Leave HQ editor welcomes the sweet release of a dismal fate

Blogging is so naughties isn’t it? Has anything happened on a blog since 2010? Well maybe.

Leave HQ Editor Peter North has produced quite the most extraordinary piece of blogging I have seen for some time.

Wow. I want to quote the “wow” bits, but I risk quoting it all.

In the first year or so we are going to lose a lot of manufacturing. Virtually all JIT export manufacturing will fold inside a year. Initially we will see food prices plummet but this won’t last. Domestic agriculture won’t be able to compete and we’ll see a gradual decline of UK production. UK meats will be premium produce and no longer affordable to most.

Once food importers have crushed all UK competition they will gradually raise their prices, simply because they can. Meanwhile wages will stay depressed and because of the collapse of disposable income and availability of staff, we can probably expect the service sector to take a big hit thus eliminating all the jobs that might provide a supplementary income.

I mean this is worse than I think will be, and this is a leaver. Yes, still a leaver.

All in all we are looking at serious austerity as it will take a few years at least to rebuild our trade relations with third countries. If we go down the path of unilateral trade liberalisation then we will probably find it hard to strike new deals.

Yes indeed, but, but, but…

After years of the left bleating about austerity they are about to find out what it actually means. Britain is about to become a much more expensive place to live. It will cause a spike in crime.

Yeah, that’s what we voted for. Who knew? Maybe people are used to austerity and frightened of the change that would have come when it ended.

We can the expect to see a major rationalisation of the NHS and what functions it will perform. It will be more of a skeleton service than ever. I expect they will have trouble staffing it. Economic conditions more than any immigration control will bring numbers down to a trickle.

In every area of policy a lot of zombie projects will be culled and the things that survive on very slender justifications will fall. We can also expect banks to pull the plug in under-performing businesses. Unemployment will be back to where it was in the 80’s.

Ah. I see Hayekian creative destruction is being invoked. The problem I have with Hayek here is that you don’t need a massive recession to kill zombie businesses. They die off all the time, some even in a boom. The difference between a boom and bust is the net balance of creation and destruction not that one happens and the other does not.

Eventually things will settle down and we will get used to the new order of things. My gut instinct tells me that culturally it will be a vast improvement on the status quo. There will be more reasons to cooperate and more need to congregate. I expect to see a cultural revolution where young people actually start doing surprising and reckless things again rather than becoming tedious hipsters drinking energy drinks in pop-up cereal bar book shops or whatever it is they do these days. We’ll be back to the days when students had to be frugal and from their resourcefulness manage to produce interesting things and events.

I’m actually crying now.

Effectively we are looking at a ten year recession. Nothing ever experienced by those under 50. Admittedly this is not the Brexit I was gunning for. I wanted a negotiated settlement to maintain the single market so that we did not have to be substantially poorer, but, in a lot of ways I actually prefer this to the prospect of maintaining the 2015 status quo with ever degraded politics with increasingly less connection to each other.

Yes, I appreciate that you aren’t as bloodymindedly intent on economic vandalism as our government is. That’s good to know. No, wait, that’s utterly terrifying.

Ahead lies challenging times. It will not be easy. Those who expected things to improve will be disappointed. But then I have a clear conscience in this. I never made any big Brexit promises. I never said there would be sunlit uplands. I did not predict that the government would make this much of a pigs ear of it, or that we would be looking at the WTO option. I expected parliament would step in to prevent that. That it hasn’t tells you a good deal about the state of modern politics.

And so with that in mind, as much as I would have had it go a different way, I think, given the opportunity to vote again I would still vote to leave. Eventually it gets to a point where any change will do. I prefer an uncertain future to the certainty I was looking at.

You may not have made promises Peter, but they were made, and some of them even lasted beyond the day after the vote. And I can understand the feeling of just wanting a change. We can all feel a bit bored and stuck in a rut sometimes. Only, and I’m sorry if this is a bit radical, did you ever consider change for the better?

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017 and Doncaster North in December 2019 and is a councillor in Sheffield.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • This is just the most remarkable anyone has written in a long time. I had been thinking about a pub-landlord style character who would complain that “we voted to be poorer in the referendum and why aren’t we?” but it was meant to be a comedy; I hadn’t realised that someone actually believed it!

  • Laurence Cox 10th Oct '17 - 12:48pm

    And the Brexiteers accused us of “Project Fear”. If we had come out with anything like this, it would have been ridiculed. Well done for finding it.

  • Geoffrey Payne 10th Oct '17 - 12:57pm

    And to think I thought it was bad enough we were not going to get the £350Million/Week for the NHS…

  • Mark Johnston 10th Oct '17 - 1:02pm

    This is why Gov’t has agreed to a status-quo transition that postpones cliff edge to whenever the prolongation of all EU rules comes to an end. A “time-limited” transition is likely to be renewable e.g. every year. The only thing the Gov’t is giving up is the UK’s seats and votes. (This helps show why Remain most likely to win by 2019.)

  • Now twittering about chaos after a WTO Brexit @petenorth303

  • If this is ‘No Deal’ what does a ‘Bad Deal’ look like?

  • William Fowler 10th Oct '17 - 1:58pm

    If it becomes clear to the likes of Nigel Farage and ultra-right Conservatives that we will be swapping EU rules not for a Singapore style UK but a Marist Labour government with an extra million overloads/bureacrats to make sure everyone obeys their little red rule book, how pleased will they feel with themselves? Most likely have a good laugh from exile in the USA!

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Oct '17 - 2:11pm

    Excellent find, Joe. The first honest leading leaver. Admirable, in a way.

    Careful with the transition phase. Playing single market and customs union is technically in violation of WTO-rules for a non EU-member (most favoured nation clause). This cannot be prolonged forever.

  • If this is ‘No Deal’ what does a ‘Bad Deal’ look like?
    This is only part 1… I suggest failing to get an agreed ‘exit’ deal, will make it much harder to get a negotiated trade deal post-Brexit, not only with the EU (part 2) but with non-EU countries (part 3).

    I suspect to a committed Leaver a ‘Bad Deal’ is any deal that means the UK still has to take account of Brussels – which effectively means the deal the government has publicly said it is seeking, namely a relationship nearly identical to the current one which gives many of the benefits of membership, but without the commitment/burden of membership…

  • Personally, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
    Cry, mostly.

  • Mark Seaman 10th Oct '17 - 5:35pm

    Yet another “One person who voted Leave says this = all Leave voters are like this” article. Well done , you have found a vote Leave person who now and probably previously talked from their posterior. That in no way shape or form means that what they have posted is an accurate forecast of what will happen when Britain leaves the EU. Indeed their view on the future of British agriculture alone is such nonsense as to discredit their opinions.

  • I checked their FB page – 1,467 likes: https://www.facebook.com/TheEuReferendumBlog – hardly a “hub”? 🙂

  • Peter Chambers 10th Oct '17 - 7:00pm

    Peter North seems to have seems to have some odd views about young people. If this reflects the quality of his thinking on Brexit generally then he is probably ignorable. While some points, such as damage to JIT industries are plausible, his analysis may just be made up.

  • Fine bit of expectation management there.

    When we get an unnecessary recession of just eight years it can be declared a triumph.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Oct '17 - 9:41pm

    Doesn’t all this raise the rather significant problem that REMAIN faces though? Looking at your laundry-list here that you present – stagnant/falling wages, job insecurity, staffing problems in the NHS, reliance on food imports, austerity economics, predatory foreign competition. Isn’t that stuff that was going on prior to the referendum?

    Look, I get that you are brassed off about the referendum result, but if you aren’t thinking about more than getting it all off your chest then you aren’t thinking deeply enough. The question is not so much why economic messages did not cut through in the campaign, rather it is what to do about it. At the moment REMAIN seem stuck on the Cameron argument which, in precis is, ‘come on, the EU’s not all THAT bad.’ There just seems to be a complete incapability of presenting any positive set of ideas, still less reifying them into a concrete platform that could be put to voters.

    Yes, it may very well be that leaving the EU does not solve all the problems the UK faces. I doubt anyone serious would make such a claim. But that doesn’t really solve anything for those on the sharp end of the economic dislocations we’ve seen. All the snarky comments in the world aren’t a substitute for an actual set of thoughts about how to make the EU work better for people. A Norway option would be the best start.

    Anyway, I’ll sit back and take my abuse now.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Oct '17 - 9:43pm

    Arnold Kiel – ‘Playing single market and customs union is technically in violation of WTO-rules for a non EU-member (most favoured nation clause). This cannot be prolonged forever.’

    Norway’s arrangement manages this perfectly well.

  • Little Jackie Paper 10th Oct '17 - 9:57pm

    Mark Johnston – ‘This helps show why Remain most likely to win by 2019.’

    This seems to be becoming common currency on here, but I’ve never understood it. The thinking seems to run something like this:

    leaving the EU will ‘go wrong’ – at some unspecified trigger point the voters will en masse look up and realise how wizz-bang awesome the EU is – everyone will want Juncker to give us some of that much-loved EU ‘liberalisation.’

    It somehow seems reachy. Look, I get that some people found the referendum result to be a bitter disappointment but the stark reality is that an awful lot of people were gritting their teeth as they voted remain. There are real problems in this picture. And, yes, hopelessly asymmetric free movement and laughable budget contributions are on that list.

    Surely the best way of going forward for REMAIN is to come up with something that people might actually want to vote for rather than just crossing fingers and hoping that something will turn up.

    Macron’s talk about an inner and outer EU would be a start.

  • LJP – Macron’s talk about an inner and outer EU would be a start.
    I’ve always maintained that the best way to leave the EU was to vote Remain 🙂

    The problem with Brexiteers is that they will dismiss both a tiered EU and working from within the EU without considering what these might enable.

    As anticipated, the Brexiteer argument that the EU is unable to change is starting to prove to be false, the pressure for change from continental Europe is building, so just as others are beginning to add their weight to the door, the UK walks away…

  • I heard someone say on the radio the other day that “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts” (can’t remember the exact context).
    I don’t doubt that leavers had a hundred and one reasons for wanting out, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is becoming increasing difficult to find a serious economist who doesn’t think that , as always, the greatest impact will be on those who can least afford it.
    Human nature being what it is, I doubt if many who voted leave will want to admit that they have condemned the country to at least a generation of austerity. Mr North forgets to mention the possible exodus of British workers who want to escape this misery – my youngest son is already researching the marine industry in Ireland !

  • Little Jackie Paper 11th Oct '17 - 10:25pm

    Roland – I’d admit that I was rather surprised by just how far Macron seemed to go in that speech. I’m not totally sure where it was that his motives lay, but that did sound not too far from the Norway approach. It would be interesting to know which countries he sees in the outer tier(s). I also note in passing that the FPD in Germany have talked about Treaty changes that would allow explicitly for leaving the EZ. Arguably this is all not too far from the Cameron idea of ending Ever Closer Union. Personally I’ve long thought a tiered EU is not only sensible, but likely inevitable. Arguably we more or less have it now.

    I disagree with your second point however. There’s been loads of reform in Europe, all of it for the EZ. EFSF/ESM, the six-pack, the Fiscal Compact, EZ QE – all of it to make the EZ work better. Now, obviously, that’s not an unreasonable motive. But what this does mean is that those not in the EZ are less able to move forward with reforms.

    And this is before we get to some of the bigger problems, most notably hopelessly asymmetric free movement, the PWD and a foolish budget. Difficult to see meaningful reform there.

    In any case the way Macron is talking we may yet see the Treaty reopened, something Cameron was told was impossible. Of course Treaty change implies referendums. So I do take your point that there probably is more appetite for change in the EU than one might initially think. It just would have been nice if REMAIN had talked about at the referendum.

  • It just would have been nice if REMAIN had talked about at the referendum.
    Agree, I think many in the Remain campaign were scared to say what Remain really meant, namely: engaging more but at the same time maintaining pressure for change in a direction that favoured the UK.

    One of the interesting things about Camerons deal was that, if implemented it would have delivered a shift in the balance of power within the EU, increasing the status of the UK. Ho hum! we’re where we are…

  • Arnold Kiel 12th Oct '17 - 9:07am

    Little Jackie Paper,

    Your logic is: either a guaranteed EU reform solves all problems, or it is right to jump over the cliff’s edge. Real life normally happens in the middle ground, just as EFTA-membership would. A nonsensical compromise. It is attainable via negotiated entry, but not in the form of open-ended transition (your Government wants neither).

    Clearly, EU membership does not solve any of the UK’s profound structural problems, all of which home-made, but it would greatly reduce the slope of the downward slide. Not attractive, indeed, but better than free-fall.

  • Denis Loretto 12th Oct '17 - 10:38am

    More prominent commentators than Peter North have been making similar points for years, such as Cardiff University economist Patrick Minford who said this well before the referendum –
    “Over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us.

    “Around half of young adults now go to university, ending up in professions such as finance or law, while the making of things such as car parts or carpentry has hugely shrunk — but there will always be jobs for people without sophisticated skills.

    “Of course leaving the EU will be difficult, and something that needs careful negotiation, but we must completely withdraw to gain these benefits.”

    As to Macron’s offer this is also by no means new. Back in June 2014, well before Cameron’s last minute foray to seek concessions, a communique from a European Council meeting contained these words –

    “The UK raised some concerns related to the future development of the EU. These concerns will need to be addressed. In this context, the European Council noted that the concept of ever closer union allows for different paths of integration for different countries, allowing those that want to deepen integration to move ahead, while respecting the wish of those who do not want to deepen any further.” Note this does not say different speeds towards the same integrationist end – it says permitting a situation whereby the UK or others do not deepen integration any further. Macron is now confirming that this is still the situation.

    As it becomes ever clearer that the brexit process is raising severe problems (for example no-one is coming up with any answer whatsoever to the crucial Irish border situation) what Macron is saying should be considered very carefully. Certainly way better than crashing out of the EU with no acceptable deal.

  • Neil Sandison 12th Oct '17 - 5:38pm

    To be fair Patrick Minford Margaret Thatchers former economics guru was saying this but thought that in the long term we would be better off .He saw as they did in the 1980s GB LTD being a service industry lead economic and manufacturing didnt really matter .What we are not getting is that this is ideological and driven by those who think North Atlantic /american free market economics are a better model than European social market economics .They cant wait to get their hands on key public services and run them on insurance related schemes run by the private sector.

  • Mr North on his own blog writes

    I certainly take no pleasure in the current mess. I have spent pretty much every single day since the referendum fighting for a measured, responsible exit settlement. I have made it my sole occupation and have made every effort to warn about the danger of the Tory Brexit zealots. Knowing them as I do I am able to offer something of a unique insight.

    Jointly with EUreferendum.com we have also warned especially about the Legatum Institute and it’s ambitions for Brexit Britain. If anything should have gone viral, it should have been that. Where was Mr Kriss then? Evidently not titillating enough for him.

    In describing Leave Alliance efforts, Kriss says “They stood for a soft Brexit from the beginning, leaving the EU but retaining Common Market membership – the “Norway option”, the kind of miserable compromise that interested absolutely nobody during the referendum, and still interests nobody now it’s our last best hope”.


    Words fail me at his naivety, he wanted a Norway option but feared “I have made it my sole occupation and have made every effort to warn about the danger of the Tory Brexit zealots”, what did he think he would get, given the Tory zealots where in power and would oversee Brexit. To assume we would get anything else is foolish beyond words. Again I remind the Brexiteers you don’t get to pick the form of Brexit you get, you get what you are given. Squealing this isn’t my sort of Brexit does you no favours as it just begs the question what sort of fecking Brexit did you expect with this lot driving the car over the cliff. You knew who would oversee it, wishing for something else is well just stupid. So no matter how much Mr North twists and turns he is an author of the situation we are in and no amount of excuses will change that. As Brexiteers are fond of saying “Suck it up you won”.

    As Lib Dems we should all be aware that getting into bed with dodgy people is likely to hurt, well if getting into bed with the Tories hurt it is likely to be but a pin prick to the hurt of getting into bed with the rabid right wing Brexiteers as Mr North and Co are finding much to their discomfort. Talk about shredding peoples reputations and the regard they are held in, well this mistake on their behalf will define them and not well in my opinion.

  • Little Jackie Paper 12th Oct '17 - 11:30pm

    George Kendall – ‘In other words, it’d be wonderful for his wealthy friends, but catastrophic for the low paid.’

    Sure. But the point remains that feelings that the economy was wonderful for the wealthy, not so much for the low paid were doing the rounds well prior to the referendum. The question was what to do about it WITHIN the EU. That question was one that REMAIN never even addressed.

    It may well be, of course, that a lot of remainers couldn’t have cared less. I suspect that was very much the case. But, as this thread is amply demonstrating, REMAIN is no further on intellectually than it was when David Cameron took his leave.

    Talkboard angst and value-signalling, sadly, is substitute for neither thought or action.

  • Jackie times are bad for the poor while we are in the EU, Brexiteers solution let’s make it much worse and make more poor people so they have more friends. You couldn’t make it up, they’ve started to try to justify Brexit as being poorer will be good for us. Try telling the new poor that Jackie they’ll love it, I’d stick to just blaming the EU that might have some traction.

  • Arnold Kiel 13th Oct '17 - 9:35am

    A services-economy always produces more income-inequality than an industrial one because one gives up capital as a producticity-enhancing complement to unskilled labor. The unskilled, some of whom could thrive in industrial processes, will be doomed.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Oct '17 - 11:14am

    The BBC has reported that the Electoral Commission may find itself in court over a decision by Vote Leave to pay a bill of over £600,000 relating to a Canadian digital organisation.

  • George Kendall 13th Oct ’17 – 11:02am

    The list of those responsible for Brexit is long…. But I think one of the most culpable was Jeremy Corbyn…………

    There’s a surprise! Why not blame him for global warming and the 2008 financial crash…I attended two of his pre-Brexit rallies; he was the only one who gave a fair assessment of staying ‘IN’ (7/10).. The vote was lost as much by the Remain ‘Chicken Little’ claims that “The sky will fall if we leave” as by the Leave promises of ‘Unicorns and faerie gold if we left”…

  • Sorry, George, I thought I’ answered you but looking back I see I didn’t…

    Overall I’m in favour of the Labour his manifesto. The theme is radical and shows a major shift in emphasis from those since the Thatcher years; not before time…

    As to your specific point on reversing ‘cuts’ I wish it had gone further but, considering the attacks from LDV, about paying for what he HAS announced, the extra £billions per year would just draw more ‘unaffordable’ comments..
    What upsets me most is, instead of supporting Labour’s ‘good bits’ we are promoting ourselves as the ‘guardians of the poor’ and just attacking Corbyn’s policies on benefits, … Very Easy to promise, when now reduced to 12 MPs with no hope of any major influence, to reverse the cuts we supported when we had 57 MPs (who had the power to stop them being introduced in the first place)…
    A little more humility would not go amiss

  • Neil Sandison 13th Oct '17 - 3:18pm

    George ,There were two things that lost us the referendum vote and we need to face up to them .George Osbourne s threatened punishment budget if people failed to tow the governments line (copied from the previous general election labour in bed with the SNP line) and the immigration figures just days before polling day .That was a toxic combination and that just pushed the majority into the leave camp in protest Referendums are rarely about whats on the ballot paper.

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