared towards dealing with social unrest by chucking money at it. Both the French and Germans have relatively recent history as to what can happen if your lower classes get a bit out of control.

Napoleon and Hitler...

Collapse -

You left out the Italians and Spaniards

by sleepin'dawg In reply to "arrogant and snotty"

Musolini and Franco. Europe has had no shortage of demigods and dictators.

Dawg ]:)

Collapse -


by Tony Hopkinson In reply to What should the UK do nex ...

We should do what we've done up to WWII. Play powerful european states off each other and end up in charge. We did it for hundreds of years earning the well deserved epithet of pernicious. America, nice fella's, good buddies and all that, but a short swim that way is what's really important. I find the idea that Britain as a nation is powerful enough to dictate it's own terms to either mainland europe or the US just utterly stupid. Militarily, economically and socially either one could squash us like a bug, some say they are or have. Our only real value is as a bridge between them, however as they both pull away from each other we are now getting torn in two. We are'nt valuable enough to be separate.
Four choices
51st State of the US
Become an active, enthusiastic and contributing member of the EU
Be marginalised to the point where we are at best slapped in the face when we get out of order.
Invent some super weapons (economic or military) rove about the world re-planting the union jack and rebuild the british empire.

The latter one would be good seeing as a lot of people seem not to have noticed that we are no longer an imperialist super power, so it would be less of a shock.

Lets get serious here, which market gives up a better deal, better profits and much lower overheads american or european ?

Who dumps low cost imports on us, who imposed tariffs on our exports to protect their own industry. Who runs a one for one exhange rate on their products with us. I aren't even going to start on the political and cultural differences.

They are much larger than those between us and our next door neighbours.

Collapse -


by neilb@uk In reply to Negotiate

Tony, I used to be a pretty keen pro-Europe sort until the last few years. I now believe that we don't really get a very good deal out of the EU and it's not going to get any better. I also don't really think that we're in with a chance of negotiating anything worthwhile in terms of change.

"Become an active, enthusiastic and contributing member of the EU". God! Haven't we tried?

The next few years will tell. If the current trend for over-regulation of employment continues or accelerates - and I think it will - then we are in deep trouble. One of the logical consequence of the over-regulation of employment is that the expense and difficulty in hiring and firing workers causes businesses to find substitutes for labour. European companies are careful to make sure that all of their workers perform high-productivity jobs which means that the majority of work available is for highly paid, high productivity workers. What this means in Western Europe - and what it will mean here if we continue in Europe - is that young and low-skilled workers are simply frozen out of the job market. Without entry-level jobs they have no way to learn the skills and obtain the experience necessary to grow into the high productivity jobs.

We get high productivity and high unemployment. This is exactly what they have in France and Germany with the high productivity feeding the social safety net (armchair) for the unemployed.

Two things will happen over the next few years. The first is that the population will age so that they ratio of employed to unemployed will get even smaller. The second is that the less regulated economies of China and India will cut away at the employment prospects of those who do have jobs.

When the money starts to run out and those in jobs can't be squeezed any more, those at the bottom of the heap will start rioting to complain about the conditions in which they are forced (forced?) to live. Oh! They are already.

Europe's attitude to the French riots is to pour money - up to ?700 million has been touted - into the areas without addressing any of the root causes. A lot of that is my money.

They don't want to change and they won't until it's too late! Europe, as a whole, is short-sighted and discriminatory. On average across the 25 Member States only 44% of women and 29% of people over 50 are in the workforce. Both figures are 10% better in the UK, by the way. The EU employment rate is 63% compared with 71% in the USA. More significantly, it has increased by only 0.5% since the Lisbon employment target of 70% was agreed 5 years ago and employment was made a target.

When we lose our rebate - and we will - we won't gain anything.

I won't even mention the CAP.

Economically and socially, the EU is already squashing us like a bug.

Collapse -

Well I can see it going the other way

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Negotiate?

The french no vote on the constitution was a real eye opener.
Our rebate is easy to get rid of. Stop secret industry subsidies, throw CAP right in the bin where it belongs and we'll give it up, otherwise **** off. That's what I mean my negotiate, quid pro quo and taanstafl.

I'd be the first to admit there are lots of things to fix in the EU. I see it as idle politicians work for the devil. We're spending millions of pounds paying guys to decide on the font to be used on an EU approved label. What they should be doing is sorting out picking up the rest of the balkans and the middle east. Investing in them enough so the people who come from there don't want to leave just to get a job as a bog attendant and claim welfare.

After the balkans, russia, china and india. Alliance with Canada no problem, but do it from Kamchatka (Risk's good game is n't it).

Seriously, the EU with all it's a problems there's absolutely no benefit being out of it and even less joining up with the US.

That even looked like happening, I'd be arguing for Yorshire to become a country, starting up insurgency plans, and constructing flour bombs from leftover pudding ingredients. The EU is never going to be a mono-culture, they embrace diversity because they are diverse, the US subsumes it.

The EU may require our sovreignty, so would the US, and then they'd take our identity as well, they would destroy us in a generation.

Like I said earlier, join up, die or become a tin pot little island overwhelmed by two giant continents.

Collapse -

Actually the European continent with or with out the UK can................

by sleepin'dawg In reply to Well I can see it going t ...

tucked away in Canada's Province of Quebec with land left over. Europe is a giant only in terms of its population which highlights the paucity of natural resources available per capita. A trade agreement along the lines of NAFTA would be much more beneficial to the UK than what the EU is slowly turning into. No nation can control its economy unless it can control its currency a fact that was recognized when the UK passed on the adoption of the Euro. Once control of your economy is lost it becomes only a matter of time before national sovereignty becomes lost. Note the Swiss Franc has remained reasonably stable as well as Stirling; why??? Because both Switzerland and the UK are controlling inflation by controlling interest rates and the currency supply. The Euro has lost close to 20% since July.

There would be no "joining up with the US" or any other nation for that matter. It would be a trade agreement between independent self governing nations much along the current lines of NAFTA. It would also permit the UK to exercise its residual interests in China via Hong Kong as a member of the Pacific Rim trade agreements now coming into force. With the quagmire Europe seems to be in right now that increasingly looks like a boat that Europe is about to miss. If the UK remains tetheredto Europe it can only suffer a like fate. Even if the UK didn't enter into "a trade agreemnet amongst the English speaking peoples" she would still probably fare better than being encumbered by Europe because she would have freedom of mobility to act for her own ends. Aside from the French not ratifying the constitution you do realize there is a large ground swell movement in Germany to have them withdraw from the EU, especially in the north. There are a lot of Sauer Krauts out there these days, just check out the new Chancellor. BTW even NAFTA has drawbacks but nothing on a par with the EU.

Dawg ]:)

Related Discussions

Related Forums