Post by pamela
It's not right to ask exactly the same question in the same
circumstances because then that seems as if you will keep having a
referendum until you get the result you want.
However in this case the circumstances have changed. For
instance, there's now going to be a socking great divorce payment
which voters were not told at the time.
The referendum was not a blank cheque for the government to cook
up any agreement it feels like having.
When the exit details are finalised it seems right to ask the
public if they are happy with what has been negotiated and if they
wish to proceed with the proposed arrangements.
The areas of the country that voted for Brexit tend to be those that
will suffer most from a Brexit.
That doesn't mean they were stupid when they cast their votes - it means
they were desperate. And easy fodder for the snake-oil salesmen like
Farage, Johnson, Gove and Leadsom.
If you don't have a subscription, here's most of it.
Well here’s an irony. As Brexit in whatever form gets closer and its
damaging implications for trade and jobs start to become clearer, some
of the regions, industries and groups that most enthusiastically
supported Leave are starting to raise the alarm about its impact or
demand special exemption from its consequences.
Take Grimsby. It’s one of the most deprived areas of Britain; it hasn’t
flourished in the decades since we joined the EU and it voted by 70 per
cent to 30 per cent for Leave. Two weeks ago the anxious representatives
of one of the town’s biggest remaining industries, seafood processing,
went to Westminster to petition MPs to grant Grimsby the exceptional
status of a free trade port when we leave.
Grimsby is desperate to avoid the imposition of post-Brexit tariff
barriers, delays and customs checks on its fish business, because it
imports 90 per cent of its fish fresh from Europe. It is also worried
about losing the 20 per cent of its workforce that comes from abroad. If
Brexit goes ahead without any special concessions to Grimsby then an
industry that includes Young’s and The Saucy Fish Co, and that employs
5,000 people, fears it will lose its competitive edge to rival centres
in Germany and France.
Cornwall wants special treatment too, after rejecting the EU by 57 per
cent to 43 per cent. This month its farmers reported that fruit and veg
are rotting in its fields because so many EU migrant labourers have left
since the referendum. There were some 17,000 EU nationals in Cornwall,
around 3 per cent of the population, but this year the staffing levels
on farms has fallen to 65 per cent of what they need.
In South Tyneside, which backed Leave by 62 per cent to 38 per cent, the
local council is also seeking protection from the results of Brexit.
Last week the think tank IPPR North revealed that leaving will hit the
north much harder than London; in an area that’s already substantially
poorer than the south, more than 10 per cent of the region’s goods and
services are dependent on EU trade, compared with 7 per cent in London.
The EU’s economic subsidies to the northeast in the past decade have
been higher than for any other region, at almost £190 per head. Yet the
area still voted to reject the union, in a variation of “What did the
Romans ever do for us?”. Now South Tyneside’s council is demanding that
the northeast’s EU subsidies should be replaced by government ones at
the same level, and that there should be a “continued free flow of
skilled people, and frictionless, barrier-free trade”. It says it hopes
economic and social improvements will follow from Brexit. Everything may
have changed, in other words, but everything should stay the same.
Except where it could become even better.
It’s the same pattern in care homes or hospitals, where the elderly who
voted 64 per cent to 36 per cent to leave are going to be worst affected
by the fact that the flow of EU nurses has fallen by 90 per cent in 12
months. Before the vote they made up a third of new nurse registrations.
Despite the optimistic assertions of a great future for Britain, Brexit
is going to hurt, and a hundred special exemptions won’t avoid it. Our
growth has already tumbled to the bottom of the G7, our stagnant wages
have fallen behind inflation again, and Treasury forecasts predict that
in 15 years Brexit will leave the economy 6-7 per cent smaller than it
would have been. I fear Britons are all hoping that somehow they won’t
be the ones paying the price.