Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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.
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.

Bruges Group Blog

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

Deal or No Deal


Brexit may have gone quiet lately in the mainstream media, but between now and the end of October will be critical. Remain have been defeated in trying to keep us in the EU, their plans for a 'People's Vote' have been defeated, and their attempts to extend the transition period have been defeated.

Their last hope is that between now and October our negotiators agree to allow the EU to continue to govern us. Fortunately, the EU are making demands so extreme no country could possibly agree to them, but bearing in mind that four years after we voted to leave, we are still in it, we can't afford to take any chances.

We have almost won game, set and match, we just need to make sure no deal is reached before November and the Brexit revolution will be complete. To do this it is important we keep circulating the clear, positive, factual arguments for a no deal/WTO Brexit.

Don't panic! No deal means:
1. We can sign whatever trade deals we like, with whoever we like, whenever we like.
2. Yes, we can still trade with any country in the world.
3. We regain full democratic control over ALL our laws. Right now, membership of the Customs Union / Single Market deprives us of democratic control over various laws about goods, services, labour and capital. As the scope of the CU/SM encompassed more and more aspects of our lives, so our democratic control over our society diminished. Leaving the CU/SM will restore full democracy again, which will make us more prosperous.
4. We save money! No £39 billion divorce payment and no £8.6 billion net annual membership fee. The only people that would have to pay anything are the 6 per cent of UK companies that export goods (not services) to the EU. (Incidentally, by ruling out an extension we just saved ourselves about 80 billion euros: Brexit is making us more prosperous already!)
5. We can lower tariffs on imports from the poorest farmers in the world, which will (A) make them richer (B) save us money, and (C) reduce inflation.
6. We can do whatever we like to VAT rates without having to ask the EU for permission first.
7. We can still travel wherever we like. (Yes, travel did exist before 1973).
8. The national nightmare Remain inflicted on us will finally be over.

EU supporters have developed a curious vocabulary to conceal their love of authoritarianism, they call for 'harmonisation', a 'level playing field' or 'alignment'. These phrases are tautological sophistry. The more 'harmonised' our laws are, the less democratic control we have over them, ditto 'level playing field' and 'alignment'.

Conversely, EU supporters claim the restoration of democracy will cause 'friction' and 'disruption'. But if the 'friction' that comes from having laws we voted for is such a bad thing, why don't they provide a list of countries that became independent democracies and then declined? The USA didn't, India didn't, Canada didn't, Australia didn't, New Zealand didn't, Japan didn't, South Korea didn't, Switzerland didn't, Iceland didn't, Greenland didn't.

All those countries have higher growth and lower unemployment than the Eurozone. Why? Because democracy works. Can I give a list of countries that ceased to be independent democracies and declined? Yes: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, etc. etc.

Deal means:
1. We can't sign any trade deals with anyone for years.
2. We still can't vote for better laws re goods, services, labour or capital.
3. We pay the EU £39 billion for leaving!
4. We have to carry on giving preferential trading terms to 27 predominantly white European nations.
5. Imports from the poorest farmers in the world would still be subject to the Common External Tariff making (A) those farmers poorer (B) us poorer, and (C) our inflation higher.
6. We would have no say over EU laws we would still have to obey.
7. The national nightmare of Remain continues.

Trade negotiations with the EU are not complex, they are simple. All trade negotiations with the EU involve them demanding power over us in exchange for access to their market. But no amount of access to their market could benefit us more than having full democratic control over our own society.

Here is a map. Which market should we be concerned about? The big red one with high growth or the small blue one with low growth?

We can either:
A. Lock ourselves into the small, low-growth EU in which case we will not be a democracy and we will not be able to conduct trade negotiations with other countries. Or…
B. Not lock ourselves into the EU in which case we can vote for whatever laws we want and do trade deals with whoever we like.

It's not a tough choice…

The EU are naked, they hold none of the cards. What is the worst thing they could do? Impose tariffs. So what?! This graph shows how tariffs have been in a death spiral for the last 70 years: 

Besides tariffs are voluntary – people don't have to pay them because people don't have to buy this or that product if they don't want to.

This graph (ONS) shows our trade balance.

It tells us two things:
1, As we became more deeply integrated into the EU project over the last 40 years, our trade balance declined more and more.

2, Since leaving we have seen the biggest improvement of our trade balance in history. 

Membership of the Customs Union has not benefited any sector of the UK economy.


  • The phrase 'no deal' is misleading because it implies that if we left the EU without reaching an agreement no political or trading system would exist. But actually 'no deal' would simply mean that the UK would trade under standard WTO rules.
  • The EU and the UK are already full members of the WTO and trade under its terms every day.
  • WTO rules give us full access to the EU's single market. Access does not require membership. It would be illegal for the EU to restrict our access to the Single Market.
  • 90 percent of world trade is done on WTO terms.
  • 60 percent (and rising) of our trade with other countries is done on WTO terms.
  • Our exports to the countries we trade with on WTO terms have grown three times as fast as our exports to the EU's Single Market.
  • Our businesses trade with the USA on WTO terms and we have a trade surplus with the USA.
  • Our businesses trade with the EU on its Single Market terms and we have a trade deficit with the EU.
  • The average tariff British exporters would pay is 4 per cent. But applying EU tariffs to our imports from EU countries would yield £13 billion which we could use to compensate any firm losing out.
  • The French authorities in Calais have no intention of imposing a go-slow on British vehicles, rightly calling it 'economic suicide'. Besides, deliberate delays would breach three treaties: the WTO treaty, the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Lisbon Treaty, which all require the EU to behave in a neighbourly way towards adjacent states. Do EU supporters really think the EU would use illegal bullying to punish us? If so, how can they urge us to re-join this body?
  • Robert Azevedo, the WTO's director general, says that Britain's leaving the EU will be 'relatively straightforward' and 'smooth': "The UK is a member of the WTO today, it will continue to be a member tomorrow. There will be no discontinuity in membership. … Trade will not stop, it will continue as members negotiate the legal basis under which that trade is going to happen. But it doesn't mean that we'll have a vacuum or a 'disruption' in terms of trade flows or anything of the kind …"

Please take a couple of minutes to write to your MP and politely urge them to push for a WTO Brexit. Thanks.

by Seb Handley and Will Podmore 

Font size: +

Related Posts

Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames