Brexit: Ian McConnell: the UK’s brutal exit from the European single market – one year later


IT seemed a long year since Boris Johnson implemented the hard Brexit coveted by his administration and his cronies.

Following the signing on December 30, 2020 of this agreement with the European Union and the United Kingdom which were torn from the single market at 11 p.m. the next day with the loss of the extremely beneficial free movement of people and frictionless trade, we all had to reap what this Conservative government sowed.

The UK is in the throes of a skills and labor shortage crisis as the ruling Tories have cracked down on immigration from our EU neighbors. The move dramatically exacerbated the misfortune already suffered by the UK in the form of a net drop in immigration from the EU in the years following the ill-judged leave vote of 2016, when people across the bloc were reacting to the gruesome development of the Brexit situation in Britain. .

The scale of the labor crisis is evident in the fact that ideologically narrow-minded conservatives have been forced to introduce emergency visas for truck drivers, poultry workers and butchers. Of course, these visas have not been particularly attractive to many EU citizens, given their short-term nature. And in any case, labor and skill shortages, while evident in all of the aforementioned sectors, are much, much wider. For example, Scottish Engineering Managing Director Paul Sheerin has repeatedly highlighted the impact on his industry. Hospitality and food manufacturing business leaders also reported major effects. The UK government has now put in place temporary visa measures for healthcare workers, attempting to point the finger at the pandemic and ignore the impact of Brexit in this context.

READ MORE: What Lord Frost thought the hard line of Brexit was going to happen?

Mr Sheerin said at the end of November: “Brexit lingers on like a bad smell, a gift that not only continues to give, but never seems to go away either.”

He added: “In the crucial area of ​​skills, a quarter of members have been affected by the loss of EU nationals, and over 70% honestly say they are not fully prepared for the planned implementation. import controls imposed by Brexit due to from January 1, 2022.

READ MORE: No sign UK government cares a bit about Brexit misfortune

It is indeed with apprehension that those who understood the Brexit mess for what it is so far await the introduction of import controls, which have been delayed from this year due to a lack of preparation on the part of the British government. Thank goodness they have been delayed, given the degree of mayhem we are already facing on so many other fronts because of Brexit.

As the UK faces major demographic challenges in the years to come, with an aging population, the drag on growth due to the dismal decline in net immigration will become increasingly evident, even if it is obviously already obvious to see it. Scotland, of course, faces particular demographic challenges and it remains maddening that it was removed from the EU even though its people voted very convincingly to keep it. Of course, Scotland is not alone in this situation, with a large majority of people in London, for example, also seeing the benefits of staying in the EU despite the British nationalist bluster of the Brexiters campaign.

UK exporters have faced enormous difficulties in bringing their products to market, with the high-profile woes in the seafood sector being just one example. And the Federation of Small Businesses reported the results of a survey showing that many small businesses have given up on exporting to the EU or are considering doing so due to Brexit.

The main Brexit brakes on the economy came at the worst possible time. Of course, there never would have been a good time for such a stupid crusade as Brexit.

All the buzz of Tory Brexiters over the last few years about important and courageous new trade deals that would somehow make Britain great again turned out to be exactly what it looked like from the start – a no – hollow sense.

There have been a slew of free trade deals with various countries, giving the UK what it had under the EU anyway. People could be forgiven for thinking these were shiny new things, given the noise they were making. However, the large volume is a hallmark of this Johnson administration. And that usually means that there is actually nothing to complain about. On the Brexit front, it often seems like the big noise is largely just a spectacle for Brexit loyalists.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Brexit could have taken many forms. Cheshire cat Boris Johnson chose this one

The Johnson administration unveiled new free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand. He did it even more loudly than with the renewal agreements.

However, the benefits of these new deals are tiny compared to what was lost with Brexit, as the UK government’s own estimates show. In the case of the agreement with New Zealand, any net benefit is, based on these estimates, almost imperceptible.

The House of Commons Library Information and Research Service last week published an article on the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement by Dominic Webb, which noted: “The estimates government officials suggest that the overall effect of the deal on the UK economy is likely to be very small, with a projected increase of between 0.01 and 0.02% of GDP. Part of the reason is that Australia accounts for only 1.7% of UK exports and 0.7% of imports, and tariffs on most trade between the UK and Australia are already low.

A document released by the Johnson administration last year titled “UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement / The UK’s Strategic Approach” stated: “A trade agreement with New Zealand is believed to have limited effects on the product. global gross domestic … in the long run, with an estimated impact on GDP of 0.00% in both scenarios. It is therefore zero, to two decimal places.

In contrast, the effect of Brexit on UK GDP is enormous.

Figures released by Theresa May’s government in November 2018 showed that Brexit, with an average free trade deal with the EU, would result in Britain’s GDP in 15 years being 4.9% lower than if the country had remained in the block if there had not been a change in the migration modalities. That is 6.7% less on the basis of a zero net inflow of workers from the countries of the European Economic Area. The Conservatives have of course cracked down on immigration, a move that costs the economy dearly and will continue to do so for decades to come, unless reckless action is reversed.

You imagine that even moderate Leavers will eventually realize what the Johnson administration has done, in terms of damage to the economy and standard of living as well as to society, with its hard Brexit. Who knows though? Until then, sadly, the Johnson administration doesn’t seem to care about the grimly negative effects of its hard Brexit, which means we must continue to expect it to do nothing meaningful to even try to mitigate them. Sadly, it is households and businesses across the UK that, whatever their opinion on Brexit, must reap what Johnson and co. sown in terms of bearing the costs of insanity now and in the future, not the ideologically-oriented Johnson cabinet.


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