The truth: Brexit offers no added value to Britain.
Speaking to The Observer this week, the EU’s former Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, spoke common sense.
“For me, for many of us, Brexit remains a nonsense,” he said.
“Taking into account British national interest, there is no added value to being outside the Single Market and the customs union.
“Throughout this process, I asked British leaders every day –from all the parties, [Nigel] Farage, trade unions or the business community – to give me proof for the added value of Brexit.
“Nobody was able to do this.”
He added, “To be frank, coming back to London, I see that Brexit is always on the front page.
“There are many questions and many polls, but it’s not the case in the EU. Brexit is no longer a problem for us. We have turned the page.”
Three years after Britain left the EU, the signs are that Brexit is dead – but it won’t lie down.
Last week the International Monetary Fund warned that Britain will be the only major industrialised country to see its economy shrink this year.
Yes, that means Britain will perform worse than sanctions-hit Russia.
Bregret is in the air and all around us.
Pollsters indicate that one-in-five Leave voters have now changed their minds.
What’s more, polls also show that the percentage of British voters who want to re-join the EU has gone up to almost 60 per cent, whilst the percentage of those wanting Brexit to continue is almost down to 40 per cent.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told The Observer that shortages of Labour were an exclusive British-Brexit problem, with half-a-million fewer people than before the pandemic.
“That’s not affecting any other country in Europe … it’s a particular challenge for us,” he said.
The continuing “challenges from Brexit” and the rapid impact of higher interest rates on mortgage costs were also factors, he added.
Research in December by the Centre for European Reform (CER) showed that Britain’s economy was 5.5 per cent smaller than it would have been had it remained inside the EU.
The CER’s report added that the UK’s goods trade was 7 per cent lower, and investment 11 per cent down on what it would have been had the remain campaign won in 2016.
And the Office for Budget Responsibility stands by their prediction that Brexit will cause a long hit to GDP per capita of 4 per cent.
“Pro-Brexit economic arguments have become thin on the ground,” the Observer reported.
Michel Barnier said that he sincerely wished the best for the UK, and the door is open to applying to join the EU again.
But he added this ominous footnote:
“The difficulty could be that the gap is created, starting from now into the future in our regulations.
“If there is too large a divergence, it could be more difficult. But once again, this is a choice for the UK.”
As senior figures in the EU warned this week, Rishi Sunak’s plan to scrap thousands of EU laws by the end of this year risks triggering a full-scale trade war between the UK and the EU.
Maybe that’s what the Tories now plan – a scorched earth policy.
The government will make Britain so far removed from the EU that by the time they lose the next general election, any plans for closer relations will be scotched.
Jon Danzig is a campaigning journalist and film maker who specialises in writing about health, human rights, and Europe. He is also founder of the pro-EU information campaign, Reasons2Rejoin. You can follow Jon Danzig on his Facebook journalism page at www.Facebook.com/JonDanzigWrites