Swiss Lessons for Britain’s Europhile Politicians

You can tell that the groundswell movement to prise Britain out of the European Union is beginning to gain real traction now that the political classes in Britain and in the EU are starting to make speeches against the move.  Hitherto they have discussed the groundswell as being made up of “nutters  and fruitcakes” in the helpful analysis advanced a few years ago by the then Conservative opposition leader, David Cameron.  The election result on Thursday in Corby and the 2010 General Election are teaching him otherwise.

Britain would be an off-shore Switzerland, Cameron claims

In another thoughtful contribution to the debate on Britain’s future, Mr Cameron describes Britain’s future divorced from the European Union as resembling an “off-shore Switzerland”.  Far from terrifying the British people however, many see Switzerland as representing an admirably well-run country which Britain would do well to emulate in many respects.  Some figures illustrate the reasons for this.




Average GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Parities[1], translated into US dollars.  2011 estimates according to the World Bank.





Unemployment rate % of labour force(average in 2011)



Government (national) debt (end 2011) as % of notional GDP.



Exports as % of GDP



Exports to EU % of total exports



Proportion of GDP due to Industry



Proportion of GDP due to services



Forecast growth in GDP % per annum 2012



Forecast growth in GDP % per annum 2013



Gini coefficient[2]



Inflation (CPI % increase) in 2011



As can be seen, on every single measure which has a bearing on people’s lives, Switzerland is better, usually very much better, than the UK.  Swiss percentages applied to the United Kingdom would mean:

  • 50% expansion of industrial employment
  • Growth which would permit substantial upgrading of benefits without increasing government deficit (which in Swiss figures is small anyway)
  • Negligible government debt interest payments
  • 36% increase in real standard of living.

Those who believe this has somehow been obtained by secretive Swiss bankers coining money from dubious foreigners, plus “Sound of Music” tourism, will see that (a) services (especially financial services) are a smaller part of the Swiss economy than they are in Britain, (b) industry (chiefly manufacturing) is a 50% bigger proportion of the Swiss economy than of the British economy (100% bigger in manufacturing), (c) the Gini coefficient[2] which measures income inequality is actually lower in Switzerland than in Britain.

A German politician’s view of Britain’s place in the EU

Lately we have been hearing how much Continentals appreciate Britain’s being in the EU.  Words like “indispensable” are being heard.  The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, in extolling the need for a British voice, went so far as to acknowledge the UK’s “presence” as she put it at the end of Nazism.  Maybe translation is at fault here, but even the least nationalist of British people would regard the 1944-45 winter battles in the Reichwald and Rhineland, the liberation of Bergen-Belsen camp in April 1945, the smell alone being noticeable to the advancing British troops more than 10 miles away, and the advance into Lübeck on the Baltic on May 2nd, saving Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark from the advancing Soviet army, among many other things at the end of the war in Europe, as being rather more than a “presence”.

A Polish politician’s view

There again Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radek Sikorski, a friend of David Cameron from their Oxford days, tried to conjure up a form of political agoraphobia which would await Britain if she left the EU.  We would lose political and economic  influence he warned, doubtless conscious of the £10 billion net per annum we would cease paying to belong to the EU.  Sikorski seemed to think that “nostalgia for past glories was clouding Britain’s judgment”, giving as an example the EU sanctions on Iran where he seems to think the British people actually approve of the policy of their government’s irresistible urge to intervene in every part of the Near and Middle East.  Having more on-the-ground experience of “intervening in the Middle East”, both successful (Oman and the Gulf States) and catastrophic (Palestine and Afghanistan) than any other nation on earth, it might be thought that Britain would prefer to make her own judgment as to the wisdom or otherwise of sanctions on any country, particularly one like Iran.  Here is a country with a talented population of 70 million, huge reserves of oil and a formidable military capability, to the creation of which Britain and Germany have made significant contributions in the form of university-trained engineers.  Ranging Britain with the EU and the USA will inevitably put us in the pro-Israeli anti-Islamic camp in the eyes of the Iranians, with no conceivable advantage to the UK, or damage to Iran for that matter.

Quality goods determine Economic Influence

As for economic influence it needs to be underlined to British politicians, that a country which has a trade surplus through exporting high quality goods, which Germany and Switzerland do par excellence, really does have economic influence whether or not they are part of the Eurozone or EU.  Does anyone really believe that Germany with a re-established Deutschemark outside the Eurozone and the EU would have less economic influence than she does now?  Is it not the case that it is Eurocrat nostalgia for a dream of Euro-unity, which has ruined Greece and will ruin Italy, Spain and Portugal, which if not abandoned will turn the European continent into a disaster zone?

[1]  A well-established, but not infallible guide to the purchasing power which the average person has in different countries.

[2]  This is an established measure of income distribution to citizens: 0 means all get the same; 1.00 means one person receives everything.

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One Response to “Swiss Lessons for Britain’s Europhile Politicians”

  1. ageing albion says:

    Iran is a country prone to making genocidal utterances and is yet another tiresome Middle/Near East theocratic thuggocracy, happy to pour money into its military whilst leaving most of its population in abject poverty.

    That said, it is about time Britain (and others) stopped trying to solve the rest of the world’s problems and started solving its own. Iran’s problems are not our problems, any more than all the basket case countries across the the third world.

    Moreover, Iran, thanks to Russian and Chinese assistance, now has weapons (principally missiles, but also submarines and fast boats) which I fear will defeat any Western ship-borne defensive systems. The sight of a stricken American aircraft carrier in the gulf will send a shock wave around the world greater than that of 9/11.

    Adding both of those factors together and it is imperative that Britain does not get involved in any ill-thought out military confrontation with Iran thanks to the hawks in the US and Israel. Instead fashioning ourselves as a northern Switzerland would make for a far more desirable foreign policy and give us some chance of not being automatically lumped in with the Americans and every one of their foreign adventures. (The “special relationship” is a pointless joke anyway, the Americans clearly doing whatever suits them and never anything else – witness their pathetic stance on the Falklands War, after all the blood spilt by British troops fighting alongside Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan).

    It would also mean we might be able to control our borders – something sorely overdue.

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