No Armageddon. That’s now Brexiters’ proud boast

by Hugo Dixon | 27.11.2017

Hardliners like Liam Fox used to talk about a glorious future after Brexit. Now they are reduced to saying that the world will not end. That’s hardly the rhetoric that won the referendum.

The latest pro-Brexit organ to spin this line was the Sunday Telegraph. Its headline blared out: “‘No EU-UK deal? It is not the end of the world’, says WTO chief” – as if avoiding the apocalypse was some great achievement. Squeezing such a shock horror admission from the head of the World Trade Organisation seems to have been a key goal for the pro-Brexit journalist, Liam Halligan.

But it is the other Liam who has made a habit of such proclamations. Last month, the trade secretary said that falling back on World Trade Organisation rules was “not exactly a nightmare”. Back in July, Fox asked: “Where is this dreadful economic Armageddon?”

Well yippee, Armageddon has been avoided. So has a nightmare and the world is not coming to an end. But falling back on the WTO would still be pretty ghastly. We would get fairly little access for our world-beating services industries. That’s not just banks, but airlines, internet companies, media groups and law firms. Our farmers would be thwacked. And the supply chains of our car industry and other manufacturers would be gummed up. And that’s without even mentioning the havoc all this would cause to Northern Ireland.

That of course is quite different from Brexiters’ promise that we would be able to have “the exact same benefits” as we now have in accessing the EU’s market as well as a wonderful future cutting swashbuckling deals all around the globe. Thanks Brexiters.

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Edited by Luke Lythgoe