Misplaced priority of Brexit dissenters
I think Theresa May’s speech setting out the UK’s negotiating framework is as good as can be expected given the circumstances. The 12 principles or aims seem broad and objective to me. Given the importance of London as a financial centre, UK’s contribution to global security measures and the relative stability of the Pound Sterling as a global currency, PM May’s expectation of a grown up Brexit negotiation with the EU and desire for a new type of trade agreement is with merit in my opinion. I’ve found Labour and SNP’s posturing, particularly Chuka Umunna and Nicola Surgeon quite unbecoming.
There’s an art to negotiation. A lot of posturing typically goes on between negotiators — all to ensure a better negotiating position to get the best possible deal. PM May’s comment on the possibility of UK using a low tax regime to attract business and industry must be taken in that regard just as we must take EU’s posturing on the 4 freedoms and ‘hard rhetoric’ as a negotiating tactic. Umunna’s yapping on this tax comment by the PM smacks of naivety although this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him display naivety. His attempt to hold those that campaigned for UK to leave the EU accountable for the £350m increased NHS spending is clearly naïve. No one in the leave campaign can be held to account for this due to the fact that none of them had the authority to make or enforce such increase in NHS budget pre or post referendum. If he prefers he should (with his chest in Nigerian parlance) say or call the British people foolish for believing what was an obvious lie. The fact that PM May was also on the remain side of the argument and made no such claim should let MP Umunna know that he can hardly hold her to account. So dude needs to up his game if he wants to be an effective opposition. He already disappointed when he chickened out of his party’s leadership race.
On Nicola Sturgeon, the polls suggests she has inadequate support to push for another independent referendum — the Scottish people are still wary of adverse economic impact on an independent Scotland while political opposition to an independent Scotland from within the EU all show that rhetoric by the First Minister is purely negotiation posturing and nothing more. Whilst this posturing is within Sturgeon’s purview, it isn’t expedient given that an independent Scotland is not about to happen so closing ranks that ensures the UK gets the best deal possible from the Brexit negotiation is the patriotic thing to do. Weakening UK’s hand in the negotiation does not fast track independent Scotland and particularly would not be on economic terms that will be favourable to Scotland if UK’s economy weakens markedly from here on as a result of a bad Brexit deal/negotiation.
Umunna and Sturgeon’s posturing is even more befuddling if Liam Fox is to be believed that informal trade talks have been held with 12 countries. The EU’s GDP is circa $17 trillion on PPP basis. Assuming the UK loses complete access to the single market, a trade deal with the US, of which President Trump is keen, will give the UK access to a circa $18.5 trillion economy, directly replacing the EU with just one trade deal. If trade agreements are reached with say China, India, Australia and South Korea, then the UK would have reached agreement with an additional circa $16.4 trillion economies in aggregate on a 2016 PPP basis. So within the next 2–3 years, the UK needs to negotiate trade deals with circa $34.9 trillion economies (almost half of global GDP — add Japan, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and we’re talking circa 60% of global GDP excluding the EU) vs a $17 trillion one yet the focus and venom of opposition is on the smaller trade agreement? Are their priorities not misplaced? It’s not even that the UK will never trade with EU again, just that it may not be as friction less as other non-EU trade agreements. If for the sake of argument the UK lowers its corporate tax regime, will that not support UK firms and make them more competitive in a post Brexit world particularly in relation to new non-EU trade agreements?
The UK’s priority right now is to negotiate the best trade deal it can with as much countries as it can. It can for example join the other 11 countries to resurrect the TPP into a new Anglo-Asian Trade Agreement or even work on establishing a Commonwealth Trade Agreement with the commonwealth nations which it has an existing relationship with. It will be foolish for dissenters such as Ummuna or Sturgeon to weaken the PM’s hand or distract her with unnecessary internal politics that lead to nowhere. Their focus needs to be as much if not more on Liam Fox’s ministry as it is on David Davis’.