Recent press coverage and renewed vigour from “Zombie Remain” may have you thinking that Brexit is just one big headache of stress and negativity. However just a glance below the surface will reveal many of the most positive elements of the Vote Leave case are coming true.
Better for UK
1.The UK fishing industry, and community, has taken its first steps to becoming independent and self managing. Although in some ways this is a more symbolic, and emotional, bonus, it should not be underestimated. The above photo from the “battle of the Thames” serves to remind us of the emotions that lie just beneath the surface. The appalling sacrifice of an entire industry by Ted Heath underlined in many ways the underlying difficulties of the European project for the UK. The return of control to UK ministers will allow the good work that has been done in recent times to continue and develop. Norway, Iceland and many other nations across the globe have seen both environmental and commercial benefits from cooperative approaches under international agreements that recognise coastal nations rights and responsibilities. The appointment of Mr Gove, as Secretary of State, bodes well for UK fishing, after all he is personally attached to its successful future as he stated clearly during the Leave campaign.
2.A Global Trading Nation. Although there are those who like to scoff, and intimate that this is simply nostalgia, it is looking like the UK has picked a perfect time to front a global push for more trade. A recent slow down, or reverse, in trade volumes looks to be being pushed back and the strong possibility of the UK kicking off a new round of expansion with multiple bi lateral and even multilateral deals in the months following Brexit. Regardless of President Trumps enthusiasm, for a powerful and quick deal, it obvious that almost all of the US political establishment are more than keen to go ahead. Indeed, Vice President Pence was previously the leader of a state that directly opposed Obama’s “back of the queue” remarks. The Anglosphere nations look to be likely to be swiftest and strongest but others are not likely to be far behind. It is nice of the EU to have done much of the prep work for deals with Canada and Japan. It is very informative to note that many of those most enthusiastic are those who are the strongest free trade nations including New Zealand, South Korea and Chile.
Better for the EU
3. A fully integrated Eurozone. With the election and ambitions of Emmanuel Macron it appears that the EU may at last confront its major problems and proceed without the foot-dragging UK to act as an anchor. The Euro and Germany’s approach to it has been a jobs and democracy destroying machine that must be brought under control. The only real solution is a full economic and political union and a dramatic transfer of wealth between the creditor and debtor nations of the EU. This will be painful for some and cathartic for others but in the end is unavoidable. Germany will no longer have the UK to hide behind here and will soon become seen as the exploitative party that it is. However in the long-term France has the advantage of younger demographics and thus pain in exchange for reform now will be far better being surpassed at a later date. Being as this state of affairs was the aim of the founder nations of the EU ( in its earlier forms) it should be seen as a tremendous achievement and we should wish them every success. Its main difficulty however could be an inward looking, protectionist attitude that may hamper its economic development post integration. Add in EU moves toward an Army and other statehood signals and the United States of Old Europe is not far away.
4. An EU of two halves? Many in the EU including Jaques Delors, and a number of Eurosceptic Britons, have long seen a two-part EU as a desirable solution to many different EU problems. Such a scheme will allow accession nations such as Hungary and Poland to continue their development post communism and limit the culture clashes between them and the early members. It may also go a long way to solving the problem of Turkey joining the EU along with offering a staging post for other nations who may wish to have a close cooperative relationship without political or economic integration. It is indeed not beyond the realm of possibility that the UK would align itself with this group in a close but informal way. The tensions between older and younger members and North and South seem to suggest that some form of two centre arrangement is en route.
Better for the ROW
5. The Rest of the World seem to have gotten a basic, if sometimes flawed, grip on the Brexit phenomena after a twelve month adjustment period. Some both inside Europe and without are beginning to see the advantages. Spanish businessmen have noted the strong possibility of the UK becoming a trade hub for worldwide trade. Developing, especially Commonwealth, nations need no convincing that they stand to benefit massively from the opening up of the UK market and the abandonment of the EU external tariff. The reassertion of the supremacy of UK courts will also demonstrate the strength of the common law model but ensure confidence in trade and investment.
Through her endeavor, and her example, it may well be that the UK becomes a model for independent nations with a 21st century global view.