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|Subject: Oh dear oh dear, more shouting back and forth across the barricades|
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Date Posted: 02:20:10 11/24/04 Wed
In reply to: Mister New Statesman 's message, "Well, couldn't you possibly argue that Britain is where it is today because of Europe?" on 19:33:40 11/23/04 Tue
Can I appeal for a greater degree of general civility?
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Date Posted: 12:05:43 11/24/04 Wed
The oil problems of the seventies did cause grief globally. However the socialists (who wanted out of the ECC at the time) spectacularly buggered up the economy. In 1979 the Tories inherited a country that had 28% inflation, that had rising unemployment, and that was producing subsidised antiques that nobody wanted to buy. The GDP per head was close to 50% of the contemporary levels of that of France. The U.K. was in near-critical decline, not even regarded as a European power let alone a world power. Under the circumstances it is not too surprising that the Crown dominions wished to cease being British subjects.
Ordinary citizens in the 70s had to have their passport stamped to take even very small sums of money out of the country and were unable to buy their council house that they had lived in and considered to be their own. This Orwellian state severely restricted freedom for the ordinary man.
Thatcher came in and changed all of this and put the U.K. back on the path to prosperity. The U.K. had been in the EEC since 1973 but prosperity came as a result of brave descisions by the Tories at Westminister, nearly a decade later.
I would argue that Britain is where it is today because of Britain. Britain is presently richer that the EU average because we work longer hours and have (relative to the EU average) lower taxes.
In the event of the UK opting out of the political side of the EU project, under WTO rules it would be illegal for the EU to impose punitive import levies etc... Also the UK has a massive trade deficit with the rest of the EU. Any trade war initiated on a non-EU UK would be akin to shooting yourself in the foot, especially so as the major economies of the EU are already half lame. With this unrestricted access to the EU markets the UK would be in a position of strength. If the government kept the UK competitive compared to the rest of Europe then in fact it is likely that many companies would actually choose to locate in the UK rather than in the EU.
The above all holds true. The UK would certainly be better off outside the EU but with guaranteed free trade. The EU constitutional exit clause actually reduces the UK government controls over exiting the EU. Presently we can withdraw by repealing all acts at Westminister. Under the EU contitution we would hav to negotiate exit terms. Currently the rotten deal that we get over fishing rights is actually doing the EU a favour - we can repeal it any time. Post treaty the EU could say "of course you can leave but we will keep fishing rights in your waters".
In the event of the UK separating from the EU (which of course could be done in a most friendly way), the natural direction to look is towards Australia, Canada and New Zealand, countries with whom we have the most in common.
The trouble with political theory is that it is just theory. A great many political theorists like a theory so much that they are blinkered from the political realities.
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