We can cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture by re­ject­ing this deal

The Sunday Telegraph - - Countdown to Brexit - By Steve Baker Steve Baker is MP for Wy­combe and a for­mer Brexit min­is­ter

When I launched Con­ser­va­tives for Bri­tain in The Tele­graph on June 6 2015, I was filled with op­ti­mism. I wrote “free na­tion states should pur­sue to­gether the ideal of in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­a­tion”. And “the post-war par­a­digm of state rules and con­trols is not merely less rel­e­vant but pos­i­tively alien to a dy­namic spon­ta­neous order en­abled by tech­nol­ogy, lib­erty and the urge to co-op­er­ate with whom­so­ever may have com­mon In­ter­ests”.

Noth­ing has changed. I re­main op­ti­mistic, even as Europe’s gov­ern­ing class has, as one brave civil ser­vant ex­plained this week, sought to triple-lock us into the struc­tures of the EU as we leave.

De­moral­i­sa­tion through tales of doom to pro­voke de­spon­dency may be a key pil­lar of the strat­egy to re­verse the big­gest demo­cratic decision in our his­tory, but it will not work. The Bri­tish are not a small and cow­ardly peo­ple.

As the eu­ro­zone tips to­wards re­ces­sion and more quan­ti­ta­tive eas­ing seems likely, we are not leav­ing Utopia, what­ever its no­ble ideals. I doubt sup­port­ive friends in the par­lia­ment of Italy will ob­ject to me ob­serv­ing that a gov­ern­ing coali­tion of Left and Right anti-es­tab­lish­ment par­ties is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary in­no­va­tion. Ger­many’s Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many is in its par­lia­ment.

Aus­tria’s Free­dom Party is in power. Hun­gary’s gov­ern­ment came to of­fice with an iden­tity pol­i­tics the UK would rightly re­ject. And in France, where Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron was to be Europe’s great hope for lead­er­ship as Frau Merkel’s star fades, we have seen weeks of dis­tress­ing protests.

On the story of rising pop­ulism and na­tion­al­ism goes, even in lib­eral Swe­den. Ob­jec­tive ob­servers must ad­mit Europe is in a pro­found cri­sis of po­lit­i­cal econ­omy in which our in­sti­tu­tions of 60 years are a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor, not a panacea. To dou­ble down on that fail­ure is a dis­as­trous strat­egy. So we come to the gov­ern­ment’s dis­as­trous deal. The un­nec­es­sary back­stop is the first rea­son to vote down this ap­palling treaty. But I would vote it down for fail­ing to link the money to progress on the fu­ture, for the com­i­cally dread­ful pro­ce­dures of the Joint Com­mit­tee or the in­ten­tion of the Gov­ern­ment and the EU to build the fu­ture relationship on the servi­tude of the back­stop. And this is to be brief.

What is to be done? A net­work of thinkers, policy ex­perts and politi­cians in­side Par­lia­ment and out is clear and we have pub­lished our pa­pers. We should re­place the back­stop with a new pro­to­col for the Ir­ish bor­der founded on a ba­sic free trade agree­ment: we have pub­lished the le­gal text of the nec­es­sary changes.

We should have a fu­ture relationship of the char­ac­ter of­fered by the EU in the spring and au­tumn of 2018: an ad­vanced free trade agree­ment covering all sec­tors and ser­vices, se­cu­rity co-op­er­a­tion, par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­sti­tu­tions of re­search and in­no­va­tion, cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion and, of course, deal­ing with patho­log­i­cal ab­sur­di­ties that might oth­er­wise arise. Only an exit of that

‘Tales of doom to pro­voke de­spon­dency may be a key pil­lar of the strat­egy … but it will not work’

char­ac­ter will bring power back to the peo­ple of the UK in a way which will con­tinue to sup­press pop­ulism and na­tion­al­ism, as the ref­er­en­dum has done whether that is ad­mit­ted or not.

The al­ter­na­tives – an­other ref­er­en­dum, stay­ing in the cus­toms union or the “dy­namic and ho­mo­ge­neous” rules of the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area – would not an­swer the pro­found cri­sis of po­lit­i­cal econ­omy faced by all Europe.

Such vast and bare fail­ures of demo­cratic gov­ern­ment would pro­cure in the UK the very na­tion­al­ism, pop­ulism and rad­i­cal­ism feared by the op­po­nents of Brexit.

A bet­ter fu­ture for the UK is one of recog­nis­able, proud and co-op­er­a­tive in­de­pen­dence. To reach it, we must be ready to exit on WTO terms.

I am con­vinced we can make a suc­cess of it. I em­brace it and I will vote against the Prime Min­is­ter’s ap­palling agree­ment.

For the sake of all Europe, I hope ev­ery wa­ver­ing MP is with us when the mo­ment of decision comes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.