Many people reacted angrily when President Barack Obama called for Britain to remain a member of the European Union. Brexit campaigners such as Boris Johnson were quick to seize upon this intervention by noting that the European Union currently does not have a trade deal with the United States. That is correct. Nonetheless, such a trade deal is currently being negotiated by the United States and the EU, and it is commonly referred to as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The Remain campaign has been awfully silent about it, but whether you are on the right or the left of the political spectrum, you should be deeply concerned about TTIP.
Firstly, TTIP is a trade deal designed to reduce the regulatory obstacles to trade for big businesses. This includes environmental legislation, food safety law, and the sovereign power of individual nations. One of the central components of TTIP is to implement an Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which enables large companies to sue democratically elected governments. Whether you or love or loathe the current UK government, it would severely damage our democracy if a US company could challenge the sovereign will of our elected government. Those on the left and the right of the political spectrum should unite in agreement that, regardless of your opinion about big businesses, they certainly have no right to challenge Europe’s governments. This is free market capitalism gone mad.
The European Union has recently confessed that TTIP would shake up the employment market, causing many jobs to be relocated from Europe to the United States. It would also potentially open-up the EU to the stunted worker protection policies seen in the US. The left surely cannot support the European Union as long as it threatens to curb worker rights and redistribute jobs.
Moreover, for those of you that fear a repeat of the 2007-2008 banking crisis, TTIP will reduce the banking regulations that were implemented in the wake of the crash. If we vote to leave the European Union, we do not have to abide by TTIP banking regulations and we can allow the Bank of England to once again sensibly regulate our banks.
The United States’ food and environmental regulations are much less strict than those currently seen in the European Union. TTIP will attempt to align the standards of the two continents under dangerously lapse American rules. The United States has only banned 12 cosmetic products. Many on the right argue that the European Union goes overboard with its regulations, and rightly so – the EU bans over 1,000 substances. However, if we vote to leave, we will be able to introduce sensible food regulations, not relying on the United States or the European Union to do that for us.
Finally, what about our most precious institution, the NHS? Those on the left and the right value our NHS. It has dutifully operated in the interest of the British people for decades, and has saved countless lives in the process. One of the stipulations of TTIP is that monopoly markets (such as the NHS) should be opened up to foreign competition. This could pave the way for NHS privatisation. Unless we managed to somehow magically opt-out of TTIP, this change would be irreversible. Indeed, if a government attempted to renationalise the health service, the private health companies could file a lawsuit on the basis that their profits would be damaged.
Regardless of your political perspective, all should agree that TTIP is enough reason to vote to leave the European Union. The right should be worried that TTIP will challenge sovereign governments and threaten our democratic way of life. For the left, TTIP is free market capitalism gone too far. And for every Briton concerned about our economic future, just remember that TTIP has the potential to grease the wheels of another banking crisis. That is an event none of us are keen to repeat.