The delusion of some UKIPpers undermines their party

Boredom is a terrible thing.  It can lead to doing things one shouldn’t do, such as scanning through the letters page of the Telegraph.

For it is there we find a UKIP Euro election candidate talking unmitigated rubbish (no, really) about trade after a UK exit from the EU.  The claim made is an old canard that seemingly remains a sacred truth among some ‘Kippers, despite it being debunked in several locations over many months.

Should the media choose to put its microscope over this particular claim about free trade under WTO rules, Janice Atkinson will crumble under it just like her leader crumbled under a little cross examination by Andrew Neil.

If a British exit would result in a free trade agreement within days with the EU under WTO rules, how is it that the US and EU are so far unable to cement a free trade agreement?  How come China and the EU are unable to sign a free trade agreement?  How come a free trade agreement with Canada took around five years to complete?

Why is it Janice Atkinson thinks the UK is solely capable of establishing a free trade agreement with the EU in a matter days after a Brexit, when every other country in the world requires years of painstaking negotiation, internal lobbying by industry and special interests, disagreements over the terms and reference backs, to establish such a deal?

Perhaps Ms Atkinson is banking her hopes on a two-year negotiation with the EU initiated under Article 50, which will primarily focus on governance, having satisfactorily concluded everything that needs to be addressed from a trade perspective?  But then, she doesn’t refer to Article 50, so who knows what her vivid imagination visualises a Brexit will look like and how it will take place.

It is ludicrous assertions like that by Atkinson that have anyone who has ever been involved in any kind of business or trade deal, shaking their heads in disbelief at the sheer ignorance and wanton stupidity of her position.

Only on Planet Atkinson, an entity fuelled by the self deception and immature delusion that denotes UKIP, could a trade deal of such complexity and intricacy between the UK and a bloc of 27 other countries with varying interests and demands – across a wide range of industries and sectors – be concluded more quickly than a transfer negotiation between two football clubs for a Premier League footballer.

22 Responses to “The delusion of some UKIPpers undermines their party”

  1. 1 lostleonardo 27/01/2014 at 1:40 pm

    I suspect I will be scolded for this, but asking stupid questions of people more knowledgeable than oneself is how one learns.

    Would not the UK be able to conclude an interim trade deal (in lue of something more appropriate for a fully independent state) that much more rapidly precisely because we are already part of the “single market”?

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 27/01/2014 at 2:14 pm

    An interim trade deal is the best the UK could hope for within the early years of a Brexit, but regulations will take a long time to thrash out. Atkinson is acting as it it’s a done deal and that it would be a fully free trade deal.

    Don’t forget, there are no ports in northern France that could accept British exports because there are no formal customs facilities to handle them and check standards. Saying we would leave the EU is not the end in itself that many in UKIP seem to think, it would be the beginning of something much more complex and detailed and time consuming.

    What she also fails to grasp is that securing some kind of deal with the EU is one thing, but it doesn’t address the deals with other countries made on our behalf by the EU. The third country has a deal with the EU, which would not include us if we left. We would need a series of interim bilateral deals to be agreed at the very least to ensure we could still trade with those third countries after Brexit. Does she think that could be done in a few days too, particularly if the third country’s domestic market wants a more protectionist deal and sees an opportunity for getting better terms out of us?

  3. 3 lostleonardo 27/01/2014 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the reply. Very valid points. We are in complete agreement about the first two paragraphs. The third – the fact that “Brexit” does not only impact EU trade. Because we have been part of a customs union for 40+ years, we must first rebuild our international customs infrastructure, and grant other nations the opportunity to do the same – is, I will readily concede, something I had not thought about in any kind of depth. But, of course, you are right to draw attention to these complexities. One has to dig deep to find the roots of these problems, and superficial arguments by UKIP representatives will only serve to discredit the independence cause in the longer term. Precisely why the work you guys are doing is so useful. Cheers.

  4. 4 Nigel Sedgwick 27/01/2014 at 4:21 pm

    AM writes in his additional comment: Don’t forget, there are no ports in northern France that could accept British exports because there are no formal customs facilities to handle them and check standards.

    I doubt this. The port of Le Havre is the second commercial port in France in terms of overall tonnage after Marseille and the largest container port in the country. It seems to import a lot of stuff we do not mine/make in the UK and Eire, so I assume it has some considerable ability to handle non-EU imports, that contributes to its tens of millions of containers per year, plus a lot of oil etc.

    Best regards

  5. 5 Autonomous Mind 27/01/2014 at 7:57 pm

    Nigel, hopefully this explains it…

    As the law stands, the UK is part of the Single Market. Outwith the EU and the EEA, however, the UK becomes, as far as EU law is concerned, a “third country”. And imports from third countries must to subject to a raft of inspections, documentation and physical checks at member state ports (including airports) before they are allowed entry. That much I’ve established in the post.

    However, these checks must be carried out at approved “Border Inspection Posts” (BIPs) at specially designated ports, which – for different purposes – must be approved by Commission Regulation. Should we leave the EU, there would be no such ports designated in the UK, and no BIPs on the Continent authorised (or able) to deal with goods from the UK. Le Havre may be there, but it is not a designated port for imports from the UK on day one of Brexit.

    Hope that helps.

  6. 6 Dave 27/01/2014 at 8:41 pm

    To believe that ‘anything’ could happen after just a few days of any successful attempt to exit the EU is as ludicrous as making the statement in the first place.
    Whilst I understand the points you make AM you seem to be labouring the ‘within a few days’ statement which was probably made in innocence and with no attempt at deliberate deception. The ignorance that was expressed by the statement is probably no worse (or better) than other mainstream politicians can muster when queried over the Brexit solution.
    Nothing will cease, nothing will change as far as the public or even business will notice – at least not for a few years or ten.
    Your position is basically nitpicking over a specious comment.

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 27/01/2014 at 10:31 pm

    I wish it were, Dave, but this is not a specious comment. It is a commonly held and vehemently asserted position pushed by the likes of Congdon, Rodney Atkinson, Torquil and their band of supporters engaging with each other on closed mail groups.

    Janice Atkinson was not making an innocent comment, she was articulating a significant strain of thought within UKIP.

  8. 8 scottishcalvin 28/01/2014 at 9:44 am

    I disagree. The EU and China can’t agree on a free trade agreement because there’s a lot for the EU to lose if they get it wrong (at least in their European mercantilist mindset).

    The EU and the UK currently have a free trade arrangement which (based on current trade balances) works in the EU’s favour. There would be nothing to discuss and the arrangement would be kept and re-put in writing within days.

  9. 9 3x2 28/01/2014 at 8:21 pm

    Why is it Janice Atkinson thinks the UK is solely capable of establishing a free trade agreement with the EU in a matter days after a Brexit, when every other country in the world requires years of painstaking negotiation, internal lobbying by industry and special interests, disagreements over the terms and reference backs, to establish such a deal?

    While I agree that ‘days’ is complete nonsense, we would have the advantage that we (The UK) would be negotiating ‘down’.

    Switzerland, for example, must negotiate with The EU from the bottom up. The UK, post Brexit, would be negotiating from the top down. In other words we would be negotiating our way out rather than negotiating our way in. We are already in ‘total agreement’ with The EU and so it is a matter of throwing things overboard rather than building a boat from scratch.

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 28/01/2014 at 10:26 pm

    I don’t agree. While we would be negotiating our way out of political union, we would be trying to negotiate our way into the internal market as a non-EU member state. I think some people are overestimating the cards we would hold.

  11. 11 tomo 29/01/2014 at 4:10 am

    It’s not something I’ve seen discussed much (perhaps it is but I missed it) – so I wonder… The federalist position isn’t unanimously held as I understand it – but the federalist agenda is seemingly always adhered to. Is there a resource where one can see the groupings and relationships?

    It all has strange resonances with the Napoleonic early 19th cent. (albeit Albion now without an Empire…) Substitute the pervasive bureaucracy and shameless political patronage for a Grande Armée with generals like Barrosso, van Rumpuy Ashton and the other relative nonentities of distinctly questionable calibre (hello Mr. Kinnock!) being handed sinecures – it simply doesn’t look like a situation enshrining representative democracy and since it’s never been openly challenged – there’s really not much indication of what might happen should it be provoked.- only conjecture.

    The EU seems obsessed and consumed with process – moving the elected representatives endlessly between Brussels and Strasbourg, scheming new treaties and spinning a tormented morass of legislation and law, intrigues in bordering states (and further) and endless self promotion – it seems remorseless bureaucracy for its own end, bribing away resistance with other folks money from a set of accounts that scare the bejasus out of accountants/auditors?

    Federalism looks logically doomed but where to go ? UKIP don’t have a plan but let’s face it who does? (R. North esq?) Possibly the best hope is that hubris really takes hold and the Berlaymont disappears up its own rear end and winks out of existence like some Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy example of bizarre physics..

  12. 12 lostleonardo 29/01/2014 at 8:50 am

    I object to people who support the imposition of “European” political integration via the accretion of directives issued by an international treaty organisation being described as federalists. Federalism has an honorable tradition that infers these people are part of an honourable tradition, which they certainly are not. Genuine European federalism is a project that any true democrat may be able to support, provided that certain conditions were met. As you and I know, the European Union is deficient in almost all of these particulars.

    In a federal structure, Rights belong exclusively to the Citizens, who consent to share their sovereign power with state legislatures and judiciaries, and thereafter grant strictly limited powers to the national/central/federal Government, based upon the overwhelming democratic will of the majority. This separation of powers is almost always demarcated in a written Constitution with an associated Bill of Rights.

    The EU treaty structure exploits inconsistencies in international law that allow the member state Governments to ascent to “share” the sovereign power of 500 million citizens with a supranational organisation that allows unelected officials and unscrupulous politicians to circumvent the constitutional responsibilities – electoral accountability, consent of the governed, etc. – associated with democratic governance.

    This is not federalism. It is fascism, and I do not think we should hesitate to describe it in those terms.

  13. 13 3x2 29/01/2014 at 5:07 pm

    Autonomous Mind 28/01/2014 at 10:26 pm

    I don’t agree. While we would be negotiating our way out of political union, we would be trying to negotiate our way into the internal market as a non-EU member state. I think some people are overestimating the cards we would hold.

    My point was that we are already ‘in compliance’ with the regulations governing the single market. We wouldn’t be in the Swiss position of having to negotiate “The Harmonisation of Auto mobile Paint”. We are already ‘Harmonised’ paint wise so to speak.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 31/01/2014 at 9:53 am

    Lostleonardo, your defence of federalism forgets one important thing. In any true democracy, political power is devolved to the lowest possible level. Democracy is incompatible with federalism accordingly.

  15. 15 lostleonardo 31/01/2014 at 2:01 pm

    Fair criticism. Duly noted. So, to clarify, anything other than Swiss style direct democracy is not democracy? Or does THA go even further than that?


  16. 16 Spinwatch 31/01/2014 at 10:14 pm

    There are some very good postings on this blog. I’m afraid that I don’t think this is one; it seems more borne of a trigger-happiness against UKIP than a considered posting?

    Instead of majoring on the minutiae of border inspection posts, did you look deeply at the wider context? The facts may indicate that Janice Atkinson is right after all and might in fairness be due an apology?

    The EuroRealist newsletter recently had an article on maintaining trade, and the essential points were (1) that the small print of the current EU treaty would actually guard against the EU reintroducing trade barriers (2) It is a principle of the World Trade Organization that regional unions, like the EU, should contribute towards further liberalisation of trade and not hamper it.

    I don’t know the URL for the newsletter, but the editor is an avid reader of Richard North’s splendid website that discusses Brexit in detail. There might be some reference material on, another website that probes legal detail on matters such as trade?

  17. 17 Spinwatch 31/01/2014 at 10:43 pm

    Janice Atkinson is right on the trade in cars, and not just because of the balance of imports. If we left, the trade would be covered by WTO rules, and common product standards would be available through UN-ECE rather than imposed by the EU.

    She might point out to euro-stooges that the EU has long agreed a free trade deal on cars with South Korea, which if anything is a growing competitor to European manufacturers. Liberalisation should be fully achieved by 2016, with many products covered in 2014.

    As regards wider UK-EU trade, the current administrative framework would essentially stay in place, although any disputes would need to be resolved at WTO level, not through the ECJ.

    As the EU is already legally committed to close neighbourly cooperation with a post-Brexit UK, there is no reason why there might not be mutually beneficial dialogue over changing single market standards.

  18. 18 Adam West 01/02/2014 at 9:05 pm

    On the issue of Border Inspection Posts all I seem to find via is stuff about live animals and animal product BIPs. eg this: List of approved veterinary border inspection posts of the EU and the first link in the text includes just under 30 in the UK as a mix of ports and airports and around 300 across the Union.

    As an example of what the UK does have here is a page about Grimsby and Immingham BIP.

    In addition to BIPs there are a number of ports and airports designated by EC regulation as being allowed to handle particular kinds of food imports.

    Designated Point of Entry

    Designated Point of Import

    Upon exit imo it would be sensible to retain all those designations but just transpose the authority from the EU to the UK. Even so that would take longer than ‘days’ to arrange because we would need to set up supervisory authorities. But, if I have understood how these things work, that still wouldn’t be the end of your problems.

    Upon exit the EU becomes a third party nation so imports from the EU would have to go through those designated ports. EU exit without a trade agreement becomes a problem of volume as I doubt those ports have the capacity to handle it. And that bottleneck applies to exports to the EU too as our stuff would have to enter through their BIPs.

    The rate at which we can import is reduced. The rate at which we can export is reduced. A solution to the import problem would be for the newly independent UK to designate loads more BIPs but that wouldn’t solve the export problem.

  19. 19 Spinwatch 01/02/2014 at 10:20 pm

    IMHO the bigger issue would be whether, having liberalised trade with the UK, the EU would seek to impose a trade barrier against its own legal commitment not to! (See previous posting).

    As far as exports an imports, it logically follows that the EU would have to regard the UK as an ‘honorary EU member’ or face action from the WTO.

    The WTO has already found against the EU in previous dispute resolution. And any continental import/export firms would most probably be able to sue the EU for lack of compliance with its own policies.

    All common sense dictates that trade would continue. (And for the record, my memory was nearly right over the EuroRealist article from December – it can be read online on

  20. 20 Autonomous Mind 02/02/2014 at 12:19 am

    The EU would not have any legal commitment not to have protectionist measures against the UK should we leave the union, unless we negotiate access to the internal market.

    The EU would not have to regard the UK as an honorary EU member. That is utter pie in the sky. The WTO only enforces rules – if the UK just leaves the EU without following the exit rules, the WTO would side with the EU as the UK would have broken a binding agreement. The WTO permits trade barriers, so while you see a logic, you need to focus on the legality.

    You can cite common sense all you like, but the reality of trade doesn’t work that way. Trade will only continue if there is an agreement for that trade. Without one, the UK could not export to the EU after a Brexit because there is no default mechanism for it. New Alliance would do well to look at the reams of EU documentation and comment from a position of fact rather than what they wish.

  21. 21 Pogle's Woodsman 02/02/2014 at 3:59 pm

    Just for a very minor balancing of the books, have a look at the opening line here:-

    …’Doomsday predictions in the media that Liberal Democrats are set to lose all our MEPs to UKIP’…

    I don’t think any credible outlets are predicting anything of the sort. Is this their intended strategy? That failure to be wiped out entirely will prove to be a massive victory against their opponents?

  22. 22 Spinwatch 02/02/2014 at 11:06 pm

    AM> The article I quoted gives clear references on the EU’s intentions for freest possible trade and cooperation with its neighbours (Lisbon Treaty TFEU Art.206; TFEU Art 63, TEU Art 8). It also has plenty of references to WTOspeak.

    Do you have any hard legal references to substantiate what you said about my original posting being “pie”, please?

    And your comment “if the UK just leaves the EU without following the exit rules” is a bit of a red herring as I did not suggest that.

    It’s also a red herring to note that the WTO permits trade barriers – of course it allows the status quo where barriers already exist, but where goods have already been admitted to a market (e.g. the single market), the MFN (i.e. non-discrimination) rule must be respected.

    Any barriers then raised would have to be shown to be objective (e.g. temporary measures against contaminated products). Please do read its texts, and they make sense.

    I’m not trying to stir up a bit of animus, rather trying to shed light on a tricky issue arising from a heated posting. But are we trying to generated light or heat?

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