Its been a while since I wrote anything meaningful on Brexit. As much as I think most are getting bored of the continuous stream of diarrhoea many politicians and newscasters seem to feel compelled to offer on the topic the time seems right to provide some observations.
From the start, this experiment in interfering with trading linkages built up over several hundred years in the 5th largest economy in the world was at best likely to be high voltage. Hard won multi decade negotiations which mean that the UK’s companies get to sell their products into 500 Million European consumers without being exposed to time consuming customs processes or Tariffs and Barriers just isn’t worth fiddling with. With no other comparable modern day example of a country leaving this environment to travel back 60 years by throwing up fences, a pilot study with similar features may be acceptable in a University setting but to meddle with jobs, growth, and government finances in a real world test is reckless in the extreme.
Forgetting the direct effects of leaving the bloc we already have the hard data which proves what the uncertainty around this decision has done to our economy. In 2016 we moved from being the 5th to the 6th largest economy in the world by GDP, overtaken by France. The UK economy has moved from the fastest growing economy in the top 7 countries to the slowest which has probably cost around £350M a week, a similar sum to that which Boris promised would be available to be diverted from the EU to the NHS on the side of his Brexit bus. These are facts, not estimates for it is obvious that these have been widely wrong on both sides of the debate. But is it any wonder when those who are running this have no experience to draw from anywhere else in the world where this has been tried previously?
Yes we have heard Boris explain that we can have our cake and eat it and supply teacher Teresa muse that we can remove the ability for EU nationals to come here whilst retain the trading relationships I mention above but I think most of us know that this is beyond wishful thinking. The EU have been clear that we cant, they have a huge reason not to let us and whilst we are a large member they have 17 other countries which would be trying to do similar if they let us, surely a much bigger problem than the consequences of reducing trade with us.
As intellectually supreme Boris is, he hasn’t been able to persuade the EU either so far, unsurprisingly. The “bullshit baffles brains” tactics he deployed in the last round of talks displayed the balance of power and resolve of each side which was laid bear when the UKs negotiators caved on almost all of the EUs demands at the last minute including the £55BN divorce bill. I truly hope the next round is different, I just have no reason to believe it will be unless something significant changes.
Hopefully those shouting loudest will also notice when the City of London shrinks as the EU plans it to do post Brexit and is unable to parcel up the sums that it has been providing to support declining towns in the North and the rest of the country that voted to leave the EU. I have also noticed that Nicola Sturgeon has quietened down on her assertions that London’s financial support of Scotland is not necessary since the price of North Sea oil has plummeted.
Despite what Gove, Boris and Teresa think they can get the EU to do on immigration David Cameron gave us more than a hint when he came back empty handed last time he headed to Brussels on this topic pre Brexit vote. What happened to Boris’s assertion that the EU will become much more negotiable once they can see that we have voted to leave and really mean it. Who is he trying to kid?
I had also hoped for more in Teresa, she can sugar coat things however she likes but she dosent even seem to be able to keep the boys in her own classroom who are frequently playing the court jester under control. How can you expect her to do any better when dealing with her opponents at the EU? She is certainly no Margaret Thatcher and whilst I cant see her surviving this the risk of a Jeremy Corbyn government to this economy is even worse than Brexit. This is probably a case of “its broke but still don’t fix it” for now as an alternative Labour government under Communist Mcdonald, Corbyn with speechwriter Dennis Skinner bringing up the rear would be far worse.
I get that many voted for Brexit because they were fed up of so many EU nationals coming to the UK. Do those who voted on this basis still believe that their unemployment prospects will be increased if less EU nationals come here? Is it not becoming obvious that the number of opportunities is likely to reduce as we close up and throw barriers up?
Surely the answer here is for the individual to develop themselves so as provide more to an employer or their customers as a business owner rather than focus on a futile attempt to reduce competitiveness in the labour market.
I also get that many older generations believe that Great Britain can go back to an age the they remember when we traded with the world and were a lot greater than we are now. Despite what the rose tinted glasses are reminding many of them some don’t seem to have noticed that we don’t have an empire any more, and rather a lot has changed in the world in the meantime. Lots of our old trading partners have a choice now rather than them only having us as an option. It also seems to have escaped some that the main reason we trade with countries in the EU is that are they are next door! Geographical realities matter. How much extra time and money does it cost to send a ship to the US, China or Australia versus a lorry on a ferry to Dublin?
They are not comparing Apples with Apples and whilst it maybe annoying that the ECJ tells us what shape bananas should be how much extra say will the man in the street actually get if all decisions are made in Westminster, not much would be my contention.
That said all will be well in the end. It always is, and despite what many tell you it will rarely be as bad or as good as they may out. The world economy is growing like its steroids and we aren't doing badly hanging onto its coat tails. We could just be doing better, a bit like my old school reports.