Jezza, you’re wrong: single market won’t nix your plans

by Hugo Dixon | 24.09.2017

Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today that he is worried single market rules on state aid would stop Labour pursuing its policies. This isn’t true.

The party could pursue virtually everything in its 2017 election manifesto without running up against EU rules. So this is not a good argument to stop Labour embracing the single market as a permanent arrangement, as more than 40 senior party figures argued this morning – or even staying in the EU completely if voters change their minds.

A report published in Renewal last week by two experts in EU law analysed the manifesto’s economic measures and found that 17 don’t even fall within the state aid rules. Another seven, such as the promise of more infrastructure spending, are likely to be exempt from the rules. Only two, the proposed state investment bank and regional energy suppliers, would even have to be notified to Brussels; and these could probably be structured in such a way that they got the green light.

Corbyn told Marr that he would have wanted to subsidise the steel industry. While that might have fallen foul of EU rules, he should realise that state aid could also contravene World Trade Organisation rules. If we sprayed subsidies at failing industries post-Brexit, we’d be rapidly shut out of both world markets and the EU’s market. That would be bad for jobs.

The Labour leader should also understand that the EU’s rules are designed to ensure fair play. They make it harder for multinationals to shop around to find the country willing to give them the biggest bribe.

The rules also make it harder for foreign countries to dump their subsidised goods on our market. It’s true that the EU didn’t stop Chinese steel dumping. But that’s because the Tory government blocked its proposals. The idea that the UK on its own would be better able to stand up to Beijing is for the birds.

Corbyn explained his concerns about the state aid rules by pointing to Greece’s inability to spend money as freely as it wishes to. But even he knows this is a bad argument. Athens is under special supervision, because the eurozone bailed it out after a massive debt crisis. This example is totally irrelevant to us. We are not even a member of the euro.

The Labour leader also said the EU pressurised countries to privatise their industries. He has got the wrong end of the stick here too. There are over 800 companies with state ownership in the EU, according to the Renewal report. The UK is the outlier in having so few.

Corbyn says he doesn’t want Britain post-Brexit to become an offshore tax haven or to see a race to the bottom in protections for consumers, workers or the environment. What he doesn’t seem to realise is that EU membership is the best guarantee against this happening. By standing shoulder to shoulder with like-minded countries, we are better able to resist the worst ravages of globalisation.

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    Edited by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

    4 Responses to “Jezza, you’re wrong: single market won’t nix your plans”

    • Does Corbyn read this sort of article? If not, can he be asked to? Does he really believe what he says about EU restricting their ability to implement their manifesto or does he have a hidden agenda?

      How can it be made clear to the frightened electorate that our internal problems with housing, NHS and jobs were created by the policies of the current government, not migrant workers?

    • You’re wrong.
      The EU would prevent a return to Socialism, scrapping Austerity and nationalisation.
      After all, they did it to Greece:
      Overthrowing a democratically elected government: regime change is supposed to be illegal, but the EU did it.

    • I have always been a Conservative voter, until I lost my right to vote – 15-year rule, my husband and I moved to France just on 20-years ago to help with his various ailments, we thought we were helping the UK NHS because the climate and lack of stress certainly has worked wonders. Now, however, like so many people I pray that the UK Government will listen to the British people, the government and their cronies tell Stephen Dorrell, European Movement UK chair and Conservative former health secretary, that he is flying in the face of democracy because he is an ARDENT REMAINER; but as he says ” What is undemocratic about changing your mind?” Nothing at all, we have the right if we are buying something from a salesman under the Consumer Protection Act. Surely, we should have some sort of protection and the right to change our minds with something as important as leaving the EU? David Davis is also famous now for saying that if a Democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy! What are they so afraid of – Nigel Farge; Boris Johnson, David Davis, Amber Rudd, Michael Gove and the BNP and such likes – would the government really destroy the UK rather than sit back and think abut what they are doing?

    • Here in North Wales our local paper has reported that the Welsh Government, led by the Labour Party, has agreed a budget that includes £30 million for a power plant at Tata Steel in Port Talbot. Now as we are still in the EU and the Welsh Government will have done its homework, I assume there are no significant difficulties with EU regulations in making this capital payment to the steel industry.

      This backs-up Hugo Dixon’s article and the conclusion that JC has got it wrong.