Voters in most countries elect politicians to work in the national interest. This means taking strategic decisions that advance the cause of that country, whether that be economically, politically, culturally, scientifically, you name it. Politicians, and particularly senior politicians, are put there to make the right moves; not necessarily the popular ones.
And then we have Brexit. A constitutional referendum in July returned a wish by a majority of voters in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland) for the entire UK (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) to leave the European Union. The Tory Party in the UK, currently in government, has promised to make good on this wish and is threatening to pull the rip cord in 2017.
I ask myself how any of the following predictions are really in the UK’s national interest:
- Scotland’s departure from the UK. The Scottish National Party are the largest political party in Scotland. They have already tried once to break their links with the UK. Under Brexit they would almost definitely do it again. And they would almost definitely win this time.
- UK banks fear that they may lose “passporting” or ability to trade freely with the EU.
- The CBI in the UK are reporting a significant year on year drop in sales in September.
- London may lose its top spot in banking to other cities, including Singapore, New York and Zurich.
- A European army might come into existence following a UK exit from the EU, contrary to British wishes.
- Dramatic fee increases are on the cards for British university students as research funding becomes uncertain.
- A consensus is forming that a hard Brexit would knock off 9 billion pounds in value from investment banking and capital markets.
- New border posts could be required in Ireland, threatening a hard won peace.
These are just a smattering of headlines from the last few weeks.
Flight of capital, brain drains, breakup of the UK, decline of strategically important industries, trade tariffs reimposed, worsened security situation: that’s one hell of a price to pay for restricting the number of Polish and Romanian migrants to England and Wales and putting one over on Johnny Foreigner.
If this is working in the national strategic interests of the UK, then I’m a Dutchman.