Western unity is important

Mr Barry Jones (Why do we need political EU? 4 March) is right.

Companies in other EU countries would want to go on trading with the UK (or what may be left of it).

But although half our trade is with EU countries where only 10 per cent of all EU trade is done with UK.

So if we were to leave the EU and in time and negotiate a new free trade agreement (FTA) what terms will we have to accept?

As Mr Jones calls it, ‘tiny EFTA’, that is Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have FT agreements with the EU but they have to follow EU rules and make a contribution to the EU budget.

The Norwegian Prime Minister pointed out a month ago that she didn’t think Norway’s EFTA arrangement would work for the UK.

Mr Jones claims that the EU does not believe in global free trade.

It has at least 30 free trade agreements (including those with non-EU countries in Europe) and with countries in the rest of the world (the EU/Canada agreement was signed in 2014).

As for the negotiations for a FTA with India, any negotiation can stall or fail, as Britain might find out if we leave.

The EU is also a strong supporter of multilateral trade liberalisation in the World Trade Organisation where it can bring its economic and, yes, its political weight to bear in negotiation.

Finally, it is perfectly possible for NATO to have strong forces but it is only effective if its member countries act together across the board, including politically, not just in military matters.

The danger is that Brexit will at best divert the EU’s attention from the global economic and political threats which we face and at worst begin a process that will destroy that western unity which NATO needs to face those threats.

I think that might make Mr Putin very happy.

Hugh Arbuthnott

Caldbec Hill


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