BREXIT CRUNCH TIME: THE TRUTH EMERGES  

Mahmudur Rahman   | Published: December 02, 2018 21:04:24 | Updated: December 07, 2018 21:16:09


Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons, London, Britain on November. 26, 2018: British MPs to vote on Brexit deal on December 11, 2018. —Photo: Reuters

From politicians to bureaucrats the Brits are taking a bashing at home and abroad for the debacle that is Brexit. The stiff British upper lip has finally sagged to reveal that Brexit as per Theresa May's deal will leave the country poorer. According to an economic analysis the impact will be worse in the long run. And Ms May bending backwards over her own preference on Remain is having to present a best worse-case scenario. It's almost as if there's a concerted but quiet attempt to either move towards a Remain move or a referendum for a review. This suggests that the broader view of sovereignty, savings, jobs and all that jazz was badly, wrongly presented to the electorate. In short, the fear of political existence overrode the truth.

Some of the friendliest farewell words summed up the deal signed off by the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) whereas less than two years ago there were chants of punishing Britain for the move. The same Governor of the Bank of England Mike Carney who posted rosy post-Brexit figures at the time first backtracked to say some of the analysis had been wrong and now says it is going to hurt badly. Mike Carney was one of those whose statements were highlighted by the Leave Campaign. It all points to a referendum very badly run.

In broad terms the deal assuages the political ramifications of Leaving by glossing over some glaring facts. Three hundred and fifty billion dollars of British exports go to the EU comprising 44 per cent of total exports. The next highest of 19 per cent goes to the United States and Donald Trump has dumped another bombshell by declaring he isn't sure that trade will survive post-Brexit in view of its trading model with the EU. That leaves just 17 per cent of exports for the rest of the world, albeit given two of the largest populations in India and China and the 3rd largest economy Japan waiting to be wooed. That presumes the UK has the time to forge new trade deals under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), till its post-Brexit romance is over.

The EU has already signed a deal with Japan and is hobnobbing with China. The UK has already failed to raise much interest for a trade deal with India and the collateral damage could be significant. Whether the bureaucrats in London have done enough homework to sift through the smaller possibilities is not a question that has yet been asked. In a couple of weeks the House of Commons will be voting to ratify or reject  Ms May's deal. In between she will lobby the populace and horsetrade with MPs. What no one has said as of yet is whether alternative scenarios have been explored in enough detail.

The puzzling bit is that if, as Ms. May has said, businesses are welcoming this deal then probably their alternate scenarios are gloomier which brings us back to square one. Smaller businesses were the loudest to complain of losing out to larger chains and competing immigrants' business. They will be happier with local competition, just as in the old days. The public houses (read pubs) are already beginning to hire more work force as they see an increase in custom -especially locals and detached integration of takenover businesses will provide more job openings. More customs and border checks will require more employees and surveillance too.

Lifestyles are all about adjustments. From mowing their own lawns the British now hire immigrants to do the job. Maybe now the lifestyle will turn full circle.

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

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