A Happy and Healthy New Year. Boris Johnson told me in 2019 that Brexit was done. Now one year on from Brexit actually occurring, the latest Opinium poll showed over 60% thought that Brexit had gone either badly or worse than expected. Furthermore, 42% of those who voted Leave in 2016 had negative view of how Brexit had turned out. Brexit is now an inevitable fact of life but where do we actually stand? Especially now that Lord Frost, Johnson's chief minion in the Brexit negotiations, has resigned over the government's direction of travel.
The Covid downturn in economic and other activity has hidden the impact of Brexit. Independent figures are available that have adjusted for Covid. The OBR predicted long term GDP will fall by around 4% due to Brexit with another 1.5% caused by Covid. The ONS showed a 14% year on year decline in exports with both exports to the EU and the non-EU suffering. The biggest losers have been small businesses where Brexit has led to an imposition of bureaucratic trade barriers which were not there when we were in the Single Market which was driven into existence by Margaret Thatcher. Many small firms both in the EU and UK have decided to stop trading across this barrier. This is got not good news for us as consumers. We continue to be told of all the new magical trade deals. Yet those areas where trade deals have gone well are where the Johnson government has rolled over EU trade deals. So much for the brave new world.
The problem is due to Johnson's incompetence. Too much time spent telling us what a brilliant job he is doing, rather than getting on with it. Sleaze, scandal, dodgy dealings with donors, and a general lack of honesty do not help. My Italian Brexiteer aunt tells me that Johnson provides her with fun in a way that few other politicians can. I would argue that when the king becomes the court jester we are all in trouble. Brexit thankfully no longer dominates the headlines. Where our great nation of ours stands within the world, both economically and politically, is key to all our future prosperity. We need a clear vision and plan to make the most of the opportunities thrown up by Brexit as well as mitigate its disadvantages. We need and deserve good government. That is my wish for the New Year.