Better Project Fear than Project Plain Bonkers
My friend Robert, who is a highly intelligent and dedicated leaver, has sent me a book making the Brexit case called ‘What is the Insider Advantage?’ by Michael Burrage. So far I’ve read the first six chapters with great interest. Burrage’s main argument is that statistics show that even though the UK is inside the single market and the customs union, a long list of countries outside the EU have not only had higher per capita growth but have actually sold more to the EU, even though outside the single market. Therefore, you don’t have to be in the EU to flourish economically. This is a false argument. There is a good reason why these countries have sold more to the EU, even though paying tariffs, than the UK, which is that they all have something to sell that the EU wants while the UK does not. Norway has oil, Australia minerals, Ireland (inside the customs union but doing better than the UK) high quality butter, Vietnam coffee, Switzerland the biggest food company in the world with all the advantages of economies of scale that brings, Russia gas, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh cheap labour, Canada shale gas and oil and so on. The UK has nothing comparable, even our banking sector will be severely weakened if we leave the EU. I just don’t believe that a small country with a large population, that has few natural resources, no comparative advantage, has to import most of the raw materials it manufactures, requires the high wages of an advanced industrial country yet with productivity so low that even with the cheap pound its industries are lagging behind in a world trade boom, and with a good deal of its wealth creamed off by foreign parasites, has a hope in open trade with the world. Don’t do it. It will end in floods of tears. Better Project fear than Project Plain Bonkers.