A couple of months before the Brexit referendum, Manny Macron, then France’s finance minister, issued a deadly threat.
Should Britain be insane enough to abandon the celestial economic benefits of EU membership, said Manny, she’ll end up like Jersey. As a former New Yorker, I felt like asking “Which exit?” As HM’s subject for 30 years, I knew he was talking about the Channel Island.
At the time, I wondered if that was a threat or a promise. Did he mean that we, like Jersey, would have a maximum tax rate of 20 per cent, as opposed to 45 per cent we have now or 75 per cent in France?
And would we, like Jersey, become an international tax haven, albeit on a vastly greater scale? That would elevate the City of London from its present position of global financial prominence to that of near monopoly.
A parallel reduction in corporate taxes and red tape would act as a powerful magnet to foreign investment, which, according to Remainers, will disappear the second after we leave. Manny didn’t mention that Jersey-like measure, but it was definitely in the back of his mind.
Anyway, I thanked Manny from the bottom of my heart. What a lovely idea, being more like Jersey and less like, well, France.
Now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove submitted a letter to Mrs May, outlining roughly the same programme of “Singapore-style economy” for a post-Brexit Britain.
The letter says: “We may choose to remain identical to the EU – or we may embrace a vision more aligned with pro-competitive regulation. Other countries must know this choice is in our hands – and they must know it on day one.”
The nest was poked, the hornets flew out and began to sting. Establishment shill Sir Anthony Seldon called the letter “reckless, cringe-making and contemptible.” That could be. But it’s also absolutely right, and that’s the only consideration of consequence.
According to Sir Anthony, the letter shows “contempt for Mrs May” and “undermines Chancellor Phillip Hammond”. Perhaps. I can’t really judge, being less familiar than Sir Anthony with the subtleties of etiquette.
But looking at the substance of the argument, one is tempted to think that some contempt and undermining may be called for. For both putative victims of the epistolary villainy are dedicated Remainers, who, for appearances’ sake, go through the motions of negotiating with the EU.
Like all predators, EU officials pounce when they sense weakness. They realise that the top two positions in HMG are occupied by figures who share their desire to keep Britain in the EU. Hence their whole negotiation strategy is aimed at deterrence: pretending that Britain would be so severely punished in case of a hard Brexit that she may not survive.
And, like blackmailers who feel they’ve got their mark over the barrel, they keep coming up with bigger and bigger ransom demands. Actually, they go further than most blackmailers.
Blackmailers usually offer a straight barter: a swap of the hostage’s life for some money. The EU lot, on the other hand, demand ever increasing sums even to start negotiations. And our government goes along with it.
The federasts have already said they’d keep our £5 billion rebate as a warning shot across Britain’s bows. And then there are further demands – and further concessions on our part. Apparently Mrs May has already tacitly agreed to a £50 billion “divorce bill” (actually ransom), but that’s just whetting the blackmailers’ appetite.
Only one strategy works in any hostile negotiations: a show of strength. Blackmailers must realise that you’re ready to walk out at any moment, and that you have something to threaten them with as well.
If they realise your acquiescence isn’t contingent on anything, you become not a negotiator but a supplicant. That’s exactly what HMG has become: our key ministers don’t even entertain the notion of hard Brexit.
Similarly, their statist gonads reject freeing up our markets, for that measure would reduce the power of the state, thereby depriving our current ‘leaders’ of their raison d’être. Hence they’re reduced to mumbling platitudes about increasing our trade with other countries to take in the slack formed by Brexit.
This could work, but only if the other countries played along, moving Britain to the top of the queue as their preferred trade partner. However, there’s no guarantee they will. They may or may not, and those EU predators sense that the British negotiators have doubts on that score.
This impression is confirmed by the indecent haste with which May’s government offers concessions that negate the whole idea of Brexit. Such as their incessant assurances that the rights of EU citizens resident in Britain would be protected. This reflects the modern tendency to pass aspiration as rights.
Now even visitors to these shores, never mind residents here, enjoy and will continue to enjoy almost all the rights of Englishmen. For instance, if a Romanian is arrested for theft, a Hungarian for pimping or a Serb for smuggling weapons (purely random examples, you understand), he’ll have the same rights as anybody: habeas corpus, legal representation, fair trial – the lot.
But no foreigners will have the right to stay here for as long as they wish. The permission to do so may be granted or denied. But they won’t be able to demand it as of right.
Protecting those nonexistent rights would mean continuing to submit to the authority of the ECJ, thereby reducing Brexit to an exercise in silly petulance. The whole point is for Britain to regain her legal status as a sovereign nation, with the only laws valid here being those passed by our Parliament.
We must realise that the EU pursues nothing but a political goal: the creation of a giant superstate. All their legal and economic practices are solely designed to further that goal, or else to camouflage it. A sovereign nation can no more go along with any part of it than a woman can be partly pregnant.
Agreeing to the EU’s demands on anything means negating Brexit and creating conditions for the subversive elements within all our political parties to derail Brexit altogether. There can be no compromise: rejecting the EU’s political goal means rejecting everything that serves it.
Thus hard Brexit isn’t one of the options on the table, but the only one. Johnson and Gove understand this.
Now they may be “reckless, cringe-making and contemptible”. But that doesn’t reduce the intrinsic value of their argument. May and Hammond should either act in the spirit of the letter or leave and let better people take over – before Corbyn does.