One the biggest issues that many remainers were concerned about in the face of Brexit was the potential impact to the economy. For a long time, the argument continued that there were no discernible benefits of being out. I have noted a number of predictions here that have subsequently proven to have credit.
Of course, by far and away the biggest benefit has been our ability to roll out a vaccine programme far faster than the European Union. I appreciate nobody foresaw a global pandemic, so it would be incredible to claim that leavers somehow voted knowing that it would serve our vaccine programme. That would be absurd. But it is true that many voted to leave based on principles that our subsequent ability to roll out vaccines has shown to be significant. The principles we talked about prior to the pandemic are the ones at play regarding the ability to roll out vaccines in a way the EU have not.
Nevertheless, cries of ‘but what about the economy’ persist. As I mentioned here, there are companies doing alright out of Brexit. But more importantly, The Times have reported that Britain’s economy will be back to pre-Covid levels within 12 months (paywall). But it bears asking, how and why will it manage to recover within that relatively short space of time? We have heard loud arguments insisting the furlough scheme – along with the close down of businesses – will have wrecked the economy for years to come.
The Times report:
It expects the economy to get back to pre-pandemic levels of GDP in 12 months despite the severe current lockdown. Andrew Bailey, the Bank’s governor, said the “condensed recovery” in the second half of the year “does reflect the vaccination” programme.
“The underlying assumption is that the vaccination programme assists very positively . . . That is very good news, it is an excellent story,” he said, after the Bank published a new forecast showing that unemployment would also recover more quickly than previously thought.
And so, it would appear, our economy will recover quite quickly specifically as a result of our vaccine rollout which, as we have already discovered, was a specific result of Brexit. Not only is the rollout of vaccinations a benefit of Brexit, but as I argued before (and, once again, was rubbished by those who can only see the EU as benign), our economy will do better as a result of this too. The sole credible argument of remain – the argument that they essentially bet everything else on – was the economic impact. It transpires Brexit was quite helpful on that front after all.
Even if you doubt that particular link, the Bank of England research found that ‘So far the economy has proved more resilient than thought.’ This has long been the argument of those on the leave side of the argument. Markets do not like uncertainty and there was obviously going to be some uncertainty whatever happened. But the economy is more resilient than we are often led to believe. Many leapt on the immediate downturn in the pound following the vote to leave (due to uncertainty); most of those refused to acknowledge its recovery once stability and certainty had been restored. Now, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic will recover faster specifically because of the vaccine rollout made possible due to Brexit. Whilst none of us predicted that specific state of affairs, we were clear that the economy would prove to be more robust than remainers believed. Early signs – based on the pandemic downturn and subsequent probable recovery – that prediction was also correct.
This is hardly surprising. We were promised a year long recession following the Brexit vote. It didn’t come to pass. We were told that Brexit would cripple the pound. It took and immediate dip (as expected) and then recovered (as expected). The economic predictions of what would happen after Brexit have all largely proven to be unfounded. Nobody expects zero disruptions as we move from being in the EU to operating outside of it, but the economy is more robust than it was often claimed and our likely economic recovery from the pandemic – a direct result of the vaccine rollout made possible by Brexit – is suggesting it isn’t even all that economically terrible after all. Given that many sold out principle in return for mammon, what are we to say when the returns on that investment don’t even prove as economically beneficial as we thought?