So, its been over 12 months since the Referendum on leaving the European Union. Its been a momentous time. In the time since then we have had the prime minister ( Cameron) resign and a new prime minister in May installed. A Labour party that seemed in meltdown after the local elections. A Snap general election a few weeks later that saw Labour run the Tories a close second leaving the loser Corbyn feeling powerful and the winner May trying to survive like a boxer on the ropes.
However, put that to one side and lets look at what the vote to leave the EU has meant to each of us in practice. During the referendum campaign we were told that a vote to leave would be disastrous and we would need an emergency budget, businesses would leave Britain immediately and basically the world as we Bits know it would end.
So, what has happened? Well the FTSE has risen, showing there is confidence in British businesses still.
What businesses have fled Britain as a result of the Brexit vote? To date, none have . It is true that we have not left yet, but no business has said it is leaving the UK. There is a lot of sabre rattling, but so far no action.
What about the exchange rate? It is correct that it has fallen against the dollar and the Euro. Is this a problem? It means it is cheaper for our businesses to export goods, so should mean our businesses are able to sell more abroad. It also means that imported goods will be more expensive, thus encouraging British consumers to buy British, Another win for the UK economy. Obviously, it means your holiday money doesn’t go as far, so holidays abroad are dearer. Again, there may be a positive in this in that it may encourage more spending in the UK as people have staycations either by choice or forced by financial issues.
So, despite the headless chickens and the scare stories, it seems that in practice little has changed so far. We still travel to and from Europe and despite what some people have you think, we still will after Brexit is complete. We travelled to and from Europe before the EU was formed. The only practical difference is that we may walk through a different channel at passport control.
So despite all the rhetoric and hate speech by people on both sides, no one has taken anyone’s future away and in practice little has happened. The whole EU issue is the biggest red herring out there. It is sad to read peoples hate filled posts on social media, in the papers and listen to hate filled rants on the radio about this topic.
So, let me now turn to the “negotiations” to leave the EU. There seems to be a lot of media posturing on both sides. Both sides seem to be trying to debate in the media rather than with each other face to face.
Whether you are a Remainer or a Brexiteer, it is in the interests of Great Britain to support the negotiators on behalf of the UK. Why I hear the Remainers ask? You want Britain to be part of the EU ( I am not going to re hash those arguments).
Let us assume for a minute that at some time in the future Britain decides it wants to change its view and remain/ re-join the EU. If Britain does not leave the EU now, then our negotiating position with EU in any future matters becomes very weak. The strength of our hand ( and that of every other country) in any negotiations is they will leave the EU. If we now do not leave the EU, then the rest of the EU will know our threats are idle ones as we had the chance to leave and bottled it. We become a neutered party at any EU negotiations.
If we do leave the EU and then choose at a later time to re-join, there will be negotiations to re-join. If we negotiate a weak position on Brexit, then we have no hand with which to negotiate in future and as such we will end up with a poor deal.
If however we negotiate a strong deal on Brexit, then when negotiating to re-join we will be in a strong position and have a good hand to renegotiate the terms of our re-entry.
It therefore seems to me that the best interests of Brexiteers and Remainers are served at this stage by a strong negotiation on Brexit and getting the best possible deal.