Brexit POLL: Was leaving the EU a mistake?

Brexit consequences are ‘a fiasco’ says Jonathan Freedland

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Mr Freedland said that the aftermath of Brexit was a “fiasco” as a result of  “friction” caused by the new trade arrangements made. In his argument, Mr Freedland cited forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) that suggest the UK would experience lower growth than the rest of the EU coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5’s Nicky Campbell on Wednesday, May 11, he said: “I’m talking about the implications of the implementation of it. It’s a fiasco, it’s a disaster for the country.

“You have the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility estimating that Brexit will reduce the country’s output, its GDP, by four percent which is twice the impact or damage of the pandemic.

“This was a self-inflicted wound and there’s a reason why Britain is lagging behind in growth now, after the immediate hit of the pandemic, compared to other countries in the European Union.”

He added: “It has cost us a huge amount, people involved in it, supporting the bureaucracy, the form-filling, the checks they now have to do…this is a huge drag and it causes friction on trade.”

In March, the OBR forecasted that Britain’s international trade will remain at less than 15 percent than when still in the EU.

OBR chairman Richard Hughes attributed the forecast to the assumption of a fall in the intensity of trade and the economy evolving to be “less open”.

Mr Hughes said: “Trade as a share of GDP has fallen by around 12 percent since 2019 which is about two-and-a-half times more than in any other G7 country.

“Overall UK trade volumes are down by about 15 percent compared to what would have happened if we had stayed in the EU because we have made it more expensive to trade with our single largest trading partner.”

Chris Grey, Emeritus Professor of Organisation Studies at Royal Holloway and ex-Professor at Cambridge University, argued that in addition to the economic impact, six years after the referendum “Brexiteers are losing the post-Brexit narrative”.

Writing for his blog Brexit and Beyond, Mr Grey noted an “‘admission-yet-denial’ phenomenon” among Brexiteers, whereby ministers are acknowledging issues with the UK leaving the bloc but point to other factors such as the pandemic and Ukraine crisis.

Brexit Opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said earlier this month that customs checks scheduled to be introduced in phases from July this year will be delayed for the fourth time, describing it as an “act of self-harm”.

In March, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said that the damage to trade with the EU after Brexit was “inevitable”.

And former Brexit chief Lord David Frost has repeatedly labelled the Northern Irish protocol as unworkable, despite being part of the negotiations with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to replace the backstop with it.

So what do YOU think? Was leaving the EU a mistake? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comment section below.

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