Wednesday 28th February
There is no doubt that being sensible, being pragmatic, doing Realpolitik – is boring. And the alternative – going it alone, following some idealogical ideal, sailing the high seas looking for land to trade with – may sound attractive, brave and appealing. But dry your eyes, wipe away the schmaltz and drink the cold bitter coffee of reality. The days of Colonialism are long over. Every country in the World, with the possible exceptions of Yemen and Syria and Somalia, all know about trade. We can no longer sell them whisky and baubles for cheap raw materials. All we could possibly offer would be to stolen launder money more effectively (one more possible reason that the Brexiteers hate Europe, as it is busy tightening up this murky trade). It is true that countries like China and India are rapidly growing, and at some point, may overtake the West. And we can and do trade with them, up to a point. But they, like America, will put their own countries first – and we will have little choice (on our own) in standing up against them. That is just one more reason why we stand a much better chance of increasing our trade with them as a part of the EU than on our own.
The reality, if we do go it alone, and leave lboth the Single Market and the Customs Union, is that in the immediate aftermath we will take a massive hit to our manufacturing, our service and even our financial industries. We may sign a new deal with America, but don’t expect it to be either soon or in our interest. They have much lower standards than we do, and their industrial food producers (hardly farmers anymore) will flood our markets with cheap and unreliable food. Yes, it may be cheaper – but there is a good reason for that. And our own farmers will go out of business pretty quickly. Can you imagine any Car Manufacturers (which are all multi-country Corporations now) wanting to make cars just in Britain. They will head for the hills.
So, we must be pragmatic. Just because people voted to leave, they did not vote for chaos. They did not vote for huge job losses. They did not vote for poorer hygiene standards. We must be pragmatic. Just as Jeremy has started to be. It may be that at some point in the future we are capable of leaving the Customs Union and striking out on our own. Nothing stays the same forever. But for now, and for the foreseeable future we are far wiser to stay as close as possible to the EU as possible, while actually leaving the institution. It will not be perfect, but that is the nature of Pragmatism. It is boring, and imperfect. But it is better than complete chaos, and idealogical Nationalism.