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BLOGGING FOR BRITAIN

Hey, how about another Brexit post?

by | 6th Jul, 2018

Over a year ago, I listened to Keir Starmer talk eloquently about Brexit. Last night (5th July) at the Brand Exchange, I did so again.

Like Keir, I’m not going to argue about the rights or wrongs of voting for Brexit. I’m sure among our many readers there are those who voted leave and those who voted remain. Also like Keir, I’m not going to get into debating the rights or wrongs of the reasons – perceived or actual – why people voted the way they did. Many people were, and are, generally dissatisfied with the state of their lives, and voted for change. Any change.

That’s certainly what they’re going to get. For the second time, I was impressed by the non-partisan, considered and calm approach the former Director of the CPS is taking to his thankless task, but blimey, this was a depressing evening.

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Peter Kellner and Sir Keir Starmer, MP, telling it like it is

It was always highly likely that Brexit, hard or soft, would lead to an economic contraction in the period after our departure. That’s not to say it isn’t in our long term interests as a nation – you’ll have your own thoughts on that – but even the softest Brexit will result, in the short term at least, in logistical costs and a economic adjustment that will outweigh any putative ‘Brexit dividend’. The EU is not designed to be cheap, or easy, to leave. I guess the question is how long this period will last. If you listen to the business community, it may be a while.

Most businesses wanted to remain. They still want to remain. As was pointed out last night, most business leaders stress that they actively don’t want the deregulation that the arch-Brexiters champion; they want consistency of regulation with EU countries and with trading blocs outside the EU. Anything else will require large-scale adjustment and potentially unsustainable rises in costs.

And, of course, businesses want access to the biggest possible labour markets and the best global employees. That’s completely understandable, even if it’s bad news for economies in eastern Europe and leads (obviously) to an increase in immigration. This is the economic model we have chosen. Unless we maintain reasonably high levels of immigration, it’s almost certain we’ll have to pay more tax or watch our denuded public services collapse. That isn’t ideology, it’s maths.

Here’s a recipe for a recession: take one ageing population, throw in a smaller GDP, add a lower tax take (fewer immigrants, a smaller workforce, not to mention the highly probable rise in unemployment thanks to the economic shock), and, well, things are going to be tough. For at least 5-10 years. Maybe more. Starting, at a guess, with a recession in q4 2019.

That is certainly change. But is it the change people voted for? If your life was already shit, maybe it is. I’m no fan of neoliberal economics, and all in favour of creating a new model, but maybe stripping out and replacing the parts over an extended period of time might be preferable to driving into a wall at high speed.

The ‘business community’ doesn’t always speak for me. Too often, it’s focused on profit at the expense of everything else. But as Airbus, Land Rover et al line up to say that a hard Brexit is going to be a catastrophe for them, and, by extension, their employees and the communities in which they’re based, couldn’t the ideologues within the government at least acknowledge that Brexit is not what they sold us?

What piece of bad news – such as, for example, three or four car manufacturers saying they’re definitely leaving – would be enough for Liam Fox to stop using the phrase ‘Project Fear’? What scenario would be gloomy enough for Boris Johnson to say that on reflection, a hard Brexit would be too damaging?

Like those Republicans keeping Trump in power, the hard Brexiters are too cowardly, craven and self-interested to change course. What’s more, they don’t care about you. They never have and they never will. And to hell with the consequences of their actions.

Now that’s depressing.

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London WC2B 5NR

Give us a call

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Send us a message

info@breakfastagency.com