Brexit is irreversible – but we need to forge stronger economic ties with the EU


Taking up his new role as British Prime Minister last week, Rishi Sunak said he was committed to the 2019 manifesto and “building an economy that seizes the opportunities of Brexit”.

Noble ambition, no doubt, though somewhat banal; it is after all only what he was elected to do.

Yet he needs to move – and in fact articulate precisely what those opportunities are – because six years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, all we have to show so far, it is political, economic and financial chaos.

From an economic point of view, there has been no return on investment and, particularly in the area of ​​international trade and reputation, considerable damage.

Some of the more realistic architects of Brexit admittedly partially recognized these disadvantages. Sunak has acknowledged leaving the EU has been disruptive to trade, while Lord Frost, who brokered the Withdrawal Agreement, insists he always said there would be a cost.

Similarly, Nigel Farage never sought to reduce the likelihood of economic deterioration, but thought it would be a price to pay for sovereignty, a view shared by many Brexiteers.

It is also true that it is virtually impossible to disentangle the negative economic effects of Brexit from the much more devastating, albeit time-limited, consequences of the lockdown and the current energy crisis. These latest implosions are global in nature, providing a convenient cover behind which politicians can hide.

In doing so, they delude themselves about the scale of the challenge ahead.

There is a conspiracy of silence on these issues, because beyond flag-waving patriotism, it is difficult to truly point to any form of economic gain that is both politically and fiscally feasible.

Liz Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng tried, and they lasted just over a month.

Sometimes slowly but often by leaps and bounds, many of these so-called Brexit opportunities are being abandoned or quietly pushed aside, the latest example being the promise to review or repeal the remaining 2,400 EU laws.

During the election campaign, Sunak said he would do so in his first 100 days in office, a pledge backed by a video of a man feeding offending legislation into a paper shredder to the sound of Ode to Joy, l european anthem.

It’s as if much of what passes for government over the past fifty years – a period that includes, by the way, twenty-six years of Conservative-led government – counts for nothing.

And I guess that’s actually one way of looking at it. Yet to achieve that ambition even by the end of next year, let alone the first 100 days, is now apparently seen as too much of a stretch. There are bigger things to worry about, apparently.

Out too goes fracking, much of the planned bonfire of bureaucracy, and at least for now, any notion of a low-tax economy. In terms of the broad political envelope, it is increasingly difficult to see the difference between Sunak and Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition.

We had hoped for a fresh start after the chaos of Truss’ forty-four days, but already the new Prime Minister seems more concerned with the internal struggles of his own party than with delivering a national unification plan that could conceivably come out the country of his trouble. .

Sunak’s cabinet, supposedly bringing together all the elements of the unruly coalition of interests and ideologies that is today’s Conservative Party, only makes sense in terms of the sordid behind-the-scenes deals needed to secure the Prime Minister’s own coronation.

Otherwise, why would you include the likes of Private Pike (aka Gavin Williamson) and the gloriously named Suella Braverman, whose protectionist instincts in the latter case seem diametrically opposed to the globalist and free trade ambitions of many of her colleagues? Do we want a free trade agreement with India or not? In any case, it is very difficult to see how this Cabinet can function in the cohesive manner promised.


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