Do you like your Brexit hard or soft? That’s the question du jour in Britain at the moment, as the country struggles to come to terms with just what Brexit actually means. Overnight, public discourse in the UK has suddenly started focusing on the merits of retaining Single Market access (so-called ‘soft Brexit’) versus making a clean break and opting to trade based on WTO rules alone (‘hard Brexit’).
We had a comment from James, arguing that Britain needs to keep access to the Single Market at all costs (including allowing freedom of movement with the EU to continue). In other words, he thinks hard Brexit would be a terrible mistake for Britain.
At Friends of Europe’s recent ‘State of Europe’ roundtable event in Brussels, we caught up with Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and asked her to respond to James. What does ‘hard Brexit’ mean, and would it really be so bad?
But would life outside the Single Market really be so bad? There were plenty of expert predictions of economic catastrophe in the event of a Leave vote (including from the IMF and the Bank of England), but the reality has been more mixed. On the one hand, the pound has slumped to a three-decade low against the dollar; on the other hand, the FTSE 100 has been hitting record highs. So, can we really trust the experts?
[…] Well, of course, Brexit hasn’t happened. There has been a vote for Brexit, but we have only seen the start of the process, and clearly the ramifications will come when there is an exit from the European Union. In the meantime, the devaluation of the pound has given perhaps an artificial boost to exports, which has been beneficial for some, perhaps also for tourism – but the long-term implications of this are very, very serious indeed.
Only this week, a leaked UK government report shows a 66 billion pounds loss in public sector income from Brexit. So, remember, the sky hasn’t fallen in because Brexit hasn’t happened yet…
The report that Fiona Hyslop cites is controversial. It represents the worst-case scenario if there is a total break with Europe, without any deal struck to retain even partial access to the Single Market. So, to get another perspective we also spoke to Jon Worth, a blogger and European Young Leader 2012. Did he think we could still trust the ‘experts’ on Brexit?
Can Britain survive outside the Single Market? Can we trust ‘expert’ predictions of doom and gloom if the UK opts for a hard Brexit? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!