Brexit Brexit Stop Blaming BrexitMon 9:59 am +01:00, 22 May 2023
Speak to anybody in Britain’s ruling New Elite these days and within minutes they’ll tell you the country’s problems are all because of just one thing –Brexit.
Everything that’s going wrong in Britain today –from the cost-of-living crisis to our sluggish economy, from the glaring lack of productivity to a crisis in the car industry, from the chaos on the borders to the rain the sky— is blamed on Brexit and the 17.4 million people who dared challenge the status-quo by voting for it.
Only, I don’t buy it. I really don’t.
For a start, many of the people who dominate our institutions routinely ignore the fact that almost all these problems are on display elsewhere in the world.
Slowing growth in the Eurozone? Must be Brexit! Stubbornly persistent inflation across Europe? Brexit! An escalating migration crisis across southern Europe? Brexit! Continent-wide problems with battery manufacturing? Brexit! Nearly one-in-three young people in Greece and Spain without jobs? Brexit!
To blame every and any problem on the B-word not only ignores how many of Britain’s problems are global in nature but also -and here’s where I’m going to lose some friends- reflects the extent to which many of the people who dominate our institutions are afflicted with Brexit Derangement Syndrome –a curious illness whereby anything and everything is traced back to that vote in 2016.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it puzzling how the very same people who are desperate to return Britain to the European Union routinely ignore what is actually happening in the EU.
From the ongoing economic divergence of northern and southern EU member states to the continued eruption of national populism, from rampant corruption within EU institutions to the fact that the EU’s share of the global economy is declining and is expected to decline further in the years and decades ahead. The EU is far from the economic, political, and democratic paradise they think it is.
But there’s something else, something deeper going on here, too.
Blaming Brexit lets our national leaders off the hook. It distracts us all from looking at how it is they, not Brexit, who have completely failed to tackle Britain’s problems.
It’s not Brexit which created the low-growth, low-wage, London-centric economy we see around us today and which left millions of people lagging behind.
No, it was the two main parties which, between the 1980s and 2010s, completely hollowed out the economy, reshaped it around financial services, the elite graduate minority in the big cities and a model of consumption rather than creation.
It’s not Brexit which created our dire productivity and lack of innovation
No, it was the two main parties which —like a drug dealer— got our economy and big businesses completely hooked on importing cheap migrant labour from abroad, removing any incentive for them to invest in British workers and innovation.
It’s not Brexit which reshaped the institutions around a liberal graduate minority who all share the same values, the same backgrounds, and increasingly look down on those who have realised that our political economy is completely broken.
No, it was the two main parties which over the last half century doubled down on the graduate class while consistently failing to invest in the technical and vocational education which would have produced the workers who we now desperately need.
It’s not Brexit which created a low-growth, high-tax economy in which too many of our businesses are stifled by endless bureaucracy and red-tape.
No, it was the two main parties which rather than seize the post-2016 moment by slashing taxes, regulation and diverging to encourage firms to come, stay, invest, and thrive in Britain instead gave them some of the highest tax rates in Europe.
It’s not Brexit which created the unfolding crisis in the National Health Service and our creaking public services which, frankly, are an embarrassment.
No, it was the two main parties which over the last twenty years decided it was simply easier to pump the National Health Service full of money rather than take the difficult decisions required to reform it.
And it was the two main parties which rather than expand the number of medical places here in Britain so we can train more of our kids to enter the NHS once again took the easy option by importing masses of doctors from low-income countries.
It’s not Brexit which consistently prioritised global corporations and foreign investors over the wider national community and stoked today’s housing crisis.
No, it was the two main parties which allowed hundreds of thousands of homes to be snapped up and relocated to offshore tax havens and who today are still flooding the housing market with more than half a million migrants each year.
And it’s not Brexit which told people they would be getting “high-skilled” and lower immigration to build a better economy only to then give them something different.
No, it was our national politicians who in the aftermath 2016 liberalised immigration from outside the European Union and then, remarkably, reduced the salary thresholds for working visas to as low as £21,000 —ten grand below the average wage!
My point is that it is our national politicians —not Brexit— who are responsible for the glaring and entrenched failures we now see littering the landscape -the result of a political revolution which was fifty years in the making but has completely failed.
These failures were not caused by the decision taken in 2016. No, they reflect very deliberate choices made by politicians on the left and right over the last fifty years.
Has Brexit exacerbated some of these problems? Certainly. Has it been badly managed? Absolutely. Has it imposed short-term financial costs? I’m convinced it has.
But the key point about Brexit which its critics ignore is that for its supporters it was never just about the short-term. No, it was a springboard to the much longer-term repositioning of the country —to pushing Britain away from this broken political economy and toward trying something fundamentally different.
And so now our leaders have no excuse. Whether you voted for Brexit or not, whether you think it was the right decision or not, the blunt reality is that it has ushered us into a new and profoundly important chapter in our political history.
An era of genuine democratic accountability in which Britain has, once again, become a genuinely self-governing, independent, sovereign nation-state -a place where, unlike the EU, our politicians are now fully accountable to the people who elected them.
The buck, in the other words, now stops in Westminster —not distant, unelected, and insufficiently democratic institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg, and certainly not with the decision a majority of British people made nearly seven years ago,
Those who took a punt on Brexit believed their national politicians would use these new-found freedoms to deliver a low-tax, low-immigration, high growth economy in which business is incentivised to invest in British workers and put them first.
But instead our democratically elected politicians have so far used these freedoms to usher in more of the same -a high tax, high immigration, low growth, unproductive economy where they are still hooked on mass immigration to plug the holes or reflect their sense of moral righteousness while British workers are, still, overlooked.
It will only be when this changes, when people use their power in a sovereign and self-governing nation to choose leaders with courage and insight to make better choices that the benefits of Brexit will become impossible to ignore -even for the new elite.
Matt Goodwin’s Substack goes out to around 13,000 subscribers in 116 countries around the globe several times each week. Become an active supporter to access everything, leave comments, get discounts and advance notice about events and support independent and contrarian writers. A version of this piece originally appeared in the Sunday Express.
TAP – Get England out of the globalist UK. Only then can we get what we want and have to strive for as human beings – survival and contentment. Inside the UK we will never be content. Only the Teds know which way to go.