What an explosive couple of weeks it was for Britain politically last June. We made the momentous decision to say sayonara to the European Union, a union which we have been part of since 1973 (then the European Economic Community). We then had the implosion of the labour party, the resignation of the prime minister, followed by the swift installation of a new one, and the ending (for now) of the leadership bid of our former London mayor, via an act of skulduggery from his fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove.
One of the moments that stood out for me was Michael Gove’s now famous line on experts:
“The people of this country have had enough of experts” – Michael Gove
Personally I found it astounding how many so called experts predicted Armageddon, had us plebs had the audacity to make the decision to leave this impotent and undemocratic organisation. Even if we remained, the EU’s failure to deal with the refugee crises, the continued economic troubles of the southern European states and the inability to deal with the increasing problem of terrorism, all made it clear that the EU’s system of governance needed fundamental reform if it is to deliver for the people of Europe.
For me there was, and I suppose still is, a high degree of uncertainty in both directions., This was no basis for predicting economic meltdown. The truth is the United Kingdom was a successful nation before the EU and it will remain so afterwards. I see no intellectual basis for uncertainty alone being a catalyst for economic failure. To state the obvious the future is always uncertain (coming from a man whose day job it is to predict the future).
It may very well be the case that there might be some tough times ahead, but this may not necessarily be true. Certainly in the medium to longer term the decisions we make domestically will have a much greater impact on the UK Economy.
You see the strength of a nation’s economy does not come from an overly powerful centralised government which sets out regulation for the curvature of bananas, how much fish can be fished from its waters, how much we should subsidise various industries etc. Instead the strongest countries are those where markets are liberated from over zealous regulators and governments, where there is an environment which incentivises entrepreneurship and innovation, where free trade and indeed free markets are championed.
This argument has already been won. The 20th century proved this to be the case. The United States remains the most powerful nation on the planet precisely because of its belief in the free market. China has grown strong by liberating its markets through the creation of its free enterprise zones, delivering astonishing economic growth. The last century also gave us the most centralised state in human history, the USSR which is no more having collapsed through economic failure.
The point I am making is that Brexit has presented us with an opportunity to be champions of the free market and free trade, liberating us from a European Union which has overstepped its mark. If we opt now for low taxes, small government, and an economy open to the world for business, Britain’s economy will remain strong.
There were some good reasons to stay in the European Union, a stronger economy was not one of them. Perhaps a better argument would have been to stay and fight for continuous reform, alas the decision has been made. So let’s stop the moaning and get on with it.