That Theresa May is not adequately committed to Brexit is the latest one. That the EU side is too tough or too inflexible is another. That the UK civil service is full of Remain people has oddly dropped out of favour recently. That the BBC and the media are not adequately patriotic is further favourite.

You get the idea.

In the minds of most of those who advocated it, Brexit is not wrong or going badly because it is an essentially bad idea. It’s going badly because someone else is to blame.

The problem is that Brexit cannot actually go well, and most definitely not in the short term. Brexit inevitably means that some people lose. And some people will lose a lot.

If you work for an airline, in farming, in haulage and logistics, the City, you are going to have to face some pretty major consequences, to name just a few. The OECD sees the world economy picking up, but with the exception of the UK. The value of the pound is down, impacting anyone going abroad and driving up the price of imports, but without the hoped gain in exports. Just the prospect of Brexit is starting to cause economic hurt.

That’s what made Pete North’s recent blog post refreshing – here was a Brexiteer acknowledging this pain in the short term, and saying this was a price worth paying for the medium term gain. I would personally answer this differently, but Pete’s honesty was welcome.

Until the UK government owns up to the winners and losers problem of Brexit – a redistribution problem essentially – the Brexit negotiations are not going to go anywhere. Indeed faced with complex winner and loser problems like these, any government would seek to fudge it. The problem is the Article 50 clock is ticking.

How do you want to solve the food santitation standards problem? Accept EU food safety rules in their entirety, gain no sovereignty, but avoid messing up your farming supply chains? Or do the opposite – ditch the EU standards, accept hormone grown beef from the USA, but accept phytosanitary checks will be needed on your own meat being exported to the EU?

How do you want to solve the Customs Union problem? Mess up cross border supply chains, especially at the border in Ireland, and block up the Port of Dover with trucks? Or invest massively in customs facilities? Who pays? And yes, the UK signing trade deals with other parts of the world might help the UK economy eventually, but the haulier at the border or the person with a traffic jam outside their door is not going to be the same one who benefits from those deals.

So the next time a Brexiteer whines about someone else being to blame for Brexit, ask them these questions. Ask them how to solve these issues. And above all ask them who is going to pay to solve them. And see what they say.


  1. Anonymous

    > block up the Port of Dover with trucks

    Aren’t you misunderstanding what the “no deal” option means? Wouldn’t a “no deal” option mean that all air, sea and train traffic between the EU and the UK would stop so that the lorries have to use the land borders? Dover doesn’t have a land border with the remaining EU countries.

    • Can’t easily use land borders either as those would be hard to cross as well!

      • Hard in which way? Under current EU legislation, the border guards have to let in citizens of EU countries, citizens of Schengen countries and citizens of a few named non-EU non-Schengen countries. No deal means no modification to the list of non-EU non-Schengen countries, so UK citizens would need a visa (I suppose), but that would probably not be too difficult to get. The land borders with the Republic of Ireland, Spain (Gibraltar) and Malta (Sovereign Base Areas) would probably be full of lorries waiting for passport, visa and customs control, but wouldn’t those be let through eventually?

  2. Agrajag

    Too many Leave voters fell for the Leave campaign lies about still being able to retain certain EU member benefits, such as remaining in the Single Market after we left the EU. This was NEVER going to happen if we rejected institutions such as the ECJ and freedom of movement, no matter what German car makers had to say about it.

    Who wouldn’t want to leave the “hated” EU and still be able to carry on as if nothing had happened, AND save £350 million per week as a bonus? I’m not saying that all Leave voters were “stupid” or “ignorant”, it’s just that they were mislead by a group of very rich and powerful people who stand to make a great deal of money, while the rest of us suffer.

    To get some idea of what kind of theoretical trade deal the EU would be willing to accept, ask yourself one question – Is any other current EU member going to be tempted to follow us down the same road and ask for a similar deal? If your answer is even a fleeting “maybe”, then you can forget it.

    This isn’t because the EU is trying to be vindictive or exact revenge, they are only trying to preserve their Union, just as they said they would all along.

  3. I can’t imagine any real Brexiteers responding to your questions but in my wildest of dreams, one of them says …

    Well, I’ve stopped reading the Daily Mail and listening to people like Gove and Johnson because they all lied to me – the Euromyths website and knowledgeable people like Ian Dunt and James Chapman have made that crystal clear. My vote for Brexit was based on lies I was told about NHS money, millions of Turks coming here, no border control or sovereignty within the EU and a chocolate box fairytale promise of a wonderful future. Faced with the inescapable truth, my opinion of Brexit has changed completely. As an open-minded adult, I can freely admit I was conned into voting the wrong way – this is far too important to pretend otherwise.

    I now recognise, on the strength of overwhelming evidence, that it would be economic suicide to leave the EU, and criminally selfish to blight the future of younger generations who simply want the same freedoms, opportunities and relative prosperity that I enjoyed because of EU membership. To give up all this over a bunch of lies and a silly flag-waving fantasy about empire #2 is – I accept now – just plain ridiculous. We should all wise up and quit this Tinkerbell nonsense that Brexit can work if we believe in it. A bad idea is a bad idea. And sorry, I have no clue how to escape the economic black hole that I helped create . The truth is, Brexit is like a wedding cake made of shit covered in pretty icing. Getting closer to it now, no one with a nose and half a brain would want to touch it.

    I wish to apologise to all the people I upset because of my poor judgment, particularly our EU friends here who have been so invaluable working in the NHS, social care, hospitality and agricultural sectors – our country will be inestimably poorer without their help and their support through taxation of our many pensioners. The government owes them a huge apology for its bureaucratic hostility and threats of deportation. They should remain for as long as they wish – but the insult is probably too deep now to avoid a major staffing crisis.

    People like me have unthinkingly made a terrible mess of our once tolerant, prosperous and progressive country. I’m so very sorry.

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