A lack of clarity over Brexit will do real harm to our economy. It’s time to put the pragmatism of the many over the narrow ideology of the fewby Bob Neill / February 7, 2018 / Leave a comment
Discussing Brexit at the moment can feel a bit like playing a game of hangman. We’ve been told time and again that the government’s plan is to “pursue a new, ambitious economic partnership” with our European neighbours, but hazard a guess as to what that means in real terms and you will find yourself swiftly pencilling in a gallows, a rope and so on until you’ve run out of turns (and are left scratching your head, still none the wiser).
What the government has so far been very good at is ruling out the options deemed at odds with its self-imposed red lines. That means we will no longer be members of either the single market, or, according to Downing Street, any form of customs union; we will “take back control” of our own laws, ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice; and we will have complete autonomy over our borders. What it has lacked is a clear direction of travel. Vague trinkets of information, announced piecemeal here and there, are not good enough. A comprehensive plan is required.
Ultimately, it is this lack of clarity that will do real harm to our economy. Of course, we shouldn’t be divulging the minutiae of our strategy in what will continue over the next thirteen months to be intense negotiations with a lot to play for, but businesses cannot be left to scrounge around in the dark for information. Ministers must understand that agreeing a clear, united position on where we’re heading is a very different proposition to showing our hand to the EU officials sat on the other side of the table.
The failure to publish a white paper on the financial and professional services sector—which is the UK’s largest source of tax revenue (contributing £72.1bn last year) and largest driver of trade surpluses—is especially concerning. As George Bridges, who was a Minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union up until June, aptly put it last week: without greater certainty “the implementation period will not be a bridge to a clear destination; it will be a gangplank into thin air.”
“Vague trinkets of information, announced piecemeal here and there, are not good enough”
Our position must be informed by the…