Conservatives must beware Brexit fundamentalism

Nick Herbert MP, who chaired the Conservative IN campaign during the referendum, has written an article for the Guardian which lays bare his concerns about a hard Brexit and urges Conservatives not to seek the most ‘brutal severance [from the EU] with the least advantage to us and the most potential economic damage.’

Nick Herbert MP, former Chair of Conservative IN and supporter of the Open Britain campaign, writes in the article:

“Most Remain campaigners, and a clear majority of the public, have accepted the public’s verdict. The question is not whether we leave the EU but on what terms.

“Conservatives must beware Brexit fundamentalism, or giving themselves up to a romanticised 1950s vision of Britain, a country of imperialist chauvinism.

“The idea of Britain as a global trading nation reborn, turning away from an ailing Europe, may superficially be seductive. But our markets on the continent did not suddenly vanish in an act of democratic will. Our businesses still export there. Inward investors with plants in the UK – major companies like Nissan – still want to sell there, and they are worried.

“It’s folly to believe that new trade deals are a simple or swift substitute for unhindered access to the world’s largest market of 500 million people on our doorstep, a bloc with which we do half our trade.

“We must above all drive the most advantageous deal possible with Europe. It’s not just a question of ensuring that tariff barriers remain down. The Single Market removes non-tariff barriers, too, while being in the Customs Union makes it far easier for businesses to sell into Europe.

“Britain is big enough to drive its own bespoke deal. It’s hard to see why it’s wise or attractive to say that what we want from the outset is the most brutal severance with the least advantage to us and the most potential economic damage.

“The risk is that important concerns about the long-term impacts of a hard Brexit will be dismissed.

“Leaving without being able to reassure inward investors or the financial services industry that they will be able do business as usual would be a catastrophe.”


Nick Herbert’s full piece for the Guardian can be read here:

And the Guardian’s write up of Nick’s piece can be seen here: