I don’t talk about Brexit much. As a Remainer, I was gutted Britain voted to leave. That was six years ago. Today is the sixth anniversary of that 2016 vote.
In 2018, I left Britain to live in Europe. My sympathies lie in Europe and not in Britain. I made this clear when asked if Britain would leave Europe on June 21, 2016, and said absolutely not. Then, on June 23, 2016, we voted to leave. Admittedly it was a 50/50 vote, so the referendum was rigged as a bad mistake, but the vote was approved and, ever since, many have been lamenting what has been lost.
To be clear: this blog entry is biased therefore.
When I travel from Europe to the UK, my passport is stamped and I feel like an alien; when billing EU clients, I now have to charge them VAT which I didn’t before (it was offset); when looking for workers in the UK, the lower cost workers of Europe are no longer available … the list goes on.
Is this a European arguing against the Brexiteers? Not really. Just realising what a mistake it was.
So, I go online and look to see what the rest of the world thinks. Therefore, on this sixth anniversary of telling Europe fank u, here’s a few insights.
“We’re seeing goods getting backed up in ports, businesses swamped with red tape and trade falling. People up and down the country can see this first-hand and the Bank of England should be reporting on this, not muting their comments to appease the Government.”
“Brexit was a significant mistake. You don’t solve the problems of the left-behind by damaging the one area of the country that’s been writing the cheques. London is paying large amounts of tax and will be damaged by Brexit over time.
Since travel restrictions were lifted, 8,000 job applications from European Union citizens have been rejected by easyJet because the candidates did not have permission to work in the UK … this is why easyJet have had to cancel hundreds of flights.
“The pool of people is smaller, it’s just maths. We have had to turn down a huge number of EU nationals because of Brexit.”
Six years on, it cannot be said that Brexit removed the European Union from our political life, or that leaving has been an unalloyed success. It is worrying to think we went through so much pain to take back control and get Brexit done, only to waste the opportunity it provides.
The Guardian is even more damning.
What the government’s current contortions really betray is its anxiety about the Brexit project’s long-term survival. As they try and shore up an increasingly feeble prime minister, Brexiters are not behaving like people who won, but people brimming with fear and paranoia.
I think the whole thing can be rounded up by this review in The Atlantic:
Britain today is a poor and divided country. Parts of London and the southeast of England might be among the wealthiest places on the planet, but swaths of northern England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are among Western Europe’s poorest. Barely a decade ago, the average Brit was as wealthy as the average German. Now they are about 15 percent poorer—and 30 percent worse off than the typical American.
My feeling, as I watch Britain from afar, is that the country is in a massive period of transition and change. It has the greatest achievements – the new Elizabeth Line delivered by Crossrail (over budget and late) is a good example. However, the lack of an ethical government (Partygate and breaking ministerial codes) and decent opposition (Kier Starmer is a weak rule keeper) leaves me lamenting a country in a state of crisis.
What does all of this mean for banking and London? Well, the omens are not good.
The UK is lagging behind the rest of the G7 in terms of trade recovery after the pandemic; business investment, seen by Johnson and Sunak as the panacea to a poor growth rate, trails other industrialised countries, in spite of lavish Treasury tax breaks to try to drive it up. Next year, according to the OECD think-tank, the UK will have the lowest growth in the G20, apart from sanctioned Russia.
The Office for Budget Responsibility, the official British forecaster, has seen no reason to change its prediction, first made in March 2020, that Brexit would ultimately reduce productivity and UK gross domestic product by 4 per cent compared with a world where the country remained inside the EU. It says that a little over half of that damage has yet to occur.
That level of decline, worth about £100bn a year in lost output, would result in lost revenues for the Treasury of roughly £40bn a year. That is £40bn that might have been available to the beleaguered Johnson for the radical tax cuts demanded by the Tory right — the equivalent of 6p off the 20p in the pound basic rate of income tax.
Source: The Financial Times
Postnote: Did I mention exporting migrants to Rwanda, changing regulations to break EU agreements so that Ireland has no borders, etc, etc, etc.
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...