12 July 2018

Brexit is a case of lions led by donkeys


When I was presented with “the facts” on a radio programme this week, it led me to reflect on my two and a half years volunteering to campaign for Brexit.

My first thought was how amazing it is that the very intelligent Remainers are able to be selectively ignorant of facts. For example, a Cambridge academic described the customs union as a free trade area in which goods can move freely but neglected to mention that it is also a protectionist zone surrounded by a tariff and non-tariff wall, which enables businesses within it to charge substantially higher prices to consumers than world market prices. Also neglected was the effect on the domestic economy of the single market regulation or that only 8 per cent of UK businesses export to the EU.

Another Remainer stooge suggested that leaving the EU would lead to food rotting at the frontier. Why? This could only happen if we stop goods coming in, which we wouldn’t. Even between countries with no trade deals, all around the world, only 2 per cent of goods are physically inspected at borders. Even if there were queues at borders it would be trucks going out, (most probably back home because we have a £67 billion trade deficit in goods with the EU), not coming in. The level of ignorance beggars belief, unless, of course, it is willful.

The presenter went on to assert that all business is against Brexit. What about: Sir Rocco Forte, Sir James Dyson, Anthony Bamford of JCB, Emma Pullen of British Hovercraft, Simon Boyd of Reed Steel, Fifield of Fifield Estates, Luke Johnson of Capital Partners, Tim Martin of Wetherspoons, Lance Foreman of H. Foreman & Son, Donovan of DIY Direct Marketing, John Mills of JML, Richard Tice of property giant Quidnet Capital, Christopher Nieper of the manufacturers David Nieper to mention just a few? There are hundreds of optimistic, entrepreneurial businesses who are looking forward to the opportunities Brexit will afford.

The difference between these entrepreneurs and the mouthpieces of Project Fear is that Brexit businesses are optimistic, privately owned and British. Sadly, it is no surprise that our Prime Minister humiliated herself by paying homage to the German Chancellor before presenting her plan to her own Cabinet. Less like Winston Churchill and more like the appeaser, Neville Chamberlain.

Contrary to establishment propaganda, before the referendum vote, those groups representing the majority of the British economy, 87 per cent indicated in a British Chamber of Commerce survey that they wanted to leave the EU. Nearly half of the Federation of Small Businesses members said they wanted to leave — it would be more now.

The businesses that want to remain are multinationals who like regulation, who like the protectionism the EU provides, who try to keep out competition.

Given all this, it is remarkable that our political leaders did not set out their stall at the beginning of the negotiations but instead bowed to the narrow vested interests of our establishment and our overweening, Remainer Civil Service.

They should have declared for a World Trade Deal on WTO terms and offered the EU a free trade arrangement. Given that we are by far the second largest contributor to the EU budget, the defender of Europe, and have a £67 billion trade deficit with the EU, we had a monumentally strong hand to play.

Campaigners for Brexit understood this. The business leaders in Business for Britain, Labour MPs in Labour Leave, economists in Economists for Free Trade and Conservative politicians who understood the EU, all campaigned tirelessly and continue to campaign tirelessly, for an independent, optimistic and liberated economy and body politic, based on free trade, free markets and the talent and energy of our people.

Why, then, did our core political class, most of whom discovered the EU on referendum day, let us down so badly? How could they be so terrible?

Brexit campaigners of all stripes continue to fight for Britain and our future like lions. Unfortunately, our mainstream political class leads us like donkeys.

John Longworth is an entrepreneur, Co Chairman of Leave Means Leave and is on the Advisory Board of a Economists for Free Trade and the IEA. He was formerly Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce.