Brexit and Beyond

Why Labour voters should support WTO

The Article: Why Labour voters should support WTO

Those wishing to overturn the result of the EU Referendum have ruthlessly attacked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) option, even though it is far preferable to the Prime Minister's shabby Withdrawal Agreement.

First of all, it is worth remembering that the WTO option is the only one that makes good on the historic referendum result to Leave, which was backed by both Conservatives and Labour votes alike. Democracy can sometimes get lost in these debates, but it is perhaps more important than anything else.

Many Labour supporters voted for Leave; they did so because they recognised that the EU is bad for working people. Some estimates put the number of Labour Leavers as high as 50% of Labour votes.

But, putting this very important principle aside, any thorough analysis of the WTO option, such as the research conducted by Global Britain and Economists for Free Trade, also reveals that it is much better for the country than the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement.

Firstly, the United Kingdom is already a member of the World Trade Organisation, so moving to a WTO model will be smooth; we will simply need to renegotiate our terms of membership. In 2016, the Director of the WTO, Roberto Azevedo, said that "trade will not stop [because of Brexit]... [and] it doesn’t mean that we’ll have a vacuum or a disruption.”

Secondly, Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement will see hard-pressed UK taxpayers continue to make payments to the European Union; these payments are on top of the £39 billion 'divorce settlement' the Government is making to Brussels.

Many people do not agree with these sums of money being paid, especially without any future guarantees on a trading relationship. Under the World Trade Organisation option, the UK will not have to continue to make vast payments to the European Union and, instead, that money will be better spent on British public services and our priorities. We will take back control of our money.

Thirdly, the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement means that we will remain a rule taker, following EU court rulings even after we leave the European Union. This is unacceptable to many people who voted to leave. Indeed, it also seems absurd to many Remain voters who have accepted the outcome of the referendum.

Under the WTO option, we would not be a rule taker and we would be free from the European Union's regulatory and judicial oversight. Indeed, under WTO, we would be in a position to influence global trading arrangements and strike free-trade deals ourselves. We will take back control of our trade.

Fourth, if we cut the legal chains that bind us to the EU, a future Labour government would be free to implement a truly progressive and transformative policy programme.

Key infrastructure such as our failing railways could be nationalised; State Aid rules that stop the government from assisting struggling traditional manufactures and heavy industry businesses would disappear, and we would be out from under the elitist, competition-focused thumb of the EU. Under the WTO we will take back control of our laws.

Finally, one of the key elements in the referendum was the desire for the British Government to be able to control our borders. Under the Prime Minister's Withdrawal Agreement, it is unclear as to whether or not freedom of movement will end.

Under the WTO option, the United Kingdom becomes like every other country in the world, trading but with its own immigration policy. This is far preferable to the current state of affairs. WTO allows us to take back control of its borders.

There are many other reasons to make the positive choice and opt for No Deal on WTO terms. Let's remember that six out of the EU’s top ten trading partners trade under WTO rules, including our biggest national export market and our primary ally in the world, the United States.

If we choose WTO, we end the uncertainty for businesses so they can start to invest again; we can continue to trade with the EU on zero tariffs while negotiating a new deal, a provision that is provided by Article 26 of the WTO; and we can once and for all prove that there is no problem with Ireland – no one is ever going to implement a hard border between those two countries ever again. All sides have said that they will not build a hard border, so who do we think will be building it?

To the public, who care very little about the pure politics of Brexit, right now it must seem like all parliamentarians are struggling with the concept of delivering on a simple democratic vote because it’s ‘too hard’.

I know that Labour supporters who voted Leave find the whole thing totally baffling. MPs must stop this ridiculous childish posturing, pull themselves together and get on with doing the job they were given: to leave the European Union, preferably with no deal and under WTO terms.

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