On Brexit, Ian McConnell: We are all reeling from the bitter fruits of the Tory division now: opinion


On Christmas Eve, BORIS Johnson declared, as he announced the hard Brexit of the United Kingdom, that the Conservative government had “resolved an issue that has bedeviled our politics for decades.”

It’s nonsense here.

What the Johnson government has actually done is to ensure that in the years and decades to come, households and companies are hit with the very negative repercussions of Brexit madness.

Although absolute nonsense, Johnson’s highly annoying argument seems indicative of the blinkered view of so many Brexiteers of Tory origin who see things only from their own viewpoint.

Brexit: Ian McConnell: The fresh clothes of the Emperor are seen to be a bitter harvest.

The relationship of Britain with the European Union was definitely something that for decades had split the Conservative Party. However, for households and companies, this power struggle, manipulated by Nigel Farage first through the UK Independence Party and then through the Brexit Party, should never have been made an issue.

We should never have reached the point where, in the form of the immense harm to the economy and living standards that has resulted from years of instability and the ongoing hard Brexit and all that it entails, customers and companies have to pay the price for the bitter fruits of this internal Tory bickering.

Traditionally, the Tories have been seen as the party of industry. Given their dismal economic track record, the reasons for this are far from clear. However, regardless of why they were perceived in this manner, there is no question that the Brexit foolishness of the Boris Johnson government makes it a government that is certainly bad for business, the economy and living standards.

That’s no doubt about it. Forget the Christmas Eve speech by Mr. Johnson claiming some kind of success in winning the nearest free trade deal with the EU – only look at the 2018 predictions made by the government of Theresa May about the real effect of leaving the Single Market.

Brexit: Ian McConnell: There’s no laughing matter as uncertainty reveals lack of leadership:

What the May government’s estimates show is that Brexit would result in the UK’s GDP being 4.9 percent or 6.7 percent lower in 15 years on the basis of an average free trade deal with the EU than it would have been if the country had remained a member of the strong bloc, under the respective assumptions that migration laws do not change or that there is no net influx of workers Naturally, the Tories intend to limit immigration with their ideological Brexit, so the no-change scenario for migration laws is sadly too positive. The corresponding consequences of a no-deal exit on the UK Under the no shift in migration laws and no net immigration scenarios, GDP over a 15-year horizon would have been 7.7 percent and 9.3 percent under the forecasts.

So we should be clear that while the narrow trade agreement by Mr. Johnson is not as awful as a no-deal departure, compared to remaining in the single market, it still does a massive amount of harm to the UK. In the U.K. Due to the transition phase, which lasts until Dec. 31, it has been able to remain in the single market since the technical Brexit on Jan. 31. It would have been a long-term choice to stay in the single market, of course, had the Conservatives, under Mr. Johnson and Mrs. May, not chosen to rule out this least damaging form of Brexit.

Just to put these high economic loss figures in perspective: the Conservative government’s much-touted free trade deal with the U.S. would, according to the Johnson government’s own projections, raise the U.K. GDP over a 15-year period by no more than 0.16 percent.

It was former Prime Minister David Cameron, of course, who agreed, first and foremost, to hold a referendum on EU membership, ostensibly to try to put an end to the bickering over Europe, which may have weighed on the Conservative Party but in no way on the whole of the country.

This proved to be an erroneous estimate. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, Cameron lost the Brexit vote and resigned with a pitiful amount of xenophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric stirred up. And the referendum and its consequences have ensured that within the Conservative Party, the poisonous division over Europe has spread to the country as a whole. A lot of those who voted in favor of Brexit


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