ItI’s been over 100 days since the historic vote of the UK to leave the EU on June 23. In the frenzied weeks running up to the referendum numerous prophecies of doom – yes, the term is appropriate – were made. Have any materialized?
We were warned by the then Chancellor, George Osborne, that in the event of Brexit there would have to be an ‘emergency budget’ and ‘emergency tax increases’. We were told by none other than President Obama that in the event of Brexit Britain would be ‘at the back of the trade queue’. I’ll leave aside David Cameron’s prediction that Brexit might necessitate ‘war in Europe’.
June 23 has come and gone. There has been no emergency budget. No emergency tax increases. Britain is not at the back of the trade queue. In fact, at the time of speaking, it can be said that no trade queue exists because, characteristically, trade talks between the EU and the US over TTIP have stalled.
However, if we cling too long to these prophecies of doom, despite their having not materialised, we risk seeing them becoming self-fulfilled. We can view post-Brexit Britain through two lenses: one of optimism and one of pessimism; our choice of lens will inevitably influence what actually comes to be.
In the months subsequent to June 23, however, there is much to praise when it comes to the economy. Indeed, the service sector is expanding, not contracting. Consumer confidence remains intact. The FTSE 100 is higher now than it was before June 23 and provisional trade talks with members of the Commonwealth have already begun in earnest. India – a country with a population almost three times that of the EU – is looking forward to finally being able to trade with the continent, given that trade talks with the EU started nine years ago and have led nowhere.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone Crisis rumbles on, youth unemployment remains intolerably high in the southern Mediterranean (it’s about 48% in Greece) and an impending banking crisis looms over not just Italy but even Germany, what with the collapse in share values in Deutsche Bank.
Has post-Brexit Britain been painless? No, of course not, and no one was seriously expecting it to be. The pound has fallen (but that boosts the value of British exports) and the markets are certainly looking for stability. Some might argue that economic recession (forecasts for which have been dropped) will hit the UK in the long-term, but the prophecies of doom referred to above were supposed to materialize in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. They did not.
There has been no apocalypse.
Brexit offers Britain the chance to open itself up to the world as a truly dynamic and internationalist country. Let’s seize this moment with both hands.