Why Brexit is such a bad idea

by Hugo Dixon | 29.03.2017

As Theresa May triggers Article 50, it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the divorce process and lose sight of just how bad an idea Brexit is. It’s bad for the economy, the young and the unity of the UK. It also means less control, not more. All this is without mentioning the havoc that would ensue if, as the prime minister has threatened, we crash out of the EU without a deal as the prime minister has threatened.

Economic upheaval

Following the plunge in the pound, our purchasing power has declined and inflation has started to rise. This is merely the foretaste of the economic self-harm we are likely to witness when we actually pull out of the EU’s single market and its customs union. Any agreement we reach with the bloc, which accounts for half our trade, is going to be less advantageous than the one we currently have.

Firms will shift some of their activity abroad. That will be bad for jobs and investment. It will also be bad for tax collection. We’ll have less money to pay for essential public services such as the NHS and care for the elderly – quite the opposite of the extra £350 million a week Boris Johnson promised during the referendum.

We’ll also have to renegotiate the trade agreements the EU has with 50-plus other countries, including Canada, and won’t have the clout of the world’s largest economy behind us when we try to cut deals with America and China. Donald Trump will see we are so desperate that any pact will be on his terms: expect demands to open our supermarkets to chlorine-washed chicken and the NHS to competition from American companies.

We need migration

Brexiters will brush off any pain saying it’s necessary so we can cut migration. But they don’t mention that half our migration comes from outside the EU and will be unaffected by Brexit. And they are only just beginning to acknowledge, as David Davis did on BBC Question Time this week, that we need migrants to staff the NHS, look after our old people and do countless other vital jobs.

The Leave brigade also forgets how EU free movement is a two-way street. We have the right to live, work and retire in 27 of the most civilised and prosperous countries on the planet.

During the euro crisis, this right may not have seemed so valuable. But think about a 20-year old today. In the course of her probable 50-year working life, the opportunity to roam freely across Europe could be immensely attractive. Quitting the EU shuts that off – and don’t think there will be equivalent opportunities in America or the old Empire.

Less control, not more

Brexiters may say what really matters is we are taking “control”. But quitting the EU will lead to less control, not more.

We are currently one of Europe’s leaders. We were the prime instigators of the single market, whose rules we helped to draw. We stiffened other EU countries’ spine in standing up to Vladimir Putin after he annexed Crimea. We are a central player in Europe’s fight against Islamic terrorism. We helped secure the climate change deal in Paris.

After Brexit, the rest of the world won’t have gone away. Putin will still be in the Kremlin, Trump will still be in the White House, north Africa and the Middle East will still be a boiling cauldron of instability, China will still be flexing its muscles as a growing economic powerhouse.

Do we seriously think we will have more control in a dangerous world by standing alone rather than making common cause with 27 like-minded nations? After we quit Europe’s top table, we will be reduced to standing on our tiptoes and peering through the window to see what the others are up to. Is that control?

We will still have to abide by global trade rules, including those that govern our financial industry. But we will no longer be making those rules. When we trade with Europe, Brussels will write them; when we trade with America, Washington will be in the driving seat; when we trade with China, guess who will be dictating the terms of trade. Is that control?

A disunited Union

And, of course, Brexit brings with it big risks to the United Kingdom itself. Sinn Fein is on a roll in Northern Ireland, buoyed by fears that a hard border will be imposed with the Republic of Ireland.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon is campaigning for a new Scottish independence referendum. Brexiters say there’s nothing to worry about because it would be economically crazy for Scotland to quit the UK single market. They should know better. The fact that it is economically crazy for us to quit the EU’s single market hasn’t stopped us voting for Brexit.

Some fanatics will say that none of this matters. But there is hope that, as the two year negotiating period allowed under Article 50 progresses, saner voices will prevail. It is not too late for the British people to change their minds and junk Brexit.

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    Edited by Luke Lythgoe

    5 Responses to “Why Brexit is such a bad idea”

    • I hold out little hope that this political lunacy will end. Cameron’s shallow and superficial reckless and irresponsible gamble with the future of the nation has delivered us into the hands of some extremely unpleasant, not to say nasty, right-wing reactionaries who care little for the devastation and damage they cause to the country as a whole, just as long as they get their xenophobic, narrow-minded and bigoted way. I loathe and detest all of them.

    • Nice piece Hugo keep up the good work. Hopefully, the folly and lies of the Brexiteers will be exposed as the negotiations progress and some will realise they were duped as news of cancelled investment, lost jobs and lower living standards and crises in the NHS and Schools. This may lead to a change in the opinion polls that will make it hard if not impossible for the Brexiteers to continue this reckless mission.

    • Neil – I endorse every word of your comment.

      Brexit is an unmitigated disaster and I loathe and detest Cameron’s lazy, incompetent, irresponsible and ignorant approach to the referendum – and even more so the appalling right wing conmen who have been plotting this heist for 50 years.

      In decades to come our children & grandchildren will burn effigies of Johnson, Fox, Davis, Duncan-Smith and their ilk in the same way that we burn Guy Fawkes.

    • Yooo! Man was gaaassed at how much you layed in to the loss of control bit. Serious cred to Hugo, this is a bomb for an article.

    • The pound plummetted because of the fearmongering played out by the remain side. We had David Cameron suggesting WW3 was a possibility as the European union claims that it was them who stopped the spread of Nazism in Europe, which is very rude to the United States who made great sacrifices to help us. We also had the CBI claim Brexit will be bad for our economy, however they are funded by the EU, and it is beneficial for the EU for us to stay in this failing model. The CBI also claimed that we would be in great economic turmoil and thank god we didn’t listen to them.
      You say we need migration? That is one of the most obvious statements I have ever heard. It is a common misconception that Brexit will stop all migration, if we do get control of our borders, and the freedom of movement stops. The Europeans won’t have an unfair disadvantage over non-Europeans when trying to enter this country. Instead we can control our migration by controlling the quanity and quality of the people who enter our country by the use of an Australian point system, also I’ve heard more fearmongering we will have a massive skills shortage in low paid jobs are Brexit, are people forgetting that people outside the UK can appy for work visas, and that the UK can offer work permits to people outside the UK. The migration arguement for the leave side is almost laughable. Also we lose our right to to live, work and retire in 27 of the most civilised and prosperous countries in the world? Just like you say it is a two-way street, anyone who will economically benefit a country by migrating there will be more then welcome. Civilised and prosperous? Not after the Syrian refugee hashup. In countries like Germany, EU citizens live in fear as threats from terrorism rises, when nearly a thousand male refugees sexually assaulted German. These women were then suggested to change their clothing and mode of behaviour around the streets and were encouraged to wear a headscarf just to cater for the rapists that Mrs Merkel let in. I feel deeply sorry for the people in Germany that have to put with this. Over the last 2 years we have accepted over 10,000 refugees, and then female genital mutilation rates double within those 2 years. Coincidence? I think not. The UK has no control in the European union- yes the European parliament is democratic but is run by the European Commission which is unfortunately undemocratic. One of the reasons why European Union was founded was to stop German domination after WW2, now Mrs Merkel practically runs it. Mr Cameron in the past has attempted border control for the UK only to find out he has no power, a democratically elected man has no power. Who has this power? The unelected bureacrats in Brussels who write 60% of our laws for us despite not even living in our country. The European union is a failing model they want to attempt to make Europe 1 big state and create a European army, because of their anti-americanism. Less control does not make sense. The type of Brexit that people voted for was to leave the single market, to leave the customs union so we can make govern our own country properly, by managing our own laws and borders and being free to trade with the rest of the world. European union is the worlds biggest economy? The EU only accounts for 15% of the world’s trade, whilst in the EU we are restricted to only trade within the EU. Trump will still be in the White house you say this like it is negative thing- yes his tweets are rather distasteful, but his tweets do not reflect on his policies. Statistics have shown that he has been one of the most successful US presidents in his first year. (better than Obama) The only way you could consider him as not successful is the image that he has presented himself as. It is rather infuriating to me that people pay no attention to his policies and remain hung over past comments that Trump may have made.

      I stumbled across this article to try and understand the remain arguement, but I repeatably read nonsense.