Springingtiger's Blog

Brexit and the Cuban Example


I shall be voting for the United Kingdom to remain within the European Union primarily, I must admit, because if the English vote to drag the UK out while Scotland has voted to remain it will precipitate independence. The question of whether Brexit is a good idea or not has not been adequately answered by either side in the debate. The possibility of Brexit has allowed my imagination to take flight. I make no apology for any outrageous suggestions in this piece, it is merely an exercise in possibility.

I am one of those who thinks that if we insist on an economic model that depends on trade and trading agreements then Brexit makes little sense. Those who support Brexit suggest we might have a trading relationship with Europe and the world modelled upon Norway or Canada. However the USA and Europe have made it very clear that a trading agreement with a UK that has withdrawn from the European Union would neither be high priority nor favourable to Britain. For a trading nation Brexit seems counter intuitive.

Brexit could make a lot of sense were we to adopt a different economic model, that of Cuba. After Castro’s revolution freed Cuba from a quasi colonial relationship with the USA, American economic sanctions effectively denied Cuba international trade. Despite a concerted campaign to starve the Cuban people into submission they have survived and I believe can teach us a thing ot two.

The proponents of Brexit want to control the movement of people. They forget that a closed border can also control the movement of goods and money. Brexit provides an opportunity for the british peoples to be truly in it together. Like Cuba there could be an emphasis on becoming self sufficient in food production. We need not ban imports of foreign food, but a UK outside Europe could employ protectionist tariffs to promote indigenous agriculture and remove the expectation that luxury and exotic produce could be easily available from overseas.

Rather than trying to keep foreigners out we could use our closed borders to keep our own people in which would mean we could adjust taxation to equalise living standards without providing the unpatriotic the opportunity to move elsewhere. The Brexiteers complain about being bound by European agreements and they have a point. Post Brexit we can nationalise companies without compensation free from the European accords that would prevent us. We can use tax receipts to provide whatever subsidies our indigenous agriculture and manufacturing needs to make the UK self sufficient. There is no reason why we could not cease, like Cuba, to focus on trade at least until we no longer were dependent upon it. Once we are no longer dependent on trade we can make whatever agreements we like without anyone being able to coerce us into unfavourable terms.

Of course if we were to focus on self sufficiency the real losers would be those with excess assets as they would find their standard of living falling. To put it more accurately they would find their extravagant self indulgence at the expense of the people curtailed. They are the ones who would most want to leave the UK, but they would have no way to do so unless they were allowed to. We could allow them to purchase their exit visas in return for the assets they currently hold overseas.

Freed from outside influences we could spend our money on building our own country. Withdraw from all expensive treaties particularly those that allow other countries over UK political, economic and military decisions. All it would take would be for Brexit to be accompanied by the election of a committed socialist government unafraid of a little ruthlessness. Oh dear, I’m in danger of converting myself into an ‘Out’ voter!


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