Conservative MP James Cleverly is on the frontline for Brexit — Britain’s exit from the European Union, a referendum for which will be held on 23 June. Cleverly says all Commonwealth countries should be trading individually with the EU; Britain does not have to be a part of it. He refers to three phases of global trade. First the colonial phase with a global focus, whereby British people born in India were likely to do colonial service in Africa. Second, the post-colonial period that was full of degrees of embarrassment and guilt, which flavoured the British worldview as being a bit apologetic. Today, he says “the UK should throw itself into new relationships of equals and recognise that UK, India and Africa economies can benefit mutually”.
Cleverly is disgusted that both the Common Agricultural Policy and EU trade tariffs keep African farmers poor, at the same time as continental European farmers are being subsidised to produce more food than necessary. He says this is distorting the global food market. African farmers cannot compete and are forced into subsistence farming, where one bad season brings economic ruin and a couple of bad seasons bring starvation.
He points out, in 2014, EU tariffs allowed Africa to make just under $2.4 billion from coffee exports, while Germany made $3.8 billion. Germany made more money from coffee without growing a single bean than a whole continent growing vast amounts. Germany’s coffee producers need cheap, raw beans to make a profit, so there is no import tariff on green, unprocessed coffee. The vast bulk of African coffee exports are unprocessed because it’s in the processing, branding, packaging and marketing that Germany makes its money. These tariffs protect it from African competition. Cocoa has the same story. Cleverly says, “This is protectionism, pure and simple, it is indefensible. British farmers are being taxed to subsidise their competitors to keep African farmers in poverty.”
Cleverly points out that UK’s obsessive relations with the EU is distracting UK from the fastest growing economies in the world. Cleverly believes the “Remainers’” projections are apocalyptic: of course UK will continue relations with EU and with US business will be as usual. As an admirer of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Cleverly has a latent desire to develop the bilateral market for products and services. He says, “Trade is a two way thing, we do not want to replace one unbalanced relationship with another.”
Like many Brexit MPs, Cleverly believes the Schengen Agreement is dead. The internal borders no longer work. Austria has wired up the border with Slovenia. Switzerland is prepared to put tanks on its border with Italy. There are temporary borders all over Europe such as Hungary with Serbia, Croatia and Romania. The EU’s external border has expanded, bringing one border a short boat ride from Africa. The land border is now with former Soviet bloc impoverished countries and should Brussels admit Turkey, the EU will have a border with Syria. Cleverly says, “The EU’s answer to everything is more EU, it is nonsense to expect unanimity between 28 states. It was different when the original 12 member states had a similar standard of living and a homogenous lifestyle; now the pull factor to the UK, with its minimum wages and free health service, from countries that were recently communist makes the EU unrealistic.”
Cleverly, who is also in the Territorial Army, has a last word on security: “I am not concerned about Britain’s security if UK voted to leave the EU, as immigration would be more controllable and UK has the most effective intelligence in the world. Governments behave regarding national intelligence. It would be illogical if democratic governments stopped sharing intelligence.”