Archive | October, 2022

It started with Brexit

25 Oct
Peter Brookes in Saturday’s Times

One can only hope that, with the election of Sunak, a shameful period in British public life has come to an end.

My firm view is that it started with Brexit, and with the distortions from the Leave campaign. Now I accept there was an argument for Brexit – a democratic deficit in EU institutions, a desire to make our own laws – but it was always clear there would be an economic cost, and perhaps a high one, to leaving the EU. Most economists reckoned it would cost between 3 and 9% of UK GDP, and current estimates are that GDP is currently 4-5% lower as a result.

So when Liz Truss was bemoaning (correctly)low economic growth, she conveniently failed to mention a key reason for it.Half a percent or more is simply due to Brexit. As is now clear, you cannot offset the damage of one policy mistake – Brexit – by another – unfunded tax cuts.

The Partygate saga has caused its own blot on truthfulness in public life, but there are other examples. The trumpeting of trade deals is one. The OBR says these ‘will not have a material impact’ – as most of them simple rollover deals we already had as part of the EU but ceased when we left – but that has not stopped grand announcements about them.

And then we have the whole shameful saga of the Northern Ireland accord, and a government trying to wriggle out of an international agreement it voluntarily signed. Had Theresa May’s deal gone through – voted against by the Democratic Unionists – we would have had no border in the Irish Sea and none of the current issues.

Now the Unionists in Northern Ireland were clearly nuts to vote Leave – but we know they’re all fruitcakes. What has been so shameful is to see so many Conservative politicians from the party of Churchill, MacMillan and Thatcher telling porky pies to the British public to justify their actions and policies.

These politicians should have read C.S. Lewis:

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.