There’s No Point In The UK Being A Rule Taker Post-Brexit


The latest suggestion to beat the Brexit Blues is that Britain should just sign up to be a rule taker from the European Union. As with, say, Switzerland or Ukraine. This doesn’t really help us as the point is rather to be free of the constraints imposed by EU rule making. Thus agreeing to be bound by the rules doesn’t really achieve the basic objective, does it? But that is what is being suggested:

Despite admitting the UK should not be a “rule-taker” in services, Mr Newman declared Britain should bow to Brussels on matters concerning goods.

Such an arrangement could allow the UK to have access to the single market in exchange for following rules set by the bitter bloc.

That “bitter” is an interesting thing for the subs to overlook, no? But as I say, it doesn’t achieve the basic goal:

With red lines being drawn all around her, prime minister Theresa May has no room to negotiate. We desperately need a new approach: a dispassionate analysis of which compromises yield the greatest benefits with the least loss of control. This middle ground is seeking a new bespoke economic partnership, where the UK remains integrated in a zero-tariff environment with the EU for goods but has the flexibility to diverge on services. We would have to maintain EU rules on goods in domestic law. From a business perspective, continued alignment on goods would come at little cost.

That last assertion fails on three points.

Firstly, we have no guarantee at all that there aren’t going to be more, and more costly, rules coming down the pike. The way to bet is that there will be. The EU’s regulatory omnibus is not known to be a static one now, is it?

Secondly, we’re not in fact running the country for business, we’re running it for consumers. So, costs of business aren’t the major consideration.

Which is our thirdly, those costs to consumers. For example, EU regulation bans vacuum cleaners with engines powerful enough to work nicely. Retaining that stupidity is a cost of continuing to be a rule taker. But it’s not a cost to business, it’s one to British consumers. As are the bans on incandescent light bulbs, creosote and so on.

As a round up it’s also quite obviously true that if you control the goods standards then you can control large swathes of the economy. Ban this or that can you can – and they will – ban all sorts of activities. Our being bound by their rules without input into them would thus cede long term control of what we may do.

Of course, anything we make and then export to them will have to meet the standards they have. As is true today of anything we make for the US, China, or any other markets. But the actual point of Brexit is that EU laws and rules no longer apply in Britain. Thus we shouldn’t accept any deal where they do, should we?