Empirical evidence suggests that informed and intelligent British citizens capable of rational thought and critical reasoning expect Brexit, or the cessation of the UK from the European Union, to lead to economic disaster for the country and to cause much social disruption, hardship and deprivation.
Some consider that Brexit has been motivated by the British Conservative Party and its ideological extreme right-wing, UKIP, at the bidding of global corporations and the super-rich, to enable the transformation of Britain into a low tax economy designed expressly for the benefit of the self-appointed, wealthy ruling classes. In this respect concern is even expressed by commentators that the UK may, effectively, become an extension of the USA: not quite the 51st state, but the equivalent of one of the USA’s poorest states existing to serve the richest states.
While many observers express concern about Brexit and the negative consequences they believe will result from the UK quitting the EU, and given the column kilometers that will by now have been written about the topic, surprisingly little has been produced that objectively quantifies the benefits that ought to accrue from Brexit if it is to be considered a morally defensible project. Indeed, no reports setting out the economic benefits of Brexit have apparently been provided by official, government sources.
Articles for and against Brexit have been written by politicians and journalists, as well as other thinkers, but just about all that favour leaving the EU depend on the Three Pillars of Brexit for their legitimacy: ‘taking back our country’ ‘reclaiming our sovereignty’ and ‘controlling our borders’. Everything is said about how Britain will at last be able to trade freely with the world, make its own laws and reduce immigration, but nothing is said of how the British people will be financially better off and enjoy an enhanced quality of life post-Brexit. One may assume that even the most ardent Brexit supporters actually have no idea of the true nature and magnitude of the consequences of leaving the EU, or of the effects that will be felt by the British people.
Whatever one might think about Brexit, it is clear that the decision to remove the UK from the EU was made by Mrs. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister. But though she maintains she is only fulfilling the will of the people, her argument, given the facts, is surely intellectually and morally bankrupt. Only 26% of the UK’s population expressed the desire – note the word desire – to leave the EU in the 2016 advisory referendum, and we can be sure that most of those who voted to leave had little understanding of the various permutations that the leave option actually represented. Indeed, it seems that not even the British government’s Brexit negotiators understand adequately what the leave options are, according to reports from Brussels.
The fact that only 26% of the population selected leave in the 2016 ‘opinion poll’ means of course that 74% of the population either expressed the desire that the UK remain within the EU, or stated no opinion at all. This hardly brings confidence to Mrs. May’s claim that she is acting to fulfill the will of the British people. Her decision to mandate Brexit on the back of what was, in law, an advisory referendum that yielded a margin of only 3.8% of the electorate, or 1.9% of the population, is also morally without foundation. Some even suggest she has acted unconstitutionally.
Concern exists among thinking people that Mrs. May and a hard-right faction, indeed political extremists within the Conservative Party, manipulated the 2016 EU Referendum and are now manipulating the Brexit negotiations to ensure a hard-Brexit. In other words leaving the EU with no trade deal and no access to the EU’s single market and customs union: this in order to have the political freedom to reinvent Britain as a hard-right oligarchy existing to serve the needs of global corporations and the super-rich. There are those who even suggest that such objectives cohere with the ideas and philosophy of the political economist, James McGill Buchanan, who regarded representative democracy as an impediment to furthering the interests of the rich and ruling classes, and that the right-wing in Britain and America are striving to realise his vision.
Whatever the truth about Brexit we can be sure that Britain is heading for some very difficult times and in many ways the British agriculture and food industries will function as a barometer, indicating fairly quickly the consequent ups and downs of the economy caused by Brexit.
Of the various highly professional organisations that will be monitoring the effects of Brexit on the British food system the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) is one to watch. Indeed, Kate Askew writing in Foodnavigator.com (see link) draws on interesting IGD research that concludes that a hard-Brexit could result in British food prices rising by a third. Mrs. May, and her colleagues in the Conservative Party that are so set on Brexit may be able to absorb such food price rises, but one can be certain that many British citizens would be forced into dire food poverty were such an outcome to occur.