WTO Rules

This is a longish piece with lots of references, ie a supported and informed (I hope) argument.

A journalist who claims to have a cabinet source, and an ex civil servant (or so he says) have both claimed that the UK government has no plans to negotiate with EU and just wants to walk away with no deal (and then blame the EU for intransigence). Certainly the circumstantial evidence seems to support this and is rather worrying.

The conversation goes like this.

Leaver: The EU will not grant us access to the single market without freedom of movement and us paying into the EU.

Remainer: Probably true

Leaver: Therefore we must crash out of the EU without a deal and go to WTO rules….

And it is at this point that I have a problem. There is no mandate for this. Prominent Leaver Nigel Farage was always quoting Norway as an example of a successful country outside the EU….but Norway has freedom of movement, pays into EU budgets in return for that access. Here are prominent Leave backers talking about staying in the single market. So if you voted Leave you could be forgiven that leaving the single market was not on the table.

This is supported by this poll (and others) https://www.adamsmith.org/…/press-release-yougov-brexit-pol….

So yes we voted leave but no, this is not a mandate for a mega hard brexit with likely economic damage. As has been said “no-one voted to make themselves poorer”.

None of which matters of course if WTO rules would lead us to sunlit uplands of an economic boom. Though one pro Leave voter told me that “on day 1 of Brexit cost of living will drop by 8%” (which has the rather charming idea of on the stroke of midnight all supermarket ceo’s waving magic wands and dropping the prices (prico-reducto?), in general I haven’t found much to inspire me with confidence. This paper is basically pro WTO rules http://www.arbuthnotgroup.com/…/docum…/16th_january_2017.pdf but fails to explain how, even if true, damaging one of our major markets (the EU) will be compensated in the short to medium term by an increase in trade elsewhere. It is also the only pro WTO rules research I have found. The rest looks more like this….

…that soft Brexit will be costly and WTO will be very costly http://ukandeu.ac.uk/…/06/Comparing-Brexit-forecasts-table.… and here is a line by line look at the tariffs.

WTO rules are also, by their very nature multilateral agreements (ie they take a long time to negotiate), are also overseen by a foreign court (so we trade the European Court of Justice, for WTO court, hardly a win for “UK Sovereignty”). Personally I am also terrified that we will open up all our manufacturing to being undercut by cheap Chinese labour. Consider that steel dumping nearly crippled UK steel until tariffs (agreed and enforced by the EU, that has the bodies, expertise and funds to fight its/our corner) were put in place.

And though pitched as an easy catch all answer WTO rules really isn’t.http://www.politics.co.uk/…/very-quietly-liam-fox-admits-th….


The pro-leave press has done a phenomenal job (a Reuters study of 2,378 articles in the four months leading up to the referendum found 41% were pro-Leave, while 27% were pro-Remain), shifting the ground to make it that leaving without a deal is mandated, necessary and safe – but it really is none of these things.