Grenville Cross, a distinguished British and Hong Kong barrister, law professor and career prosecutor who is, also, a committed Brexit supporter has written an opinion piece for the South China Morning Post that sums up the ‘Leave1’ side’s position very nicely.
First it is important to note that, unlike Professor Cross, I think the European Union was a
good great idea, albeit one which is deeply flawed in practice. The central notion of the Union was and remains to ‘keep the peace‘ in Europe, after centuries of almost continuous warfare, by tying most European countries together by bonds of trade and commerce. It was, still is a great idea and, by and large, it works, today, too. The Schengen Agreement, which, de facto, erases borders for most people, and the Eurozone are logical extensions of the original notion of an Economic Community … but the ongoing migrant crisis threatens to destroy the Schengen Agreement and there need to be at least two €s, one for the prudent, hard working Dutch, Finns and Germans and so on and another for the fiscally fickle French, Italians and Spanish and so on, again.
But, Grenville Cross’ main point is that Britain, once free of the EC, by either a hard or soft Brexit will be able to negotiate bigger and better trade deals than, for example, the recent Canada-EU CETA, with Africa, America, China, the ‘old’ Commonwealth dominions, India and others. The notion of better trade deals leads me, of course, to Andrew Lilico‘s idea (taken up, here in Canada, by Erin O’Toole) of a CANZUK arrangement that goes beyond trade and also provides for the (relatively) free movement of people between Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and, potentially, others. As America retreats from its position as leader of the West there is a need for someone, some grouping to step up and promote the rules, based liberal world order … CANZUK might be the right group to do that. CANZUK need not be, in fact should not be a formal military alliance; rather, it should continue the doctrinal and standardization work being done, right now, by the five nations (Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA) that make up the longest established and most successful standardization bodies in the world … I can affirm , from long experience, that it is bodies like the ABCA Armies, AUSCANZUKUS, and the CCEB that ‘drive’ NATO standardization, not the other way around. Five countries, sharing a common language and, in most cases, a common military culture can act more quickly and more effectively than a massive grouping of 29 nation-states. If the four countries can be as politically nimble as they are in military doctrine and standards issues then they have a good shot at being accepted as a global leader.
The United Kingdom, no matter if the Brexit is hard or soft, will remain an valuable market and trading partner. It is, most people agree, about the fifth largest national economy in the world. I am convinced that London will remain a major , global financial centre no matter what form the Brexit takes. Britain will remain home to some of the world’s greatest universities and it will be a centre of innovation; Brexit will not change that. The EU may try to punish Britain for leaving … the punishment may hurt. But Brexit is what the British people want ~ polling suggests that only 30% of Britons want the government to either abandon Brexit or have another referendum ~ so it is likely to happen on good terms or bad.
Canada needs to be quick off the mark when, not if, Brexit happens, offering the UK a good free trade deal. The global strategic situation is changing … Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are both moving their countries in different directions. Canada needs to find nee partners for trade and security in an uncertain world. Europe matters, so does Britain. Having good trade links with both Britain and the EU will put Canada is a better position to deal with China and India.