It should come as no surprise that the Brexit negotiations are dragging on with little sign of progress.
So far, talks seem to be exclusively devoted to how much money the EU is going to screw out of us in the form of the so-called divorce bill.
Until that tab is settled, says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, we cannot start discussing post-Brexit UK-EU trade terms.
Once again the EU puts self-interest and self-importance above what is best for the people. This is exactly the attitude that proves to Leavers that we’re better off out of this club than in it.
Sir James Dyson has described Brussels’ demands for a €60bn divorce settlement as “outrageous” and said that the UK should leave the EU without a deal.
“It is a fallacy to think of the EU as a common market – it is a collection of 28 individual markets grouped together by convenient geography. In the information age, that is not necessarily the best or even a good way to form a customs union”
Brexiteers like Dyson want to leave the EU because they want to be able to trade freely around the world and for Britain to be able to decide for itself what it does.
When we are free to trade with the whole world, not just the part of it over the Channel, we could eliminate trade barriers, slash corporation tax to stimulate investment and introduce export tax credits for firms that sell overseas.
Dyson’s views are backed by the Economists for Free Trade who – through admittedly rose-tinted classicist spectacles – predicted that a Brexit in 2020 would deliver higher growth, higher wages and lower unemployment and a £65bn windfall to the economy.
It is a fallacy to think of the EU as a common market – it is a collection of 28 individual markets grouped together by convenient geography. In the information age, that is not necessarily the best or even a good way to form a customs union.
Putting 28 marbles in a bag does not create one big marble, you’ve still got 28 little ones – they just rattle around and make a lot of noise.
The bigger picture
The rest of the world gives us many more opportunities than we find in the EU – there is much more of it and some of it even speaks the same language as us.
The doom-and-gloomers attempt to terrify us that if we have a hard Brexit then trade will suffer as we are forced to operate under World Trade Organization rules.
We have no deal with the US, yet British companies trade very successfully there – it is Lovehoney’s biggest market outside the UK.
“If a little company from Bath selling sex toys and lingerie can trade successfully around the world, so can any”
We have the same no-deal situation with Australia, Lovehoney’s second-biggest market outside the UK.
If a little company from Bath selling sex toys and lingerie can trade successfully around the world, so can any. It is reflected in our latest results (three-quarters of which were for the period after last year’s vote to leave the EU): sales up 31% to £76m, pre-tax profits up 76% to £9m.
Meanwhile, foreign firms do not necessarily invest in the UK simply because we are in the EU or because we have nice weather.
They are doing it for our legal system, our financial system (companies can put money in and they know they can get it back out), our highly skilled workforce, our universities and our research. These things have nothing to do with the EU.
We need to remind ourselves about the opportunities that free trade outside the EU will bring.
That’s not necessarily easy to do while we are consumed by thoughts of that divorce bill and the bizarre EU rules that say we are not allowed to conduct independent trade negotiations with other countries while we are still a member of the EU.
It’s like being in a marriage that has irreconcilably broken down but you’re not allowed to even think about joining Tinder until the divorce papers have come through. Please get on with it.
Richard Longhurst is the co-owner of Lovehoney