The UK economy after Brexit: sink or swim?Sunday 23 October, 17.30 - 18.45 , Pit Theatre Battle for the Economy
The vote to leave the European Union left the world’s economic experts, politicians and economic officials stunned. Voters were told that leaving the EU would hit the UK economy hard, with the only question being over what future arrangements might be made with the EU. If the UK negotiates membership of the European Economic Area, the so-called ‘Norway option’, then trade would be largely unaffected. But such a deal would almost certainly require the UK continuing to allow free movement of EU citizens into the UK, something that is currently regarded as politically contentious, while the UK would have no say on changes to single market rules.
The alternatives, from a Swiss-style bespoke arrangement to a situation with no deal at all, with trade governed by World Trade Organization rules, seem to offer a sliding scale from ‘very negative’ to ‘disastrous’, according to most economists. A minority, particularly the Economists for Brexit group, argue that leaving the EU will allow the UK to trade freely with the rest of the world and ditch pointless EU regulations, with the prospect of a revival in economic growth as a result.
But when it comes to future prosperity, is there too much focus on the UK’s status within Europe? A week after the vote, the government reported another damning set of trade statistics, confirming how much more Britain imports than exports. The government finances still look weak and there is an ongoing and anguished debate about the poor productivity of the economy. George Osborne’s declared aims of ‘rebalancing’ the economy, both between North and South, and towards manufacturing, seem to have come to nought. And the economies of the Eurozone hardly seem in the best of health, either, with the only question seemingly where the next crisis will hit. Greece? Italy? Perhaps even France?
So what does the future hold? What kind of deal should the UK aim to strike with the EU? When most economists, officials and business leaders predicted disaster if there was a vote to leave the EU, is it any surprise that the initial reaction to the vote has been to dent business confidence? But while we fret about Europe, should we really be worrying about problems closer to home?
former deputy chairman of Transport for London; Conservative Councillor; co-chairman, Urban Design London
economist and business manager; author, Creative Destruction: How to start an economic renaissance
Editor in Chief, MoneyWeek
partner, Ashcombe Advisers LLP; author, The Abolition of Deposit Insurance
Brexit Britain: What has actually happened so far?, BBC News, September 2016
Brexit: UK economy faces uncertain future after shock referendum result, say two independent reports, Joe Watts, Independent, September 2016
How British Pound Weakness Against Euro and Dollar Will Help the Economy Navigate Brexit, Gary Howes, PoundSterling Live, July 2016
How Brexit has already changed Britain two months after the EU referendum, James Moore, Independent, August 2016
Brexit boom: The five charts which show Britain has escaped an economic apocalypse, Tim Wallace, Telegraph, August 2016
The Brexit economy: post-referendum data defies gloomy UK predictions, Katie Allen, Guardian, September 2016