Don't blame Brexit
22 februari 2023 | John Laughland
Numerous articles in the European press, Dutch and French in particular, have claimed that Brexit has hurt Britain and that the country’s current woes are the consequence of its decision to leave the EU.
These claims are the same as those made before the 2016 referendum and during the four-year political fight to the death to achieve Brexit in the period 2016-2020. They are made by the same people and for the same purpose – to argue for a de facto or even de iure reversal of Brexit.
These people will never take No for an answer. The British voted for Brexit not once but three times – in the 2016 referendum, in the May 2019 European elections and in the December 2019 general election. In all three polls, Brexit was the issue and the result was the same. The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats did badly, their leader losing her seat in the end. In the 2017 general election, all major parties said they were in favour of Brexit.
Yet “the blob” (or the deep state, or the establishment) refuses to accept that Brexit is anything other than a disaster. Although Rishi Sunak claims to have been in favour of Brexit, he never actually spoke in favour of it and is now embracing an uber-globalism which appears to aim at dissolving Britain even faster than would have happened in the EU.
The truth is that, while the British economy has weaknesses, these are no greater than in other major European economies. On the contrary, on employment Britain is doing better than most European economies and it continues to attract some 1 million immigrants a year. Net immigration into the UK in 2022 was over 500,000. I am against such levels of immigration but they show that the British economy draws people in from around the world while the unemployment figures remain low.
The fact is that Brexit has had a negligeable effect on the British economy. Far greater damage has been done by Covid lockdowns and the associated reckless spending (£450 billion was blown on Covid by Rishi Sunak as Chancellor); by the Ukraine war and the blowback from sanctions; and of course by the monetary creation which comes from zero interest rates, which all Western countries pursued and which has led to the current high levels of inflation. Brexit is not the cause of either low growth or high inflation.
Trade with the EU has recovered to levels similar to those before 2020, while trade with the rest of the world has increased. The City of London has not seen substantial losses and has, on the contrary, continued to maintain itself as the dominant financial centre of Europe and indeed the world. Emmanuel Macron personally opened a new J P Morgan trading room in Paris with 800 new employees and this was supposed to show how the City is haemorrhaging jobs. But J P Morgan employs 19,000 people in the UK.
It is very convenient for the blob to blame Brexit because the blob wanted lockdown. But lockdown did far more damage. In addition to wasting titanic sums of money, lockdown produced a health crisis (other diseases went untreated) and a work crisis: people still refuse to come in to the office, two years on.
Ukraine sanctions have similarly disastrous effect, both on inflation (energy prices) and on public finances (handouts of public money to cap energy prices). High inflation is caused by: 1. Covid, 2. Ukraine and 3. Net zero. It is not caused by Brexit.
The sad fact is that Brexit has been betrayed. Brexit Britain should have cut taxes, de-regulated by abolishing EU legislation and cut immigration. It has raised taxes, allowed immigration to rise and has not abolished a single EU law. With thousands of people crossing the Channel in rubber boats every week, not a single plane has taken asylum seekers to be processed in Rwanda because of the European Court of Human Rights whose jurisdiction remains in force in Britain.
Rishi Sunak is a child of Davos who promised to ‘re-wire’ the global financial system to achieve net zero. His Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is the very quintessence of the blob. Brexit has not even been really implemented and yet it is blamed for things which the blob’s beloved policies in fact caused.
The dishonesty is obvious and shameless.