Yesterday I was reminded of the old proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, as James Cleverly, the Tory MP for Braintree whose mother was from Sierra Leone waded into the referendum debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Cleverly eloquently made the case that outside of the European Union, Britain could help see an end to protectionist trade policies which harm developing countries and economies like those in Africa. I did ponder over why there was not a similar crusade of virtue signalling for those African farmers who are not subsidised by the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy which has long subsidised continental European farmers to produce too much food and create a surplus which distorts African markets. There certainly was against the Chinese for dumping steel onto the market which has been the nail in the coffin for Britain’s long declining steel industry.
Research by Harvard University Professor, Calestous Juma, found that in 2014 the continent of Africa made just under £1.6 billion from coffee exports while Germany made £2.6 billion from exporting the drink – despite not growing coffee itself. More often than not companies in Europe buy cheap raw materials to produce chocolate while preventing potential competitors in developing countries from entering the market. All whilst receiving continued taxpayer funded subsidies in the name of an insular and protectionist European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy.
The European Union’s extortionate tariffs and relentless protectionism has ensured that Africa, as a continent which imports over 80% of its food, has an estimated 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable farmland and with millions of people able to work on the land, remains unable to feed and sustain itself.
Jeremy Corbyn vowed to be the saviour of British steel as he said he is prepared to go to Beijing if necessary: “The Chinese President invited us and I said that as long as we were allowed to raise human rights and steel we’d go.” The chances of hard left Corbyn reviving the slow death of British steel that has been happening for decades are about as likely as the Chinese giving the slightest damn about what a weak Leader of the Opposition has to say about their human rights record.
Whilst we cannot save British steel, we can rescue these African farmers from the depths of despair. The United Kingdom has long championed free trade in the world economy and as the world’s fifth largest economy we are in a position to use that economic clout to liberalise trade with African countries and allow the natural wonders of free trade to boost and create easy access to markets for everyday Africans.
Taking back control on the 23rd of June would enable us to reject the EU’s strangling tariffs and regulation and once again be the founder of free trade agreements which we know will help to spread the value of freedom, reinforce the rule of law, and foster economic development in poor countries.
Not only is our current Eurocentric trade policy morally wrong, but it goes against everything that the United Kingdom has stood for throughout its history. David Cameron himself told Africa that it was ‘trade not aid’ which would lead to sustainable and long term economic growth in the continent, perhaps the Prime Minister should remain true to that promise and allow for a fair fight in this referendum.
A fair fight for those of us free marketeers who would welcome the ushering in of a Britain which is an internationalist, liberalising and force for democratic good in an increasingly globalised world economy. Globalisation has ensured that more and more issues are tackled at a global level, instead of a European level.
Gone are the days when regional blocs seemed to be the future. Britain’s future should be one as a Global force for good, creating opportunities at home and abroad instead of slumping into the back seat of a tariff-happy, protectionist and unresponsive European Union.