It is seriously misleading for Brexiters to state that ”leaving the EU is worth billions” and there will be “money available to the Government to spend as it wishes once we have finally left the EU”.
It is true that we currently pay money to the EU to gain the advantages of trading within the single market. But we have already lost more than that from the poor performance of the economy since the referendum. Before the referendum, we were the fastest growing economy in the EU.
Now we are the slowest – so the Government already has far less money to spend. And because of the fall in the value of the pound and the poor performance of the economy, we are all around £600 a year less well off than we would have been without the threat of Brexit.
But that is only the start. Remember, Brexit has not happened yet. The Government’s own calculations (by the Treasury and the Office for Budgetary Responsibility) – which they did not want us to see – predict that Brexit would be hugely expensive, even after taking contributions to the EU budget into account. A recent report estimated that the net cost would be between £216 million and £1.25 billion a week, depending what sort of Brexit was negotiated, with the Government’s preferred “bespoke” option costing some £615 million a week extra (or £30 billion a year) – equivalent to around 22% of the entire NHS budget. If the Government increases the NHS budget, the money will come from tax increases and more borrowing: there will be no savings to spend, only increasing debts.
And a report published only this week predicts that if the government fails to cut a deal with the EU – which looks increasingly likely – every family in the UK will be £1000 a year worse off. That is even before we start to think about the carnage Brexit would cause to jobs (for example, Airbus, on whom more than a hundred thousand jobs depend, are talking about pulling out of Wales), the annihilation of many small businesses, the disruption of food supplies, and the destruction of ports such as Fishguard and Holyhead. Brexit would mean a continuation of the Government’s austerity policies into the distant future. We would all be worse off, with the poorest hit the hardest by rising prices and under-funded public services.
There is no Brexit dividend.
Paul Willner – Convenor, Swansea For Europe