Now it's Japan's turn: Honda in latest scare story over UK relationship to Brussels

Honda is putting out a confused message on what Britain should do about it's relationship with the EU. They'd probably do better to sit this one out

by Yorker on 12 January 2013 05:32

It's been quite a week for the British debate on our relationship with Europe. Scare stories all over the place. The Germans have been poking their noses in. The Americans too. Nick Clegg (well, I suppose he has the right to). Whoever next? Why, the Japanese of course.

As ever, the alarmist message is more than a little garbled. I'm not convinced that the Telegraph's headline -- Britain must stay at heart of EU, says Honda UK boss -- is fully justified by the content of the article. At least on the version I'm reading, there isn't actually a quotation saying that Britain must stay at the heart of Europe.

But there is one making the point more conditionally. Or is that right? As I say, the message is a bit garbled:

"It depends on what’s negotiated," Honda UK boss Dave Hodgetts was quoted by the paper as saying. "There would have to be a penalty to being outside rather than inside; that’s the risk I think".

To the first bit, well quite. It depends on what's negotiated. To the second bit, but there isn't a penalty for Switzerland or Norway for being outside. Why should there be one for Britain?

More broadly, since they cannot know what would be negotiated, why did Honda decide to get involved? Do they think we're not aware of the concept that trade barriers could harm British industry? Of course we are. It's just that we have concrete, real world examples of countries that have forged free trade deals with the EU without being fully paid up members. 

In fact, if you take a look at this document from the European Commission, you'll see that Brussels is in the process of negotiating free trade deals all over the world.

Honda don't write the headlines at the Daily Telegraph of course. But they must know that this is a neuralgic issue in Britain and is prone to be pounced upon. One can't help but feel that they've either been manipulated into getting involved, or that they've blundered their way out of their depth.

Now, here's a parting thought for our friends from the US, Germany and now Japan. We believe in free speech. In fact, we can make a good claim to having invented it. So, say what you like.

But hear this. We've given this issue a lot of thought. Really. In fact, we've certainly given it a lot more thought than you have.

Whatever alarmist message you're trying to put out there, be aware that it won't wash. Indeed, for many of us, it will make us more determined than ever.

So, think before you speak...especially if you're a foreign car manufacturer. You do have the right to speak your mind, but if you speak out against our vital national interests, we also reserve the right to boycott your cars in protest...just saying.....

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