Brexit is on the horizon. However two years of tedious debate has been exclusively focussed on the mechanics of leaving and whether it’s even worthwhile. None of us can remember a time since the campaign when anybody, seriously, talked about thing great things we can do with the powers we’ll get back.
We’ve taken the opportunity presented by the second anniversary of the referendum to outline what is possible now that we’re leaving and what ‘taking back control’ could mean.
1. Gradually phasing out VAT
Did you ever wonder what the government did to deserve the extra 20% they slap on the value of everything you buy? Or why they want to increase the price of the things you sell beyond the point where they are sellable?
Well the answer is that the EU made them.
As a regressive form of taxation it hits the poorest hardest because it’s based on spending rather than income. The amount a millionaire spends on a day-to-day item is the same as someone on minimum wage. The poorest 10% of households pay more than 20% of their gross incomes on duties and VAT – twice the average.
We can’t afford to scrap it straight away – more’s the pity – though we should immediately lower it to a point in the Laffer curve where both consumption and income rises, with a view to eradicating it completely as debt falls and the state becomes smaller.
2. Scrapping Air Passenger Duty on internal flights
HS2 stands to cut the average journey time from London to Glasgow by a whopping 30 minutes, to Liverpool by 32 minutes and Newcastle by 33 minutes. What economic benefit these cities are meant to derive from this is unclear.
Air Passenger Duty has been creeping up for years. Like VAT, it is strongly regressive. While scrapping the tax for internal flights won’t make flights quicker they will certainly make them cheaper and, eventually, more frequent. As compared to the HS2 method of making the UK smaller, it’s cost neutral for taxpayers.
3. Getting out of the European Arrest Warrant
You can’t remain judicially independent and stay in the European Arrest Warrant mechanism. The EAW sends Britons abroad to face political show trials in places where human rights are described as a ’theoretical luxury’. To take back control, we simply must leave.
4. Duty Free
We would ditch sin taxes in a minute however it’s very unlikely that any government of any hue will agree with us. For now. Despite the obvious opportunities to get around punitive levels of taxation presented by the return of duty free shopping, there is some economic value. The ferry industry suffered when duty free was scrapped. The UK Chamber of Shipping is already salivating at the prospect.
5. Weights and measures? Your choice mate
We can’t get too excited about pounds and ounces but if you want to use them, go for it.