Douglas Carswell

19 JAN 2017

Brexit makes free trade possible

I'm confident that Britain will strike a good free trade deal with the EU. It's in our mutual interests to do so. But more important are the implications for our trade beyond the EU. Because Brexit is what makes free trade possible.

The EU is a protectionist club. Its tariffs raise the price of agricultural and manufacturing goods, in particular, 20% above world prices.

Brexit is a rejection of EU protectionism. It allows us to buy those same goods more cheaply.

Wider economic benefits will follow. Spending 20% less for the same amount of food and widgets means that 20% saving can be spent on something else – clothes, cars, meals out.

That won't just make consumers better off. More demand means more opportunities for British producers. More jobs.

"What about the producers who lose out from international competition?" You may ask. "Doesn't free trade hurt them?"

Economies are fundamentally dynamic. Production techniques improve over time. Conditions change. As some industries grow, others shrink. That's inevitable.

The right response to that reality isn't protectionism. Trade barriers are part of the reason why so many EU economies are stagnating.

Rather than resist economic progress, we need to embrace it.

Leaving the single market allows us to make our industry more competitive. I'd like to see us repeal EU rules that have increased energy bills, pushed up compliance costs, and raised barriers to entry to small business.

But we can go further than that. Liberalising international trade isn't enough. We need to make free exchange between people in Britain easier too. That's one of the big themes of my new book.

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