A Hong Kong For Europe: The Positive Case For Brexit

There is a positive vision for Britain outside of the European Union. But we have yet to hear it...

Imagine an entrepreneurial, deregulated, low-tax economy sitting off the coast of the Continent. This is the positive economic case for Brexit.

Britain’s future outside of the European Union (EU) could be bright and prosperous although you would not believe it from listening to the official Vote Leave campaign.

An entrepreneurial, deregulated, low-tax Britain sitting off the coast of the Continent would attract foreign investors and skilled workers alike from around the world. It would be an engine for economic growth driving increased prosperity for all.

But this possibility has hardly been hinted at by those arguing for the UK to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum. Instead, the debate has been dominated by an unrelenting stream of negative messages from both sides with neither camp offering us a positive vision for the future: on the one hand, we are told we risk uncontrolled mass immigration if we stay in and, on the other, that we face the threat of economic disaster if we come out. Both claims need challenging.

Good for the economy?

The fact is that Britain would still need to import skilled labour even if we left. Being out would make it easier for businesses – especially small businesses – to hire skilled workers from non-EU countries, whether they be linguists from China or expert curry chefs from Bangladesh. And it would not prevent us from welcoming workers from our erstwhile partners within the EU, including engineers from Germany and plumbers from Poland, if that is what our economy needed. Neither would it stop us taking in refugees. It would, however, enable us to control immigration on our own terms, according to our own needs; and that is something that is not possible at the moment.

On the other side of the debate, we should question the orthodoxy peddled by the establishment that being a member of the EU is undoubtedly and self-evidently a good thing. For, looking at our European partners and our own history, the evidence that EU membership is an unalloyed good is less than conclusive. Is membership really that good for the strike-hit moribund economy of France? Is it good for Spain with its 20-plus per cent unemployment rate? Is it good for Greece with its huge debt to the German-backed European Central Bank? Why, then, is it good for Britain? How can we be so sure that our continued membership of the EU with its increasing burden of regulation is not actually hamstringing the British economy? How can we be sure that we might not be much better off outside of the Union?

Indeed, history suggests that avoiding European initiatives is a better economic strategy than getting involved. We were told that joining the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) was good for us, but the years that followed our unceremonious departure from the ERM in 1992 saw the longest boom in British economic history; a 16 year period of growth that lasted through until the Credit Crunch in 2008. We were told that adopting the Euro would be good for us; but who now believes that when they see the effects of the single currency recession-machine? In truth, we pulled off an escape worthy of Houdini when we fell ot of the ERM and we dodged an economic bullet when we opted out of the Eurozone.

Garbage in, garbage out

We are told today by the pillars of the economic establishment – the likes of the UK government Treasury, the International Monetary Fund and big business – that we would be much worse off economically if we left the EU. These are the very same people who were cheerleading our membership of the ERM and the Euro and now they claim we must stay in the EU because that is what the economic forecasts say is best.

But these forecasts are produced by computer programs and as that old piece of programming wisdom from the 1970s puts it: garbage in, garbage out. It does not matter how sophisticated a computerised model of the economy is. Nor does it matter how prestigious is the organisation that uses it. If you feed that economic model with pessimistic doom-laden assumptions then you should not be surprised that it spits out forecasts of imminent economic catastrophe.

What about a Britain that abolished tariffs with the rest of the world, a Britain that sheds much of the bureaucracy and regulation that hampers small businesses across the country, a Britain that slashed its taxes and cut government down to size? What about a pro-business Britain that is fully open to trade freely with the whole of the world? Such a Britain would be an island of enterprise sitting in a convenient time-zone and located just off the coast of the sclerotic economy of the emerging European superstate. It would be a magnet for investment and skilled workers from around the world. And it would be good for the rest of Europe.

A vision

The analogy here is to think of how free trading Hong Kong prospered next to the sluggish bureaucracy of China, eventually helping to inspire a wave of reform within the Communist state.

And when the question is asked, what regulations would you get rid of? The answer is to turn the question on its head: what regulations should we keep? And when they ask about the costs of cutting tax rates, we should point to the workings of the Laffer curve and watch as tax revenues rise, even while tax rates are cut, when the liberated entrepreneurial economy grows. And when we are warned that negotiating trade deals following an exit will take years, we should remember that German car makers, French wine producers and Spanish olive growers will be just as keen to trade with us as we will be to trade with them.

We can not transform our country into a free-trading open economy while we remain in the EU. And these changes will not happen magically on the day that we leave. Leaving the EU is necessary; but it is not sufficient. We would need to be brave and take full advantage of our new found freedoms to deregulate our businesses, cut government down to size, slash our taxes and negotiate hard on trade terms. But it is all achievable. The British government would need to steer this new course and take the country with it; even though not everyone would want to come.

We are the fifth largest economy on the planet. Imagine the potential we have to grow and to prosper if we could unchain ourselves from the shackles of Brussels and release ourselves from the burdens of high taxation and big government. A vibrant, deregulated, low-tax Britain that is open to trade  and welcomes hard working people from around the globe would be a beacon to the world. A positive vision for the future. A vision to vote for.

Is it possible Britain could prosper outside of the EU? You bet!

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One Response to “A Hong Kong For Europe: The Positive Case For Brexit”
  1. wolsten says:

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    An antidote to negative campaigning on both sides.


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