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You are not allowed to play our game, nyah, nyah, nyah

The Guardian is covering German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble’s interview comments that he will not let Britain play with him or his EU friends if it does not do what he wants.

Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, has slammed the door on Britain retaining access to the single market if it votes to the leave the European Union.

In an interview in a Brexit-themed issue of German weekly Der Spiegel, the influential veteran politician ruled out the possibility of the UK following a Swiss or Norwegian model where it could enjoy the benefits of the single market without being an EU member.

“That won’t work,” Schäuble told Der Spiegel. “It would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw.

“If the majority in Britain opts for Brexit, that would be a decision against the single market. In is in. Out is out. One has to respect the sovereignty of the British people.”

I am left wondering what he means and why we should care. On what he means, the article does not help.

A lot of people seem to be under the impression that “trade deals” are somehow important. I am of the view that unilateral free trade is perfectly fine. If the German government wants to tax and bully Germans who want to buy things from people in Britain, that is very much the German people’s problem. It might mean that Germans buy fewer things from the UK, but does that really matter? Mainstream thinking seems to be that it will cost Jobs, but jobs are a cost. There is no shortage of work to do, so if British people spend less time and effort making things for Germans they will just have more time and effort left to make things for other British people, or people in other countries. Of course there will be some short term pain and turmoil as a result of changes, but that is true of all changes, so I think it is only necessary to consider the long term. And in the long term, as long as the British government allows us to buy things from Europe if we want to, everything will be fine.

George Osborne tweeted, “UK would have to accept free movement and pay in to EU to continue to access trade”, as if the EU would impose an embargo on us like the USA does Cuba.

Peter Mandelson said, “We cannot leave the club and continue to use its facilities.” What facilities specifically does he mean? There is an awful lot of vague language about. As far as I can tell we will still be able to visit France and bring back wine, even outside of the EU.

Matthew Elliot, formerly of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Big Brother Watch and now the Vote Leave Campaign Committee, said, “The eurozone economies are dependent on trade with the UK. We are the fifth largest economy in the world, while many of them are in a desperate state due to the failing single currency. There is no question about it, Britain will still have access to the single market after we vote leave. It would be perverse of the eurozone to try to create artificial barriers – and would do far more damage to them than to anyone else.” This sounds about right. But then he went on to talk about the ability to “forge trade deals” with emerging markets outside of the EU, which I still see as unnecessary.

People trade with people. Governments just decide whether to get in the way or not. At least for now, UK government people on both sides of the EU debate are talking about the importance of not getting in the way. So that is one good thing.

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32 comments to You are not allowed to play our game, nyah, nyah, nyah

  • Johnnydub

    The EU is not a free trade area, its a customs union.

    For example all of the large tariff’s the EU imposes on non-EU food stuffs will no longer apply.

    And fuck Schauble – the EU continuously makes it people poorer through piss poor decision making – like the Euro.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Wolfgang Schäuble is insane.

    He even claimed that muslim immigration was desirable as it would prevent the degeneration of Germany through inbreeding within the Germans.

    Surely he is aware that the recent immigrants from the Middle East have high rates of cousin marriages?

  • Dan

    Being a German, such comments from Schäuble make me a bit ashamed. Insane indeed.
    I only hope that is gonna help the Brexit cause (like the other arrogant statements of Juncker, Schulz et al). Would be rather ironic if this makes the yet undecided Brits think “well screw you, we leave”.
    Maybe if the UK flourishes post Brexit (and it will), this will trigger other countries considering their membership (the scandinavian countries, Netherlands). Unfortunately I think it will be a long time until this will be the case in France or Germany.

  • Sam Duncan

    So is Schäuble saying that a British application to join the EEA as a member of EFTA would be summarily rejected? Maybe he’s right, but it’s completely unprecedented, and sounds a bit like cutting off his nose to spite his face.

    “It would require the country to abide by the rules of a club from which it currently wants to withdraw.

    No. That’s kind of the point, Wolfie. As it is, the country has to abide by EU law. If we left, only businesses trading with the EU would have to take EU regulations into account. And even then, only those that actually apply to their product, rather than the entire Acquis Communautaire of Working Time Directives, Waste Management Directives, and who knows what all else.* Just as businesses trading with the United States have to make sure their products meet US regulations.

    All this talk of “club”s and aggregate trade muddies the argument. Which is, of course, the whole idea.

    *Although, of course, those would still be part of our law, pro-tem. But we would regain the power to change that.

  • RAB

    But but…We are all friends, brothers, cousins, comrades in the ever expanding Europe aren’t we? But the moment one of the major net contributors to the gangster protection racket threatens to pack it in and leave, and spend the wasted subs on itself instead, we are threatened with oblivion. Nothing has changed at the slimy heart of Europe. It could still be 1939. Threats like this make me more and more determined to vote LEAVE.

  • llamas

    The laughable Herr Schauble seems to think that

    a) all of the UK’s trade is with the EU and must therefore be compliant with the EU’s ‘rules’.
    b) trade is organized in private clubs with membership rules.

    Yes, I know that’s how he’d like things to be, and he and his kind have striven mightily to impose this worldview on a whole continent, but there’s no law (apart from their made-up ones) which says that people must trade this way or the heavens will fall and darkness will descend on the face of the earth.

    As Sam Duncan notes, anyone can trade with anyone they like, and decide on their own rules as they see fit. This is an idea which renders the Schaubles of the world at once both redundant and laughable, and must therefore be resisted at all costs.

    On the larger question, I will ask, as I have asked before – has the EU rot seeped deep enough in to the UK body politic, with its corrosive statisms and its endless regulation and directives and rules and programs and schemes and subsidies, that it can no longer be practically reversed?

    llater,

    llamas

  • QET

    Britain was the rock on which the wave of German Euro-imperialism broke in 1940 and it can be again!

  • Laird

    “People trade with people. Governments just decide whether to get in the way or not.”

    That’s just about the best description of “Free Trade Agreements” I’ve ever seen.

  • Paul Marks

    The comments already deal with a lot of this.

    The lies of “Remain” are irritating – for example the “Evening Standard” newspaper (which I came upon in a train yesterday) is basically just pro E.U. lies, about the “costs” of leaving the E.U. from cover to cover. Supposedly it means less revenue for the government (???) leading to budget cuts that would lead to the poor eating their children (or having less children, or feeding their children to their cats – or all these things) indeed this is supposedly already happening – “academic studies”, by “economists” prove that black is white and Leaving the E.U. (which actually costs billions of Pounds) would mean “less money” for Britain.

    As for trade – the German government is hardly going to apply sanctions that will harm German industry, for German companies actually sell far more to British customers than British companies sell to German customers.

    Politically the “balance of trade” still matters.

    The whole “Remain” case is a tissue of lies – extreme lies. Spread by the entire establishment – especially the children of Plato’s “noble lie” (the academics).

    The vicious contempt for the truth shown by the academics (their blatant and extreme lying) has proved yet again that the “education system” should not receive money taken, by force, from taxpayers.

    And the horrible thing is that the lies may well work – they may win.

  • Regional

    herr Strawbale is ignorant of history.

  • James Hargrave

    Was it not Douglas Jay, sometime President of the Board of Trade in the 1960s, who observed that if you don’t sell something to x you sell it to y?

  • So the Germans want to throw rocks in their harbours? Okay. We’ll keep buying their BMWs. How does German politics win here?

  • So is Schäuble saying that a British application to join the EEA as a member of EFTA would be summarily rejected? Maybe he’s right, but it’s completely unprecedented, and sounds a bit like cutting off his nose to spite his face.

    Schäuble isn’t cutting off his nose. The Brussels Class doesn’t care about the people.

  • Lee Moore

    It has to be said that the current state of the referendum fun and games is very odd. The number of careerist Tory MPs leaping from LEAVE to REMAIN indicates that they’re all pretty much convinced that REMAIN will win and to preserve their careers they need to cuddle up to Dave. Meanwhile the squeaking of the REMAIN team becomes even more panicked and absurd, indicating that they think there’s a real possibility they could lose. They can’t both be right.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    James Hargrave
    June 10, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Was it not Douglas Jay, sometime President of the Board of Trade in the 1960s, who observed that if you don’t sell something to x you sell it to y?

    The truth of that complacent observation depends on the ‘something’: sometimes y won’t buy what x won’t, either, because it’s not worth having. The sad history of the British auto industry in the 1950s is a case in point.

    If you’ve got good products, though, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Eric

    Lee,

    I don’t know how it works in the UK, but in the US our congressmen periodically put on this performance wherein they pretend to oppose something they really want to see enacted (or vice versa), because their constituents oppose that thing. They’ll even vote against whatever it is as long as, when the relevant whip counts the votes, it’s clear the thing will pass even with their “no” vote. It’s only when Congress is divided you see your congressman’s true colors (shades of green, mostly).

    Perhaps that’s why these “careerist Tory MPs” are changing sides – because “remain” was always their true position, the vote will be close, and they can no longer afford to pretend, for appearances, they want to see the “leave” camp victorious?

    One of my big disappointments in politics is the extent to which leaders of parties which seem to be in opposition are actually in broad agreement. The show they put on is for us credulous rubes not aware of “how things work”.

  • Lee Moore

    I understand the process, Eric.

    I was about to say that your argument couldn’t possibly apply to Tory MPs switching to remain, because you’d have to be arrogant and self important well past the point of psychosis to imagine, as a Tory MP, that you switching sides could have the tiniest effect on anyone’s vote, or indeed that anyone on the planet either knows who you are, or cares what you think. But then realised what a silly thing to say that would have been.

  • Thailover

    Why is Europe afraid of GB pulling out of the EU?
    Because they’re parasites and poor.

    What is the (empty) threat?

    That the parasites that need GB more than GB needs them won’t trade with the relatively rich country that they’re afraid of leaving the EU.

    What’s the smart call? That it’s a desparate threat that will harm the EU more than GB in the end IF they decide to shut out GB.

    The smart play is to tell both the EU and “Wolfgang” to go fuck themselves.

    It’s a pathetic threat, like a soon-to-be ex-girlfriend saying, “If you leave, I won’t talk to you anymore and I might hurt myself”.

    GB, don’t be the next Johnny Depp. Cut that crazy bitch loose.

  • Thailover

    Paul Marks wrote,
    “Supposedly it means less revenue for the government (???) leading to budget cuts that would lead to the poor eating their children (or having less children, or feeding their children to their cats – or all these things) indeed this is supposedly already happening – “academic studies”, by “economists” prove that black is white and Leaving the E.U. (which actually costs billions of Pounds) would mean “less money” for Britain.”

    Unfortunately, in (very) general terms, two out of every 4 people are below average intelligence (IQ), and one out of every 4 has below normal intelligence (IQ 90 and below with tests that have a SD of 15/16).

    A large number of people will believe the political rags…just ’cause. ‘Cause they say so. That have no idea how one thing affects the other, like how losing a drag on the economy won’t actually harm the economy. It should be common sense to anyone who understands basic finance…but, well, there you go.

  • PeterT

    We may not like rules, but unfortunately rules like us. I copy paste a relevant passage from Richard North’s flexcit document (page 68 – can be found on the eureferendum.com website)

    Manufactured goods exported to the EU can only be placed on the market if
    they meet all the applicable requirements. However, conformity alone is not
    sufficient. If costly checks and delays on entry are to be avoided, evidence must
    be supplied that the goods have undergone the appropriate conformity
    assessment procedures. This can be certified by testing bodies which have
    been approved by the EU or by systems in originating countries where domestic
    systems are recognised, usually in conjunction with the international standards
    body ISO.165 Mutual recognition is either built into free trade agreements or,
    where Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on conformity assessment are
    in force.166 These enable the exporters to rely on their own domestic systems to
    produce the appropriate certification which will p

    You get the idea; just leaving in a huff could have fairly significant economic consequences. That said, I don’t see why the EU would not let us trade through the EEA as an EFTA member. Indeed, given the clout Britain has, and the fact that we are already part of the single market, I don’t see why we could not negotiate something better, i.e. opt out of free movement of people.

  • Thailover

    RAB,

    Indeed, cartels always crumble because SOMEONE with survival instinct will eventually break ranks, which is why the “monopolies will destroy any economy unless we intervene” is bullshit.

  • Chip

    Trade is natural and beneficial. Interference with trade is coercive and harmful.

    The EU apparatchiks’ key argument seems to be that they can coerce like no other, which, of course, is also the key argument of the leavers.

  • Chip

    Dyson makes a couple good points in the Telegraph today.

    The UK has a huge trade deficit with the EU so a tariff war would hurt the Europeans more.

    And the EU us a rapidly shrinking share of UK trade.

  • RRS

    People trade with people. Governments just decide whether to get in the way or not.”

    To take that a step further:

    “Governments” don’t do anything.

    People, human beings, with motives and objectives use the mechanisms and facilities of governments as means to ends; even to the extent of using other humans as means to ends.

    For years and years now, “Mass Man” of Europe (and increasingly in the U.S.), through “democratic” processes weighted by numbers, has placed that “use” in the hands of “leaders” to make choices for them and determine the ends to be sought.

    Leaving the EU will be one less facility for that “Leadership” to impact individual liberty and the function of individual choice in the UK.

    The 23d is just a vote, the exit will be negotiated.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Both Germany and the US are the main protagonists in the EU-US trade deal, they both need the UK involved to make it viable as it is a major trade partner on both sides. The fact that escapes Mr Schäuble is that the UK doesn’t actually get a say in this deal and that is precisely why Brexiteers would like to leave, so the UK can independently negotiate deals instead of just be a minor player in Germany’s.

    If the UK was out of the EU and the other EU countries decided to form trade deals with the UK, there is stuff all Germany could do about it, unless they think a dozen frigates can form an effective blockade.

  • John B

    Trade = Exchange.

    EU buy British exports, Britain gets money (euro) to buy EU exports.

    EU no buy British exports, Britain has no euro to buy EU exports.

    Anything that hampers free movement of goods from UK to EU, hampers free movement of goods from EU to UK.

    More goods come to UK from EU than go the other way.

    UK, post-Brexit, does not have to join anything or accept anything. Of course the EU is stupid enough to shoot itself in the foot (it is an addiction) but then the UK can always buy stuff from elsewhere, then those folks will have Pounds which will best be spent in the UK… and whoops, up goes exports.

    Why is it that finance ministers… Osborne is the same… do not understand trade?

    A bit of worry given their job.

    It profit a man nothing to gain the whole World for the loss of his soul, but for the EU…

  • Why is it that finance ministers… Osborne is the same… do not understand trade?

    Oh that is easy to answer: because it is not in their interests to understand trade.

    Their job is not trade, their job is political power. If more people genuinely understood trade, they might conclude that far from needing the state to “do something”, it might be better if they actually did as little as possible, and next thing you know, folks might start wondering why people like Osborne actually have so much power… and we can’t have that!

  • Pardone

    Well, we will continue to pay for their trains with or without Brexit.

    Its all good for Wolfgang and Angela either way.

  • Chester Draws

    Indeed, cartels always crumble because SOMEONE with survival instinct will eventually break ranks, which is why the “monopolies will destroy any economy unless we intervene” is bullshit.

    That’s ridiculous. A monopoly won’t last because cartels crumble? What about non-cartel monopolies?

    And quite a few cartels last quite a while. The Mob/Yakuza/Bratva. The LibLabCon. Champagne producers.

    Of course they don’t destroy economies. That doesn’t mean that the price of champagne, to give one instance, isn’t higher than it would be without the cartel.

  • Rob Fisher

    Chester, there are other types of fizzy wine. And other types of beverage altogether.

  • Pat

    He’s not even head of state in one province of the “Union”. He’s about as important as an ordinary voter- which is to say not at all.

  • Mark

    Is it just me that has a problem connecting to mises.org? I’ve had this problem for a long time – different browsers and different devices (PC and phone) but when I connect to the internet with mobile data rather than through Virgin Media’s internet it works fine. I don’t know whether I’m being paranoid or is this Virgin Media restricting content?! I used to visit mises.org all the time but these days the page times out