Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Morgan Griffith Explains "Brexit"

From U.S.Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:


On February 20, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that on June 23, a referendum will be held on whether Britain would remain part of the European Union (EU) or if it will depart and exit the EU, commonly known in the United Kingdom as “Brexit.” This announcement follows an EU summit in Brussels at which Cameron had renegotiated Britain’s membership in the EU, which reportedly would grant his country with special status in the EU should it remain part of the EU.

Britain’s relationship with the EU has been and continues to be a significant, divisive issue in British politics. Some are of the belief that Britain has been pushed around by the EU, and hasn’t received a fair deal. Others, including the Prime Minister, advocate remaining in the EU, arguing among other things that it is important to Britain’s security and its economy.

Comments on this debate by United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman indicate that the US would not be interested in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Britain should it leave the EU. He said, “We're not particularly in the market for FTAs with individual countries. We're building platforms ... that other countries can join over time.”

Further, he said, “We have no FTA with the U.K. so they would be subject to the same tariffs – and other trade-related measures – as China, or Brazil or India.”

I am disappointed by these comments, which appear to be veiled threats against one of our oldest allies and friends. The special relationship that exists between the United States and the United Kingdom is of great importance to both nations. I am of the belief that Froman should not have made these remarks, and that the United States ought not meddle in Britain’s internal political affairs. Instead, Britain should be left to make its own determinations.

After all, we are a nation founded in part because the British wouldn’t let us independently make decisions on such issues as levels of taxation.

As I reflect on this situation, I can’t help but note that I am writing this column on February 22, the anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Washington, as you may know, was initially a loyal British subject before he later would become known as the father of the United States.

It is not the place of the US government to interfere in Britain’s internal matters, just as we would not want Her Majesty’s government to interfere in those of our own.

Nor should we punish our ally and friend Great Britain should its people vote to leave the EU. Further, if they decide to Brexit and leave the EU, we should immediately grant Great Britain trade agreements similar to those granted the nations of the EU.

In a letter to President Obama in early November, I expressed my concerns about Froman’s comments. I noted that the United Kingdom is our seventh largest trading partner, accounting for approximately $54 billion in exports in 2014 alone. We should continue to have good trading relations with our friend and ally no matter what Britain’s voters decide to do in regards to their membership in the EU.

Additionally, while some argue that the EU and Great Britain are both stronger if they remain united, let us recall the Continental System of Napoleon in the first decade and a half of the 19th Century. That system was designed in part to economically unify Europe to the detriment of the British. These efforts were not successful. Not only did the British defeat Napoleon, but the British economy was the strongest in the world for most of the 19th Century.

Instead of interfering in Britain’s business, let’s trust the British voters to make their own decisions. Once again, an overreaching Obama Administration is attempting to meddle in areas in which it probably has no business meddling.

Traveling Staff Office Hours

To better serve you, my staff and I travel regularly through the Ninth District to attend meetings or events and to hold traveling staff office hours. At traveling staff office hours, we meet with constituents, help interact with federal agencies, and/or listen to constituents’ opinions on legislative matters. A complete schedule of upcoming traveling staff office hours is available on my website, www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.