Skip to content

Brexit has plenty of unexpected bonuses (The Times)

We’re tackling problems like poor productivity thanks to our imminent departure from the EU.

November 9 2018, 12:01am, The Times

Why does Brexit make so many people so cross? The more you think about it, the odder it is. Leaving the EU is not Iraq or Vietnam. Nobody will be killed by Brexit, except perhaps those who are bored to death by it.

For all the adjectives you could use to describe Brexit — confounding, frustrating, momentous and historic — it is, above all, desperately boring. I’m talking not just about the endless soap opera of negotiations, though that’s up there with the collected works of Thomas Hardy in the boredom stakes. Brexit is boring because it turns out the European Union itself is mostly boring.

Consider the powers that will be returned to Westminster after we finally leave: to negotiate trade deals with other countries; to impose tariffs; to introduce new regulations on employment and product standards; to set quotas for migration and visas. For the past four decades the EU has functioned in large part as a legislative black hole into which we have outsourced some of the more tedious levers of the state.

Yes this stuff matters, in much the same boring but worthy way that it matters what diameter of sewage pipes we use. In some sectors, such as agriculture, Brexit has the potential for exciting innovations. But consider the most important powers at the government’s disposal: defence of the realm, fixing levels of tax and public spending, managing the welfare state and deciding interest rate policy. Set against this it is hard not to find the powers returned from Brussels rather piffling.

True: you can make the case that big constitutional decisions should be taken at home. You can argue that throwing sand into the wheels of trade between Britain and Europe will only make both of us poorer. You can point to the possibility that Britain leaves without a deal, something that would not be boring in the slightest, at least for a few months. Except that the likelihood of it happening is far smaller than you might assume. It suits everyone concerned, for all sorts of reasons, to ramp up the drama.

Continued on



%d bloggers like this: