Ever for the reason that first days of the EU referendum marketing campaign in 2016, the Stay facet has been warning us that financial catastrophe is on the horizon. Again and again, they’ve reminded us of the near-total ‘professional’ consensus that leaving the EU would shatter the UK economic system. Since we formally left the EU in 2020, elite Remainers have developed a sort of Brexit Tourette’s syndrome. Seemingly each financial problem, from pandemic-induced supply-chain snarl-ups to post-Ukraine energy-price hikes, is now blamed squarely on Brexit.
Britain’s GDP figures, specifically, have lengthy been weaponised to the tip of undermining Brexit. Mainstream media shops have relished reporting the UK’s comparatively sluggish restoration from the Covid pandemic, in contrast with different superior economies. BBC Information evaluation from January this 12 months claimed that ‘The UK is the one main wealthy economic system that is still smaller – poorer – than previous to the pandemic and Brexit could also be an element’. In December 2022, the Monetary Occasions sneered that ‘Britain is the one G7 economic system that is still smaller than it was earlier than the pandemic’, which apparently advised that the ‘harm inflicted to the economic system’s provide facet by Covid and Brexit is even bigger than beforehand thought’. Additionally from the FT, in a slickly produced video referred to as ‘The Brexit Impact’, public-policy editor Peter Foster pointed to ‘the hole between the UK’s efficiency, which has uniquely suffered Brexit, and the efficiency of different economies which haven’t’. In truth, as not too long ago as mid-August this 12 months, it was believed that the UK had nonetheless not recovered from the pandemic, in contrast to each different G7 nation.
Besides final week, Britain’s GDP figures had been radically revised. The Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) now says that the UK economic system really recovered from the pandemic recession again in 2021. It seems that wholesalers and the healthcare sector, specifically, had produced a lot better output than beforehand thought.
These up to date figures recommend that the UK economic system is as a lot as two per cent bigger than beforehand believed. Because of this the UK can not be thought-about the worst-performing economic system within the G7. In truth, post-Brexit, the UK recovered from the pandemic at an identical price to France and at a quicker tempo than Germany, Europe’s largest economic system.
The ONS’s revision is extraordinary. As one leading economist put it: ‘Your entire UK financial narrative – post-pandemic – has simply been revised away.’ The very foundation for the Remainer elites’ narrative of doom has now been shattered earlier than our eyes.
We shouldn’t understate simply how vital this narrative has been for recalcitrant Remainers. The zombie factoid – that Brexit Britain is performing uniquely poorly amongst G7 members – was being repeated within the media proper as much as the purpose that the figures had been revised. An article within the New European final week, simply two days earlier than ONS revision, claimed that ‘the UK economic system remains to be beneath its pre-pandemic stage, and won’t surpass that stage till late 2024’.
Certainly, Britain’s financial troubles have been a key pretext for reversing Brexit ever for the reason that public voted to go away the EU. ‘Brexit made it okay to sacrifice the economic system for ideology regardless of professional warnings’, stated one outstanding Stay campaigner final 12 months.
Even earlier than we had formally left in 2020, pro-Stay journalists on the supposedly neutral broadcasters had already declared Brexit an financial catastrophe. ‘Brexit is clearly taking its toll on financial development’, stated Sky Information’ economics editor greater than a 12 months earlier than Brexit got here into pressure. ‘At what level do you say, really, democracy will not be as necessary as the longer term economic system’, Emily Maitlis as soon as memorably stated, dwell on BBC Newsnight.
After all, given the pervasiveness of anti-Brexit bias, we most likely shouldn’t count on these Remainstream broadcasters and broadsheets to vary their tune following the revised GDP figures. For example, Sky Information’ evaluation of the revision, printed on Friday, makes no reference to Brexit. The FT’s protection solely mentions Brexit to warn that the brand new GDP figures do ‘not change the large image of an underperforming UK economic system for the reason that Brexit referendum in 2016’, though they fairly clearly do problem this narrative.
None of that is to say that the UK economic system is in impolite well being. We nonetheless face extremely critical challenges, from excessive inflation to low development. Our public providers are failing and our infrastructure is crumbling – actually, within the case of England’s college buildings. Actual wage development has stagnated for the longest interval for the reason that Napoleonic Wars. Somewhat, it’s that leaving the EU has merely not been the nice financial shock that Remainers have made it out to be. Our financial issues stem from a productiveness disaster that lengthy predates Brexit. And lots of different superior Western economies are in an identical boat. Certainly, this financial malaise is one among many the reason why thousands and thousands of Britons determined to vote for a radical break from the EU.
Removed from being the reason for our financial woes, Brexit affords a possible method out. It has restored a level of democratic management over financial policymaking. It has given us the prospect to interrupt freed from many years of stale financial orthodoxy. The tragedy is that our governing class remains to be but to take up any of those alternatives or put ahead a critical various.
The warnings of post-Brexit financial gloom must be seen for what they’re – determined makes an attempt by an anti-democratic elite to cling to a failed establishment.
Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Comply with him on Twitter: @FraserMyers