secondoris Johnson always expected news of a deal to be greeted with glee. It would be his moment of triumph after three decades of climbing to the top of British politics criticizing Brussels. The right-wing press obediently joined. Even Nigel Farage stated: “The war is over.”
But with Britain in a state of crisis due to the government’s failed response to the pandemic, most people will react with relief or perhaps indifference. Despite all the triumphant claims of the Brexiters, the sunny highlands they told us to wait are nothing more than another cold, dark and wet winter’s day. The antics of the last hour mean there will be little scrutiny of a trade deal that could shape Britain’s economic destiny for a generation.
As a means of lowering expectations and adding drama, Johnson continued to perpetuate his predecessor’s “no deal” deception – that it was so plausible that he was seeking such a ruinous outcome that he does not give him credit. The idea that some of the world’s largest economies would collapse by a few middle-aged men with hulking egos and puffy chests arguing about fish was always ridiculous. And embarrassing.
It is a sad accusation from our political class and the media that many followed suit. Brexit was always driven in part by the lure of destroying the present. The farce has been presented as a drama, when reversing more than 40 years of cooperation for peace and prosperity is truly a tragedy.
The Brexit deal itself is nothing but fine mush. It will make it much more difficult for Britain to sell services to EU countries, where we once had an advantage. The British will lose their right to freely travel, work and settle in other European countries. While there will be no tariffs or restrictions on the amount of goods that can be sold, British exports will for the first time in decades face controls on their origin and compliance with EU regulations.
The government fought hard for regulatory autonomy that it imagines will allow Britain to achieve an escape velocity from economic reality. It’s a fantasy. British producers will have to comply with EU regulations to sell in its most important export market, no matter what the bureaucrats in Whitehall say. A separate set of British regulations for companies to comply with damages rather than enhance our international competitiveness.
After almost half a century of closer integration with the European economy, Britain is now caught up in the task of unnecessarily raising new barriers to trade with our closest neighbors. As has been demonstrated in recent days, ports can quickly fall into chaos. Even if the deal’s implementation is smooth, a big yes, it will prove costly to the UK economy, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that it will cut growth by more than 2% and see inflation rise to 3.5%. That means fewer good jobs, lower income, and higher prices.
The dual impact of the pandemic and Brexit has boosted business investment, the engine of wealth creation. down by 30% its long-term trend. Since the deal sees Britain now outside of the world’s largest single market, it will make this country a less attractive place to invest. Britain has long depended on the “kindness of strangers”. They will not look favorably on this deal. No serious economist would recommend ruining your trade deals with your biggest trading partner.
This result was an election by Johnson and the Conservative government, not an inevitable consequence of the vote to leave in 2016. People voted not to end our economic cooperation but to put it on a new and different political foundation, with more explicit and firm sovereignty. rooted in Westminster rather than clustered in Brussels. Instead, Britain will have the same trade agreements as distant and distant countries.
Furthermore, this deal will make Britain’s poorest communities the hardest hit, especially in the North and Midlands, which are more reliant on manufacturing, which will become a significant loser. For all the talk of “nothing to lose”, analysis by IPPR shows that a Brexit deal like this will do the most harm to those least resistant to it. Why would Labor support such a poor result for Britain?
Perhaps the simplest argument is that a vote against this agreement is a vote against an agreement. As the miserable years since Britain voted for Brexit have taught us, deadlines are imaginary lines drawn by politicians who can change with enough political will. The main impediment to a better deal is not the EU, but conservative hard-line ideology. Furthermore, the Conservatives have a large majority, so any parliamentary vote is based on what the opposition parties believe and not on whether the deal will be implemented.
It was Labor’s abject failure to reach a coherent political position on Brexit in the last parliament that was one of the many reasons for its terrible performance at the polls in December 2019. But the plan to vote for the deal shares the same thought. politician than Labor’s disastrous embrace of austerity under Ed Miliband, where the same Westminster logic led him to follow the polls rather than show leadership. Do not expect the electorate to thank Labor for abandoning its principles and voting for a deal that will harm Britain. They will not.
Political convictions are important. If the 2016 referendum had been the other way around, does anyone seriously imagine that Brexit conservatives would say they have to accept the result and march through the lobbies in favor of the latest EU treaty? Voting for a shoddy deal will surely dampen the enthusiasm of many of Labor Party supporters, the vast majority of whom have always been rightly hostile to the far-right Brexit project.
Failure to oppose the Tory Brexit deal will leave Labor quiet for years to come as the damage unfolds, unable to process its core argument for firing the Tories. Forecasters are already hoping Britain will have one of the slower recoveries from the Covid crisis precisely because the economy is facing the Brexit disruption at the same time. If Labor votes with the government, any criticism from the shadow ministers will be answered with: “Well, you voted for the deal.” Surely Labor wants to be able to argue that the Tories have represented Brexit along with everything else, which is why the electorate should fire them and put Labor in power.
An overwhelming majority for the Brexit deal would give Johnson precisely the “reset” moment that his troubled prime minister so desperately needs. He would see the prime minister end a torrid year backed not only by his deal, but also by the shameful tactics he employed to secure it. It will leave Johnson like a hoop just as he’s wallowing in failure over his handling of the pandemic.
This lousy deal is bad for Britain. That should be the only criterion that matters. It’s not complicated. Labor should oppose it.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.