Friday, 5 Mar 2021

Thank God we’re leaving… but Boris should still scrap Withdrawal Agreement, says expert

Brexit deal ‘this weekend’ says Philip Rycroft

However, Mr Congdon, speaking in the week Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau confirmed a post-Brexit deal between their two countries, suggested the UK may need to find a way to repeal the withdrawal agreement Mr Johnson signed with the bloc last year in order fully to realise his Global Britain vision. Mr Congdon, who was runner-up in the UKIP leadership election of 2001, outlined his ideas at a webinar organised by the Bruges Group think tank towards the end of last month entitled Britain After Brexit, during which he predicted future generations would no longer live in a “eurocentric world”.

He told “The conjecture that productivity growth in the EU will be lower than the world average is the extrapolation of a well-established trend.

“In 1973 – when many people feared that Britain would become ‘the poor man of Europe’ – I doubted that.

“As long as Britain is open to the world in terms of trade, finance and investment, its productivity levels should not fall too far below international best practice.”

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He explained: “Britain’s share of world output will fall further in coming decades.

“Its share of world population will drop to perhaps 0.5-0.75 percent of the world in the next 50–75 years, depending to some extent on immigration etc.

“Assuming at the end of the period that its output per head is still three times the world average, which is debatable, its share of world output will be between one percent and two percent of the world total.”

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While the demographic shift did not mean the UK would have to to give up its permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the current arrangement would become “less sustainable” as a result, Mr Congdon said.

He added: “So I propose that the UK shares its permanent membership of the Security Council with Canada and Australia, and that we try to recover a meaningful identity for the ‘Old Commonwealth’, if I could put it that way, or – better perhaps – the English-speaking world.

“Otherwise the UK must hope that the USA resumes its traditional role of sponsoring a non-discriminatory, rules-based, multilateral international order.

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“With Canada and Australia in particular, but also with our European neighbours, it should work to defend and promote that order.”

The membership of the Security Council already consists of permanent and temporary members, meaning the possible inclusion of large nations such as Canada and Australia was less radical than it might at first seem, Mr Congdon pointed out.

He said: “I also want the Foreign Office to move on from the obsession that it has had since the 1930s with Europe and, since the mid-1950s, with the EEC/EU.

“As I said, deeply-entrenched trends will lower the EU’s share of world output to under 10 percent – and perhaps little more than five percent – over the next 50 -75 years.”

Nevertheless, Mr Congdon also suggested the agreement signed by Mr Johnson after he became Prime Minister may hamper the UK’s international ambitions.

He warned: “I am very concerned about the WA, not least because I wonder if it is consistent with an application on the UK’s part to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“However, one very interesting feature of the UK political debate at present is that no political party – except, I suppose, the SNP – is openly advocating that Britain should re-join the EU.

“The EU is riven at present by the disputes over ‘rule of law’ between East and West, and over the single currency and fiscal control between North and South.

“It is not an attractive club to join. So my surmise is that we will stay out and in due course seek a re-writing/repeal of the WA.”

With EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier having cancelled a scheduled briefing in Brussels due to “intensive negotiations” in London, the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union is hanging in the balance.

One EU diplomat said: “With Barnier staying there, it means talks haven’t collapsed. It’s a good sign they are still pushing.”

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