Tim Dawson: Small businesses, big opportunities

The frustration has been immense. Mrs May’s Brexit ‘deal’ enjoyed virtually no support either in her party, Parliament or the wider country yet she seemed determined to bludgeon ahead with it. The terrible climax of this national humiliation was Mrs May rushing to the EU to be told the blindingly obvious: there could be no renegotiation.

The pictures which accompanied this desperate dash were of the Prime Minister temporarily unable to get out of her car. Not only Brexiteers but the entire UK watched – with our heads in our hands.

It does not have to be like this.

A WTO deal represents the slickest and most effective way to get out of the European Union and to deliver the Brexit the vast majority of us want.

Unlike Mr. May’s plan, a World Trade Organisation deal will enable us to strike Free Trade Agreements around the world. America stands waiting for a deal, as do many of our friends and allies. Free trade creates peace and prosperity; a WTO deal will see us become world leaders in free trade again.

Ignore the government’s fear-mongering. 98% of the world’s trade is conducted under WTO terms. The organisation is used by the EU, and it’s how we trade at the moment with the US. The WTO’s Director General has already confirmed that there will be no disruption to trade.

The truth is, 92% of the economy won’t notice any difference whatever happens with Brexit.

About 8% of the UK economy is accounted for by imports and exports with the EU, meaning the rest will be largely unaffected whichever route we choose. Remainer fear-mongering is motivated by a sense of cultural loss; an old Europhile elite scared of losing their power. Their hysterical protest and panic has little to do with the economy.

Whoever leads our country over the coming months and years needs to have a bold agenda which delivers on the vote and supports our economy and business. A WTO deal does this.

Of course, some big businesses will moan and grumble. They  benefitted from EU protectionism and a WTO deal will force them to become more competitive. But that’s to the ordinary consumer’s advantage. EU protectionism keeps prices high for UK consumers. Trading on WTO terms would most likely lower prices for ordinary people, who would no longer have to soak up EU tarrifs.

And for small businesses the picture is even rosier. In the UK, small businesses accounted for over 99% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2017; they employed 16.1 million people and generated a combined annual turnover of £1.9 trillion. A proper Brexit presents an enormous opportunity to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship amongst SMEs by reverting stifling EU regulation and recalibrating our tax levels.

A WTO Brexit is an opportunity to be seized. An opportunity to lead the world; to show how free markets and free trade generate wealth, open up dialogues, forge new international alliances, and ultimately enrich and expand individual lives. Whoever leads our country out the EU’s door and into the sunlit uplands beyond needs to make good on this once-in-a-lifetime chance.

The future awaits.

Tim Dawson is the editor of Britain’s Future. Follow him on twitter: @tim_r_dawson