Britain already has the best deal

Date: Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Sir, The fascinating letter from John Harris (Herald, 22nd April) is wrong in the following respects:

Bureaucracies in all democratic institutions are run by civil servants appointed and controlled by the elected representatives of the people. That of the EU is no exception, as its civil servants are controlled by the council and the parliament, to which they are accountable.

Its bureaucracy can’t be inefficient as it is tiny, employing about the same number as Birmingham City Council. This is remarkable when you consider that it serves 500 million people.

All government institutions, both of dictatorships and democracies, have problems with corruption. The EU auditors have signed off the accounts for the last 10 years. The EU doesn’t rest on its laurels.

It actively promotes measures against corruption.

The EU shows no signs of breaking up. Apart from Italy and Greece whose problems arise from domestic mismanagement, the European economies are robust and growing at a respectable rate for advanced economies.

The Trump-Brexit axis of populist nationalism is not sweeping Europe as the voters of Austria, the Netherlands and France have just shown.

Both contenders for the German chancellorship are responsible pro-Europeans.

While NATO has been the principal agent for peace, the extension eastwards of the EU has made us more secure and the existence of the EU has made for greater co-operation and less likelihood of conflict.

The German car makers are firmly behind their government. Nobody is threatening to close the British market to them.

Co-operation between our superb military and security establishments and the EU will almost certainly continue.

As for trade deals, Mr. Harris is right that new deals will be more easily reached with other countries.

But will deals concluded by the most focused and experienced trade negotiators in the world on behalf of 500 million people be of more value than those reached on behalf of what is in world terms a small nation of 65 million?

The single market, by aligning regulations, cuts out paperwork. Trading under WTO rules would increase the paperwork fivefold.

It is not certain that the recently introduced customs computer would cope.

The World Bank tells us that between 1980 and 2015 the cumulative increase of the UK GDP was 337 per cent. And of course the phenomenal growth of the City of London and our financial services industry and the regeneration of our car industry date from the advent of the single market. This is not a coincidence.

The classic tactic of demagogues over the centuries has been to find hate figures. The Nazis chose the Jews. The Brexiteers have chosen Brussels.

It sells newspapers. But we are Brussels, as the 28 member states (of which we are still one) make the decisions through the European Council and the Commission executes them.

It is a tribute to our democracy that despite the constant barrage of untruths, 48 per cent. of us, including all the wealth-producing areas and most wealth producers and graduates, voted Remain.

A majority of the under-50s voted Remain, which says a lot for our present open and tolerant standards of education. We must not let them down.

Mrs. May is looking for the best deal for Britain. We already have it. Yours etc,

TIM STREVENS

Great Salkeld.