Change Concepts

Table 2: Britain’s Overseas Balance Sheet

Key Data: Rounded figures from CSO Annual Abstracts of Statistics (1976, 1990)
Trade Balances: 1972 1988
£ million £ million
With EC Eleven:(Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Greece, Portugal) -510 -14,900
With ESW Four:(English-Speaking World) – USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. -250 +300
With ROW:(Rest of World – includes invisible trade) +1,000 +1,200
Net British Taxpayer Transfers to EC Countries  
To European Commission nil 1,900
To Germany for stationed British military forces (estimate from Defence Budget & net Government transfers) 300 2,100

But why, it may be asked, are we doing this?  Surely there must be a reason.  The reason usually offered by the Europeanists is that of belonging to a large free market of 300 odd million people, though why we and Germany only should pay for this privilege is never answered.  The absolutely key point however, which the Europeanists never mention, is that this market is open to any European country whether they belong to the EC or not.  Britain’s trade with Sweden, a non EC member, and theirs with Germany is as free as Britain’s with Germany – freer in many cases because of smaller non-tariff barriers to trade.  In fact Sweden sold Germany £440 per head while the UK exported £170 per head in 1988.

Another reason often advanced is that membership of the EC is necessary to prevent our technological domination by the USA and Japan.  The technological benefits of large units are however vastly over-stated by politicians eager for roles to play and conferences to attend.  With the possible exception of a moon-shot and certain nuclear missile projects, there are probably no technological goals outside the competence of an industrial nation of 60 million people.  In the USA for instance the world’s most powerful computers and the most advanced work-stations are both made by relatively small firms and staffed by gifted individuals, a significant proportion of whom are drawn from these islands.

A Renewed Commitment to our National Future

The blend of skill, national commitment and technology identified for the successful industries above is urgently needed in the rest of our industry, before it shrinks still further or passes completely into foreign hands.  To revive our manufacturing industry, on which everything effectively depends, we need above all a national commitment to making it happen.  We will need specific measures such as the power to protect ourselves against foreign dumping, which we have lost to the EC.  But above all we shall need to convince our young people that we are still in business as a nation and that it is their duty as well as in their interest to help us survive.  Without this commitment to our independent future, our most talented people, deliberately left unaware of their own country’s history and achievements by that same education Establishment trying to destroy A-levels, will drift away to the industrial heartlands of Germany and the USA; already German firms are actively recruiting engineering and science graduates on our campuses, while the flow to the USA is a long established fact, as any visitor to the hi-tech industries of California will find.

Of course you cannot stop free people moving to other countries, but you do not create a counter magnet by giving those countries the right to make your economic policy and determine your currency.  But for Britain, the suggestion by Mr Andriessen, the Dutch EC commissioner, that we should resume membership of an enlarged European Free Trade Association (EFTA), embracing the countries of Eastern Europe, linked to the EC in a wider European Economic System (EES), though derided by that prime example of the defeatest tendency, the Foreign Office, offers us everything we could possibly want.  This is clearly the way to accommodate our own deep desire to remain independent, the aspirations of the newly independent nations of Eastern Europe to link with the West, and the desire of the other EC countries to unite in some fashion.  Even for politicians so eager to act out roles on the international stage, there will be a place, since it is likely that in such a system Britain would be the leader in any negotiations with the EC countries.  From this position of freedom we could trade with the whole of Europe, engage in sensible non-bureaucratic technical cooperation through the Eureka programmes, arrange our own trade agreements with the rest of the world, where our trade is fundamentally in balance (see Table 2 above), reduce our food bills and balance of payments deficit overnight, and exploit our unique links of language and history with the rest of the world, in particular with the Pacific basis – already the centre of half the world’s manufacture.  Culturally we can devote our efforts to tending that huge legacy to mankind: the English language and its literature.

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