The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

A History of Brexit



Managing the Brexit negotiations is merely one aspect of Brexit. In the coming years much will be written (presumably by both sides) as to the rights and wrongs of why the UK population by percentage voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016. You know that books will be written examining why and how Brexit came about. Someone will try and lay the blame at someone else's door.


Critics of Brexit will no doubt say the British like things their own way. And others will no doubt repeat the same line used by many Remain politicians that we simply did not know what we were voting for. History though is bigger than either the EU or the UK and critics of democracy. History is not just written by both sides. It is observed and commented upon by nations as far apart as Brazil, South Africa and Japan.


Those from further afield therefore must be wondering why the EU has proclaimed in its parliament today that it will not continue talks in good faith until the Brexit bill is paid. I think we can align such a policy with either a trip to the barber or a shopping trip to Waitrose. Would you be billed before you had used a service like a haircut or bought your groceries in a shop? That in essence is what the EU is doing. It is billing us for things that we have not used; services we have not benefited from and will never consider using once the historic deadline in 2019 is reached.


History will recall how Remain said that 500,000 jobs would be lost IF the UK voted to leave the EU. No such calamity has ensued. Indeed jobs have been gained. This is due to many things including the pound dropping slightly on the exchange rates. This is no bad thing. It works out better for exports and also stimulates internal markets. It also provides a continuation of a quiet rebellion – businesses realizing that Brexit can be made to work in their favour.


Dyson is just one of these businesses. Nissan is another. Both have shown a commitment to aiding the British economy. They have shown that they are prepared to listen to critics of Brexit, but upon balance they do not accept the arguments put forth by those with a vested interest in EU pensions or with some other conflict of interest. UK businesses merely want certainty as do their employees so that they may thrive.


That is what Brexit is about. Namely, the UK thriving away from the legal confines and economic burdens that has harmed the euro economies. As it stands the EU itself has stated that its markets are constricting. Yet, there is no fiscal remedy in the form of a white paper. Some analysts would state that asking the UK for more monies is a short term remedy that will only temporarily deflect the collapse of the EU to a further point on the horizon – visible and threatening. The most obvious recourse is not to harass the UK for monies it may or may not owe, but to steady internal markets with a particular purpose.


Brexit is essentially a government project with such a purpose. It is as I already stated merely one component of government that has earned in various circles its own department and numerous press releases. In order for the project to be successful it needs to have a design, plan and strategy with agreed foundations and an indication of status. Is trade, employment or fiscal policy protected by controls? What controls are in place to counter the decision today by the EU Parliament to halt talks on Brexit?


The EU made Article 50. The Brits (despite some cartoons) did not stand with a loaded gun at the head of Mr Juncker or Mr Verhofstadt and insist they follow our path. Article 50 was put into play by the EU Parliament. Other laws, agreements and policies have been historically rolled out that few in the Remain camp wish to discuss. What reparations will be made for the decimation of the fishing, mining and steel industries by the EU? Ideally, the UK leaving the EU would be entitled to some form of compensation for disruption to internal markets as part of a quality review.


We are being asked to pay £20 billion pounds and more. However, we should recall that such discussions are sensitive and reliant not only on the EU Parliament, but on 27 other leaders. The UK also has a say. Deal or No Deal? Historians may consider it necessary to document all the components that decide that.


Some argue that EU tariffs amount to a 7% levy on exports. Others state that WTO tariffs are only 3%. So, for many it would seem a sensible option without making too judgemental a decision to simply pursue No Deal as the better option. Operational aspects of any project differ considerably from the theoretical aspects of that same concept and we must allow for that.


Brexit though is not just a concept. It has had legal bids to block it. It has gained much coverage by think tanks, media and critics alike from all corners of the globe. It is a historical fact set in time. Corporations may or may not like it, but few could successfully argue that Brexit will fade into history quietly. The government need to take advantage of events in their favour and to involve as many stakeholders (third parties) to agree on the best path forward. History will record if it does so in response to events or by shaping them.


23 June 2016 is now a historical fact. Not just a date on a calendar from last year. The specialist historian economic or political recognizes that. Perhaps in time the EU will too.









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Wednesday, 18 October 2017