There are plenty of good arguments for leaving the EU.
There is controlling migration, there is the repatriation of British sovereignty, there is saving billions of pounds a year in payments to the EU, which are mainly spent on subsidising Europe’s archaic agriculture sector and that money can indeed be diverted to propping up the NHS.
All those arguments were deployed with gusto during the referendum campaign.
But there’s another way of looking at the Brexit issue altogether — and it’s this.
Britain is seen by much of the world as the mother of democracy.
The mother of democracy held a referendum in June 2016 on whether Great Britain should remain in or leave the European Union.
In some countries, that may not have counted for much.
If the powerful didn’t like the result, they would have ordered another referendum and kept the masses voting until “they got it right”.
We’ve seen that game played from time to time.
But in the mother of democracy you would take that vote as a clear demonstration of the democratic will of the people.
And once the people have spoken, the powerful are expected to organise things so Britain can make the most of what the people want.
That is the common sense approach.
It is not the role of those in high office to frustrate the will of the people.
It is their role to make the very most of the people’s will.
So let’s think about what would be best for Britain.
First and foremost the British Government and the British Parliament should have the flexibility to make economic arrangements which maximise Britain’s economic opportunities.
Certainly, it makes sense to maintain free trade with the EU.
That shouldn’t be too difficult because there already is free trade with the EU.
Common sense tells you that it is neither in Britain’s nor the EU’s interests to erect barriers to trade across the channel.
But what being outside the EU allows Britain to do is also make free or freeing trade agreements with other countries.
Britain should be able to make free trade agreements (FTAs) with the most powerful economies in the world.
The EU tried and failed to negotiate a trade agreement with the Obama administration, which was, to say the least, a pity.
But that is done. Britain should be able to make its own FTA with America, opening that largest of all national markets to free access for British companies.
And a free trade agreement with the US would also allow the UK to import American goods at the best available prices.
The same applies to China. If Australia can negotiate a free trade agreement with China which gives 93 per cent of Australian exports to China tariff and quota-free access, then Britain can do the same.
Countries such as Japan and Australia are also keen to make free trade agreements with the UK.
More than that, both those countries have said they would be delighted to have the UK in the great Asia-Pacific trade arrangement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
That includes 11 countries from Canada to Australia to Mexico to Singapore.
So when you stop to think about it, there is a wealth of opportunities Britain could seize outside the EU, whereas if the UK were to stay in the EU, the EU would negotiate trade agreements on Britain’s behalf.
Those agreements, if they could be concluded at all, wouldn’t be designed just for the UK; they would have to suit all the other 27 countries of the EU, and we know their interests are often very different from Britain’s.
The EU sees Brexit as a threat.
It fears a liberated Britain would steal a competitive advantage over the EU and that investment, as well as trade, would flow more to Britain’s shores than the EU’s.
That, ultimately, is why the EU wants to keep Britain in the customs union.
If it does, then Brexit will be no threat; the EU will make trade policy for the UK and it will also write Britain’s regulatory requirements.
The danger of Theresa May’s agreement with the EU is that it runs the risk of locking Britain into the EU regulatory arrangements and denying Britain the opportunity to negotiate trade agreements.
In other words, the UK would gain almost nothing from leaving the EU.
On the contrary, it would lose one important thing — the right to have a say over regulations and trade policy.
So that’s what all the fuss is about.
It would be better to crash out of the EU than be locked indefinitely in the single market and the customs union.
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