Every way you turn, Britain’s post-Brexit future looks bright

Brian Monteith
Theresa May Visits Borough Market With Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Both the US and Australia have started banging the Brexit drum to a faster rhythm (Source: Getty)

While the Remainiac rearguard action continues unabated, the news that an EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement has been agreed in principle is a win-win for Brexiteers.

Whichever way you look at it, the logic continues to point to the EU conceding what will be considered a good deal for the UK by most interested parties. The real stumbling block will be any attempts by the European Parliament to find an excuse to not ratify it.

Evidence from YouGov suggests the majority of those who voted Remain now wish Brexit to go ahead, which leaves only a minority of a minority being backed into a corner to accept Britain’s democratic decision.

Read more: Time for the Tories to make the positive case for Brexit

Theresa May’s failure to win an outright majority has, however, provided fresh hope to this recalcitrant group that uses any excuse to suggest the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice should prevail in the UK and that membership (rather than open access) of the Single Market and Customs Union should continue.

This week, George Osborne continued his vendetta against Brexit, justifiably earning the title Remainiac General-in-Chief.

The newspaper he edits, the Evening Standard, included a lurid headline about losing radioactive isotopes for the treatment of cancer patients if the UK withdraws from Euratom – Europe’s EU-linked programme for nuclear research and training. This was quickly shot down by government business minister Steve Baker, who tweeted that Euratom does not have oversight or compliance in that field.

We can expect more scaremongering based on half-truths and support for everything EU negotiators say from Britain’s fifth column, hell bent on the country having a bad deal that might then change our minds.

Good news

Meanwhile, back in the real world, there has been news to celebrate.

Yet again Britain attracted the most Foreign Direct Investment, despite the Brexit vote, and there were big investment announcements from Jaguar and Superdrug that further demonstrate business confidence in our country’s economic prospects.

Then the Hungarians declared that the EU had far more to lose from not completing a trade deal than the UK had. And no wonder – UK exports to EU compared to those to the rest of the world are now 38 per cent versus 62 per cent. Exports to EU have been steadily dropping. It is exports to markets other than EU that are our future.

Finally, the EU-Japanese agreement demonstrated what is possible if we hold our nerve. Japan will pay nothing, not a single yen, to have free trade access to the Single Market.

All Japanese manufacturers will have to do is meet the regulatory requirements, as would be expected. Nor will Japan have to take free movement of people, or endure the jurisdiction of the ECJ, or have its taxes dictated by the EU as a price for the agreement.

The one stumbling block is that it is only an agreement in principle, and that its adoption could take four or more years. Still, it shows what kind of deal is possible for the UK, and we have the advantage of already being completely up to speed in EU laws and regulations.

International deals

The news from the Orient was further brightened by the Japanese saying that they were confident that a free trade agreement between them and the UK could be concluded quickly – quicker even than completing their EU deal. No sooner had the Japanese talked up the benefits of Brexit than both the United States and Australia were banging the Brexit drum to a faster rhythm.

Bilateral deals between individual countries offer two distinct advantages. First, they can include services – which the EU is loath to do. Second they can be completed so much more quickly than multilateral deals, where either MEPs or the Wallonian Parliament (as in the case of the EU-Canada deal) hold out for their own piece of the pork barrel.

If the latter obstacle were to confront the government, after all the ups and downs of the negotiations, I wager the British people would be more than willing to accept that no deal was better than a bad deal. They would instead look to the new horizons of expanding our trade with the rest of the world.

Win-win for the UK

So we win because we can see a no-strings deal with the EU is possible, and we win because we have some 37 countries, including the major economies of the world, queuing up to have more trade with us.

All we have to do is maintain our stiff upper lip as all sorts of bouncers, googlies and yorkers are bowled at us from Brussels, Berlin and Paris – and keep up our confidence that Brexit can be good for Britain.

Read more: What the EU-Japan trade deal means for the UK’s negotiations

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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