In a recent online poll conducted by EU Today 68.2% of respondents who voted in favour of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union in the 2016 referendum indicated that they would vote differently if there were to be a future referendum on the matter.
The figure echoes a YouGov poll released earlier this month which found that 63% of Britons now consider Brexit to have been more of a failure than a success, and the term “Brexit Shambles” has become ubiquitous.
Even Nigel Farage, whose only political vehicle was a call for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (although many who were close to him pre-2016 might suggest that he never really wanted the referendum as it might bring his career to an abrupt end whatever the result) told the BBC in May that the U.K. had not benefited economically from leaving the bloc, blaming the ruling Conservatives for having “let us down very, very badly.” Many would surely agree with him on that point.
Much of the negativity appears to be on the government’s failure to “take back control of Britain’s borders.”
Indeed, illegal migration, soaring as it is, and conveniently drawing public attention away from the bigger picture, is dwarfed by the number of foreign nationals arriving legally.
“In the year to June 2022, there were 1.1 million visas granted to foreign nationals to come and live in the UK – by far the highest on record (and about equivalent to the population of Britain’s second largest city Birmingham),” Migration Watch UK.
In the meantime, even after Brexit, the EU through its executive body the European Commission appears to outflank British interests at every twist and turn.
As of January 1st 2024 for example, as reported by EU Today’s Chris White UK nationals seeking to enter the EU for whatever reason will be required to submit to enhanced checks, and to declare any criminal record they may have.
There is no evidence as yet, nor will there likely be, of the British government imposing similar burdens on visitors from the continent.
Likewise the Commission seems to have made the political space surrounding Northern Ireland’s future status within the UK its own, much to the delight of the Irish Republican movement and its political representatives Sinn Fein. Westminster appears to have become a neutered bystander in this debate.
Post-Brexit Shambles economic woes
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has predicted a 0.2% drop in gross domestic product for the UK this year, meaning that Britain, plagued with double-digit inflation, and the only G7 member faced with a drop in GDP will join Russia as the only two major economies likely to contract in 2023.
“The UK is facing very strong cost-of-living pressures. Retail energy prices increased more than in comparable economies, while wages are not keeping pace with prices.”
OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann.
The OECD has also said that consumer prices overall in the UK will surge by 6.7% this year — more than triple the official target.
The Pound is meanwhile forecast to decline against the Euro this year to around £0.87 EUR/GBP. Likewise again the US Dollar.
Gone fishing? Or Fishing gone?
One of the more emotive of reasons given in support of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU was the decades of plundering of British waters by foreign – mostly Spanish and French – trawlers. Brexit would see them off as quickly as Drake or Nelson, if Farage were to be believed. Britain’s fishermen would prosper, the fishing grounds would soon be restored and would teem with fish.
The reality is, of course, somewhat different.
Despite government statements that Brexit would result in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of extra catch for UK fishermen, recent research by the University of York, New Economics Foundation, University of Lincoln and marine consultancy service ABPmer has calculated that the increase will only reach 107,000 tonnes per year, or 12.4% by value for all species, by 2025.
EU trawlers maintain significant access to UK waters, including in the six to 12 nautical miles off the UK coast, which the government had claimed would be kept “exclusively for UK boats“.
“Government promises on Brexit and its benefits for the fishing industry were far in excess of what could be delivered.
“The industry became an icon of Brexit with claims it would correct past injustices and breathe new life into neglected coastal communities, but our study reveals the stark delivery gap between rhetoric and reality,” Dr. Bryce Stewart, University of York.
Government promises on Brexit may not only have been “far in excess of what could be delivered,” possibly also far in excess of what the government had any exception of delivering. They were never more than promises….. Brexit Shambles indeed!