Foreign affairs

A global future

We support the UK being an outward looking country that supports free trade and globalisation. With the UK exiting the European Union, although we do not take a view on the UK’s EU membership, we feel the UK should align itself to the European Free Trade Association.

Sections:

  • All UK wide.

Require a vote by the House of Commons on all new Free Trade Deals and trade deals. Whenever a new free trade deal or trade deal is agreed, the UK parliament must agree to the new deal. This will ensure the house of commons always has the final say over these deals.

Support a Single International Organisation to Run Economic Cooperation. We support the; International Standards Organisation, CODEX and the WTO being amalgamated into the United Nations regional bodies. We would seek to replace regional blocs like NAFTA with three broad stages of integration. The first will be equivalent to having a free trade deal with the other countries in the bloc, the second a bloc with no trade barriers to goods, services or capital and the third an economic union like the EU. This would also involve the United Nations being strengthened so it can play a large role in promoting peace around the world and allow different groups to appeal to the United Nation more effectively when they feel they have been mistreated.

Apply to be an Observer Member of the Nordic Council. We feel that the UK should join the Nordic council as an associated member as long as this doesn’t involve free movement. As the UK would be copying the Nordic model in much of its economic and state structures, it is only right that the UK deepens cooperation with these countries. If the UK leaves the EU it would provide the UK with continued ties to the Nordic countries, something EFTA membership would also help to strengthen.

Agree New Free Trade Deals Across the World. The UK should begin free trade negotiations with countries around the world to lower or abolish tariffs and non-tariff barriers. This will hopefully start to from a base of EFTA’s set of free trade deals if we join the organisation. New agreements should especially focus on developing countries as whilst aid is important in the short term, in the long-term, trade is incredibly valuable for helping these economies. This will boost the UK economy and the economies of countries we sign free trade deals with.

Our Foreign Aid Budget Should be 1% of Gross National Income. We believe in increasing our aid budget slightly from its current level of 0.7% of GNP to 1% of GNP. We also support a review into how the UK’s foreign aid spending can be improved and where it should be invested.

Allow Asylum Seekers to Work. Currently, most asylum seekers aren’t allowed to work meaning they are forced to rely on the small amount of money given to them by the government. This can mean asylum seekers are pushed into poverty but also that this system unnecessarily costs the taxpayer money. This should also include those who are refused asylum in the UK but aren’t able to return home at that time.

A capped and skills-based immigration system. We support a cap on immigration set by a parliamentary debate each year and a points-based immigration system. The points-based system will be configured based on what skills shortages need to be filled which should include consultations with businesses and public services. This system would also prioritise family reunification.

Remove Students from Immigration Statistics. This is due to the high numbers of students that leave the UK after their studies are completed and that students also often only stay a few years.

European Free Trade Association:

Re-Join the European Free Trade Association. The UK was a founding member of EFTA which should make it easier to re-join the organisation. EFTA membership will also give the UK free trade deals negotiated by EFTA as a group along with the ability to negotiate its own free trade deals outside of these. Membership would also give the UK a say in the EFTA and EEA institutions.

Re-join the Single Market. The UK should also re-join the EEA (Single Market) which can be accessed through EFTA membership. This would mean only accepting laws relating to Single Market participation, a large proportion of which comes from global bodies making the UK’s relationship with the EU simply an economic one. While we would participate in the Single Market we would be outside the Common Agricultural policy, the common fisheries policy, the EU’s security policies, EU foreign policy, justice policies and home affairs policies. Although the UK would be outside all these areas, we would still be free to agree deals with the EU on these areas. Re-joining in the Single Market would also mean many of the economic aspects of our EU relationship would remain the same.

Have a Say on EU Laws Both in Global Bodies and in the EU. We would be able to influence new EU laws during their early stages inside the EU and we would have the ability to reject any new EU laws in the EFTA council. However, the UK must choose what laws it contests carefully as the EU does have the ability to retaliate against the use of these measures. Many EU laws also come from global bodies where the UK would have a full vote, seat, the ability to propose new laws and where decisions are made unanimously, a deciding vote.

Participate in EU Agencies. We should seek to remain part of the European Medicines Agency and other relevant agencies to the UK; although agency’s related to the Schengen area will not be needed.

Leave All EU Institutions. The two-pillar structure of the EFTA+EEA agreement means the UK wouldn’t be governed by EU institutions like the EU Commission, council or the European Court of Justice. Two of the main bodies in the EEA are the EFTA court and council. EFTA court rulings are advisory unlike in the ECJ and we would have more influence with one member one vote still applying and less members overall. It has also made decisions different to those made by the ECJ. The other main body is the EFTA council where decisions are taken unanimously.

Safeguard Measures to Control Immigration. Safeguard measures would be available to the UK as an EFTA+EEA member. These measures have no time limit, it’s up to the member state rather than the EU to trigger them and to decide whether they meet the requirements of the safeguard measures. These measures can be used to control immigration through a quota system which would allow the UK to implement a fairer system of immigration. Safeguard measures on free movement have been used before and resulted in Liechtenstein agreeing a permanent deal with the EU on immigration. Even if these measures were challenged by the EU; EFTA council and EEA joint committee decisions are taken unanimously. The eventual aim of this would be to reach an agreement with the EU but until then safeguard measures could be used. The eventual aim would be a permanent deal negotiated in the EEA joint committee on immigration.

There is also some debate around safeguard measures and how much the EU can do to stop countries from using them. However, if challenged by the EU the UK can make its case as to why their use is fair and within the rules set out in Articles 112-114 of the EEA agreement.

Remain Outside Schengen. The UK would not need to be part of the Schengen zone as it’s not included in the EEA agreement.

Maintain Passporting Rights With the EU. One of the main issues around the UK leaving the single market for banks is that passporting may not continue, in the EFTA+EEA agreement they would. They allow banks to operate across EU borders more easily.

Keep the Pound. The EEA Agreement does not include adoption of the Euro so the UK would be able to keep the pound.

Continue to Take Part in EU Programs. The UK can still take part in EU science and education programs which are very important to the UK economy along with UK cooperation with the EU.

Payments to the EU Would be Optional. The payment is split into three parts. For any EU programs the UK wants to take part in they will have to pay the EU for them, and we support remaining in programs like Erasmus+. There are also payments to poorer EU countries which are a form of aid along with payments for EFTA membership and neither of these goes to the EU.

Remain Under the EU’s VAT Rules. Whilst being in this situation gives the UK the freedom to change VAT levels from EU VAT levels this should only be done if it doesn’t create issues that can’t be solved with the Northern Ireland border. One of the issues that highlighted the issues with the EU controlling VAT rates was the tampon tax.

Agree New Free Trade Deals Outside the EU’s Customs Union. As a member of EFTA, the UK could make its own free trade deals as it wouldn’t be part of the EU’s Customs Union. For instance, Iceland has agreed a free trade deal with China. We would also try to keep our current EU negotiated free trade deals through presumptions of continuity, at least until we have the time to agree a new deal with them.

Build Up Global Bodies. Brexit will allow the UK to spearhead globalisation and outside the EU, it will be firmly in our interests to do so. Firstly, this will involve the UK supporting developing countries through aid and signing free trade deals with other countries to reduce the UK’s reliance on the EU’s internal market. Secondly, working to strengthen global bodies will also reduce the UK’s reliance on the EU’s internal market if good EU standards are applied globally or regionally through organisations such as the UN Economic Commission for Europe. Thirdly is the existing trend of globalisation, which is opening markets outside of the EU, something we feel the UK can support countries with.

The UK will then withdraw from the EU’s Single market. We will trigger Article 127 of the EEA Agreement to leave the EEA. This will give the UK one year to sort out what happens to any regulation that isn’t already covered by global bodies and if need be sort out non-economic ties with the EU like security arrangements. The end game would be a full return of powers from the EU covering everything apart from trade and security which would have been taken up by global bodies. The UK will no longer be paying into the EU so the UK should ensure all current subsidies continue.

We Will Then Leave EFTA and the Single Market. The UK will then withdraw from the EU’s Single market and EFTA. We will trigger Article 127 of the EEA Agreement to leave the EEA. This will give the UK one year to sort out what happens to any regulation that isn’t already covered by global bodies and if need be, sort out non-economic ties with the EU like security arrangements. The end game would be a full return of powers from the EU covering everything apart from trade and security which would have been taken up by global bodies. The UK will no longer be paying into the EU so the UK should ensure all current subsidies continue.

Defence:

Meet Our NATO Spending Commitments. Unless the UK is at war, we should continue to maintain our spending commitment to NATO and ensure we spend 2% of the UKs GDP on defence. Unless there is a situation in which military spending needs to be increased 2% of GDP is likely to be the military budget for the foreseeable future.

A Northern Defence Strategy. This will mean working closely with the Nordic countries to secure Northern Europe against potential aggression. This would also include strengthening the new ‘Defence Arctic Strategy’ with Iceland and Norway. Included in this strategy will be new joint programs, to help secure the North Atlantic against submarines, help to enable the Nordic countries to defend themselves more effectively and possibly offer any equipment the armed forces can’t use.

This both spreads out any potential Russian attack and protects US reinforcements. Potential countries the UK could work with include the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries. Some of these countries are not members of NATO, have low levels of spending or are not members of the EU. This would both be an opportunity to build closer military links with these countries, take part in joint programs and allow us to persuade these countries to increase their spending on defence.

Give Military Personnel More Support by Reducing the Size of the Military. We believe that the size of the army should be reduced over time whilst the funding levels will remain the same. Both new technology and there being no large-scale conflicts makes a larger army unnecessary. Rather than being through redundancies, it would simply be a case of hiring fewer new military personnel. This would focus more on quality rather than quantity, a smaller number of military personnel but better equipped and supported. This would give greater ability to improve vocational education within the army, housing, pay, equipment and care for veterans.

Stop Selling Arms to Countries that Abuse Human Rights. This would include countries on the government’s list of human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan and Egypt. We would halt the sales of weapons to these countries until they respect human rights. In Saudi Arabia, the ongoing arms sales have helped to destabilise the Middle East further. We are, however, heartened by the reforms to the country being led by Prince Mohammad bin Salman although these need to go further before we feel arms sales could be restarted to the country.

Keep Only a Minimal Nuclear Deterrent. The reality is that we live in an uncertain world where nations that are hostile or potentially hostile to the UK strive to obtain such weapons for themselves. Unilateral disarmament will both leave us as a target without our own deterrent and will lose the UK international standing. Therefore, we believe it is necessary to retain a nuclear defense system to act as a deterrent.

Although keeping some level of deterrent is necessary, we support keeping the number of nuclear warheads the UK has at a minimum. Decreases can be achieved both through agreements that involve other countries also reducing their nuclear stockpiles along with the reduction of our own stockpile until it is as low as possible whilst still being a deterrent. We would also keep under review the costs and utility of our nuclear defense system in the future. We furthermore support keeping our submarines on which nuclear weapons are housed up to date and therefore we support the Dreadnought replacement for the vanguard submarines.