The rhetoric is alarming, but all ‘crashing out over the cliff edge’ actually means is trading with the EU under World Trade Organisation rules like most of the rest of the world. And right now, a ‘no deal’ Brexit is the only option left on the table that actually looks like Brexit.
May’s desperate deal does not take back control of our borders, our money, or our sovereignty. It sells out Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, military bases in Cyprus, and our fishermen. It ties us to the jurisdiction of the European Court indefinitely. It will prevent us making our own independent trade deals. It is a treacherous BRINO deal – Brexit In Name Only – that will squander £39 billion. As Boris Johnson and Jacob-Ress Mogg have said, it offers only colony status, nothing like the global future we voted for.
Now, only ‘no deal’ fulfils the Brexit vote; takes back full control; allows us to keep the ‘divorce’ money plus annual savings of £7.1 billion that we’d otherwise have been paying out during the indefinite transition period. ‘No deal’ is a proper Brexit, and it is a Good Thing.
The doom-mongers who squalk about tariffs and a lack of Mars bars/baby milk/clean water/ medicines etc. are really just clutching at straws in an attempt to derail Brexit. Not a single issue they have highlighted is insurmountable. Some are beyond laughable.
Yes, there will be tariffs on EU imports and UK exports until such time as we sign a free trade deal with the EU (and EU businesses will likely be clamouring for one pretty quickly) but these can only be levied up to a maximum average of 5.2% under WTO rules. The imposition of tariffs will also net the treasury an estimated £10.7 billion annual ‘Brexit bonus’ in the process. Any MP who has ever asked for more money for the NHS, or welfare, or social care, or whatever, should welcome a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, not be opposed to it.
In any case, according to HMRC VAT returns and government estimates, only 5% of VAT-registered UK businesses and a further 3% of small non-VAT registered business trade with the EU at all. The 92% of businesses trading mostly within the UK have natural built-in safeguards and are also most likely to benefit from ‘no-deal.’ After all, if EU imports fall and prices rise because of tariffs, consumers will turn to cheaper home-produced goods instead. Again, what’s not to like?
Workers will benefit from ‘no deal’ too. Average wages have risen steadily since the referendum, and low-skilled wages have reached an all time high this year – up some £20 a month on 2018. In a no-deal scenario, wage rises are likely to accelerate as border controls allow Britain to refuse entry to up to 483,000 unskilled migrants annually, forcing employers to pay more competitive wages. Plus there will be a knock-on impact on productivity, which has been depressed by the easy availability of cheap labour, which stifles innovation and efficiency.
As the former governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has written this week, in his scathing criticism of May’s deal, Brexit is actually not an economic crisis at all, but a political one. Hence the economic arguments against ‘no deal’ simply do not stand up to scrutiny.
‘No deal’ is less ‘crashing out over a cliff edge’ and more taking a beautiful, acrobatic leap of faith in our country, with only perhaps a slight stumble as we land on our feet and walk on. Under ‘no deal,’ Britain will quickly thrive in a free, global economy. Under May’s deal, it will be locked into the EU’s straightjacket and will stagnate indefinitely.
Suzanne Evans is a fiercely independent Brexit campaigner and former board member of Vote Leave. Follow her on twitter: @SuzanneEvans1