Brexit: what is next?


Brexit: what is next?

Extract from What's Next by Daniel Hannan

"It is now in the interests of the EU as a whole for Britain to leave amicably, open its markets and show what a commercial nation can achieve. We must hope for, and work toward, prosperity in the Continent: wealthy neighbours make the best customers, and we all have a stake in each other’s success. The problem until now has been that the homogenization of policy was holding everyone back.

Or, to flip it around, diversity, pluralism and experimentation work to everyone’s benefit. Competition is not a hostile act, but the best way to raise standards across the board. Trade is not a means of domination, but the opposite – an eirenic, opulent and equalizing force.

[In my book], I have suggested how to make Brexit advantageous for all sides. I have looked at how and when to trigger Article 50, so as to optimize our trading opportunities across the oceans as well as in Europe. I have considered how the process of securing better commercial arrangements might be expedited by joining existing trading associations, including NAFTA and EFTA – though not the EEA. I have argued that dismantling our tariff and non-tariff barriers might revitalize the entire world trading system, bringing great benefits to developing and agrarian economies, as well as to British consumers.

I have looked, too, at the way in which regulations are generated, and at how we can use Brexit to get away from the corporatist culture of Brussels. Trading on the basis of recognizing standards and qualifications and not imposing our own will transform our economy, giving domestic producers an incentive to lobby for deregulation, rather than raising barriers to entry. I have explored how to maximize the interests of our services sector, including our financial services, as they compete increasingly against non-EU rivals. I have touched on how the process can be used to soothe rather than antagonize separatists in Scotland and Northern Ireland and, in the process, revitalize local democracy in England and Wales.

I have examined our options on immigration. We need skilled workers, and we need them from the world beyond, not just from the EU. At the same time, we want to determine for ourselves roughly who comes in and roughly in what numbers. These goals are hardly incompatible, and it should be possible to secure them with the agreement of our European allies, possibly by drawing a distinction in law between the right to take up a particular job in the UK and the right to settle.

Not least, I have looked at how Brexit can bring about a general restructuring in Europe, allowing a core of politically united states to exist amicably within a wider European market to the advantage of all sides.

In truth, the negotiations need not be difficult, for our goals ought to be complementary. All sides should want a phased and cordial process which allows the eurozone to deepen within a free-trade nexus of friendly states. The challenge has at least as much to do with tone as with substance.

My first speech to the European Parliament after the vote on 23 June was in French. It seemed polite in the circumstances, following Nigel Farage’s ‘You’re not laughing now!’ outburst. I explained that Britain had voted against the Brussels bureaucracy, not against our European allies. We wanted to keep the closest possible security, commercial and diplomatic links commensurate with living under our own laws. I finished: ‘Vous allez perdre un mauvais locataire. Vous allez gagner un bon voisin’ – ‘You will lose a bad tenant and gain a good neighbour.’

Which brings me to the final and wholly unlooked-for bonus of independence: it will, if well handled, lead to better relations between Britain and its European allies. Think of all the quarrels we have had with our partners over the past forty years. Almost all of them have been about the same thing, namely the cost and nature of European integration. Tap that stone from our shoe and things ought to become easier and more comfortable for all sides. Brexit is now the greatest gift we can give our neighbours."

If you're still unclear on what the triggering of Article 50 means for the UK,  find out more in Daniel Hannan's What's Next.