Jonathan Lis is deputy director of the thinktank British Influence and writes in the Guardian “Johnson and Hunt’s wild promises don’t matter. No-deal Brexit will never happen”. Let me repeat “No-deal Brexit will never happen”, according to Jonathan Lis.
But why “never”?
Well the facts according to Mr Lis are that… “The first line of defence against a no-deal Brexit used to be the fact that it would destroy millions of livelihoods, torpedo the economy and cripple our national infrastructure. Accordingly, the second was that no rational prime minister would ever seriously countenance it.”
So, “millions of livelihoods”, by that, I presume, millions of jobs would be lost. How many jobs though? Two million, three million? Mr Lis is vague on this point, but it would be “millions”. However, The Bank of England don’t agree that “millions” of jobs would be lost. Their report, published in 2018 provided a worst case scenario where the fallout from Brexit would be worse than the 2008 “credit crunch”, the report then stated that this scenario was “highly unlikely”. In fact, in order for Brexit to be worse than the 2008 “credit crunch”, ALL trade with the EU would have to cease FOREVER on “exit day”. The fact is, that will “never happen”. Germany exports £50 billion worth of new vehicles to the UK every year. The Republic of Ireland exports £billions of agri product to the UK each year. For both of these countries, the UK is the largest export market. For trade to cease completely, German automakers and Irish food producers would have to meekly accept the imposition of tariffs which would probably collapse their exports. This will “never happen”. German automakers and Irish food producers will lobby the EU hard to mitigate their losses. I would not be surprised if an “interim agreement” (Article XXIV GATT) was put in place, shortly after a hard Brexit. It would be the only sensible thing to do and makes perfect economic sense to protect members’ economies until such time as a FTA can be agreed.
The consequences of the 2008 “credit crunch” were profound. The UK has 5.7 million SME’s which are the absolute bedrock of our economy. A huge percentage of these companies were affected when their overdrafts were called in. Overnight, Business Loans became unavailable and interest rates rose. Without credit, the economy literally stopped. Dead. The consequences for the UK economy were that £1.7 TRILLION was lost in output and 1.3 million jobs were lost. The UK exports around £250 billion a year to the EU, so, the fact is that, if trade with the EU ceased altogether…FOREVER and British companies were unable to find new export markets in non EU countries, EVER, the losses to the UK economy would be as large as the credit crunch, around seven years after “exit day”. Is the UK really that dependent on the EU? We already do trade with non EU countries (about 46% of our trade in fact), so, the chances of a “hard” Brexit being worse than the 2008 “credit crunch” are, in fact, “most unlikely” as per The Bank of England’s stress test of UK banks. For “most unlikely” read IMPOSSIBLE.
If the UK was to leave the EU with “no deal”, millions of jobs would not be lost. Nowhere near that in fact. If 1.3 million jobs were lost due to the “credit crunch”, making trade difficult or even impossible for businesses that have never exported anything to anywhere, how could Brexit, even remotely, be worse? This assumption is a “unicorn”. As to, “torpedo the economy and cripple our national infrastructure”, I don’t even know what that is supposed to mean. Is a “torpedo” 20% of the economy, 50%? Who knows? Crippled infrastructure? Sorry, I’m lost.
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond is not on live TV telling the nation that it is lunacy to even contemplate a no deal Brexit. He is not speaking of “torpedo’s” or a destruction of the UK’s “infrastructure”. He has stated that £20 billion could be used to mitigate the negative economic effects, and he does seem to support a parliamentary revolt against no deal. Jonathan Lis goes on to explain that Parliamentarians will not allow no deal to happen.
From the article…”There are three available routes to derail no deal. The safest option is to prepare fresh legislation mandating an extension request, with provision for the government to revoke article 50 if the EU declines such a request. Ten Tory MPs supported the motion to seize government time last month, while eight Labour MPs opposed it. It failed by 11 votes. Numerous Tories failed to back it because they did not want to embarrass the leadership contenders and did not consider we had reached a crisis point. After the summer, that will change.”
So, MP’s will need a motion to take control of Parliamentary business. And that vote has to be won. First, where does that motion come from? I suppose John Bercow could allow another opposition day, to allow such a motion to be put forward again. But, you would need eleven more (or even ten more) Conservative MP’s to vote against the Government. Who are they? The “rebels” are already known, but, eleven more? OK, so if the motion was allowed and was won, the Bill put forward would be “mandating an extension request, with provision for the government to revoke article 50 if the EU declines such a request”. Yvette Cooper’s Bill did take this route and became law in record time, but a determined PM could ask for a very short extension without breaking the law and, the proposed Bill, if it did become law could not compel the UK Government to revoke Article 50 as such a move would be “unconstitutional”. There are a lot of problems with “the safest option”, but, I wouldn’t expect a committed Remainer to go into details.
More from the Article…
“The second option is a vote of no confidence. Labour leavers would back it, just as they did in January, and such Conservatives as Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke have already committed to supporting one as a last resort. Even Philip Hammond has hinted that he might vote against a new Conservative government in order to block a no-deal Brexit. The question is not why Tory colleagues would join them, but why they wouldn’t. Moderates and former remainers know that no deal will bring their constituents misery. They know it will shatter their party. They know they will not be able to hold their seats in the election which follows. What could be in it for them to toe the line? Nobody will thank them for it. A passive acceptance of no deal would eclipse anything else they might have achieved and haunt them to the end of their political lives.”
OK, the statement “Labour leavers would back it, just as they did in January”, is a long shot to tell the truth. Corbyn seems committed to remaining tied to the EU and his Customs Union, provides a “back door” to the UK market for any country with a FTA with the EU. I think Labour “rebels” would vote as they did on June 12th. Yes, we have two Conservative “rebels” stating they will vote against the Government. But who else would? I doubt Philip Hammond would vote against the Government, I also doubt many of the Conservative “rebels” who voted with Corbyn on June 12th would vote against a Conservative Government. My bet is that a no confidence vote would be defeated by at least 20 votes. The assumption that for MP’s, “no deal will bring their constituents misery” relies on the fact that, the UK economy would be “torpedoed”, that “millions” would be jobless, that the UK’s national infrastructure would be “crippled”. If that were so, then, maybe, just maybe, fifty or more Conservative MP’s would bring their Government down to stop this economic suicide. The question is, why didn’t they act on June 12th?
And so to the third option…
“The final option is an emergency revocation.” Seriously? I cannot see how an “emergency revocation” is any more democratic than Parliament being “prorogued”, however, anything to keep alive, the dream, that, “Johnson and Hunt’s wild promises don’t matter. No-deal Brexit will never happen”.