If Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal it will be the only country in the world – bar none – to trade solely on WTO terms.
Brexiters are often of the view that we are a vassal state of the EU, neatly ignoring that we are one of 28 member states and one who pretty much single handedly, created the EU’s single market. That is not vassalage, that is contributory control. We were actually once leaders, not leavers.
So as an offshore island of the European mainland we will be rejecting our association with the world’s largest trading block and all of our nearest neighbours.
We have forgotten that we import half our food – that’s 20,948,398 tonnes in the first six months of 2018. One quarter of that was from the EU.
So our ‘vassalage’ includes being fed by our masters. What could be worse?
Probably one where we were not fed by them.
Unless Brexiters seriously consider we can exist for years as the world’s only WTO nation we have to have a trade agreement with an outfit that will feed us. China cannot, nor can Japan. Ukraine might have some availability.
That leaves Mercosur and Chile in South America or NAFTA in the North.
I’ve heard no mention by Brexiters of any intention to explore increased food supply from South America or Ukraine.
Whilst we import from Canada we really do not want to import from the US where we know we are likley to have to import their food standards, which are by some margin very much less safe than those of the EU.
Yet America is continually suggested as an ‘easy win’ – especially by Americans, who, some Brits seem to imagine have more love for and attchment to, the UK than their own country. I think we will find they don’t. Their politicians, misguided as Trump usually is, seem still to have the practical interest of their own electorate at the heart of their trade policy – something the UK’s post referendum governments have spectacularly failed to uphold.
So leaving with no proper food trading agreement looks increasingly likely. It even looks possible that the UK will be sliding, Puerto Rican style, into a US vassalage. Then might Brexiters understand what the word really means?
After all Puert Rico was – still is – Spanish for rich port.
Even before Brexit, the best the UK government can manage is two or three ‘Freeports‘.