YOUR VIEW: Our MP is a myopically obsessive optimist over Europe

John Hayes MP
John Hayes MP
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John Hayes MP labels Remainers as myopic pessimists clinging to their rejected European dream but fails to realise he is a myopically obsessive optimist.

Leaving the EU 28, in which Britain, contrary to popular myth, is a respected, effective and influential member rarely on the losing side when decisions were made, without a trade deal would mean falling back on the default position: trading under World Trade Organisation rules.

In resuming our seat at the WTO, Britain would be one voice among its 162 members, each of which has one vote of equal value.

WTO decisions have to be unanimous. Disputes over trade issues are resolved by arbitration. There is no appeal against arbitration decisions and failure to comply incurs penalties.

Before resuming our seat Britain would have to submit to the WTO for scrutiny the list of tariff and non-tariff constraints on goods and services Britain proposes to impose. Would Britain regain control over the terms under which Britain trades with other countries?

WTO rules are based on the principals of reciprocity (equal mutual benefit) and on no discrimination favourable terms to a preferred trading partner must be extended to all potential trading partners. Globally, countries are forming customs unions with their near neighbours.

The WTO recognises that there could be circumstances in which it could be reasonable for a group of WTO members to ask for an exemption in applying WTO rules. The list of exemptions is limited. Outside the EU, Britain’s political and economic clout for negotiating bi-lateral trade deals while still significant would be diminished.

John exudes assurance that there would be sufficient post Brexit savings to continue subsidy support for British agriculture in some form.

EU Common Agricultural Policy funding for maintaining subsidies for land ownership management schemes, the remaining production subsidies and to sustain rural communities would, under WTO rules, be regarded as unfair anti competitive practices.

In the UK, agriculture generates one per cent of our annual national income and employs 1.1 per cent of UK workers. In Europe, agriculture generates a significantly larger percentage of national income and employs a far greater percentage of the available work force.

Post Brexit Britain could not continue to make the case with sufficient force to guarantee continuation of existing subsidies for rural businesses and communities.

Both antipodean trade ministers have publicly declared that continuing subsidies to British farming would complicate any future trade deal negotiations.

Eighty per cent of Britain’s annual national income is generated by services. The WTO has tried over 20 years, without success, to persuade the WTO members to ratify the DOFHA agreement to reduce the non tariff constraints on the trade in services. The WTO abandoned the project in 2016.

I remain to be persuaded that that no deal is better than a bad deal.