Tuesday 2 April 2024

Brexit Burdens


Jonty bloom is a former Business Correspondent for the BBC and now a freelance journalist who, presumably among many other things, writes a regular column in "The New European." 

In last week’s column he quotes from reports from  the think-tanks “The  Institute of Government” and “UK in a Changing Europe” that “[t]here are now 100 000 more civil servants [in the UK] than there were pre-Brexit.”

Bloom claims that, although some of these extra personnel are because of Covid, “most are due to Brexit.”

 This seems astonishing.  After all, the much maligned Brussels bureaucracy we heard so much about from the Leave Campaign in the referendum has only about 32  000 “Eurocrats” to service the 27, so why should be need the bulk of 200 000 UKcrats to replicate what they used to do for us?

Bloom explains that before Brexit the UK had only about 40 or so civil servants who were part of the overseas trade negotiating team.  Now we do the job on our own it takes about 2 000.  That makes sense: it takes just as much expertise to cover all products and partners  when negotiating for a relatively small economy of 66m as it does for a bloc of 448m.

In addition there are the many other jobs – regulations for business, border officials, animal welfare, agricultural support, regional policy and so on – which used to be done collectively but we now need to do for ourselves.  The border controls for trade between ourselves and the EU, which have still not been implemented  but are now finally scheduled to start this year, are required to do a job that didn’t exist before Brexit.

The bulk of the additional staff will be not lowly-paid pen pushers but highly qualified – and expensive – lawyers, accountants, auditors, trade experts and and similar highly-trained professionals.

 The Leave campaign was suffused with the claim that when we “ got our country back” there would be less red tape, less bureaucracy and from the savings even a spare £350m a week for the NHS.

We were duped.

I agree with the political  leaders of the “rejoiners” that it is still too soon for our electorate to be prepared to admit it. 

For the time being all we can do is ensure that the drip, drip drip of truths such as the above are fed into the media to hasten the day when  we come to our senses and re-align with the body  to which we belong.

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