Blog: Turns out I Was Right about Brexit. A Lot. – Patheos

“Project Fear, you Remoaner!”

I’ve heard it for a number of years, since before the vote. And when Project Fear didn’t happen, Leavers got even more vocal. Of course, it didn’t happen because it took us this long to leave the EU – and it’s still ongoing. In fact, this was yet another lie from the Leave camp: we would easily do a deal – heck, it’d be oven-ready!

But it is happening, and now.

Last week, the head of HMRC (the UK’s IRS) reported that UK businesses are looking to shell out £7.5 billion annually for friction at the borders.

I publicly debated Brexit a few times. However, in doing so I decided not to put the economy front and centre because that was the easy stuff – the economic argument simply couldn’t be won by Leave. I argued it in general, of course, but led in my debates with things like workers’ rights and the environment.

Turns out I was right on all counts. Brexit will shaft us – is shafting us – economically, as well as environmentally and in terms of workers’ rights.

It was the free marketeers’ dream. Except, we opted out of a really big free market in order to go it on our own. Turns out we needed the EU more than they needed us. Prediction: check.

Just to let my non-UK readers understand quite what is going on, let me show you the shelves of the biggest supermarket – the biggest chain in the UK – this one on the Isle of Wight on my holiday a month ago. These are my personal pictures:

The UK – one of the biggest economies on Earth. We are having shortages everywhere at the moment – from McDonald’s to KFC, Nandos to every supermarket, test tubes and blood tests. Yes, flu jabs and blood tests are being cancelled. Most of the reason is lorry drivers, but also fruit and veg pickers, fishermen and fishing factory workers, this area and that. Turns out that a shed load of jobs in the UK were done by EU workers – you know, those people we wanted to get rid of.

The challenges are starting to be understood by, for example, those in the fishing industry. Here is a whole day’s milk being poured down the drain because there is no one to deliver it:

Time Martin, public archBrexiteer and owner of the pub chain Wetherspoons, ubiquitous in his ridiculous claims, was publicly decimated on Twitter and elsewhere recently when he had to admit his pubs were running short on beer:

A delicious irony. Those are shit beers anyway.

This is worth watching to understand where we are at:

“But,” the Leaver shouts, “British jobs for British people!”

Thing is, we don’t appear to want to do them. Not for that money.

As I said to my Brexiteer family members the other day:

Let’s imagine I have no problem with people not wanting immigrants in this country. I’ll grant you that. Fair cop. Shut the doors. But you have to realise what the ramifications are, and if you are happy with that, fair cop. The ramifications are a shortage of workers in a lot of jobs, and a knock-on shortage of the products or services those jobs offer. This may take some very painful time to fill those jobs with British workers. But, and here’s the rub, when they are filled, the free market will of course mean that those jobs will now be done at a much much higher labour cost. To entice British workers in a mature service economy into low-paid manual jobs, you’re going to have to pay them more, or simply import the goods from abroad at a much higher price.

The long and the short of it: if you want to shut your borders, Leaver, be very prepared to pay a whole bunch out of your pocket for that privilege.

We live in a global economy. We are a part of it. It’s how it works and it was wholly predictable. Heck, I predicted it.

(With a bit of Covid thrown in.)

Now here’s something I would liked to have done: I would like to have worked out the overall cost to consumers of Brexit and asked them to stump up at the ballot box for their vote. I wonder how many people would have changed their minds!

The famous Leave campaign bus stated we would save £350 million a week from EU payments and be able to pile that into the NHS. Turns out the latest calculation is we are losing £800 million a week, and Johnson has had to bail the NHS out £5.5 billion, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The realisation for scenarios like the massive loss of drivers is that, with Christmas on the way, any solution has to include drafting in pools of EU workers. These were all things pointed out by “Remoanerss” advocating “Project Fear”.

What really pisses me off is that sources like the uber-fascist Daily Mail and Express appear to be being unbelievably hypocritical:

That is a real headline.

Wow. Just wow.

And the papers appear to be fully endorsing Labour policies without a hint of apology for previous positions:

Increasing taxes, eh!

The BBC reported in “Brexit: UK ‘risks falling behind’ EU on workers’ rights” back at the end of March:

The UK is at a “real risk” of falling behind the EU when it comes to workers’ rights, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) says.

The union body said the EU had “various initiatives” in the pipeline which would improve standards once they became law.

But it said the UK had no similar legislation on the way.

But the government retorted that they have better rules than the EU. This is bizarre, since no rules have changed, meaning that either we really did have sovereignty over our rules, or they are lying.

Nonetheless, the TUC said the UK had already failed to implement directives it agreed to while still a member of the EU, including:

  • A work-life balance directive, which gives fathers the right to day-one paid paternity leave and gives all workers the right to request flexible work
  • And a transparent and predictable working conditions directive, which gives workers compensation for cancelled shifts, predictability of hours for zero hours contracts, and a right to free mandatory training.

It said further initiatives were being considered by the EU that could improve conditions for “platform workers” and give employees the right to “digitally disconnect” outside working hours.

The bloc is also looking at ways to make employers accountable for the rights of workers in their supply chains.

This is wholly unlikely under the Tories.

On the environment, the Tories are licking their lips at the prospect of deregulation, from chemicals to farming, . This is all made worse by new trade deals requiring we race to the bottom and environmentally deregulate.

They’re not even hiding it:

Britain should rip up EU data protection laws and the system for clinical trials for drugs and give pension funds greater freedom to invest in fast-growing tech companies, according to the task force set up by Downing Street to free businesses from Brussels red tape following Brexit. The group, led by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, described Brexit as a “one-off opportunity” to set out a new regulatory framework to encourage innovation, growth and inward investment.

Britain’s exit from the EU raised hopes among some rightwing MPs of a “bonfire of Brussels red tape”, including environmental and employment legislation. But in January ministers dropped a review of workplace rules such as the 48-hour working week after a backlash by trade unions.

The task force was set up soon afterwards to find more politically palatable ideas for moving away from EU rules. The report by Duncan Smith, along with fellow Tory MPs George Freeman and Theresa Villiers, noted that adding more regulation is “easily done”, while removing it is harder.

New domestic regulation should always be designed to boost productivity, encourage competition and stimulate innovation, the trio argued. That should be applied under a sweeping new “proportionality principle” rather than the existing, more cautious “precautionary approach”.

The report called for regulators to be given a new duty to promote innovation and competition.

The proposals will be examined by a deregulation committee, which includes Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, and Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary.

Of course, Michael Gove promised a “Green Brexit” if tighter environmental regulation, but we saw through this. It turned out to be a lie:

Michael Gove’s promise to deliver a “green Brexit” has been savaged by environmental groups, who warn that vital protections are being watered down.

Safeguards for chemicalsnatureair quality and waste are all weaker since the UK left the EU, they say – despite the pledge that stronger rules would be “a special prize” from leaving the EU.

The alarm is raised over watchdogs including a new Office for Environmental Protection, which will be “less independent and weaker” than pre-Brexit bodies.

The UK’s desire to have the freedom to diverge from EU rules has “left holes in existing standards and compromised cooperation on important issues”, a report concludes.

And replacing the EU’s “gold standard” chemical regulation – with a system with fewer staff, less funding and restricted access to data – was putting public health and the environment “at risk”….

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the RSPB, says: “We are in a nature and climate emergency. The UK’s wildlife is in free fall and needs urgent action.

“What we have seen so far suggests a legacy of weakening many of the policies, regulations and legislation we urgently need.”

Of eight areas monitored, the report placed half – nature, chemicals, air quality and waste – on red alert, at the highest level of risk.

The outlook for the others – water, climate, sea life and agriculture – was described as uncertain at best.

As I tried to convince my own father five years ago:

  1. Post-Brexit, we want to attract inward investment.
  2. To do this, we need to be more attractive than the EU.
  3. The EU offers free access to 500 million people.
  4. The UK offers free access to 65 million people.
  5. To be more attractive to investors, given that the modern labour scenario means we don’t really offer a competitive advantage (indeed, labour is cheaper in the EU), we need to overcome tariff costs for a company setting up here selling to 435 million people. The only way you can make a UK-based business that much more attractive (profitable) in setting up here is to offset tariffs with lower workers’ and environmental regulation as well as lower taxes. Or, we need to make it as cheap as humanly possible to set up shop in the UK.
  6. Cheap means raping the environment, shafting workers, paying them very poorly, and giving up tax revenue to pay for essential services, putting more burden on small- and medium-sized UK businesses.

He had nothing to say then and even less to say now.


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