Saturday, 24 June 2017

Brexit: where will it all end?

Oxford Professor Timothy Garton Ash has a whole article devoted to this in yesterday's Guardian and it's well worth a read.  Here's his somewhat dismal conclusion:

". . .my hunch is that Britain will probably end up. . .with some novel variant  of Norway's European Economic Area deal, Switzerland's customised free-trade package or Turkey's  membership of the customs union.  It may be dressed up  in Union Jack bunting, but it will effectively mean that we have second-class membership of the common market, that we must abide by rules  we have no say in making, that we will continue to pay into the EU coffers, that immigration from the EU is only slightly reduced,  [and] that we have to accept  legally binding arrangements in which the European court of Justice still plays a significant role . . . A majority in parliament  will probably swallow all this, in a very British game of muddling through."

In an article in the July edition of Prospect magazine  the former Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Home Civil Service, Gus O'Donnell (a trained economist, not , happily, via Oxford's PPE, but at Warwick and Glasgow Universities) concludes:

"Even if the[Brexit] talks go well, the long term effect of Brexit will be a smaller economy than previously  expected, which feeds  through to lower tax revenues."

That's it: " a smaller economy,"  no ifs, no buts.

Spending the next two years negotiating towards this nonsense is crazy.  MPs should pluck up courage, do their duty and put stop to it now.


  1. I think the point is more that we know what we don't want: we don't want the euro ever to replace the pound, we don't want our rebate reduced or even lost altogether, we don't want any closer union than we already have, we don't want to be part of a joint EU border force or any kind of joint military, we don't want an EU high commissioner for foreign affairs representing us, we don't want any direct EU taxation, we don't want to be a state of a union with its own anthem, and so on.

    And the only way to be absolutely sure we don't get any of those things is to leave the EU.

    If a smaller economy than previously predicted is the price for that, then it's a price well worth paying.

    However I don't think it will be; after all, the Swiss have a pretty healthy economy, so if we end up with the same deal as them, surely we're laughing?

    1. Thanks. I think you are right in your analysis that much of the motivation behind the pro-Brexit vote was a collection of negatives, to which I would add the opportunity to take a swipe at a very smug establishment (which, paradoxically, Mrs May is now almost the perfect personification)

      You won't be surprised that many of your negatives I regard as positives. Why not have a "joint EU border Force" if we're anxious to regulate immigration? Would not a "joint military" force over which we have some say be preferable to being the lackey of the US, especially as they are now led by the maverick Trump? What's so terrible about an "EU high commissioner for foreign affairs" who probably carries more clout that the idiosyncratic Mr Johnson? And, above all, why not an "ever closer union" of formerly warring European states? A small but significant step on the road to world co-operation and government, and a more conflict free and happier life for all.

      Personally I should have preferred such issues to have dominated the debate rather than the economy. But that resonates with many and there is no doubt at all that outside the EU we shall be poorer.

      Yes, Switzerland is an interesting case. What we all took to be their basic industries of cuckoo-clocks and watches have been overtaken by technology, yet they manage a very high standard of living which appears to be based on financial services and tourism. What else? I'm not sufficiently expert to offer suggestions, but I doubt if the UK outside the mainstream will have the same good fortune.

    2. You won't be surprised that many of your negatives I regard as positives

      Well, no; that was the whole point of having a vote, to find out how many people saw them as positives and how many as negatives.

      Personally I should have preferred such issues to have dominated the debate rather than the economy

      So would I; I think if they had we would have had a far more decisive 'Leave' vote (perhaps along the 55-45 lines of the Scottish vote; maybe even 60-40) and we wouldn't be stuck in this divisive half-and-half situation. However, I think a lot of people were scared (not unreasonably, I mean, I'm optimistic and even I don't think it's going to be plain sailing) of the economic impact of leaving and so voted 'Remain' through, as it were, gritted teeth.

      But, we are where we are; we can just hope for a deal while gives the maximum possible access to the European market, and leaves us as open as possible to beneficial immigration, as is consistent with national sovereignty and ability to do our own bilateral deals with other markets. Membership of the EFTA (which apparently we set up! back in 1960) would be perfect, I think.

    3. I think we must agree to differ, but if you have every confidence in Boris Johnson conducting our foreign policy rather than influencing an EU High Commissioner |I suggest you listed to this "car crash" interview on Radio 4:

      quick, before they take it down.

    4. Well, if it were up to me, Boris Johnson wouldn't be the Foreign Secretary; but at least he can be replaced by the British Prime Minister, without having to get agreement from a bunch of foreign leaders first.

    5. (Why would they take it down?)

    6. It stays on the site:"IMPORTANT NOTICE: As a result of receiving a "copyright strike" this channel will be going on hiatus shortly." I presume that means it will be taken down, or maybe put somewhere else. sorry if I've misinterpreted it.

    7. Oh, I thought you meant the BBC might take it off iPlayer; I didn't notice the link was to You Tube.