Everybody seems to want to tell me it’s over, when it’s only just beginning.
The agony of Brexit will go on for many years, I reckon.
It started in the early hours of this morning (June 24), when the currency markets realised the UK might actually have voted to leave the European Union. Result: The value of the pound plummeted. It has now reached its lowest value since 1985.
This means it is now far more expensive for the UK to import goods from foreign countries. Optimists point out that it is also far cheaper to sell goods abroad that we manufacture here – but what do we manufacture? The UK was switched to a service and finance-based economy by the Conservative Party. Manufacturing was all but wiped out from 1979 onwards.
Alongside the drop in the value of the pound came a fall in the prices of UK stocks and shares – by around eight per cent. It means £100 billion was knocked off the value of the UK overnight. I am reliably informed that the shock is hitting pension funds particularly hard, so your retirement is likely to be much, much less comfortable from now on.
The decision by conurbations like Sunderland and Swindon to quit the EU will have huge repercussions on employment in those areas. Nissan has a factory in Sunderland; Honda in Swindon – because bases in the UK mean they can sell into the EU without paying large tariffs. With Brexit on the way, that’s no longer the case so those areas are looking at catastrophic increases in unemployment.
US firms are in the same position. I know of one person whose job offer from an American-based company was dependent on the UK remaining in the EU; I suspect that offer has evaporated and the company’s presence here will soon do the same.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to Remain, so now both are agitating to leave the United Kingdom. Who can blame them? Expect to see a new Scottish independence referendum within the next few years, and moves to reunify Northern Ireland with the Republic. The United Kingdom’s days are numbered, and the number is small.
The loss of the country and the province will, of course, further diminish the UK’s capacity to pay its way in the world.
Ah, but we’ll get back all the money that we’re spending on our EU membership, right?
For a start – as This Writer has made clear ever since I found out – the UK benefits from EU membership, by around £120 million a week. This is mostly due to the presence of migrant workers who bring £281 million a week to public funds. Rebates and other EU-related income reduce the amount we pay into the EU from £350 million to £160 million a week, and that’s why the profit is as quoted.
So the maximum we could get back is £160 million a week – slightly more than £8 billion a year. Some ‘Leave’ voters naively believe this money will be reinvested in hospitals and other services.
In fact, it is more likely to be turned into a tax rebate for the UK’s richest residents. We have a Conservative Government that is busily turning healthcare into a profit-making business; it isn’t going to do anything to jeopardise that project. Their attitude is that the poor should pay for healthcare, or they can die. Get used to it.
And to those of you who are holding on to the belief that at least the UK will no longer be part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement between the EU and the USA, with its ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that would allow corporations to sue countries for any legislation that harms their profits, meaning that NHS privatisation may be reversed by a future government – think again.
The Tories are likely to rush through a similar agreement with the Americans, just as fast as they can – pushing down working conditions for employees and diminishing the quality of goods, and imposing a system similar to ISDS, to lock in NHS privatisation and ensure maximum profit for the richest and maximum poverty for the rest.
So those of you who voted ‘Leave’ have some serious questions to ask of your leaders – Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage. Favourite among those would be: How are they going to stabilise the economy? How are they going to prevent widescale unemployment? How do they plan to ensure the integrity of the Union?
In short, do they even have a plan?
My guess is, they don’t.
The only silver lining to this Brexit cloud is David Cameron’s decision to resign – and even that is being postponed until the autumn.
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