Letter: Brexit isn’t good news for Britain

by Bill Emmott | 02.08.2017

The following letter was originally published by the New York Times in response to Daniel Hannan’s op-ed ““The Good News on Brexit They’re Not Telling You” (July 31).

To the Editor:

Daniel Hannan’s claim that it is chiefly opponents of Brexit who attribute the June 2016 referendum vote to anti-immigration feelings is extraordinary. In recent days exactly that attribution was made in a BBC interview by his own Conservative Party colleague Liam Fox, the trade minister, who is negotiating the wondrous American-British deal that Mr. Hannan praises.

And President Trump’s good friend Nigel Farage, a former leader of the UK Independence Party, wrote in The Telegraph on July 25 that “the Great Brexit betrayal has begun” because the vote was all about — guess what? — immigration, and the government looks as if it’s being too soft on it, in Mr. Farage’s view.

Even more egregious is Mr. Hannan’s claim that contrary to “doomsday cultists,” the British economy is doing well, and most voters are “celebrating the good news.” Actually, the last six months have seen the slowest growth since 2012, with real wages now falling thanks to the higher inflation caused by Sterling’s post-Brexit devaluation.

Mr. Hannan lauds a 10 percent rise in exports thanks to that devaluation without noting that imports have also been strong, and as a result, Britain’s current-account deficit of 4.4 percent of gross domestic product (higher than the United States’) drew concern last week from Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, as reported in that doomsday cult paper The Daily Telegraph.

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