A group of top European ‘financial insiders’ assembled by Politico insists that, despite the Brexit vote, Britain still won’t actually leave the European Union.
These ‘experts’ also predict dire consequences for the UK economy. More than three-quarters of those surveyed said the U.K. should brace itself for a major economic slowdown as uncertainty hits “confidence, consumer spending and investment,” whereas they predicted the wider European economy will fare much better.
Admittedly, when you look at some of the names on the experts list, these predictions look somewhat less plausible.
When a list includes figures as risible as Green party leader Natalie Bennett, as feeble as Brexit turncoat Alan Duncan, or as parti pris as ex-Goldman-Sachs-er and former EU commissioner Mario Monti, not to mention various serving EU functionaries, you can be pretty sure that what you are hearing here are the voices of the losing faction in the EU debate hell bent on proving that they were right all along.
Clearly, they are all rubbing their hands with glee at the prospects of British post-Brexit failure.
“The uncertainty [while exit negotiations take place] will particularly hit the British services market, which is the strong point of the U.K. economy at the moment,” said one caucus member, adding that “anti-foreigner sentiment, if not kept in check, might persuade many skilled workers to leave the U.K.”
They are especially looking forward to the diminution of Britain’s financial sector. Another predicted fragmentation: “Euro trading to Frankfurt, back and mid offices to Central and Eastern Europe, hedge funds to Dublin or Paris (or Madrid), etc. We will have less concentration in one city.”
Caucus participants were pessimistic about the U.K.’s ability to secure so-called passporting rights that allow banks to operate across the single market from London. Sixty-five percent predicted the U.K. would lose these rights as part of Brexit negotiations.
Perhaps more bizarrely, they are confident that the Eurozone is robust enough to weather any post-Brexit storms.
“Germany as the economic heart of Europe will stabilize more and more the EU,” said one participant, who was among the 83 percent who said the bloc as a whole would avoid recession in the wake of Brexit.
“The single market is strong enough to avoid a substantial negative shock,” said one.
More amazingly still, some of them even have the idea that Scotland – which remains resolutely part of Britain – will somehow develop the remarkable ability to declare unilateral independence, be able to embrace the Euro, survive without being bankrolled by London taxpayers, and join the EU…
Only just over a third of caucus members think the U.K. will leave the EU completely, while 25 percent said Scotland would stay in the bloc but the rest of the U.K. would leave.
Twenty-five per cent of those ‘experts’ believe in the impossible, then.
But just because these people are embittered, biased and away with the fairies is no reason to discount their analysis fully.
Firstly it gives a snapshot of the mental state of the European establishment elite in the aftermath of the EU referendum. This mental state, one can’t help noticing, has worryingly close parallels to the state of Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni militias in the aftermath of the deposition of Saddam Hussein. Essentially, they don’t think they’ve lost. Indeed, they see their (completely unacknowledged) defeat as an opportunity to come back stronger than ever.
Secondly, it gives a very clear hint to those of us on the Brexit side of the argument that the EU referendum was just a skirmish and the real battles to liberate Britain from the EU are yet to come.
Indeed, we are already seeing evidence of this in the way the defeated Remain faction in the Conservative government rallied so quickly round Remainer Theresa May that it seems worryingly likely that she will become Britain’s next Prime Minister.
If this happens, then the Brexiteers might just as well not have bothered campaigning. The exit deal she is likely to make with the EU will be so toothless – some kind of associate membership, perhaps – that Britain will suffer all the disadvantages of semi-independence from the Euro project and none of the benefits.
In which case, the experts – experts, remember, who include in their number Natalie Bennett quite the most half-witted, ill-informed politician I’ve ever debated: and believe me, I’ve debated some real thickos in my time – will be proved right and the democratically unaccountable EU establishment will have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.