Expert View

The Brexit own-goal score so far…

by Michael Emerson | 04.06.2017

Michael Emerson is Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

If Brexit were a game of football the score to date would be in own goals only. The game has been going on for a year since the 23 June 2016 referendum, and it has 22 months of the Article 50 two years still to go.

Own goal no. 1 was instantaneous on June 24, when the pound lost 15% of its value, cutting real incomes and feeding through into rising inflation. No. 2 was Theresa May’s decision to leave the Single Market and no. 3 her choice to quit the customs union. More recently, own goal no. 4 is the forced relocation of the European Banking Authority away from London, and no. 5 the imminent departure of the European Medicines Agency.

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No. 6 also hits London, with the gradual but accelerating relocation of banking jobs to the continent, and no. 7 something of the same for the insurance sector, with Lloyds of London now setting up offices in Brussels. No. 8 sees UK universities and research centres finding it much more difficult to join consortia bidding for the EU’s huge ‘Horizon 2020’ research programme funding, and no. 9 the likelihood that the UK will be dropping itself out of the major Galileo space research programme. No. 10 is the huge rebuttal of the dishonest Boris Bus slogan that savings from Britain’s EU budget contribution would be a boost for the NHS – on the contrary, the realistic prospect is for ongoing payments into the EU budget for years to come.

The depreciation of the UK’s foreign policy standing in global affairs can count as no. 11, as Boris Johnson now discovers. Nobody is so interested in British positions any more.

So it’s not yet half time, and the score is 0-11.

There can of course be many more to come, and indeed the biggest own goals of all would be the loss of Scotland and the destabilisation of Northern Ireland following Brexit.

In the event of a ‘no deal’ – an outcome David Davies seems to view with equanimity – tariff-free trade with the EU would stop altogether, with WTO tariffs as the default solution. This in turn would be followed by a flood of further own goals through loss of foreign investments in industry.

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    And how far will a ‘no-deal’ outcome damage the UK’s means of cooperating with the EU over security and terrorism?

    But how about the home-side goals that the Brexit enthusiasts have been looking forward to scoring? Their main idea is to capitalise on the freedom to complete free trade deals in other continents where the EU does not have them yet. Tentative soundings with India and Australia have been met with prerequisite demands for the UK to ease immigration conditions – not what most Brexiters were looking for.

    The prime minister trumpeted her talks with Trump, but recently US trade officials have hinted that the stalled negotiations with the EU for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) could be resumed. So no goals have been scored by the home side so far, and some early hopes seem now far from sure bets.

    The score of 0-11 against starkly stands for the moment, and the probability is that worse is to come. When is public opinion going to see this? When is the government going to own up to those own goals?

    Edited by Geert Linnebank

    5 Responses to “The Brexit own-goal score so far…”

    • It makes me angry and very sad at the same time. It appears the lunatics have taken over the asylum. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • This is a great example of herd behaviour. Everyone knows it is going to go wrong badly but no one wants to speak truth to power. Read King and Crewe’s ” Blunders of Our Governments” for many other examples of exactly this.

    • Mark, I don’t think it’s true that nobody wants to speak truth to power. That is a core role of the senior civil servants and those who have dared to do it have (I gather) been declared PNG in the inner circle. This is much more a case of power going rogue, sealing itself inside an echo chamber and abandoning British democracy, common sense and sanity.

    • You forgotten that we will also be leaving Euratom so no source of radio isotopes for cancer treatment.

    • We haven’t even kicked off yet and we are already 11-0 down. The future for the youth of this nation is bleak.