Douglas Carswell

16 JAN 2017

The age of technocratic groupthink is over

Do you get the feeling that the world is being reshaped by people who think differently?

For several months, some of us have been talking about making a free trade deal with the United States. Now – as Michael Gove revealed today in his interview with the President Elect – that deal is within reach. It now looks likely that we could have an agreement on the table within 24 months – in time for Brexit.

How can a deal be done so fast? Because it doesn't require unifying standards, like the single market. Instead, it's likely to be based on mutual standards recognition: with some obvious caveats, whatever it is legal to buy and sell in Clacton will become legal to buy and sell in California, and vice versa.

The important question now is what effect mutual standards recognition could have on British industries and exporters – pharmaceuticals, financial services, beef farmers? We need to be prepared to do business differently.

If there's opposition to a deal based on mutual standards recognition, it won't come from the US Congress. The real obstacle will be the federal regulatory agencies. They tend to see regulatory equivalence as a dilution of their own powers.

So it will be crucial to take note of whom President Trump puts in charge of these bodies: will they be people likely to challenge the institutional mentality of officialdom? That's where the front line in trade negotiations is likely to be.

The commentariat is months behind this story. Bovine pundits are still struggling to get their heads around the fact that we're leaving the single market, let alone the idea that there is a different model of international trade.

However the US-UK deal plays out, it's clear the world is being dramatically reshaped. Those stuck in the old groupthink won't be shaping it.

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