#Brexit and the potential losses to the UK’s (and Ireland’s) ‘Comparative Advantage’

Dr. Sylvia de Mars, Newcastle Law School and Dr. Aoife O’Donoghue, Durham Law School argue that Brexit would change the basis on which the UK trades regionally and globally and that it would also impact negatively on how Ireland would position itself.

One of the primary reasons cited in support of a Brexit is that it would enable the UK to conclude its own trade agreements, and consequently, to trade ‘more freely’ than it can currently do.

At present, its current trade agreements are negotiated by the EU as a whole, and Eurosceptics believe this process to be intolerably slow and contrary to UK interests.

They believe, in other words, that trade is absolutely necessary – but that the UK is better off pursuing free trade alone.

A key theory underpinning global desires for trade that is as ‘free’ as possible is 18th century political economist David Ricardo’s concept of ‘comparative advantage’.

It suggests that every country should focus on producing/providing what they are best at producing, and trade that product or service for other products or services.

Even where a country is not ‘the absolute best’ at anything, comparative advantage says that countries should specialise in those industries where they have a clear chance at outperforming other countries.

Comparative advantage is not an unchallenged theory—but it is the basis for all global and regional customs and free trade areas.

At present, Ireland and Northern Ireland have slightly differing comparative advantages.

Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, is within a very large market and has ease of access to the City of London, UK government support, and direct access to EU customers and suppliers.

Ireland, on the other hand, currently has a comparatively low corporate tax rate, a concentration of multinational pharma-chem companies and technology firms, and, again, direct access to the EU.

Both operate as English-language entry points to the EU for international firms.

Brexit would change the basis on which the UK, and necessarily Northern Ireland, trades regionally and globally. It would also impact on how Ireland would position itself.

First, Ireland would become the sole English-language entry point (besides Malta) for international firms seeking to do business in the EU. This would undoubtedly represent an advantage as English is one of the world’s main business languages.

Second, on setting up in Ireland or importing/exporting through Ireland, international businesses would only have to comply with a single set of regulations to access all other EU states.

A business setting up in Northern Ireland, on the other hand, would guarantee its access to the rest of the UK under a single set of rules – but not necessarily the EU.

How easy it would be to access the EU market from a post-Brexit UK would be entirely reliant on the trade model chosen by the EU and the UK. This could be based upon the World Trade Organisation, upon the Norwegian or Swiss model, or some third option (like the EU-Canada trade agreement).

However, agreeing to such a model would take time, and the interim uncertainty may make attracting both foreign and domestic investment difficult. Ireland would not face such uncertainty, amplifying the different positions it and Northern Ireland are in.

Take, for example, the support that the agricultural industry now receives. Farmers in Ireland would continue to have unrestricted access to the EU market as well as continuing to receive substantial subsidies.

While, for now, the UK Government has promised to continue agricultural support in Northern Ireland in the event of Brexit, there is no guarantee that this support would continue in the longer run.

But perhaps more seriously, Northern Ireland’s agricultural industry would post-Brexit have to compete with the highly protected industry in Ireland and the rest of Europe.

It would be in the same trade position as countries such as Australia, New Zealand and agriculture-dominated developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Kenya.

At the World Trade Organisation non-EU countries have, for many years, been arguing for reduction in agricultural support within Europe and the US, but with very little success.

Given that talks at the WTO are at a standstill (in no small part because of a lack of movement on agriculture) it is unlikely that WTO membership will provide the UK with a more ‘global’ position in agriculture or other industries.

In short, following Brexit, the UK would in theory be free to attempt to establish trade agreements with any country at all. But in practice this is likely to prove difficult.

For a decade, the World Trade Organisation has been at a standstill, and the current trend is toward mega-regional arrangements such as the EU-US TTIP trade agreement, not bi-lateral arrangements.

Indeed, the US has clearly stated that it is not interested in a bi-lateral deal, a position reinforced by President Obama visit where he clearly stated he wished to continue dealing with a UK that is part of the EU.

For all its faults, comparative advantage remains the mainstay of global trade. For Northern Ireland in particular, industry might stand to lose more than it stands to gain from EU independence.

The actual trade ‘winners’ of a Brexit would in all likelihood be Ireland, whose comparative advantages solidify.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Abucs

    I think the writer makes many fair points.

    I’d just ask people to consider the example of Japan though. Like Britain, it is a largely populated industrialised island with similar climate just off a main continent.

    Unlike Britain, it doesn’t have the advantage of speaking a well understood language or of having a long history of universal education and scientific innovation. It lacks diversity in it’s people and does not have close cultural ties with other countries.

    It has kept it’s sovereignty and does not send politicians to a supra-political union.

    Yet in a relatively short time, it seems to have done tremendously well for itself and i would say it is close to being the most developed, modern, most technically savy and most peaceful place on earth.

    Can’t Britain do the same and if not, why not? Especially with a friendly Europe on its doorstep.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The answer is that there is no reason why we can’t: except that that there has to be the political will to do so: and that rather depends upon defenestrating a political priesthood who does not understand or want to understand industry and regards science, engineering and technology as rather infra dignitatum. It will come but it will get very messy and very nasty.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Higher education, the arts, all sorts of organisations are dependant on EU funds. They think they will lose funding outside the EU. It’s a good way to ensure pro EU views. This should be kept in mind while reading FUD type pieces like this. Not many facts and figures….

  • On the fence!

    ……..or if necessary, a well placed stretch of ocean to keep us sufficiently separated from a shambolic Europe!

  • Ernekid

    A good question to ask the Brexit camp is why would anyone want to invest in a Northern Ireland outside of the EU when they could invest their money down South in the Republic of Ireland and take advantage of its EU membership?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Japan doesn’t have a track record in scientific innovation? One of the biggest electronic/semiconductor research nations in the world doesn’t have a track record in scientific innovation?

    The Country has 20-22 (if you count ancestry) Nobel Prize winners in Physics, Chemistry and Physiology and Medicine and at least 3 Fields Medal winners.

    Compulsory Universal Education was introduced in both countries in the late 19th Century.

    Japan has “continental” ties to Pacific Neighbours e.g. to Korea, to China, to Russia, the USA, and Australia. Its historical links with these nations have effected its language, its writing system, its culture, its cuisine and of course its trade.

    The Japanese language is spoken by over 125 million people, and yet we are supposed to believe that any English speaker, speaking any English accent is going to have an advantage over them. English and Japanese Bilingualism is more favored than English Monolingualism.

    It is also tied to the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) arrangement that enforces common supranational trading practices in Eastern Asia.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Higher Educational Establishments rely on international networks and collaboration, particularly highly expensive ones like physics that require large economy of scale savings that come from centralized international bodies. To dismiss this as “paid off by Brussels” is a nonsense.

    Here is the Institute of Physics defending its position.

    “We believe this evidence shows that to ensure the continued strength and success of UK physics in the event of a vote to leave the EU, priority must be given to ensuring that current collaborations and access to facilities across the EU are preserved; mitigating any reductions in funding, including (but not limited to) UK-based European facilities; and enabling UK physicists to continue to work with and recruit the best physicists, wherever they come from,” the IOP said in a statement.

    The Lords committee, which received evidence from more than 110 universities, individuals, trade organizations and learned societies, concluded in April that the “overwhelming balance of opinion” favoured remaining in the EU. “The ease with which talented researchers can move between EU member states and the UK, the EU’s fertile environment for research collaboration, harmonized regulations, access to EU research facilities and the availability of substantial funding for research combine to make EU membership a highly prized feature of the research ecosystem in the UK,” the report states.


    Alternatively you can listen to the former chairperson of Northern Rock who has opposing views on this subject.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There’s always a market for things like pay day loan companies.

    Reading some of the few reports on how to manage Brexit, relies heavily on massive work culture, political culture and public sector spending culture changes.

    Agriculture will have to go without subvention in the long term future. Universal Health Care would become limited and two-tier. Wages and Environmental protections would be cut to try to boost productivity and UK jobs would be open to more competition from outside than it will have ever been within the EU.

    These measures may boost the wealth of the nation, but rely heavily on trickle down economics to distribute the wealth.

    It is possible that a lot of these would be both austere and unpopular for a lot of people.

  • Chingford Man

    “While, for now, the UK Government has promised to continue agricultural
    support in Northern Ireland in the event of Brexit, there is no
    guarantee that this support would continue in the longer run.”

    There is also no guarantee that the EU would continue to subsidise agriculture at its present rate. The academics must have missed that obvious point.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    You can’t say it’s a nonsense when they think they’re funding money comes from outside the UK. What organisation will willingly give up most of their funding? It’s a major factor. If we say all these institutions will get an extra 10% funding on top of what comes from the EU, from the UK government when we’re out, it would put minds to rest.

    Making people dependant, or think they’re dependant on the EU state, is a way to enforce support.

    As for travel to EU based facilities, isn’t all you need a passport? If you work abroad in Europe you might need a work visa. This is just paperwork like a driving license, I have a work visa in country.

    Funding and access are no biggies.

    Are you trying to say there are no scientists working in the EU from non EU countries?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Cheap and educated labour force?

    Let’s here all your reasons for companies to invest in NI because it is part of the EU ? 🙂

  • Abucs

    ………..”Japan doesn’t have a track record in scientific innovation? ”

    Yes it does, but i didn’t say it doesn’t. Thanks for the info. My comment was it doesn’t have as long a history of scientific innovation as Great Britain – Charles Darwin, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Roger Bacon, Michael Faraday, Robert Grosseteste etc. We are talking about the length of history not the recent success rate. My point was that because Britain has had a much longer experience to these things like scientific innovation than Japan, why can’t it be as successful now as an independent Japan? In no way am I criticising or overlooking Japanese achievements. In fact Japan’s recent achievements are a main part of the point I am making.

    ……………Compulsory Universal Education was introduced in both countries in the late 19th Century.

    I am talking about a universalist commitment to the modern education, not a mandatory one. Cathedral schools sprung up over a thousand years ago and grew into the western university system whose model has been copied all throughout the world. The well known universities of Cambridge and Oxford for example are centuries old and have helped with other western universities to create the modern understanding of our world. The Japanese model at that time does not compare. That’s why they took the western model. Britain was part of a Christendom who shared and discussed scientific discoveries for centuries. Newton for example would read scientific papers from the continent and comment on them. He also wrote his thesis in Latin so it could be discussed universally across Europe from Poland to Spain.

    Popes at least a half millennia ago called on a percentage of citizens from each large town to be educated in such universities. Bishops were urged to encourage a relatively large percentage of people to the cathedral school and universities.

    …………Japan has “continental” ties to Pacific Neighbours e.g. to Korea, to China, to Russia, the USA, and Australia. Its historical links with these nations have effected its language, its writing system, its culture, its cuisine and of course its trade.

    My comment did not say Japan didn’t have “continental” ties, My comment was that it doesn’t have the cultural ties of Britain with regards to other countries. Ireland, United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and many other Commonwealth counties. For example Britain shares the same alphabet and religious tradition as a huge part of the world, has colonies around the world and has been traversing to distant continents for centuries.

    ………….It is also tied to the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) arrangement that enforces common supranational trading practices in Eastern Asia.

    Yes, my comment was that Japan doesn’t send politicians to a supranational political union. I didn’t say anything about supranational trading agreements and blocs.

    ……..The Japanese language is spoken by over 125 million people, and yet we are supposed to believe that any English speaker, speaking any English accent is going to have an advantage over them.

    Again, I didn’t say that. The English language is a much more universal business language than the Japanese language thus the English should have a clear advantage in this respect. Look at all the countries that speak English to a large degree in business circles – India, Philippines, much of Europe and North America etc etc.

    My comments of course were in no way a criticism of Japan. I simply listed what should be natural advantages of Britain over Japan and made the point that Japan is as I claimed, one of the most advanced, technologically savvy and peaceful countries.

    Japan is a great leader and success story. Cannot Britain with it’s natural advantages at least match the success story of the independent Japan? If not, why not?

  • hgreen

    For the Britexiters the economic benefits of exit are smokescreen to make it look as though they aren’t banging on about immigration all the time.

  • hgreen

    You’ve just been hoisted by your own petard mate.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Japan also has access to a lot of natural resources that the United Kingdom and indeed Europe doesn’t have access to. Europe after two world wars is more reliant on natural resourcefulness than natural resources and that is why there is heavy drives towards efficiency and renewable technology particularly from the European Union.It was one of the main reasons why European Coal & Steel Body was set up.

    Science relies on collaboration and networking, and European science even in Medieval times. There is clear evidence that the free movement of scientists as well as scientific information is a critical driving force for science throughout the middle ages.

    The reason why Newton wrote many of his works in Latin, was because this lingua franca was established centuries before him as the language of European Science. It may’ve been driven by Churches as bodies of education but the precedence was established with earlier churches.

    The Holy Roman Empire no longer exists, neither do the European Empires what we have is a collaborative secular body that has many of the strongest economies in the world working together.

    Also Moor, Arab, Persian, Hindu and Oriental mathematics and natural philosophy in both Ancient and Medieval times were particularly strong in several areas, Western Science did not either understand or take on board to much later in their developments. There is an Occidental bias here.

    Japanese modernity like European modernity was driven by religious scholarship, but in their case it was Buddhists. For all the lack of a Scientific legacy before the war Imperial Japan was considered enough of a technological threat that the US and its allies decided to nuke it.

    95% of the world does not speak English in any form, if you take Europe, North America and the South Pacific out of the equation that it is less than 1% even when you factor in India, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and all the former Commonwealth countries. Trade, Business and Industry outside the Developed world is more reliant on Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese than it is with English. There are more people with English as their first language in Barbados than there is in India.

    Speaking English offers the UK no “unique advantage” when the language itself is so common place in other countries like the USA, Australia etc. that compete against it. It would actually make more sense to praise British migration and bilingual Hindi and Cantonese speaking migrants as a competitive advantage rather than English speakers.

    Of course that may not go down well with a certain constituency that supports Brexit.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Right, is there a guarantee from anyone in the UK Leave movement with a say to try to match or improve on whatever lower rate the European Union sets agriculture subvention at in terms on relevant money/benefits/tax cuts?

    I don’t think there is.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s a nonsense because if you actually looked things up Higher Education facilities get most of their funding from the state not the European Union.

    While the UK government contribution to scientific research councils has been cut it still provides the biggest share of their income.

    {This puts them in a different situation to the farmers and fishers of Britain, who get next to nothing directly from the UK government.}

    They’ve not been “paid off by Britain” to support Brexit have they?

    So I don’t believe that saying or even doing (there has been a lot “said”) a 10% increase in Scientific investment is going to “buy off” the Scientists. It’s not simply a matter of paperwork.

    Is there still going to be German and French government and private sector investment in UK universities and research facilities, and German and French collaborations going to be made difficult through the disruption to current networks or is the UK going to build an ideological wall around itself?

    Is the UK going to withdraw from the funding and membership of EU and non-EU European based science bodies it will no longer has a say in or commit to associate membership even if they have to make a net contribution?

    Is the UK demands to cut common regulations and standards with the rest of Europe (and I say this because this often includes Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey etc.) going to harm local manufacturing and engineering and mean that scientific research contributes less.

    Ultimately while there isn’t any firm commitments on these things, there is more incentive for a top EU scientist to go to Trinity College Dublin or University College Cork than there is Queen’s University Belfast.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Why is so much of our educated labour force emigrating?

  • Ernekid

    Access to the single market, proper European standardisation and regulation, access to European business grants and funding streams, free movement of Labour enabling firms to recruit the best from across Europe.

    Lots of good reasons to invest in Northern Ireland because it’s in the EU.

  • Abucs

    Kevin I agree with a lot in the first half of your posting. I’ll leave Arab, Hindu etc maths and philosophy and how it relates to western science for another day because it is a side comment to our main conversation.

    I have been to India and you are right to say that English is not the first language of the overwhelming number of citizens. In fact I was surprised at the lack of English for the common man even if much of the signage is in English. My comment though was regarding business circles. English in these circles is very well understood whereas say Japanese is not.

    A quick look at google says that while 5% of the world has English as a first language, it is the most common second language. How many people have Japanese as a second language and can converse in it?

    This is all in the context of Britain having a huge advantage with regards to language in business over the Japanese. It is not a question of whether Britain has a comparative advantage in language over Americans or Australians, but if it has an advantage over the Japanese in business with regards to language, which it clearly does.

    I spend a lot of time in the Philippines, just south of Japan. I will be going there again in two weeks and travelling within Asia until the end of the year. The Philippines has a population getting on towards double that of England, well over 100 million people. English is part of the curriculum there, not as a foreign language but used in instruction. Many of their textbooks are in English. It is very difficult to find people who do not speak English. In some very remote areas some of the elderly do not speak English but the overwhelming number of the people know English quite well.

    In business circles the lingua franca (pardon the pun) is English and English speaking business people have a much better chance of making business contacts than the Japanese. There is also a large Korean student population in the Philippines who go there to learn to speak English in Philippine universities.

    The point is that Britain has many advantages over Japan including having a globalised language and cultural connection to much of the world that Japan does not share.

    Yet Japan is such a successful country delivering a high standard of living to its people. Cannot Britain be as successful as the independent nation of Japan?

    If not why not?

  • Chingford Man

    Of course not – because Leave is a coalition formed for the purpose of a referendum. It is not a government, it is not a political party. Your question should be directed elsewhere.

  • Chingford Man

    I think “banging on” about a new population the size of Cardiff turning up every year is a good idea.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The critical advantage you mention is speaking English, that’s great but that’s not the be all and end all.

    If I want to make say lasers and I want a supply of Yttrium for it, I’m more likely to go to Japanese market, than an English market that has lower supply. If I buy a Japanese car or Japanese computer there’s no need for me to “nihongo o hanashimasu” to get it.

    People don’t buy conversations they buy goods and services.

    We buy loads of goods overseas that don’t come from Anglophone countries.

    What makes the UK different from USA and Australia? They all have decent science levels, an upper class that benefit from stocks in commodities and outsourced industry overseas, they all have a public sector that is either being cut or remaining stagnant, they all have windbags and dubious figures trying to reach the top of power.

    Isn’t the main difference, the main advantage between the UK and Ireland compared to the USA and Australia unrestricted access to a large part of the European market?

    A Brexit may surrender that advantage.

  • Chingford Man

    Perhaps you can tell us why Europe is lagging behind every continent but Antarctica in terms of growth?

    Oh and you can recruit the brightest and best without allowing free movement of labour. Ever been to Palo Alto or Menlo Park? The US seems to do quite well without free movement of labour.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Is any political party that will guarantee they will press for equal subvention to what CAP has provided them?

    I’d even take UKIP even though they’d be gerrymandered out of government coalitions by the “democratic” Westminster system.

  • Chingford Man

    Maybe you can tell us how universal social security and healthcare can survive a population surge to 80 million. Or the effect on the environment of covering the countryside with houses for all the recent arrivals? Or, on the subject of housing, how you deal with house prices and rental inflation when demand runs far ahead of supply?

  • Ernekid

    Well in terms of pure growth it’s the reason why other continents are growing faster than Europe is because they are turning from undeveloped economies to developing economies. Europe developed in the 19th and 20th centuries as the industrial revolution took hold. This didn’t happen to the same extent in other continents. Now in the 21st century these continents are growing rapidly as they are catching up to the standards of Europe. China has gone from oxcarts and paddy fields to Mercedes Benz’s and megacities in a single generation.

    What’s happening is that the world economy is balancing out. It’s really not a hard concept to grasp.

    The USA is built on free movement of Labour between its states. It’s basically the same concept for the EU. You’re a rather silly chap Chingers.

  • Chingford Man

    Is this the same Institute of Physics that is in “partnership” with the European Commission? It sure is! Isn’t the internet wonderful. One simple search and you can see why an organisation might be in support of the corrupt racket.


  • Kevin Breslin

    Maybe British people becoming net contributors to their benefit systems the way EU migrants are? Maybe managing waste and waistlines to ensure economic damage to public and private sector industries is reduced?

    This is from a Pro-Brexit paper that suggests zero net migration would lead to the doubling of the national debt in 50 years time.

    That’s right, No migration leads to a Malthusian effect too, as productivity is estimated to diminish.

    So with that debt factored in the universal social security and healthcare would be under pressure financially and with skill shortages from lower migration.


  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s also worth noting that the fastest growing continent is Africa … they wouldn’t enter a “political union” would they?

    Oh wait they do, it’s called the African Union!

    Maybe the United Kingdom can join that instead. I’m sure the former colonies will have a laugh. 😀

  • Chingford Man

    Do you really not grasp the difference between the EU and the USA? The USA is a single country with a federal system. It does not have the income disparity within its states as, say, that between the UK and Romania.

    The EU does not dare admit to becoming a single state because that would kill it, certainly in this country.

    Oh and maybe the reason why the rest of the world is rising economically is that they don’t choose to hobble themselves in unstable and unreliable customs unions? They follow blue-blooded Thatcherism, something that people like you probably loathe.

  • Chingford Man

    The same IEA that supports Brexit?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The European Funding guide you mention says nothing about the scholarship being funded by EU funds or UK science Council funds. This is simply an advert for a scholarship in a recruitment site that has the UK and 27 other countries in it.

    It’s not unusual for countries to provide scholarship grants for international science graduates. Switzerland does.


    The primary source of money for the Institute of Physics is the UK government Science Council.and draws funding from a range of global sources.

    And let’s be honest here, Nigel Farage is paid by “Brussels” too, as is Daniel Hannan, and they a heck of a lot more than a scientific post-doctoral researcher gets.

  • Kevin Breslin

    That was the point, Chingford Man … its analysis says zero net migration causes debt in the United Kingdom economy, Brexit or not.

    The UK needs workers to drive down costs in public sector provision and the provision of workers that migration as well as the native population’s efforts can provide that, as the UK population gets older demographically. Of course Emigration of Brits to the rest of the EU (and elsewhere) deals with the latter a bit.

    The UK could be like the Dutch and introduce euthanasia but that’s a different argument.

  • Angry Mob

    Again, you’re conflating the EU with the single market. It is most likely that after the UK leaves the EU that we will still be in the EEA thus giving Ireland no distinct advantage.

    Where NI will eventually benefit is after FTAs are agreed; companies who locate here will have access not just to the entire single market but more countries via the negotiated deals.


  • Angry Mob

    The AU isnt a supranational political union that the EU is.

  • Angry Mob

    The only political party in a position to offer that is the Conservatives, so if we get a leave vote we will certainly find out but Cameron has already said: “If Britain votes to leave we would have to put in place an agricultural support system. I am very pro-countryside and pro-farming and, as Prime Minister, I would make sure that happens.”

  • aquifer

    Economic benefits of Brexit? I look at the people promoting it and expect austerity and a massive cut in Northern Ireland subsidy. I am voting no to self-flagellation.

  • Chingford Man

    Yeah, I think the “Ponzi Scheme” model to protect social security by importing people has been discredited long ago, because there is no end to the people you have to import for it to work. Do I really have to explain to you why it is a bad idea?

  • Chingford Man

    Objective 2 of the African Union:

    “To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.”


    So nothing like the EU then.

    Luckily for you there’s no EU fishing quota for red herrings.

  • Chingford Man

    Newcastle University’s research funding:

    “We receive funding from a wide variety of funders worldwide, including
    Research Councils, major charities, European Union, UK government
    departments and industry.”

    Newcastle Uni took £15 million from the EU in 2014-5.

    Durham Uni also takes EU money, e.g. for its Modern Languages Department.


    I could look up more, but it’s bedtime.

  • Kevin Breslin

    If you want to call it a Ponzi scheme then the ones in the Ponzi scheme are the hard working migrants filling the gaps in the UK economy in everything from healthcare to the migration services, rather than the natives.

    After all EU migrants are net tax contributors in the UK, covering any benefits that is taken from the UK system.

    Of course money circulates it isn’t consumed like food, so you have to be careful about saying money is a finite resource, it is the circulation of that drives the wage incentive that makes people provide things like labour, raw materials, energy sources etc.

  • Abucs

    ……People don’t buy conversations they buy goods and services.

    I didn’t say people buy conversations but businessmen need to converse at some stage of the process. The more conversation, the more opportunities. They need to be comfortable in learning and understanding the other’s law. They need to know the local set up sufficiently well to trust the other parties. Take the Philippines again for example which is on the doorstep of Japan, or maybe Hong Kong or Malaysia etc. Business people and politicians there socialise by playing tennis or golf. During this process European, African etc businessmen speak English to form friendships and business networks. The Japanese even learnt golf to try and break into these networks. The English speaker does this naturally. Many more contacts and opportunities flow to the English speaker because of such language advantages.

    Kevin, I have listed many advantages. Language is one of them. No one is saying iit is the ‘be all and end all’. You keep supposing things I didn’t say.

    Another example is that I specifically said my comments and question have nothing to do with comparing the UK and USA or Australia.

    One last time and then I’ll retire if there is no progress. The comment is that Britain has many advantages over Japan and the question is why can’t Britain be as successful as an independent Japan?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The EU hasn’t redefined the territory of any country, and when it comes to the UK’s sovereignty the fact is that Westminster doesn’t put sovereignty issues like trade treaties and common social policy treaties towards the people the way other nations in the European Union do.

    The “treaties in palaces” mentality the UK has is not going to change unless there is UK reform. Brexit has no promise of such a thing.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Sorry, it is a supranational political union … it has a common market and common social policies and countries pulling funds together to make common continental infrastructure.

    It is pretty much like the EEC was.

  • Abucs

    Since you are focusing on language let me tell you about the international business community i regularly visit in the Philippines, on the doorstep of Japan. The language of the community is English. It involves dozens of good quality houses built by a Dutchman.

    He needed to speak English to all the tradesmen. politicians and land councils in order to purchase land and build his compound.

    He needs to speak English to interact with the international business community who are his clients. He is a friend of mine. He gets many business ideas and sometimes wants to apply for patents. He tells me the international patent application process is in English and has offered me 50% in joint ventures just because i can understand and write in ‘legalised’ English to a high degree.

    There are business people in the compound who have set up call centres (in English of course) that cater for a large market from the UK to Australia. One of those business people has offered me a job as the local sales representative in a certain region.

    There is another group of American and English business people in the compound that have created a business to source income from all around the world (in English) from Saudi Arabia to Canada to invest in government backed business ventures.

    There is a South African who is looking to import motorcycles from (as it happens) Japan and sell them at the median price level throughout the Philippines. He has to know the local law and regulations (in English), grease the correct politicians and speak with independent dealers across the Philippines to convince them of stocking his product. He can do this more easily than the Japanese because he speaks English.

    This is just one example of a country on the very doorstep of Japan with over 100 million people.

    Speaking English in business is a big advantage in international relations and why so many send their kids to learn English as a second language at International schools. English language education is another business opportunity for the English speaker. I was recently accepted to teach science at an International school in the Philippines although due to other circumstances i will probably have to decline. I got the opportunity while playing tennis with the mayor of a Philippine city and meeting his friend, a Philippino businessman whose sister in law founded and runs the English speaking international school.

    Japan is at a disadvantage globally compared to the UK when it comes to many things including language. Yet they are doing fantastically well as an independent country.

    Please notice that nowhere in my posts have i said Britain should be an independent country. I am simply asking the question why it can’t be as successful as Japan if it decides to be independent of the EU.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The UK isn’t Japan, and is not going to do the things that Japan does to make itself successful. Boris was right, it’s not the EU that was holding the UK back but it is its own attitude, and a Brexit may entrench all the negatives of that attitude that render it unproductive.

    The simple comparison is why can it not be more like Germany while within the European Union, when Germany has all the supposed disadvantages of not having its own currency, having “open door” migration with Poland and other Eastern European nations, having to be the main creditor to Greece, Portugal and Spain etc. Germany’s growth may be lower than the UK’s, but its productivity is higher than the UK’s.

    There’s no comparative advantage to be found simply doing what Greenland, the Faroes and to some extent Norway did simply by choosing not to be in the European Union. Someone has to physically make these advantages a reality, I honestly don’t see how for the ordinary person in the street where Brexit is going to change their life.

    Migration is going to remain a problem, Austerity is going to remain a problem to the point the EU net contribution, which only half is likely to be returned isn’t going to make a dent in it, and all these Free Trade Agreements are something that is going to serve the interests of the elites of the country. All the Human Rights issues are not going to be anything that favours the common man, or seats on international bodies they already have and are hardly going to use differently.

    A large section of the population are probably not going to vote because this is about separatism for a section of the people who are middle to upper class who have something rather than actual independence for those that have little.

    I don’t see much “Independence” in the Leave campaign, it couldn’t even come up with a White Paper like the SNP did. There are two papers on Brexit, and in all likelihood one of these two would probably constitute the plan.

    In a nutshell the United Kingdom is not going to get any success without hard working tangible measures being carried out for it.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    How so?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    To get jobs I’d guess ????
    You would link this to EU membership how?

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Reason FAIL !!

    Every country in the world has access to the single market. Do you know a country that is blocked from selling to EU countries?

    Shot yerself in the foot here….. EU standards and regulation HURTS business, it doesn’t help it ! Meeting 367 regulations on door knobs costs money that small business can’t afford. So only the biggest companies can trade in the EU. This is in Brexit The Movie, you have watched it, right?

    EU grants and funds are less than we pay into the EU. Come on! This has been said a million times! Out of EU = MORE money available for grants and funds.

    There is free movement of labour all round the world already. Including into the EU. It’s called getting a job and a work visa, like I have!! Anyway, Irish people go to Australia or the US, get a job (with work visa), then have a nice life ????

    Sooooo, want to try again? ????

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Lol !

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Sooooo, you’re saying immigration can’t be talked about? I bet you’re gagging to shout ‘racist’ in true ‘social justice warrior’ style.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We have a Eurosceptic lead local government who’s main argument is trying to make Northern Ireland work, yet turns a blind eye to skilled Northern Ireland workers emigrating and complains about migrants, even those coming in to fill skill gaps and fund university places, complain about refugees as if it’s altruistic to do so.

    Even immigrants to Northern Ireland end up emigrating after a short time.

  • Chingford Man

    What are you going on about?

    Do you really not understand the difference between the EU and other multilateral bodies such as the CSCE, Council of Europe, African Union, UN, etc.?

    Or do you understand the difference well enough?

    The EU is all about the unification of Europe into one single self-governing state. That is what the original Treaty of Rome was about and only that explains everything done since.

    If you think that is a good thing, go ahead and argue on that basis. Just don’t try to obscure the issue with irrelevancies such as the procedures by which member states incorporate EU treaties into their domestic law.

  • Chingford Man

    Point out to us where the Treaty on European Union refers to defending the sovereignty and independence of member states.

  • Chingford Man

    How were all the “gaps” filled before 2004? By British people. The expansion of the labour force, as a result of immigration, drives down wages to the point where there is no incentive to take a job when social security pays about the same for no actual work.

    Oh and you are very naive (now there’s a surprise) if you think there isn’t a well-developed cash-in-hand sector in the economy where no tax is lifted.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There’s a whole matter of forcing square British pegs in British round holes when you say all the gaps were being filled by the Britons. Look at Northern Ireland, it doesn’t even have a pediatric cardiology surgeon anymore.

    That is the depressing reality of thinking every person can fill every job. We live in a competitive globalized world where jobs for life don’t exist and poor performance in the workplaces that may result in dismissal are not fixed by patriotism.

    It’s easier to want people deported than to want to help someone get a job and stay in it. Employers who cannot find the labour they want in one country are likely to go elsewhere, even taking the whole company with them as they go.

  • Chingford Man

    To answer my own question, of course the jobs were done by Brits. After all, potatoes and vegetables didn’t lie rotting in the fields of east Anglia until the eastern Europeans turned up post-2004. Your reference to highly skilled surgeons is just another red herring. No one has a problem with recruiting foreigners to highly skilled medical positions. But that does not require an open door immigration policy, as forced upon us by the EU.

  • Angry Mob

    The AU may be an intergovernmental union but it is not a supranational union.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think the migration policy has largely been driven by British government and British companies because people wouldn’t spend so much money travelling large distances otherwise.

    To me when you compare the relatively low migration to Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and Scotland which have the whole “open door” migration, it stands to reason this is primarily an English based problem, and I would actually say an English generated problem.

    It is also current UK government policy to have agricultural workers as a skill shortage for taking migrant workers outside of the EU. Of course you would think it would be easier to get a local to do these jobs at minimum wage than a migrant to do it.

    People get points on the UK points system for saying they are an agricultural worker. The irony being, if there’s a Brexit, Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish or heck Irish agricultural workers in England will simply be encouraged to do the same job, but may need to get a work permit to do so. Brexit offers no deterrent.

    The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) the UK employs takes in migrants from non-EU Ukraine for crying out loud.

    AS much as people say, well we can do these jobs, there’s an unwillingness, whether that’s due to travel or relocation, or whatever other factor, not to do these jobs. Ironically, the English ability not to “migrate” within England to get a job, could be a critical factor.

    The English love affair with migration started long before the collapse of empire and migrant UK citizens coming to the UK. Daily Mail may try to milk the anger of the working classes with this, but they are probably facilitating the companies that take in migrant labour to fill gaps.

    Consumers are happy to pay for cheap imports that don’t even have any money going towards UK based migrants who spend the vast majority of their money in the UK.

    Global capitalism isn’t going to be reversible for at least 50-100 years. Concerned consumers could let their purchases do the talking to ensure job creation, rather than going for bargain bucket cheap imports

  • Kevin Breslin

    Actually based on the GINI index the United Kingdom has greater income disparity within itself than Romania does. And the Bucharest region is richer than Northern Ireland per capita., heck Cyprus and Estonia are almost richer than Northern Ireland is per capita.


  • Kevin Breslin

    Farage gets EU money, your point is useless.

    The Research Council/Business Industry and Skills is the main source of income for universities,paid by UK taxpayers.

    Then there is tuition fees etc.

  • John Collins

    I was in London in the late sixties and the building sites, pubs, the hotels and the hospitals seemed to be full of Irish workers.There was also Italian, Portugese, Spanish and Polish workers one encountered. I think it is obvious how the ‘gaps’ were filled.

  • Abucs

    Kevin, asking why Britain can’t be more like an EU Germany is completely relevant and fair. So is asking the question why Britain can’t be more like an independent Japan.
    I’ve asked several times now and it appears there is little willingness to engage. ok, so be it..