There are some days when the news gives the impression that we are refighting the 2016 EU Referendum, rather than considering the steps necessary to leave the EU and ensure the continued and increasing prosperity of the United Kingdom. This book addresses this requirement succinctly, objectively and readably – as one would expect from two noted economists, one of whom is a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph.
- Liam Halligan & Gerard Lyons
The authors start by rejecting the false dichotomy of “soft” of “hard” Brexit; in their view the choice is “clean” or “messy.” The former precludes membership of the single market, customs union and the jurisdiction of the ECJ and is what the electorate voted for – the latter might or might not. Clean Brexit might come with a trade deal, or it might not. The authors make the point that no deal is hardly a disaster as WTO rules would apply, and most of our exports are under WTO anyway. The also applaud Mrs May’s statement that no deal is better than the wrong deal, and demonstrate why.
The book also considers the EU’s future without the UK (plus or minus a deal). Again, the fundamental problems of the Euro remain yet the only solution (full federalism) remains politically unacceptable. They also highlight the challenge that the Irish-UK border poses; it is patently absurd that the detail of this is negotiated on behalf of Eire by Brussels which is the current situation as that is how the EU works. Could Brexit lead to Irexit?
The second part of the book looks more closely at what the UK needs to do now to get onto a track to a bright post-Brexit future. None of this is rocket science but reading it one does wonder what on earth successive governments have been doing with our money and economy. Housing is one obvious measure of failure, as is the sorry state of UK infrastructure which, as they show, is of itself a significant contributor to low productivity growth. The authors propose solutions which seem eminently sensible and achievable.
Of course, the macro-economic world does not exist in a political vacuum and the authors are well aware of the politics (both UK and European); as they note, Brexit is more toxic in the Westminster bubble than the repeal of the Corn Laws which, like Brexit, disadvantaged the politically entrenched elite to the benefit of the general public. The authors ridicule the warnings of Project Fear, with evidence. One sample, according to the OECD Foreign Direct Investment to the UK in 2015 totalled $33 billion. On 2016 the total was $254 billion, of which $178 billion was committed after the June vote.
While this book is primarily an analysis of the economics of making Brexit work, it is also an expose of how Westminster ill serves the interests of the British population. This should be more widely known (although it has been long suspected).
Its style is light, its data remorseless. If it occasionally repeats points such the ease of operation under WTO frankly they are points that need making repeatedly until the media gets it. However you voted in June 2016, if you are interested in securing a vibrant future for the UK you should read this book.