Throw another snag on the barbie and open us a tinny.
We had better get used to it, because the future of Britain is no longer dependent upon our relations with Europe, but, according to the Government and the Brexiters, Australia.
Yep, fear not – the fact that the EU is showing no inclination towards a treaty which allows us all of the benefits of the single market without the inconvenience of free movement of people; or that the Americans aren’t really in any state to offer us anything, whilst the old colonial nations of India, Pakistan and Canada haven’t exactly gone beyond platitudes either, it’s all going to be ok, because the Aussies have said that they’d love to deal with us.
But, not for another couple of years – which I’m going to put that to one side, lest I be accused of having no confidence in the great nation of Britain.
The truth is that having been part of the EU and the Single Market, part of the group of nations responsible for ensuring the socio-economic success of one of the historically most turbulent continents in the world (forget Africa, just look at what we, the French and the Germans have been doing to each other over the last 200 years and more), the idea that our future is going to be improved because we have a trade deal wth Australia that is independent of the EU is utterly preposterous. Indeed, how the supposedly intelligent Brexiteers can offer us, with a straight face, Australia as an alternative to the EU is beyond me.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love Australia, I think Sydney is a wonderful city, and I’ve nothing but time and respect for most of the Australians I’ve met. I’ve got nothing against the idea of closer economic or trade ties with the Aussies, but, to suggest that a trade deal with Australia can somehow compensate for the absence of an influence in Europe is just plain stupid.
For a start, even if we do conclude a trade deal with the Aussies, at best it will simply include an agreement on tariffs, perhaps an arrangement regarding border regulations for imports and exports, maybe some commercial incentives – but nothing will enable us to actually dictate the employment practices, manufacturing regulations, tax structures and border controls. And, of course, we will never have a say over who is in control of the Aussie Central Bank and their government; nor, will we have a direct democratic link to their Parliament. These are all things that we enjoyed with EU – we had a say on the tax policies of our fellow Europeans, we had a say on the policy being pursued by the European Central Bank; we had a direct democratic link to the Parliament. All things that half the country took for granted. Things which made our trading relations with Europe absolutely sensation.
We won’t have any of that with anyone else, be it Australia, Canada or Timbuktu.
When we get to the nuts and bolts of it Australia isn’t even near to being one of the UK’s top trading partners, we export more to Switzerland and Belgium than we do to Australia – whilst much of what Australia exports, typically minerals and food produce, we will still probably get cheaper from elsewhere regardless of a trade deal. Nor is Australia, with the best will in the world, at the forefront of the technological industries or the business and financial industries which are vital to the UK economy. Nor are Australian companies likely to relocate to the UK, because of a shortage of room, a shortage of skills or regulatory compatibility which has been the case with Dutch, German and French companies in the last two decades.
The reality is that whatever trade deal Britain makes with Australia, it won’t go a single inch towards compensating for our exit from the EU. The fanfare about Australia, was clearly a bit of froth blown around by the Brexiteers to try to compensate for the fact that they have absolutely no clue what is going to happen to the UK now that we are out of Europe.