Ignore the alarmism of the referendum deniers: we are now entering calmer Brexit waters

Ignore the alarmism of the referendum deniers: we are now entering calmer Brexit waters

On scant evidence, Brexit has been judged by our Chattering Classes to be a disaster. Trade bodies , such as the CBI and IOD, despair at ‘uncertainty’ – but when has business ever had ‘certainty’? Those politicians keen to legitimise such anxieties – Sir Keir Starmer, Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie to name but three – are frantically searching for some proof to overturn or dilute Brexit to the point of negation – and, in doing so, they have raised a myriad of speculative and sometimes trivial objections.

You might recall Project Fear, during the referendum in 2016, declared we would suffer immediate catastrophe if the UK voted to leave the EU. When our economy did not collapse after the vote, they simply reworked the timeline. They said we would suffer uncontrollable inflation along with the fall of sterling, doubtless speculating that economic devastation would allow a re-run of the referendum or implementation to be delayed indefinitely, thereby pushing us into perpetual ‘transition.’

After the vote our currency certainly revalued – as the IMF had previous announced it would, whichever way we voted – and inflation rose a notch; but stock markets bounced remarkably, employment soared and manufacturing performed well. The retail sector has had some patchiness but, even there, Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium recently admitted ‘’we have passed the peak of upward inflation caused by the fall of the pound in June 2016’’. Our public finances are rosy for the first time in years. We have, therefore, weathered the worst of the storm of Brexit and are ready to sail into calmer waters.

This is why it is so alarming that some still evidently want Brexit to suffer the Death of a Thousand Buts. They have no actual evidence of actual economic collapse. They can only make predictions, no more likely to be right than the erroneous ones they pushed two years ago. They cannot easily challenge the fact of the referendum vote itself so want to define it, on their terms, and constrain it as far as possible to what Jacob Rees-Mogg rightly calls “Brexit In Name Only”.

Sir Keir Starmer has now manoeuvred Labour to advocating continued Customs Union membership on the caveat which, despite his closeness to Michel Barnier, is surely unacceptable to the EU in practice: that we will be free to strike trade deals with other countries.

They have coined erroneous expressions like “extreme Brexit” to cover any meaningful implementation of the vote. Instead, they are pushing a so-called “sensible Brexit”, seeking to tie us into ongoing membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

I look at such a potential outcome as deeply disturbing: it would leave us dependent on the whims of people in Brussels who have shown they mean to punish us and beholden to them for permission to engage with a world of opportunity. It is removed from the mutual regulatory recognition which many leading lights in the City of London (such as CityUK and the Corporation) are starting to cohere around and would instead see the UK economy tucked into an orbit around such tawdry ‘stars’ as Barnier, Juncker and Tusk.

If we stand firm and advance the case for the free-est possible access to each other’s markets, based on mutual recognition of the other’s regulatory frameworks, then we will gain freedom for the UK. We might even encourage a more liberal EU and thus perform a service to all the people of Europe!