Understanding the true impact of Brexit
The arguments for and against Britain leaving the EU have been raging for what seems like aeons, even if it is only in the last few weeks that official campaigns have been launched. You would think, then, that by now we should all be pretty much up to speed on the pros and cons of an exit, with most of us having made a decision one way or the other, with only the typical margins of swing remaining to talk about. Whether we are in or out, you might well expect that the 23 June vote result is already pretty close a done deal. But not so, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, which from a poll of over 4,000 small business owners reckons a massive 42% of us could be swayed one way or the other by good, sound arguments.
And therein lies the problem, because the one thing we are decidedly short on is sound, reasoned debate. Most recently, first the CBI came out with a sobering forecast that a Brexit could cost the UK economy £100bn and nearly one million jobs – something that could take decades to recover from, if ever. A couple of days later, up comes credit agency Moody’s with a report claiming such economic warnings are no more than baseless scaremongering, saying that any hit from leaving the EU would be small and unlikely to lead to big job losses. The UK could also be allowed to keep many of its trade terms with the EU in the short term, minimising any disruption. There is even an argument that leaving the EU would see the pound fall against the euro, so helping our exporters.
For every chief exec in any company in a given sector with a firm belief we should leave, you’ll find another in the same sector who is just as convinced we should stay in. And there are no probablies and possiblies, only warnings of impending disaster from both camps. The BBC, which I have to say I find less and less reliable these days as an arbiter on the big issues, has posted an EU referendum ‘reality check’ on its news website, looking into all the claims from politicians, organisations and bodies. Scanning down the list, I struggled to find a single claim that appeared to have any basis in fact. It seems that anyone with the public ear can pluck a figure out of the air and use it to make a case to support their point of view.
I wonder, though, if the real damage from the EU referendum has been done before a single vote has even been cast. Here is an issue that looks as though it might pull the rug out from beneath the feet of British politics. With the Tories looking as though they might tear themselves apart and Labour being accused of ‘sitting out’ the referendum debate, there is a real question as to what the UK political landscape might look like by the end of the year, regardless of the result. And what would that do for our trade in Europe? If, of course, the EU doesn’t tear itself apart first; but that’s another story entirely.
Mark Simms, Editor
Industrial Technology - NEWS