It’s difficult to be optimistic about Britain’s future with the current debate. We are constantly fed stories about how dire Brexit will be for our economic and employment levels, for our food imports and for our place in the world. Such negativity however, is only self-serving to those who would rather see Britain plunge into darkness than prosper in a post-Brexit world. We must looks at some of the positive sides of how we have faired over the course of the negotiations and recognise that a no deal Brexit is not the disaster it is often predicted.
During the referendum, for example, Chancellor George Osborne promised us that Brexit would result in economic Armageddon. He predicted that in the two years following a leave vote we would see rampant inflation, immediate recession and “an increase in unemployment of around 500,000”.
What we have actually seen however, is record unemployment and inflation under control. Yesterday the Office of National Statistics reported that unemployment has gone down again and is now at a record low. In fact, nearly 300,000 fewer people are unemployed than before the referendum. Employment is booming and growth is now faster than in the Eurozone whilst overseas investors continue to flock the UK.
London has maintained its position as the world’s global financial capital and in spaces like financial technology, we have attracted more investment than any other country worldwide.
We must treat those peddling a stream of scare stories, with a certain degree of scepticism as a result. Of course, we would prefer to have a mutually beneficial trade deal when we leave the EU. But we must also remember that the EU exports much more to us than we do to them. Should the EU decide they don’t want a deal, it is they who will suffer the most, something which the EU Commission appears only now to be facing up to. Our economy has been able to show that we are resilient and strong enough to withhold pressure should we not secure a deal.
Leaving without a deal would also mean we are no longer committed to the £39 billion exit bill that Teresa May promised to pay the EU when a deal was completed. That is £39 billion that we could invest into our schools, hospitals and wider economy.
Crucially though, a clean break from the EU means we no longer have to charge sky-high tariffs on food imported from non-EU countries. If the EU decide to make it more difficult for us to import Italian tomatoes or Dutch cucumbers, we can take advantage of produce from Morocco or South Africa but at much lower prices.
For those worried about delays at the border, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement forbids unnecessary customs delays. Indeed, the Head of the WTO has been clear that Brexit will not cause disruption in trade.
Project Fear however, has been keen to peddle a disaster that awaits us. But they have now shifted tack, they now want to make “no deal” seem so unattractive to UK voters that they come round to Theresa May’s much-criticised Brexit plan.
The problem though is that if we take no deal off the table, the EU then have every incentive to offer the worst deal possible to the UK in which we are tied forever to EU rules and regulations but without having a say.
We must now be positive, not just about what we have achieved but about what we will achieve. Leaving the EU without a trade deal is nothing to be frightened of. In fact, preparing for a “no deal” Brexit makes it much more likely we will end up leaving with the best deal possible of all.