Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 14th 2013 Contents BG26 | THE ECONOMIST
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2013 • WEEK TWO
TECHNICAL SERVICES MANAGER
Our Client, the leading provider of
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The TECHNICAL SERVICES MANAGER is primarily accountable for optimizing
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#5 Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Trinidad
Or e-mail to
Asked to name the European country with the most
turbulent future, many would pick Greece or Italy,
both struggling to avoid economic collapse. A few
might finger France, which has yet to come to terms
with the failure of its statist model. Hardly anybody
would opt for Britain, which has muddled through the crisis mod-
Nonetheless, Britain s place in the world is less certain than it
has been for decades. In May 2014 its voters are likely to send to
the European Parliament a number of members from the UK Inde-
pendence Party, which loathes Brussels. Then, in September,
Scotland will vote on independence. In 2015 there will be a general
election, and by the end of 2017, possibly earlier, there is due to
be a referendum on Britain s membership in the European Union.
Britain could emerge from all this smaller, more inward-looking
and with less clout in the world -- and, possibly, with its politics
fractured. Or it could become more efficient, surer of its identity
and its place in Europe and more outward-looking. Call them the
"Little England" and "Great Britain" scenarios.
In many ways Britain has a great deal going for it right now.
Whereas the euro zone s economy is stagnant, Britain is emerging
strongly from its slump. The government has used the crisis to
trim the state. Continental Europeans are coming around to the
long-held British view that the EU should be smaller, less bureaucratic
and lighter on business. There is even talk of deepening the single
market in services, which would be a huge boon for Britain.
London continues to suck in talent, capital and
business. Britain attracts nearly twice as much foreign
direct investment, per person, as the rich-country
average. That is because of the country s history of
openness to outsiders, a tradition that has mostly
survived the economic crisis.
Although the British are hostile to immigration,
they excel at turning new arrivals into productive,
integrated members of society. Britain is one of only
two E.U. countries in which fewer immigrants drop
out of school than natives. Its most worrying neigh-
borhoods are white, British and poor.
This could all fall apart in the next few years, how-
The most straightforward way Britain could shrivel
is through Scotland voting to leave the United King-
dom next September. At a stroke the kingdom would
become one-third smaller, and its influence in the
world would be greatly reduced. A country that cannot
hold itself together is scarcely in a position to lecture
others on how to manage their affairs.
The referendum on the EU was promised last year
by Prime Minister David Cameron in a vain attempt
to shut up the Little Englanders in the Tory party
and ward off UKIP. Labour leader Ed Miliband may
well follow suit. If Britain left the EU, it would lose
its power to shape the bloc that takes half its exports.
Further, since Britain has in the past used that power
for good, pushing the E.U. in an open, expansive,
free-trading direction, its loss would be Europe s too.
To add to the carnage, the plebiscite could break up
the Conservative Party, especially if Cameron fails
to get re-elected in 2015.
Britain also could become more isolated and insular
simply by persisting with some unwise policies. The
government s attempts to bear down on immigrants
and visitors are harming the economy. Students, par-
ticularly from India, are heading to more welcoming,
and sunnier, countries. Firms find it too hard to bring
in even skilled workers, crimping the country s ability
Cameron has made some concessions. It is now
a bit easier to get a British visa in China, and he
backed down on a mad plan to demand large bonds
from visitors from six emerging markets, lest they
abscond. Britain s attitude toward immigration is all
wrong, though. It erects barriers by default and lowers
them only when the disastrous consequences become
The shrinking of Britain is not preordained. In a
more optimistic scenario, Britain sticks together and
stays in Europe, where it fights for competitiveness
and against unnecessary red tape. British pressure
gradually cracks open services markets, both in the
EU and elsewhere, creating a bonanza for the country s
lawyers and accountants. Britain becomes more tol-
erant of immigration, if not in love with it. It even
stops bashing its biggest export industry, financial
The difference between the Little England and
Great Britain scenarios is leadership. Cameron should
start by changing the thing over which he has most
control: immigration policy.
A more liberal regime would boost business, help
balance the nation s books and shrink the state,
relative to the size of the economy. Immigrants, espe-
cially from eastern Europe, produce far more than
they consume in public resources. Both Cameron
and Miliband know this, but they are cowed by wide-
spread hostility to the influx.
Europe is another issue on which they should try
to lead public opinion, not cravenly follow it. Miliband s
policy is unknown. Cameron has lurched alarmingly,
sometimes saying that Britain is committed to reform-
ing the E.U. for the good of all, at other times threat-
ening to leave if unspecified demands are not met.
The first course is the astute one, both less likely to
lead to a calamitous British exit and more likely to
succeed in making the union more liberal.
On Scotland, Cameron and Miliband are on the
side of Great Britain. It is a decision for Scots, though,
not for them.
@2013 Economist Newspaper Ltd. (Distributed by the
New York Times Syndicate.)
Little England or Great Britain?
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