Brexit's Downsides Are Caused by Our Own Governmentby Tyler Durden
Of all the many failures of Theresa May’s management of Brexit so far, none is so symbolic as the fact that the UK is currently preparing to participate in EU Parliament elections on May 23rd, even though Britain was originally scheduled to leave the European Union in March. This very public symbol of the failure of May’s Brexit strategy — to which she agreed as a condition of the current ‘flexible extension’ of the UK’s EU membership until at least October 31st — has not only caused a near-total breakdown of support for May’s leadership from within her own party, but has also led to a widespread surge of public interest in third parties.
Most notably, Nigel Farage has emerged from dormancy to become the leader of the newly-formed ‘Brexit Party’, which has shocked pundits by surging to first place in the pre-election polling. One recent poll indicates that as much as 30% of the British public intends to vote for the Brexit Party in the upcoming EU elections, fully 9% ahead of their closest rival, and over 20% ahead of the new pro-EU party ‘Change UK’, which was formed at around the same time as the Brexit Party and received equivalent if not greater media attention.
This fracturing of Britain’s usual two-party paradigm is certainly a welcome trend, especially given the Brexit Party’s explicit support for a ‘hard’, no-deal Brexit, which I have argued in previous Mises Wire articles would be the least-worst option. However, if the Brexit party do receive as much of the final vote as the polls are predicting, it will likely re-spark the public debate about the benefits and drawbacks of a no-deal Brexit, and when that debate arrives it will be important for no-deal advocates to have their argument straight about what those benefits and drawbacks are.
While it might be tempting to portray no-deal as an unambiguously positive scenario, the reality is that an institutional disruption of that kind will not be without its difficulties, and no-deal advocates might appear discredited if they attempt to deny or ignore these. The important point which no-deal advocates should understand before crafting their arguments is that, even though there probably will be some negative consequences of a no-deal Brexit, those negative consequences would exclusively be penalties and restrictions arbitrarily inflicted by governments, rather than inherent problems with Brexit per se.
For a concrete example, one need look no further than arguably the central issue of the Brexit negotiations: tariffs. The European Union is defined by the punitively-high trade wall erected around its borders, which inflicts all manner of taxes and restrictions on imports and exports to and from the bloc. When Britain finally does exit the tariff wall, its trade with the rest of the world will certainly be benefitted, allowing a greater number of international goods to be imported and sold at lower prices, and making British goods competitive abroad. However, the other side of the coin is that Britain will now be outside the EU’s wall, and so will have to pay those high tariffs when trading with the EU. While this would admittedly be a downside to a no-deal Brexit, it is important to emphasise that there is no inescapable law of nature which dictates that the EU has to maintain those tariffs, nor is it simply an existential fact of the universe that countries which leave the EU must be excluded from the single market. In other words, yes, the tariffs will inflict economic harm on Britain, but the culprit is the tariffs themselves, not Brexit. If Brexiteers emphasise this fact rather than trying to deny or ignore it, they might not only avoid appearing discredited when the negative consequences do arrive, but also manage to promote public understanding and discussion of this important economic issue.
It would likewise be tempting for Brexiteers to place the blame entirely on policies inflicted by the EU bureaucracy, but the truth is that harmful post-Brexit policies are equally likely to be imposed by the UK’s own government. This is particularly true for the issue of ‘regulatory harmonization’. Although UK policymakers had initially been considering significant deregulation as a possibility in the case of a no-deal Brexit, this option was taken off the table due to Theresa May’s commitment to transpose the bulk of EU regulations into British law. This would mean that, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK consumers would miss out on the economic boost and quality of life improvements that could otherwise have resulted from abandoning burdensome and unnecessary EU regulations. Again however, the key point is that the true culprit is the policy of regulation itself, not Brexit, and Brexiteers should be no less quick to point this out simply because the source of the harmful policy is the UK government, rather than the EU.
Once Brexiteers adopt this shift in perspective, it becomes clear that the vast majority of the difficulties and downsides surrounding Brexit - from the disagreements surrounding the rights of UK citizens living in the EU, to the general economic uncertainty during this negotiation period, and so on - are actually the result of unsound policies, negotiating strategies, and demands being made by the governments involved, rather than inherent flaws in the idea of Brexit itself, or decentralization more broadly.
While some readers might regard this sort of distinction as nit-picking, its significance is that it has the potential to shift Brexiteers away from the hopeless position of trying to argue that a no-deal Brexit would have no downsides, back toward the broader task of pointing out the harmful consequences of EU policies, and of State intervention in general, which is an argument they have a much better chance of winning.
We, the public, don't have a government. We haven't had one for a very long time. Just a proxy.
Greenspazm 9 hours ago
Her we have another thinly disguised Remain shill it would appear.
"However, the other side of the coin is that Britain will now be outside the EU’s wall, and so will have to pay those high tariffs when trading with the EU. "
The EU share of world trade (now about 15%) and its percent of global GDP has been declining continuously. Which is hardly surprising with economic basket cases like Greece and the other club med countries that have shown almost zero economic growth since having had the Euro forced on them.
UBrexitUPay4it 5 hours ago
The eu was formed around the original protectionist steel and coal cartels belonging to France, Germany, Italy (and perhaps Holland?).
It has always been, and forever will be, protectionist in nature, to keep the various state megalithic monopolies in business, to the detriment of people, markets and trade.
adonisdemilo 9 hours ago
Teresa May had a very real chance to leave the EU on the day after the referendum.
All she had to do was co-opt Nigel Farage onto the negotiating committee.
That she didn't do this suggests to me, that, whilst initially a "remainer, " she wasn't really going to change her spots.
She surrounded herself with "advisers" who most definitely were pro remain and EVERYTHING she has done since has been pure theatrics intending to con we leavers into watering down our exit terms.
She has failed, and failed miserably, to take us out of the Dictatorship that is the EU.
She should go now so that we can get somebody in No. 10 who will not only take us out but sort out ALL the traitors in the Civil Service who have toiled endlessly to keep us tied to the B/S that spews from the EU Commission.
ahq Yuhaad 7 hours ago
Nigel Farage: " As Leader of The Brexit Party, I want Theresa May to stay in office for as long as possible. She is doing a fantastic job of recruiting for us."
kellys_eye 9 hours ago
I love how every 'genuine' indication of the people's attitude towards Brexit is always 100% contrary to that propagated by the media.
The so-called 'mass' demand for a 2nd referendum, the so-called desire to Bremain, the so-called 'no deal is a bad deal' - all issues the media have promoted as being 'correct', blown out of the water by the very first Party to rise in opposition!
If (when) the Brexit Party sweeps the board at the EU elections, what will the media have to say of their prospects for the next GENERAL election and, equally, what will this say to the media about the political outlook of the people? Will we all (as a majority) be referred to as 'hard right'?
Popcorn on the burner....
silent one 9 hours ago
The 'media' will just keep lying, as long as they can con the 'majority' which includes vote fixing etc. People believe the establishment crap, you can present proof to them and they will claim you are wrong, they are products of the 'indoctrination centres'' commonly known as schools. If we are to do anything it is to take back the education of children and to realise the need to counter the perverse information taught to them.
Thanks for that.