Published in October 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Has there ever been a better time to wallow in gloom? On one side of the Atlantic, Europe is trying and failing to deal with a refugee crisis and a broken single currency; on the other, a narcissist ignoramus is making a run for the White House.
Closer to home, Britain is still buffeted by David Cameron’s ruinous gamble on the European Union referendum. The brief summer respite from the news provided by a successful Olympics ended abruptly when Theresa May convened her Cabinet, and revealed that her sure-sounding slogan, “Brexit means Brexit,” had given way to “Brexit means brainstorm,” with wildly different visions being aired at her top table about what on Earth the UK does next. As Wolfgang Münchau (p38) sets out, the logical possibilities for Britain’s future relations with Europe stretch from Bremain to Siberia, by way of Liechtenstein. It is hard to see how all this haze can do anything other than damage the outlook for the economy, as foreign investors such as the Japanese were telling May at September’s G20.
The one racing certainty would seem to be that the alienation of all those who, as Joseph Stiglitz tells Prospect (p22), have been economically squeezed and neglected for so long, will intensify. After all, there is little sign of the promised Brexit bonus for the NHS, and May has recently admitted that she does not support the leavers’ other great pledge, for a points-based immigration system. Meanwhile on the continent, things are drifting, not only because of economic sclerosis but also because, as Adam Tomkins authoritatively sets out (p40), the EU’s traditional animatin…