Brexit: the ultimate recipe for disaster.
A comparatively anodyne figure, Philip Hammond last week presented a vision of Brexit that would have pleased many:
‘The question is not whether to have cake, or eat it or even who has the largest slice. The question that matters is whether we can be smart enough to work out how to continue collaborating together to keep the cake expanding for the benefit of all.’
Other than proving that he was capable of deploying an already overworked metaphor, Hammond’s words, which build on Boris Johnson and May’s clear-but-not-clear statements before him, have proved to be worth little. What began as a positive and, for some, bullish enterprise has turned into a rather half-baked affair. As The Guardian reported, negotiating a Brexit deal that would have delivered the fruits of EU membership without actually being in EU has now been shelved; here’s hoping the poetic devices that accompany such plans might fade too.
As the stories on Brexit Record highlight, the belief that Britain would experience exponential growth following its departure is dangerously naive and highly unlikely. Rather than development and growth we are experiencing stagnation and regression: the Brexit secretary has been left hamstrung by May’s strident nature (walk outs, arguments, a growing and irreconcilable distance between this country and the member states are all possible outcomes) and the lack of conspicuous opposition from Corbyn’s side only escalates the severity of the situation. Those who favour remaining in the single market, something Corbyn is against, have been quickly replaced with unknowns willing to fill seats on the bench and spaces on the whip’s sign-up sheets.
There is till time for the opposition to get louder; it is up to those dissenters and the people covering this to pull together before May takes off. For now, one thing is clear: Brexit has already affected the country before officially happening. A year after the vote, investment in car manufacturing has reduced significantly: if it stays at the current level, the investment level in 2017 will hover around £644m, down from £1.66bn in 2016. The biggest banks – including SMFG, Nomura and Morgan Stanley – are all increasing their base in Frankfurt and Dublin to stay connected to EU countries and they’re willing to pay sums in excess of £13 billion and to tackle a war of paperwork only slightly more favourable than reading Ulysses to do so. Design students are shunning London, the service and health industries gaze into an abyss of vacant job posts (nurse applications are down 96% and restauranteurs across the country are facing shortages) and Scotland’s economy teeters on the brink of recession.
None of that has affected the course. It doesn’t matter that the NHS is likely to be crippled, nor that the millions the financial services contributes to the UK economy in taxation is likely to diminish. It doesn’t matter that skilled workers from the EU are likely to ditch the UK, nor that best of those in the country are now shackled to these shores by dint of where they were born. With Brexit, the proof, so to speak, will be in the pudding. It won’t be easy to swallow.