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BREXIT – One Leaver’s point of view

Fintech is one of the industry that will be hugely affected by the outcome of Brexit. Within the past months, we heard various opinions and points of view from different entrepreneurs, politicians and people outside the industry.

At the dawn of the referendum, we decided to publish two different opinion pieces that respectively represent the Leavers and the Remainders. Below you’ll find the point of view of a member of the former group, whereas tomorrow you’ll be able to read a report by Ian Dowson of William Garrity Associates that gives voice to different personalities of the Fintech industry.

BRITAIN IN THE EUROPEAN UNION?  

Does anyone you know have an opinion about the major personalities at the top of the european institutions?  How many people you meet at dinner parties tell you they are “european” and are then unable to name the presidents of its five major institutions let alone the names of the institutions themselves which affect our lives in ways most people can’t begin to imagine.

Whilst Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage and perhaps Gove and Grayling are familiar to the British electorate, the electorate is unlikely to know anything of invisible European politicians who themselves rely on this invisibility to impose policies most of us cannot comprehend.  The european political class was as opaque in 1975 as it is today (which to some appears to be part of its appeal) whilst our own politicians with whom we can disagree or even dislike are at least accountable to the UK electorate.  Imagine then being governed by people whose competence is difficult for us to judge and whom, because they are unelected, we are unable to vote out of power.

Why would the UK wish to remain part of an institution whose currency is flattening the economies of some its own members; which has effectively dismissed an italian government and a greek government these last years; which allowed the confiscation of balances in excess of 100,000€ from personal accounts in Cyprus to facilitate the payment of Cyprus’s debt; whose commission resigned en-bloc in 1999 following an expenses and patronage scandal before re-instating itself several days later; which attempted to alter the balance of power in eastern Europe in an arrogant, cumbersome and detached manner by encouraging the Ukraine to join the EU leading directly to the invasion and occupation of part of that country by Russia; which was ineffectual during the civil war in Yugoslavia and part-cause of the massacre at Srebrenica.  And, in the UK where the European Water Directive of 2000 contributed to the flooding of the Somerset Levels in 2015.  This ‘directive’, enforced in the UK by virtue of our strong institutions, prevents the dredging of Britain’s rivers in certain prescribed circumstances but which for obvious reasons is simply ignored by other members of the EU including the Dutch authorities.  

Whilst the European Economic Community was sold to the British on the back of ‘free trade’ and competition this apparent advantage is of no interest whatsoever to the french (and other members of the EU) for whom protection is everything, competition being anathaema, that whilst the ‘Nine’ of 1973 represented 42% of world trade, today’s 28 members represent just 33%.  

What are the benefits to the United Kingdom of any of the above unless you think the creation of a country called ‘Europe’ within which the UK would be governed from continental Europe is desirable ?  If in 1975 you had known that all of the above would happen would you have voted for the UK to remain in the Common Market at that time?   

A friend in Paris is surprised that the director of London’s National Gallery is italian, that the new director of the Victoria & Albert museum is german and astonished that the Governor of the Bank of England is canadian, that many CEOs of companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange are not british.  This same friend claimed this would not be « tolerated » in France where only frenchmen could be appointed to such important positions, an attitude which is unsurprising since of course France (and Europe) looks to itself whilst Britain has, these last four hundred years, looked to the world.  None of these opportunities taken up by foreigners has anything to do with the EU but because they are the best people for posts coveted everywhere.  What do people mean when they speculate on the « isolation » facing the UK outside the EU?  It doesn’t apply to Britain and hasn’t done so since Henry VIII’s day.  

Would you want to be part of an EU which bends economics to fit political imperatives?  The Euro (€) functions to the detriment of several countries which use it.  At the outset only three members of the EU qualified for the membership of the Euro (€) until Romano Prodi had the temerity to say that “the rules are stupid” and then they were changed so that every EU country which wanted to could join.  Later when the consequences of this began to appear the public was told that, for instance, the greeks had “cooked the books” as if the EU needed to absolve itself of the blame.  If the British public thinks that there will be no more of this nonsense it is to be unpleasantly surprised which brings us back to what can be achieved by an invisible political class the public will learn to loathe.  The Euro (€) is in the middle of a crisis forseen incidentally by Jean Monnet in 1955.  He actually said “We need a crisis to create this country called Europe” though few people understood and precious few remember.  

Mr Cameron claimed he could obtain reforms to the European Union and whilst he has done nothing of the sort he has negotiated a marginally improved deal for the UK.  But, why should the other EU members accept this situation which irks umpteen of my friends in Paris who assure me that the ‘deal’ requiring the approval of all 28 member parliaments which will take four years to ratify will be mangled in the process.  They are quite right..

And, in any case if the rules are unacceptable to the UK shouldn’t the UK leave the European Union?

Bizarrely though none of the other members seem to want the UK to leave. Why?   

By DAVID C. BOOTH

 

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