Iain Duncan Smith: British people heroically saw through Project Fear

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: People heroically saw through Project Fear… but Brussels can’t bear to see Britain succeed after Brexit

At the EU referendum almost two years ago, the British people heroically saw through Project Fear.

In their determination to embrace national independence, they refused to be intimidated by the deceitful scaremongering about our supposedly apocalyptic future after Brexit.

Yet the Establishment has never accepted the democratic verdict of the electorate.

Iain Duncan Smith: ‘In their determination to embrace national independence, they refused to be intimidated by the deceitful scaremongering about our supposedly apocalyptic future after Brexit’

Unable to imagine life without the EU’s rule, devoid of any real faith in Britain’s capabilities, key elements of the political class have embarked on a systematic campaign to obstruct and emasculate Brexit.

That relentless hostility shone through most recently in debates in the House of Lords, where unelected, unaccountable peers lined up to sneer at the public’s wish for national freedom.

Too much of this spirit of fearfulness and surrender has infused our side in the negotiations with the EU over withdrawal, leading to a catalogue of concessions in return for little.

In the same vein, the Civil Service, those past masters at delay, keep pushing for an ever longer transition period in the hope that institutional inertia may ultimately thwart Britain’s departure. 

Now the Establishment is refusing to let go of its new weapon: the customs union.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, who told the BBC that the proposed new customs partnership remains on the table

Over the weekend, Business Secretary Greg Clark told the BBC that Theresa May’s proposed new customs partnership – a fudged version of the customs union that was rejected by her Brexit cabinet only last week – remained on the table.

An arrangement of this kind is necessary, he declared, otherwise the British economy will suffer and trade will shrink. 

Gazing into his crystal ball, Clark specifically warned that 3,500 car jobs at Toyota could be at risk without the customs deal.

Whether intentional or not, these comments echo the same old soundtrack of alarm that always accompanies calls for submission to Brussels. But Project Fear did not work in 2016 and it will not work now.

That is partly because, as has been well-rehearsed in recent days, the new customs partnership would create a bureaucratic nightmare, hurt our economic prospects, hit our global trade and undermine our democracy.

The jewel in the crown of Brexit will be the ability to reach our own trade deals around the world, particularly with the fast developing nations of Asia – something that Brussels simply cannot stomach. 

In their efforts to hype concerns about Brexit and be as obstructive as possible, EU officials, Dublin and the pro-EU brigade here talk endlessly about the difficulty of the Irish border.

Theresa May during local elections in London. Mr Duncan Smith describes her new customs partnership proposal as ‘a fudged version of the customs union that was rejected by her Brexit cabinet only last week’

In reality, the ‘Irish question’ has been cynically seized upon and ‘weaponised’ by fearmongering Remainers who hope to cajole us into staying put.

No one actually wants a hard border. 

As John Thompson, the head of the HMRC, has made clear, with goodwill and imagination, the problem is easily resolvable, especially since Britain and Ireland have operated a common travel area since 1923.

Indeed, the whole question of a customs arrangement with the EU has been grossly exaggerated by the Remain lobby. 

Only about 12 per cent of Britain’s GDP involves exports to the EU, while just 8 per cent of British companies trade with EU.

Most of our economy is based on the domestic market, which suffers from Brussels’ protectionist policies that push up prices and increase burdens on businesses.

Freed from the dead hand of Brussels, consumer costs – especially of food – will fall and enterprise will flourish. 

It is absurd to cling to the idea, eagerly peddled by the anti-Brexiteers, that the EU is some kind of engine of economic growth.

Just the opposite is true. EU officialdom is the enemy of jobs and innovation, as is reflected in its cripplingly high rates of unemployment, especially among young people, in EU countries like Spain and Greece.

And EU-led stagnation is bound to worsen in the coming years, as Brussels presses ahead with its cherished ideological project of further political integration.

That will mean more taxation in the name of harmonisation, more regulation, more centralised governance, more streams of directives.

Britain will have to be part of that if we end up in a customs union.

Brexit gives us the chance to break free from the continuing destruction of our sovereignty. That is what the British public recognised in 2016.

Tragically, however, the Establishment, reflected in its doom-mongering asides, remains mired in timid defeatism, reluctant either to challenge the EU or contemplate change.

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