Politics

Boris Johnson’s biggest lie about Europe is finally coming home to roost | Simon Jenkins

It was the massive Brexit lie. No, not the £350m every week to spend on the NHS or the “bonfire” of pink tape. The lie was that the shambles now enveloping British commerce with Europe was an unavoidable value price paying to depart the EU. That was garbage.

In order to additional his probabilities of changing into Tory chief Boris Johnson made two commitments. One was to resign from the EU, the opposite was to depart Europe’s customs union and single market, points of which embrace different non-EU states resembling Norway. The second resolution was an virtually casual gesture to make him look macho to the get together’s hardline Brexiters. It was not put to referendum and was past silly.

No information merchandise right this moment is freed from the results. Earlier this year, the consequences of leaving the one market may very well be seen in plummeting trade with the continent, even accounting for the pandemic. Additional pink tape is superior. HMRC estimates merchants can be handling 215m extra import/export paperwork a year, at an estimated bureaucratic price of £7.5bn a year. Tariffs might not apply however guidelines of origin and well being requirements do. Every truck, each cargo requires inspection.

As for migration, the general scarcity of seasonal farm labour, in accordance to BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, is 20% and infrequently extra. Fruit will rot in fields, pigs can’t get to abattoirs and Christmas turkeys can be a “nightmare”. Meanwhile, care properties in England are in need of 170,000 employees, and supply companies in need of 100,000 drivers. Hotels have deserted rooms and restaurant tables. Creative industries – price £110bn to the UK financial system – have been forgotten by the Brexit negotiators and at the moment are nearly remoted from Europe.

This is not Brexit. Britain might have left Brussels and freed itself from a mass of guidelines and rules. It is the results of leaving the one market, of Johnson’s xenophobic perception that European commerce requirements have been by some means not British”. He was wildly in favour of EU staff when mayor of London however not as prime minister.

I’m positive a number of the present disruption will cool down however the concept commerce with Britain’s biggest accomplice by far, the EU, will ever recuperate outdoors some type of financial union is absurd. So is the idea that any losses from the current chaos can be met by features elsewhere. It appears weird to have to clarify to a Tory that prosperity lies in open markets not closed ones.

Johnson has considerably not arrange a everlasting commerce and agriculture fee to guard British pursuits in new offers. He is clearly determined for offers, nonetheless dangerous. In addition, the National Audit Office has but to do the conventional impression evaluation of Lord Frost’s post-Brexit cope with the EU. It has not bothered. I think about the evaluation can be the color of blood.

Brexit want by no means have so devastated the British financial system. The harm has come from one resolution, to depart the one market. The smart path now can be for Johnson to eat humble pie and search, as far and as quick as attainable, readmission to that market. Britain would imitate the protocol it has agreed for Northern Ireland. This wouldn’t imply rejoining the EU, simply rejoining Ireland – essentially the most scrumptious of historic ironies.

Negotiating the one market in 1987 was Margaret Thatcher’s proudest free-trade achievement. It was in Britain’s and Europe’s curiosity and proved successful. Johnson reversed that achievement in an act of bare political ambition. He pretended it was mandatory for Brexit. It was his biggest lie.

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