Britain is joining an 11-member Asia-Pacific trade bloc, the CPTP. The UK government thinks this is a suitable replacement for our membership of the EU.
But when did we have a say on this? When did Parliament consent to this?
Brexiters often claim that the EU is undemocratic and that we should have had a referendum to join it in the first place.
But neither the people nor our Parliament have had any say on the UK being a member of a trade bloc thousands of miles away.
There’s been no referendum, and no vote in Parliament.
Joining the trans-Pacific Partnership, continents-away from us, was not even mentioned in the 2019 Tory manifesto.
By stark contrast, in 1970, the Conservatives won the general election on a manifesto pledge to join the European Community.
Following 300 hours of debate, Parliament voted for the UK to accept the terms of membership.
Then, in 1975, in a referendum, ‘the people’ voted by a landslide for the UK to remain a member.
What’s more, when in the EU, big trade deals had to be ratified (or vetoed) by our Parliament in Westminster, as well as the European Parliament. (Yes, democratic!)
But neither we, nor our Parliament, will have any say on the trans-Pacific trade bloc we’ll be a member of instead of the EU.
Brexiters, is that democratic?
The membership of the CPTPP, a free trade agreement signed in 2018, is: Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam.
Being a member of this trans-Pacific Partnership hardly represents a suitable replacement for the EU. Membership will do little to offset the enormous European trade losses incurred because of Brexit.
The government estimates that being in the trans-Pacific Partnership will increase UK-GDP in the long term by a mere 0.08 per cent.
UK government data showed that in 2020 the 11 CPTPP countries were the destination of only 8.4 per cent of UK exports of goods and services and the source of 6.8 per cent of imports.
Commented the Financial Times today,
‘Although trade deals have been touted as one of the big “benefits of Brexit”, they have done little to compensate for the barriers to trade erected by Britain’s departure from the EU.
‘Official forecasts suggest that Brexit will lead to Britain’s GDP being 4 per cent lower in the medium term, a loss that dwarfs the economic benefits of doing a deal with countries on the other side of the world.’[Source: https://www.ft.com/…/d168e486-7db6-47b3-a0bc-bbd661e8b768]
Doing less trade with our closest countries in the EU, and more trade with continents thousands of miles away, will hardly help to tackle climate change.
But the real issue is that most of our trade will continue to be with the EU.
Despite Brexit, the EU is still the UK’s largest trading partner and will continue to be so.
Brexit imposes unnecessary barriers to our vital trade with the EU, making it more complicated and costly, offering no benefits, only huge disadvantages.
Joining a different trade club on the other side of the world won’t change that or make the Brexit downsides any better.