Blog: The truth about Brexit is being revealed – The REAL Scottish Politics – The National

YOU know it’s bad when even a senior Conservative has been forced to grudgingly admit that Brexit has proven to be a bit of a disaster.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt conceded that having “unfettered trade with our neighbours” was good for economic growth.  During a conversation about the UK Government’s stated aim of boosting economic growth as the route out of recession, Hunt was asked if rejoining the European Single Market would boost economic growth.

Hunt replied: “I think having unfettered trade with our neighbours and countries all over the world is very beneficial to growth.”

Unfettered trade with our European neighbours is precisely what being a member of the European Single Market offered the UK – a huge economic benefit which the Conservatives sacrificed in an attempt to placate the frothing English nationalist right-wing extremist wing of the Parliamentary Conservative Party, which following Boris Johnson’s purges is most of them.

However, quite predictably, because the Conservatives are still more concerned about what is good for the Conservative Party than about what is good for the economy or the wider public, Hunt denied that the UK should rejoin the European Single Market in order to boost economic growth as it would “go against the will of those who backed Brexit in 2016”.

However, during the EU referendum campaign in 2016, senior figures supporting Brexit denied that the UK leaving the EU would also entail leaving the Single Market. Prominent leaver Daniel Hannan, then an MEP but who now sits in the Lords, claimed during the referendum campaign that: “Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the Single Market.”  The vociferous Brexit supporter Owen Paterson, the senior Conservative backbencher who resigned in disgrace following the lobbying scandal which set in train the chain of events which led to the ousting of Boris Johnson, asserted during the referendum campaign that “only a madman would actually leave the [Single] Market”.

Even Nigel Farage said: “Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were really like Norway and Switzerland? Really? They’re rich. They’re happy. They’re self-governing.”

Neither Norway or Switzerland are members of the EU, but through their membership of the EEA, both are members of the European Single Market. Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU, said: “Increasingly, the Norway option looks the best for the UK.”

So it cannot be asserted, as Hunt did this week, that rejoining the Single Market means going against the will of those who backed Brexit in 2016. A proportion – possibly a sizeable proportion – of those Leave voters cast their ballots to exit the EU thinking that the UK could still remain a part of the Customs Union and Single Market. It was only after the votes were counted that the Brextremists changed their tune and asserted that the UK remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union would be “Brexit in name only” and a betrayal of Leave voters. Aided and abetted by the right-wing media, the Conservatives rewrote history.

However, even if we accept the dubious claim that Leave voters also wanted to exit the Single Market, it is obvious from recent opinion polling that a clear majority of people in the UK now think leaving the EU was a mistake.

This has always been the case in Scotland but faced with economic chaos and uncertainty in the wake of Brexit, public opinion in England is catching up fast. Unfortunately, this has yet to translate into any change of policy in either the Labour or Conservative parties who remain in thrall to Brexit, as Hunt’s comments demonstrate.

A poll out from YouGov this week found that only 32% of respondents think it was right to leave the EU, with 56% thinking it was wrong. For respondents under the age of 50, the figures are even more stark, at 19% and 66% respectively. It would be useful to remind Labour and the Scottish Tories about this when they bleat about opinion polls as supposed proof that there should not be another independence referendum.  Currently, neither Labour nor the Conservatives will countenance rejoining the Single Market. In a speech in July this year, Labour leader Keir Starmer ruled out the possibility of a future Labour government taking the UK back into the Single Market or Customs Union, claiming that these were “arguments of the past”.

Nevertheless, he asserted that as prime minister he could remove trade and travel barriers because the EU would trust him. Which is interesting because no one else does.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day’s top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

To receive our full newsletter including this analysis straight to your email inbox, click HERE and click the “+” sign-up symbol for the REAL Scottish Politics

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