Brexit makes free trade possible

I’m confident that Britain will strike a good free trade deal with the EU. It’s in our mutual interests to do so. But more important are the implications for our trade beyond the EU. Because Brexit is what makes free trade possible.

The EU is a protectionist club. Its tariffs raise the price of agricultural and manufacturing goods, in particular, 20% above world prices.

Brexit is a rejection of EU protectionism. It allows us to buy those same goods more cheaply.

Wider economic benefits will follow. Spending 20% less for the same amount of food and widgets means that 20% saving can be spent on something else – clothes, cars, meals out.

That won’t just make consumers better off. More demand means more opportunities for British producers. More jobs.

“What about the producers who lose out from international competition?” You may ask. “Doesn’t free trade hurt them?”

Economies are fundamentally dynamic. Production techniques improve over time. Conditions change. As some industries grow, others shrink. That’s inevitable.

The right response to that reality isn’t protectionism. Trade barriers are part of the reason why so many EU economies are stagnating.

Rather than resist economic progress, we need to embrace it.

Leaving the single market allows us to make our industry more competitive. I’d like to see us repeal EU rules that have increased energy bills, pushed up compliance costs, and raised barriers to entry to small business.

But we can go further than that. Liberalising international trade isn’t enough. We need to make free exchange between people in Britain easier too. That’s one of the big themes of my new book.

Theresa May is broadening the Brexit coalition

Think back to January 2016. If you’d been told we’d have a Prime Minister committed to Brexit – without caveats – within a year, would you have believed it? That’s how far we’ve come.

What was significant about the PM’s speech yesterday wasn’t that she confirmed Brexit entails leaving the single market and the customs union. We knew that already.

No, what struck me most was her tone. Positive. Internationalist. Recognising that the economic opportunities for Britain in the 21st century lie beyond Europe’s frontiers. Prepared to work with the EU pragmatically – but as an equal, not a supplicant.

I felt that the Prime Minister channelled the infectious optimism that Boris Johnson brought to the Leave campaign – which is all the more remarkable because she wasn’t a Leaver herself.

Seven months ago, that upbeat approach helped build the broad coalition we needed to win the referendum. Now it will help to bring former Remainers on board with Brexit too. Others will follow the PM’s example.

So I’m incredibly excited. Resistance in Westminster and Whitehall is melting away. Britain is coming together behind a liberal Brexit. This time, the people are winning.

Brexit optimism has gone mainstream

Today, Theresa May is set to confirm Britain will leave both the single market and the customs union. Over the weekend, the Chancellor hinted we could cut taxes to be more competitive after leaving the EU. Isn’t it extraordinary how the new year has brought a new attitude to Brexit?

Brexit optimism goes beyond Downing Street. The Bank of England admitted it got its forecasts wrong. The City has dropped its demand for passporting, and is backing a trade deal with the EU based on regulatory equivalence. The FTSE 100 has had its longest winning streak ever.

Meanwhile, with a new US President and Congress, the prospects for a US-UK trade deal are brighter than ever.

Lots of companies that were negative about Brexit are now starting to see how Brexit could be good for business. That’s actually not so surprising.

Many CEOs were fed a negative view of Brexit by their corporate affairs team. Some of these lobbyists are to Brexit forecasting what Bernie Madoff is to investing.

But businesspeople themselves are pragmatic. They can see the opportunities.

In fact, across Britain, the Leave coalition is growing as people have realised that the sky hasn’t fallen in after all – and self-government will make as better off.

For pundits, stuck in pre-referendum groupthink, the PM’s speech might be news. But it should have been obvious that we were leaving the single market and the customs union on June 24th.

The real significance of her speech is that it reflects a new reality. British politics has fundamentally shifted. We’re all Leavers now.

The age of technocratic groupthink is over

Do you get the feeling that the world is being reshaped by people who think differently?

For several months, some of us have been talking about making a free trade deal with the United States. Now – as Michael Gove revealed today in his interview with the President Elect – that deal is within reach. It now looks likely that we could have an agreement on the table within 24 months – in time for Brexit.

How can a deal be done so fast? Because it doesn’t require unifying standards, like the single market. Instead, it’s likely to be based on mutual standards recognition: with some obvious caveats, whatever it is legal to buy and sell in Clacton will become legal to buy and sell in California, and vice versa.

The important question now is what effect mutual standards recognition could have on British industries and exporters – pharmaceuticals, financial services, beef farmers? We need to be prepared to do business differently.

If there’s opposition to a deal based on mutual standards recognition, it won’t come from the US Congress. The real obstacle will be the federal regulatory agencies. They tend to see regulatory equivalence as a dilution of their own powers.

So it will be crucial to take note of whom President Trump puts in charge of these bodies: will they be people likely to challenge the institutional mentality of officialdom? That’s where the front line in trade negotiations is likely to be.

The commentariat is months behind this story. Bovine pundits are still struggling to get their heads around the fact that we’re leaving the single market, let alone the idea that there is a different model of international trade.

However the US-UK deal plays out, it’s clear the world is being dramatically reshaped. Those stuck in the old groupthink won’t be shaping it.

NI needs full independent, judge led RHI Inquiry

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“The people of Northern Ireland demand answers. The spectacle that they witnessed yesterday at Stormont and in the media over the last week is shameful. One half of a Joint First Minister’s office delivering a statement that their partner in Government didn’t sign off on. A defiant and angry First Minister and her party then apportioning blame on everyone but themselves. We also witnessed opposition parties more interested in the politics of stuntery than asking the relevant questions.

In May, Arlene Foster and her party, the DUP claimed that they were the party that could offer strong leadership for Northern Ireland. Given this latest saga,  It would appear that instead of implementing  a plan for a strong Northern Ireland, her party of Government has been found asleep at the wheel. Yesterday, we witnessed a pantomime play out on the benches at Stormont. A defiant, shouty digging in of the heels  on one side of the chamber, and on the other side, toothless opposition. These MLAs would do well to remember that they are there to represent the people (and not themselves or their political parties) first.”

“There are serious questions that need to be answered urgently. Namely: Why in 2012 did the then Enterprise Minister, Mrs. Foster not replicate the scheme as it is in Great Britain which included safeguards? When was the earliest date that Executive Minister(s) (including the current First Minister) knew about the failings, shortcomings and projected overspend in the scheme?  Specifically when and why did the UK Treasury refuse to fund the scheme? Did the First Minister (as has been claimed) receive correspondence from officials in 2013 warning her of the potential failings of the scheme? Who were the individuals that benefited when the scheme was extended and there was suddenly a late flurry of new applicants? Amongst the list of those that benefited, are there donors to one of the Executive Parties? Were unelected Special Advisors and officials unduly influencing, lobbying or making decisions over the head of Government Minister’s? 

These are some of the very serious questions that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. This saga could ultimately end up costing the Northern Ireland taxpayer up to £400 Million. This shameful and monumental failure by the Northern Ireland Executive needs to be fully investigated. It cannot be fully, fairly  and impartially addressed if the current First Minister remains in place as she would ultimately be involved in initiating the groundwork for any investigation.”

“UKIP is calling for a full, transparent, independent, judge-led public Inquiry into the entirety of the Heat Incentive Scheme. In order to allow any Inquiry to be given a chance of getting to the full truth, Arlene Foster should stand down as the First Minister of Northern Ireland as a matter or urgency. There are simply too many questions that currently remain unanswered.

“Northern Ireland deserves much  better than the shambles that we have witnessed in recent days, weeks and months. The public is losing faith in the politicians at Stormont and understandably trust in their ability to govern in the interests of the people is dwindling daily. As the only national political party with active elected representatives in the four corners of the United Kingdom,  UKIP will be holding local and national political parties and the Government’s feet to the fire to ensure that the public get the answers they deserve.”

Government need to revisit their policy of non engagement towards Le Pen

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James Carver MEP, UKIP’s Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs spokesman, has criticised the government’s decision not to engage with French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, after it was revealed by the British Ambassador to France, that they had established contact with all other leading candidates.

Mr Carver said “It’s bad diplomacy not to consider all eventualities in the next French presidential election, and with Mme. Le Pen expected to, at the least, reach the final round run-off in May, our government are refusing to engage with a politician who could become the President of a country just 21 miles away.

“Have they learnt nothing from the election of Donald Trump? The global establishment widely condemned him, but now, awkwardly find themselves trying to build diplomatic relations with him and his team, from an obviously uncomfortable position.”

Mr Carver, who has on numerous occasions publicly emphasised that UKIP should not sit in the same group as Le-Pen in the European Parliament, said “I certainly don’t condone either Mme. Le Pen, or her party, but, were she to “Do a Trump”, the diplomatic fallout in the UK, would be, embarrassing, to say the least.”

German efforts to clamp down on migrants wasted while Schengen remains

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UKIP’s Home Affairs Spokeswoman, Jane Collins MEP, has welcomed German moves to clamp down on migrants who lie about their identity or who are violent, saying, “tighter security in Germany can only be a good thing for the rest of Europe and the UK.”

Miss Collins comments come after Germany’s interior and justice ministers worked together in the wake of the Berlin terror attack to strengthen security rules on those migrants who could harm Germans or who have “been deceptive about their identities.”

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Collins said, “Only in the wake of yet another terror attack have some members of Angela Merkel’s coalition government woken up to the threat posed by a minority of the migrants who rushed to Germany after the Chancellor threw the doors wide open.”

“But while I welcome German efforts to tighten rules on migrants already in the country, these moves are next to useless in combating further attacks while the Schengen Agreement remains in place.

“Any policy which allows undocumented people to travel coast to coast in Europe unchecked poses a direct risk to the UK’s security and must be revoked.

Until Schengen is revoked, anyone arriving on the southern coast of Europe can travel to within sight of the UK before facing any form of security check.

“This is simply ridiculous and the EU must act to revoke this ridiculous policy, especially in the current security climate.”

The army is not the enemy Mr Corbyn

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Bill Etheridge, UKIP Defence spokesman, has slated claims by a spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn that British troops in Eastern Europe are escalating tensions between NATO and Russia.

Nia Griffith, the Labour Shadow Defence secretary, said she was not considering her position over the issue but that support for Nato was a “red line” but suggested that Mr Corbyn would not back a military response from NATO if Russia invaded Estonia – despite hundreds of UK troops due to be stationed there.

Mr Etheridge, said “Once again we have the official opposition in complete and utter disarray. Accusing the army of destabilising the international situation is stabbing brave soldiers in the back. Men and women who cannot speak out in their own defence.

“The left arm does not know what the even further left arm is doing.

“Unity in NATO has kept the peace for the best part of seventy years and now is not the right time to be talking about breaking a deal. It’s obvious that Corbyn doesn’t understand its fundamental purpose, mutual defence.

“UKIP’s position on this issue is very clear. We are completely supportive of NATO and if anything should be increasing our support of it rather than double-crossing our allies.”

Free trade doesn’t require common rules

One of the big misnomers in Brexit coverage is that free trade requires uniform rules. It doesn’t. The trade deals we now make should be based on mutual standards recognition, not regulatory union – as industry is starting to agree.

Reading the Brexit recommendations published this week by finance lobby group The City UK yesterday, I was struck that they omitted any demand for continued passporting arrangements for banks. Instead, they call for “the mutual recognition of regulatory regimes”.

That’s an approach we should adopt more widely.

Trade isn’t free if it depends on reams of new regulation that makes every transaction subject to official permission.

Successful free trade deals are instead based on mutual standards recognition: each party allows the sale of goods and services produces produced according to the other’s standards.

Many of the economies we want to trade with – from the US, to the EU, to Japan – are highly developed. Their regulatory regimes are similar to ours. So we can trust each other’s rules when we buy each other’s goods. We don’t need to have the same rules to be able to trade.

Even the EU is capable of trading based on regulatory equivalence – as its new MiFID II rules testify. So that’s how our future trade with the EU should work too. On that basis, we can have single market access without single market membership – as Leavers said all along.

But there’s a broader point here, which is that trade isn’t orchestrated by fiat. The mandarins who make a living from overcomplicated, permissions-based commerce want us to believe that they are an essential part of international trade. But they’re not.

To beat oligarchy, we need to get these parasites out of the way.

Davos elites still don’t get that they’re the problem

“Anti-establishment sentiment” may reflect “a threat to the democratic process itself”, according to the World Economic Forum. Does it ever occur to this Davos elite that they might be the problem?

This year’s Global Risks Report, which the World Economic Forum published yesterday, ostensibly identifies pitfalls for the global economy. But much of it just seems to highlight threats to the rule of people like them.

The report complains that “when moderates point to public debt and overstretched monetary policy as constraining room for manoeuvre, they can be portrayed as patronising.” Would these be the moderates who presided over the financial crisis – and bailed out banks with taxpayers’ money?

It laments that “historically, relatively small numbers of media outlets provided a widely trusted common foundation for national debates”, but now “the media landscape is characterised by fragmentation, antagonism and mistrust”. Apparently, we should miss the days of media cartels.

It proposes that governments tackle the “cultural challenges associated with immigration” just by “getting better at communicating change” – as if the only problem is that establishment politicians haven’t propagandised enough.

Solutions to the world’s political and economic problems aren’t going to come from the crony clique that created them – and has most to gain from perpetuating the status quo.

But equally the answer is not just to overthrow this governing elite, and replace it with another. We need a system that prevents oligarchy from emerging in the first place. What would it look like? That’s what my new book aims to set out.