During the referendum campaign both sides made considerable remarks (some justified, others less so) about the state of trade, the economy and employment and whether the UK voted Leave or Remain on 23 June 2016. One year on we have learnt many things including the reality of an EU army. We have also learnt that Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA are all keen to pursue trade agreements with the UK. Furthermore, few critics have acknowledged the success rates of economies beyond the eurozone in the time frame 2012-2017.
Firstly, those for Remain insisted trade would be adversely affected by a vote to leave the EU. In fact President Obama declared the UK would go to the "back of the queue." Contrary to this declaration President Trump is eager to sign a deal as soon as possible. The USA is after all one of our top export destinations.
According to Tim Wallace of the Telegraph (5 April 2017),
"Stronger demand from the US and other countries indicates that the weaker pound is helping exporters sell more goods and services abroad." (my emphasis) It is therefore hard to see with increased exports in more than one quarter how the UK could be (by any interpretation of the word) 'floundering' post-Article 50. New government figures for July 2017 support such an analysis with an increase in trade by 5.8%.
Secondly, Nick Clegg amongst others claimed (on more than one occasion) that 3 million jobs would be at risk IF the UK voted to leave the EU. Figures from the Office of National Statistics for the period June 2016 to September 2016 and between March 2017 and May 2017 show "the number of people in work increased." In the time period March 2017 to May 2017 there were fewer people "economically inactive" and therefore contributing to the economy.
Thirdly, the likes of Kenneth Clarke wondered why anyone would want to deal with the UK post-Brexit? Perhaps he is unaware of our rich history of invention or of the Commonwealth or of the 5 eyes or of Canzuk and the potential UK growth beyond the legal confinements of EU membership. As a member of the EU, the UK is currently prohibited from negotiating with the rest of the world on bilateral trade agreements. One of the obvious benefits of Brexit will be the removal of similar economic hurdles.
Fourthly, it was argued by many including Keir Starmer that we needed access to the single market. John Longworth asserts, "all the benefits of Brexit are entirely independent from the single market and the customs union." Rebalancing the economy in a post-eurocentric Britain provides entrepeneurs and bankers with the same economic potential. These benefits are unattainable while interest rates and other economic impairments are necessary under EU law.
Finally, GDP it was argued would be adversely affected if we chose to leave the EU; it would stumble and stagnate was the argument, if we voted leave. One year on no such apocalypse has occurred. Inevitably, like any divorce there will be an economic period of adjustment for both parties. Longworth insists that "the real benefits of Brexit will be a considerable chunk of GDP." Nigel Lawson is of a similar disposition. Naturally, Brexit will once again define Britain beyond an Empire – as a nation state in charge of its own destiny.
James Alexander Coghlan