The Bear’s Lair: Brexit Could Unshackle Britain From A Corpse

On the other side, Britain would not get the full benefits of membership of the Single Market, because it would no longer have any control over the rules made, which would inevitably discriminate against the City of London, ensuring that Paris, Frankfurt and other tinpot Continental financial centers grabbed as much of the City’s business as they could. Already, even without any formal action by Britain to leave the EU, Lord Hill, the British commissioner for financial services, has been forced out of his post, to be replaced by the (generally admirable) Latvian Valdis Dombrovskis, who will doubtless be replaced by a French leftist in due course.

As for free movement of labor within the EU, most people favored that when it was introduced in the 1990s, yet it has become the principal rallying point for opponents of the EU. The reason is that the EU has proved itself utterly negligent in enforcing its own borders, with Angela Merkel in particular making the problem many times worse by her completely irresponsible welcome to refugees last year.

It’s one thing to be open to Polish plumbers and other East Europeans, the flow of whom will naturally slow as their own economies get richer. It is quite another matter to welcome the flotsam of the world, shipped to Europe by criminal gangs, and including not only the utterly unemployable but also those who wish great harm to the West’s tottering civilization. Because of the inability or unwillingness of the continental states to control their own borders, Britain needs to restrict free movement. Britain is after all already a thoroughly overcrowded island, whose environment has never really recovered from the population explosion caused by the Industrial Revolution.

It is vanishingly unlikely that the EU will allow Britain to remain a member of the Single Market, even in an attenuated version with discrimination against the City, without “free movement of labor.” It is also completely impossible that the EU will allow Britain access to the Single Market without continuing its massive budgetary contribution, which if in the Norway position it will be powerless to prevent getting ever larger.

Accordingly, British policymakers need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Single Market itself, to see if it is worth the major costs, financial, economic, social and political, of allowing free movement of labor and making enormous budget contributions.

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(The Bear's Lair is a weekly column that is intended to appear each Monday, an appropriately gloomy day of the week. Its rationale is that the proportion of "sell" ...

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