What about the North American Free Trade Area ?

It’s not a new idea.

We thought about joining an Atlantic trading area in the 1970s.

We thought it would be better than joining the Common Market.

But the idea got nowhere.

The US would be the dominant partner in any such arrangement.

And the US thought it would be better for us to be in Europe.

It still does.


And the case for joining NAFTA still doesn’t stack up.

Yes, we do a lot of business with the US.

Fifteen percent of our total exports, in fact.

But that’s far less than we do with the EU. In any trade deal with the US we would have to deal with their strong agricultural and drugs lobbies. We could be importing food produced to lower standards, eg chlorine washed chicken and hormone treated beef. (FT November 25, 2017)

Yes it’s a big market. 400 million in fact.

But the geography is against us.

Its three members share at least one land border.

The UK would be an offshore member.

Thousands of miles from the others.


To quit the EU, our major trading partner

To join markets where we have a far weaker position.

What sort of sense does that make?


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Free trade with America

Some people think we could be part of the North American Free Trade Area.

We do a lot of business with the US.

We speak the same language…. mostly

We have lots of relations and friends over there.

An obvious choice for us.

Not quite. Let’s look at the facts.


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Industries at risk: hospitality

British Hospitality Industry (BHA) says shortage of British workers in British hotels and restaurants is so severe that chains such as Pret a Manger will need ten years to replace EU staff after Brexit.

BHA calls for government to promote new technical qualifications in schools for non academic careers. There needs also to be more awareness of the career opportunities in hospitality in order to attract British people. Meanwhile the UK needed continued access to low skilled EU workforce.  Guardian March 11, 2017.

City venue, NED, with nine restaurants, spokesman says, ‘We need to be able to assure Europeans they will be able to come over here and stay after Brexit.’  BHA says UK faced shortage of 11,000 chefs by 2020 because of visa restrictions that keep away chefs from EU, India and China. Evening Standard May 31, 2017

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Industries at risk: pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical industry is  closely integrated across Europe.  UK based companies hold the marketing licences for about 2400 medicines across the EU. After the UK leaves the EU and the European Medicines Agency moves to Amsterdam, these licences will have to be transferred to other member states to allow the drugs to be sold across the EU. In papers on the impact of no deal government advises pharmaceutical companies stockpile six weeks additional supply because of potential border delays (FT August 24, 2018)

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Help for our farmers

All governments support their farmers.

EU support means:

We get the food we need

At a price we can afford

Farmers get a decent living

Animals are properly cared for

And the environment is protected.

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Support for universities

Sixteen per cent of UK university research income comes from the EU.

The government will underwrite EU funding awarded to projects before the UK leaves the EU even when they extend beyond the departure date.


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Help for our poorer areas

We get EU grants for:

Bridges, roads, railway stations, fishing harbours

Retraining costs for unemployed

In areas that need renewal and renovation

Support for advances in technology

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Help to deal with climate change

It’s urgent to stop the world getting hotter.

We can’t do much on our own.

Needs regional and global action.

The EU has led the world in action to combat climate change.

It was the EU that started a trading scheme to get large companies to reduce emissions.

Also helps to cut air pollution.

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Help against international crime

Big time criminals work across borders.

Drug traffikers, people traffikers, terrorists, pirates off the east coast of Africa.

We need collective action to stop them.

EU members share intelligence, and Europol, headed by a British director, acts on it.

The European Arrest Warrant, Europol, co-operation on investigations, prosecutions and the exchange of criminal records are vital for fighting organised crime.





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Compare those benefits….

With what we put in which in 2015 was £19.2 billion per annum. (source: Prospect magazine, January 2016)

Sounds a lot but…

It’s just a little over one per cent of the price of all products and services we make and sell in one year.

It’s just two per cent of what the government spends in one year.

But that’s the gross contribution.

If you take off what we get back…

Our rebate, money for farmers, money for regional help, money for universities,

Our net contribution in 2015 was just over £10 billion. That’s about 60 pence per day per person, or 0.6. per cent of GDP, slightly less than the aid budget. See the detailed analysis of what we spend and what we get back by the Institute of Fiscal Studies report of May 25, 2016.

It’s a good deal.

Yes we have to share decision making with other countries on some issues

But it’s a fair price to pay for what we get out of it. The CBI estimates the net benefit of membership at between £62bn and £78bn per year.

In October 2014 we were asked to pay an additional one off payment of £1.7 billion to reflect our superior economic performance since 1995.

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