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“If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

I just wanted to share this chance-found five year old Observer editorial because it is so gloriously apocalyptic: “If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

Conservative Eurosceptics will be delighted. For them, membership of the EU has contributed to Britain’s protracted depression. Echoing the defeated Tea Party in the United States, they offer Britain a prospectus of becoming like Hong Kong. Minimal protections in the workplace; the chance to develop ourselves as a tax haven;

Sounds great! Alas, not all my countrymen share this inspiring vision of our post-Brexit future, but at least we’re out.

to become Europe’s economic and political renegade, imagining that the EU will be perfectly happy to accept unfair and unregulated competition. To believe this as the route to economic salvation is fanciful indeed.

Instead, it will be a disaster at every level. Britain’s mass car industry will head to low-cost countries that have remained in the EU. Much other manufacturing will follow; Airbus production will migrate to Germany and France. Already, there is massive damage. It was partly because Germany now anticipates Britain leaving the EU that Berlin vetoed BAe’s deal with the defence giant EADS. It did not want Europe’s defence industry to be concentrated in a non-EU member. The financial services industry will be regulated on terms set in Brussels and be powerless to resist. British farmers, who have prospered under the Common Agricultural Policy, will find they become dependent on whatever mean-spirited British system of farm support that replaces it. Farms will survive by industrial farming, devastating the beloved English countryside.

Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy. No Eurosceptic ever complains about the selling of Britain to foreigners, a much greater constraint on our sovereignty than Brussels. Our fiscal and monetary policy will shadow that of the European authorities for fear of an attack on sterling if we do not.

We will be become subcontractor to the world with zero economic sovereignty, a bits-and-pieces economy offering low-paid, transient work to a public unprotected by any kind of social contract because of the disappearance of our tax base.

The best in Britain know this – most in the leadership teams of our main political parties including the Tory party, directors in our top companies, our cultural leaders, our trade union leaders, our universities and some of our public intellectuals. Yet collectively they are silent, bullied and cowed by the overwhelming media might of the Eurosceptics and losing heart because of the single currency crisis. Yet the EU is putting in place mechanisms for the euro’s survival and even its prospering – a rescue and bail-out mechanism, a banking union, closer fiscal co-ordination and more political collaboration. The EU, the euro and the single currency will be here in a decade’s time – our continent’s instruments for managing globalisation and the challenges of the 21st century. We can be the renegade at the margins or playing our part in one of the great projects of our time. Those who believe in Europe need to start speaking out – and urgently.

28 comments to “If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

  • pete

    My favourite OTT article about our EU referendum is this one in the Guardian –

    Brexit would make Britain the world’s most hated nation


    Of course, for most Guardian readers this would not be much of a change as the UK is always in their top three hated nations alongside the USA and Israel.

  • Paul Marks

    What the socialist “Observer” newspaper does not understand is that ending of the payment of money to the European Union and (even more) ending the European Union regulations that strangle our internal affairs, would be a great economic BENEFIT to the United Kingdom – although, sadly, Mrs May does not understand this either.

    As for the “defeated” Tea Party – TEA = “taxed enough already”. And American taxes have just been cut. Just as President Trump is also deregulating the economy.

    So what was that about “defeated” Tea Party? Please explain collectivist vermin of the “Observer”.

    By they way the European Union is not Europe – the genius of European Civilisation is political diversity, not crushing conformity (taxes, spending and regulations) – once the Observer was a Classical Liberal newspaper it knew this. But then evil times came – when the enemies of liberty took the name “liberals” for themselves.

  • The crushing media might of Brexiters is mentioned a lot, but nobody mentioned which bit of the media this might resides in. Is crushing media might actually just ordinary people bored of remoaner tripe?

  • bobby b

    I did get a kick out of this:

    “Echoing the defeated Tea Party in the United States . . . “

    Arguably, Trump is but a recurrence of the Tea Party themes. So, perhaps, very subtly, this editorial was presaging the wonders of Brexit.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I was reading a book, written by an Indian, about the benefits of British rule in India. Indians today typically lament the corruption in the Civil Service, and compare it to the incorruptible Civil servants when Britain ran the country. So you might want to expand overseas, and recreate the Empire!

  • John Galt III

    You will become a renegade with economic power if you have 25 years of Trump/Reagan/Thatcher/Lee Kuan Yew/Bibi Netanayahu.

    On the other hand if you get 25 years of Trudeau/Macron/Bernie Sanders/Obama/Corbyn you are finished.

    Not that hard to figure out.

  • Sam Duncan

    “low-cost countries that have remained in the EU”


    “British farmers, who have prospered under the Common Agricultural Policy…”

    “The unemployed, who have prospered under Jobseekers’ Allowance…”.

    I don’t call being dependent on tax-funded handouts “prospering”.

    “The best in Britain know this”

    Oh, there it is. And who, pray, are “the best”? Let me guess…

    “Of course, for most Guardian readers this would not be much of a change as the UK is always in their top three hated nations alongside the USA and Israel.”

    Exactly. So what else is new?

  • Alisa

    Paul, the article is in the Guardian, not the Observer.

    The best in Britain know this – most in the leadership teams of our main political parties including the Tory party, directors in our top companies, our cultural leaders, our trade union leaders, our universities and some of our public intellectuals.

    He/she/it got that right, as Sam mentioned.

  • I look forward to The Observer’s issuance of a speedy correction to this article.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Alisa, despite appearances, it actually is an Observer article. It was first published on Sunday 18th November 2012. The Guardian doesn’t publish on Sundays, the Observer does. The Observer became part of the Guardian Media Group in 1993. Given its venerable history as the oldest Sunday paper in the world, I find it sad that they can’t find it in their hearts to arrange to have a separate Observer masthead on the online edition, but that’s the way it is. The two papers have different staffs and sometimes follow different editorial lines; for instance the Observer supported the Iraq war in 2003.

  • Alisa

    I didn’t know that Natalie – thank you for the correction, and apologies to Paul.

  • The best in Britain know this

    I’m guessing the “best in Britain” don’t get their hands dirty down on the farm much.

    “British farmers, who have prospered under the Common Agricultural Policy, will find they become dependent on whatever mean-spirited British system of farm support that replaces it.”

    That happens to be not actually the case. Give the quote above to a typical British farmer, especially an old one (or the latest in a family) who recalls the pre-73 system of deficiency payments, record the farmer’s response, remove all the “rich country expressions of emphasis” in it, edit it to preserve meaning while calming the tone and diminishing the contempt, and what you’ll end up with will be something like: ‘That happens to be not actually the case.’

    1) A return of the deficiency-payments system used till 1973 would reduce food prices (good for the British poor), increase third world food imports (good for the really poor in the third world) and maintain the UK farming sector – just as it did before we joined the EU. I’m not a fan of any kind of interventionism but since the system was cross-party before we joined the EU it is one example of what we may get after we leave. It was much saner than the EU’s – and even Milton Friedman conceded that supporting a possible national security essential like farming could in theory be valid, though often mere politics in practice.

    2) The Victorians, unaware of Milton Friedman, allowed nature (or capitalism) to take its course in the century after 1815. What the best in Britain really know is that things will go wrong (and would have gone wrong-er) without their incessant intervention to guide those who are not ‘the best’. The Victorian experience is one of many reasons why I think otherwise.

    I don’t suppose I need to tell anyone here the real reason why those who call themselves “the best in Britain” hate Brexit.

    BTW, could “the best in Britain” do with a grammar lesson, so they’d write either

    “will find they become dependent on whatever mean-spirited British system of farm support replaces it.”

    or else

    “will find they become dependent on some mean-spirited British system of farm support that replaces it.”

    or could they defend at least the grammar, if not the sense, of their way of putting it?

  • Roy Lofquist

    Tea Party.

    I attended a Tea Party gathering on the day of its birth, April 15 2009, in Titusville, Florida. Over the following year I was at 5 or 6 further gatherings and went to 2 small local organizational meetings. Perhaps I could clear up some common misunderstandings.

    The Tea Party was never intended to be a political party. The movement kinda spontaneously adopted the “Boston Tea Party” as an avatar. http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/boston-tea-party

    There was a phony “national” Tea Party but it became apparent that they were opportunists just trying to cash in on the movement. They ran a couple of traveling bus tours and then folded.

    A consensus emerged, via the internet, that the best way to further their goal was to coopt the Republican Party. To that end local TP groups started working, at the precinct level, to elect simpatico candidates. The movement kind of went sub rosa at that point. The mission was defined and they set to work.

    It’s impossible to define just how much influence the movement had on subsequent elections but its stated goals were met and then some. Since that day in 2009 the Republican Party has come to historic levels of dominance in every office from dog catcher to Congress. A substantial number of those new office holders are Tea Party approved.

    As for Donald Trump, I am sure in my heart of hearts that all of my old comrades from the Tea Party are quite pleased.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    You know, Britain would be a wonderful country if the NHS ran everything! Just let the NHS share of the budget expand to 100%, or more, and then you’ll have a health service that works perfectly, and then the workforce will be healthy and 100% productive! Those Europeons will be envious of you then!

  • Chip

    Agreed. The Tea Party was the polite pushback in which people elected politicians in 2010 and waited.

    When the new congressional majority failed to stop the metastasis of the state (remember, Obama’s IRS was already illegally shutting down TP groups in 2010), people got fed up and went for something stronger. That would be Trump.

    And in a way the Left is lucky Trump won and started exposing the criminal conspiracy at the FBI, DOJ and god knows where else, because the erosion of civil liberties and rule of law can only go so far before triggering a violent response.

    Imagine, for example, if Clinton did win and all this appalling corruption and spying hadnt been exposed. To maintain the secrecy they would have had to ensure they won the next election and the next, and before long it would become apparent that a political party had dispensed with democracy and law.

    The only effective response would be violence.

  • Phil B

    @Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    “I was reading a book, written by an Indian, about the benefits of British rule in India”.

    I would be interested in the title and author.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    It was a Library book, but I’ll look for it!

  • bobby b

    Nicholas, was this by any chance Kartar Lalvani’s book?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    YES!!! I googled it, and recognized the front cover. Well done Bobbyb!

  • bobby b

    Serendipity, Nicholas. Recently discussed it, in the context of “it can be a very dicey thing for a native son to extol the benefits of colonialism.”

    Phil B, that would be “The making of India – the untold story of British enterprise” by Dr. Kartar Lalvani.

  • Phil B

    Thanks @Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray and @bobby b. I’ll order the book toot de sweet (as they say in France) and read it. >};o)

  • Laird

    I agree completely with Roy Lofquist’s comment (January 31, 2018 at 4:59 pm). I, too, attended an “organizational day” (4/15/09) Tea Party event (mine in Greenville, SC), and several more over the next few months. To this day I occasionally attend their meetings (the latest just last week). I am not a member, but a “fellow traveler” and have many friends who are members and leaders within the organization. The “national” group was, as Roy says, mere opportunists. Tea Party groups are all local, and have vastly different characteristics. Some have been completely co-opted by the Republican Party and function essentially as auxiliaries. Some (such as those in my area) are largely antithetical to the establishment Republican leadership and are trying to push that party is a different direction. Most are, indeed, Trump supporters. They are not libertarians, but are mostly sympathetic to our philosophy. We can, and do, work well together.

    The Tea Party was never “defeated”; the author of that article has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. It reached a high-water mark in 2010, but (as is inevitable) passions cooled, activists burned out, and the movement settled into a more mellow steady state. Some groups dissolved, others blended into the local Republican party structure, and some remain active and independent. But the animating philosophy remains active and vibrant and continues to provide a healthy tension within the Republican Party, pulling it away from the statist tendencies of many of its national leaders and toward a smaller, less-intrusive approach to government.

    And by the way, “Tea” never meant “taxed enough already”. That is simply a semi-clever acronym appended to it long after the movement started. The name was simply borrowed from the Boston Tea Party, referring to grass-roots citizen activism. It is very anti-tax, yes, but that is only one small part of the program.

  • Paul Marks

    I know Laird – but “taxed enough already” was indeed on early signs.

    Taxes have been cut – but government spending has NOT been cut, that is the problem. As you know the Tea Party movement was even more about government spending than it was about taxes.

    However, when Ted Cruz raised the banner of cutting government spending in the 2016 Caucus events and Primaries, listing a whole series of government departments and agencies he wanted to abolish, the Tea Party movement did not really back him (at least not in the whole hearted way it should have).

    Even in your own State of South Carolina Laird, it was DONALD TRUMP who won the Primary – and elections have consequences, including Primary elections.

  • Roy Lofquist

    Paul, I don’t mean to be contentious or anything like that but Laird and I were there.

  • bobby b

    Roy Lofquist and Laird have it correctly. The actual Tea Party was a loose collection of people gathered together to support ideologies and philosophies they all held in the face of a society that had announced that those same ideologies and philosophies – the ones that enabled this country to be as great as it has become – were anathema.

    The use of the word “Party” in the labeling of the groups turned out to be unfortunate. The original Boston Tea Party held no connotation of a political “party” – and neither did these new gatherings. They were celebrations of principles that people thought to be good and noble, but which had been denigrated by leftists and fake Republicans for so long that it was a scandalous thing to state that self-sufficiency and nationalism were good.

    I run around an area of about eight states, in the rural parts, visiting friends and doing business, and I find no people professing to belong to some organization called a Tea Party. That’s a fake organization put together by hucksters and marketers and political co-opters. But virtually everyone I speak to believes in the precepts celebrated at the original “tea party” gatherings. It was those original gatherings that returned to people the permission to speak of their long-held principles without being shamed.

    I remember a number of years ago a friend speaking to a group, who said “I work 50 hours a week at the feedlot and provide for my family, my son is in the Navy, I donate to my church which makes sure no one in our town goes hungry, and I have an American flag on my front lawn, and even my Republican senator wants me to feel ashamed of all of these things, and I’m tired of it.” He’s what the original concept of the Tea Party events stood for.

  • Laird

    bobby b, I don’t mean to refute your experience, but in my neck of the woods I absolutely do know people, lots of them, who belong to organized groups calling themselves Tea Parties. Some of my friends hold leadership positions in them. These aren’t hucksters, either, but serious grass-roots activists. Here is one such.

    You are correct, Paul, Trump did win the Republican primary in my state. Most of my Tea Party friends were Ted Cruz supporters, and they weren’t happy. But they’ve gotten over it by now, and most accept and even (mostly) like Trump (they never forget what the alternative was).

  • bobby b

    Laird, I think it’s a regional difference. In my parts, there were a number of out-of-state organizations that moved in quickly and sought to organize under the TP banner, claiming to have grown out of the original movement. They took their new members’ time and money and essentially turned them in service to the old GOP, campaigning for some people who co-opted the TP slogans but who actually served the old wing.

    There were several deceptive orgs built along the lines of the Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition (one of the many fakes.) It made the actual “Tea Party” name into somewhat of a dirty phrase around here. It’s not a difference in philosophies between the original movement and what people believe – it’s a distrust of the use of the name.

    But rest assured, the principles of which you speak are alive and well here.

  • Laird

    Bobby, you are undoubtedly correct about it being a regional difference.