Author Archives: Frank Brierley

Why we must stop Brexit Part 2: The costs of Brexit

The principal economic benefit claimed for Brexit is that Britain will become free to negotiate trade deals with non-EU countries independently of the EU, and that these will, at least in the medium to longer term, create greater wealth for Britain than we can expect from continued EU membership.  How likely is that?  

There is no evidence to make that supposition seem likely. Progress on trade talks has been minimal, with no indication that deals can be negotiated that could begin to equal the trade we currently do with the EU and through our membership of the EU. Moreover, there is strong evidence that the loss of our right to tariff-free trade with the EU will contribute to some £70 billion p.a. damage to the UK economy. A press release by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research published on 29th October 2019 contains some interesting statements, including the following:

  • We would not expect economic activity to be boosted by the approval of the government’s proposed Brexit deal. We estimate that, in the long run, the economy would be 3½ per cent smaller with the deal compared to continued EU membership.
  • the government’s new proposed free trade agreement with the European Union … customs and regulatory barriers would hinder goods and services trade with the continent, leaving all regions of the United Kingdom worse off than they would be if the UK stayed in the EU.
  • chronic uncertainty persists, but the terms of EU trade remain unchanged, we forecast economic growth of under 1½ per cent in 2019 and 2020
  • The economy is estimated to be 2½ per cent smaller now than it would otherwise have been as a result of the 2016 Brexit vote.

So, the very threat of Brexit, as well as having devalued the pound, has made the country poorer.  And leaving the EU upon the terms of Johnson’s latest Brexit deal is projected to knock 3.5% off the size of the economy compared to remaining in the EU. 

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Why we must stop Brexit: 1 “Let’s get it done”

After carefully considering the case made by the Leave campaigners ahead of the Referendum, examining the likely consequences of leaving, trying to evaluate the leavers’ motives and the benefits they predicted from leaving, and weighing these against possible disbenefits, I came to the firm conclusion that leaving the EU would be a disaster for the UK.  Despite a number of deficiencies in the European bureaucracy and the federalist tendencies of a few of the European leaders, that conclusion has been reinforced by subsequent events.

 In this first of a series of pieces that will review that evidence and reconsider the disadvantages, as well as the overwhelming benefits for Britain, of Remaining a member of the European community, I examine the superficially appealing Tory slogan, “Let’s get it done.” 

Of course, we all want to get quickly past the hugely damaging ‘Brexit process’, as does the whole of Europe. But Brexit does not ‘get it done’! Brexit would extend the agony for a year or more of trade negotiations with the EU, and that only if the Boris withdrawal agreement is approved by Parliament, an approval that was withheld three times from the rather less terrible May deal.   

The only quick and inexpensive way to ‘get it done’ is not to Brexit at all, an outcome quickly achievable by revoking Article 50.

But how legitimate would it be for Parliament thus ‘to ignore the will of the people’ and vote to Remain? The answer is clear: entirely legitimate. Referenda do not make the laws. Parliament does that; and Parliament always minutely scrutinises proposals for legislation (parliamentary motions, green papers, bills – and referenda!). It is this agonisingly protracted, but vital, Parliamentary scrutiny that has given spurious appeal to the ‘Let’s get it done’ slogan.  

Like everyone else, I’d like a decision as soon as possible, so long as it’s the right decision, which means a decision taken after the most careful scrutiny of an issue whose outcome will affect Britain economically, socially and psychologically for generations to come. Arguably it is the ‘democrats’, claiming that “the people have decided”, who have held up a decision that commanded a Remain majority among their elected representatives. I’m not arguing that the referendum result should be ignored, only that ‘Let’s get it done’ is no good reason on its own for rapidly terminating the scrutiny process in favour of either outcome. It is vital that on this crucial issue we get the right decision, as with any parliamentary bill, but bear in mind that the referendum vote was narrowly decided without access to the voluminous, relevant information that has emerged since it took place.   

Posted in News | Tagged | 15 Comments
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