Douglas Carswell

31 OCT 2016

Brexit doesn't mean isolationism

Last week, the government announced an increase in Britain's NATO deployment to Eastern Europe. We'll be sending more troops to Estonia, and fighter jets to Romania. It's a timely reminder that, pace Project Fear, Brexit doesn't mean we stop cooperating with our European allies.

Remainers often tell us that the EU will punish us for voting Leave with a bad deal. Political posturing by European politicians is taken at face value and cited as evidence.

But that line of argument is specious. Not just because a spiteful, adolescent negotiation is in nobody's interests. But because our relationships with our neighbours in Europe go deeper than the EU.

Our defence cooperation – through NATO – predates the EU by decades. Our trading relationship goes back centuries before that.

Even tariff-free trade long predates the European customs union. It's over a century and half since Britain first signed a free-trade agreement with France.

British Europhiles still seem to look at our relationship with Europe in purely binary terms: either we're part of a European superstate, or we're cut off from the continent.

Yet Britain doesn't need to be in a political union either to trade with European countries, or to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.

There are more – and better – ways to play a constructive role in both Europe and the world. Taking back control gives us the freedom to do so.

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