As the second anniversary of the UK’s ill-judged departure from representative democracy hoves into view, only the mess the government is making of Brexit is becoming clear. Our robotic PM continues to insist that we are leaving the customs union and single market despite the fact that she unable to articulate how this might be done without causing enormous cost and chaos. Meanwhile, the cabinet has agreed a ‘fall-back’ (in reality most likely) position that will keep the UK in the EU as a non-voting member for at least five years after March next year. The Leavers’ referendum claim that we are ‘taking back control’ can now be seen for what it always was; cynical rhetoric. Any idea the EU had that the UK’s lack of a negotiating position was a cleaver ploy has long since evaporated. It is now revealed as a theatre of the absurd.
In less than a month, the European Council will take stock of the Brexit negotiations. With the October deadline for agreement looming, the UK is as far away now as it was two years ago from a settled negotiating position. While Mrs May’s introspectively negotiates with her cabinet and party, Brexit uncertainty continues to erode the economy’s current and future prospects. Economic growth is at a virtual standstill, which the ONS insists cannot be blamed on the ‘Beast from the East’. As Mark Carney observed, the economy is following the trajectory projected by the Treasury prior to the referendum. The Treasury projected that by 2030 GDP would be some 6 per cent lower than the level it might reasonably have been expected to achieve in the absence of Brexit and the government’s more recent projections suggest the outcome could be a lot worse if the UK’s negotiations fail.
28th May 2018