Given that we were actually asked this question – would you like to be in the European Union or not? – and we gave an answer to it – no! – Willy Hutton does ask us a fairly simple question. To which, as ever, the answer is the opposite to the one Willy Hutton wants. Yes, we do want to leave the European Union.
But let’s grant Will the honour – rare I know but let’s go with it – of taking him seriously for a moment.
Leave our shores and Brexit appears even more hopelessly strange – and the people perpetrating it even more peculiar – than they do when you are at home. In Asia, where I have spent the past week, figures such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are seen as curiosities with views that are openly risible. Of course it’s stupid to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc and make your now lonely future dependent upon the kindness of unforgiving strangers. Can’t they see that? No country has ever done what Britain is attempting because it is so obviously crazed. Trade agreements are a carefully balanced mutual opening of partners’ markets with a hard-to-work-through calculus of gains and losses that takes years – even decades – to negotiate. Brexiters promised that Britain would be different and that unravelling a 45-year-old web of deep relationships would be quick and effortless, with Britain “holding all the cards”. All palpably false.
OK, the world’s full of trading blocs, you’ve got to have some economic heft to get what you want, to be able to promote your own interests. Alright, for the sake of argument, we accept that statement.
So, Britain is around the fifth largest economy in the world. The EU as a whole is the second. Game to Willy there, eh? Except, of course, we’re not the whole of the EU are we? And thus the EU takes some portion of our interests to heart but not all of them. In fact, there are 27 other members. Their interests count too in those smoke filled rooms and backstabbing corridors.
So let us ask the question the correct way. What is, in this world of trading blocs determined by economic heft, going to best promote our own interests? Being the whole of the 5th largest economic heft or being 1/28th of the second largest? To ask the question properly is to answer it, isn’t it? We’ll take the sovereign, independent, Brexit please Willy.