Blog InFacts, 12.11.2019 David D.A. Hannay, miembro de la Cámara de los Lores y ex embajador británico (EU-ONU)
Theresa May used to boast about how Brexit would turn us into “global Britain”. One doesn’t hear so much of that rhetoric under her successor – perhaps because Brexiters have become embarrassed by how a Trump trade deal could lead to things like maggots in our orange juice and rat hairs in our paprika.
We will be stronger and more effective on the global stage if we stay in the EU. We will be working together with 27 other countries with whom we share values and interests – rather than flying solo and being bullied by bigger powers.
Here are five of the main ways we can advance our national interests and contribute to a more effective European voice in the world.
The EU is an essential player in the efforts to implement and to enhance the Paris accords, particularly now that Donald Trump’s America is withdrawing from them. There will be plenty of tensions within the EU over how best to fulfil that role. The UK should be in there influencing that debate in an ambitious direction. EU rules will not stop us from going even further ourselves if that is what we decide.
While we have been agonising over Brexit, the EU has been getting on with negotiating freer and fairer trade agreements with many of the most promising trading partners – South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the main countries of Latin America (Mexico, Chile and now Mercosur). More such agreements, for example with Australia and New Zealand, are in the pipeline. We could be on the inside pushing that agenda, not on the outside competing with it. We could also be working to sustain the World Trade Organisation against the damage being inflicted on it by Trump’s trade wars.
Europe needs to pull its weight more effectively in NATO and make a greater contribution to its collective security. The UK has always been a key player on European security issues and is more likely to be so again if we are shaping European policy from the inside. The EU has just made a serious mistake in refusing to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, a decision which risks undermining European security and over which we had no influence because we were on the way out.
Regulating and taxing multinationals
We need to get to grips with giant companies that use their power to bully consumers and don’t pay enough tax. Are we more likely to do that if we are supporting the European Commission’s vigorous efforts? Or will we achieve more if we are on our own, and open to pressure and blackmail when other countries such as China and the US do not like what we are doing?
The challenges to human rights are, if anything, increasing. Integrating a human rights dimension into foreign policy is always a high risk undertaking. Will we be more effective at doing so as part of the EU which broadly shares our values and interests – or acting on our own, and so liable to be buffeted by threats of retaliation and discrimination?
All this will be on the line on December 12, put there by a government that is desperate to take us out of the EU on January 31 come what may.