Over the past month, we have seen the Brexit silly season on steroids. Day after day, we have been given a list of dire consequences if the UK should have temerity of leaving the EU without agreeing a formal trade deal: astronomical price rises, empty supermarket shelves, soldiers on the streets, medicine shortages and, of course, the much-mocked British sandwich crisis.
The only thing missing so far has been the invasion of fire-breathing dragons but, don’t worry, we’re are only in the middle of August.
True to form, our national broadcasters have been quick to promote this nonsensical scaremongering. Fortunately, the British public are unlikely to be taken in and today’s stellar unemployment figures illustrate why.
During the referendum, Chancellor George Osborne promised us that Brexit would result in economic Armageddon in the two years following a leave vote – rampant inflation, immediate recession and “an increase in unemployment of around 500,000”.
Well yesterday, the ONS reported that unemployment has gone down again and is now at a record low. In fact, nearly 300,000 fewer people are unemployed than before the referendum. Employment is booming, Inflation is under control, growth is now faster than in the Eurozone whilst overseas investors continue to flock the UK.
Those peddling the latest stream of scare stories should not be surprised to find that the public treat them with a very sceptical eye. And, indeed, they would be right to so to do. Everyone would prefer us to have a mutually beneficial trade deal when we leave the EU. Remember that the EU export much more to us than we do to them. If the EU decide they don’t want a deal, it is they who will suffer the most, something which the EU Commission appears only now to be facing up to.
Leaving without a deal would also mean we are no longer committed to the £39 billion exit bill that Teresa May promised to pay the EU when a deal was completed. How much would our schools and hospitals benefit from that sort of cash?
Most importantly, a clean break from the EU means we no longer have to charge sky-high tariffs on food imported from non-EU countries. If the EU decide to make it more difficult for us to import Italian tomatoes or Dutch cucumbers, we can take advantage of produce from Morocco or South Africa but at much lower prices.
For those worried about delays at the border, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement forbids unnecessary customs delays. Indeed, the Head of the WTO has been clear that Brexit will not cause disruption in trade.
Of course, the real reason for the new Project Fear is to make “no deal” seem so unattractive to UK voters that they come round to Theresa May’s much-criticised Brexit plan. The problem though is that if we take no deal off the table, the EU then have every incentive to offer the worst deal possible to the UK in which we are tied forever to EU rules and regulations but without having a say. Perhaps that is what the Prime Minister’s arch-Remainer civil servant, Olly Robbins, has been planning all along.
Leaving the EU without a trade deal is nothing to be frightened of. In fact, preparing for a “no deal” Brexit makes it much more likely we will end up leaving with the best deal possible of all.
To read Professor David Paton’s piece in full, click here.