On 23 June 2016, just over half of the UK, 51.9%, voted to leave European Unionand sent shockwaves around the world as Britain started the painful process of divorce from the bloc.
The result also sowed the seeds of one of the most divisive periods in British political history, with the resignation of two Conservative prime ministers, the firing of 21 Tory rebels and a sweeping victory for Boris Johnson over his promise of an “oven”. -ready Brexit share”.
Now, on the sixth anniversary of the referendum, one of the key figures in the prosecution of this agreement has given his dom: “Brexit works,” says Lord Frost, adding that those who say it hits the economy have “an ax to grind”.
So are the Frost requirements holding up?
Does Brexit work?
Although it may be too early to say whether his statement could be supported by evidence, Frost was asked by Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London and director of the UK in a Changing Europeto investigate it in another way – what evidence in the future would convince him that Brexit had failed.
“An interesting question,” was his reply. And the answer was not in trade figures, but in gut policy. Would Britain’s divisions be healed?
“A proof of failure would be if we still discuss this in five or six years in the same way. I think it is to succeed, it is necessary to settle in British politics.”
Economy – what Lord Frost says:
He said the predictions of a 4% decline in Britain’s gross domestic product used by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) were not facts but “zombie figures” based on a 2018 government report on economic services that relied on academic studies of the impact of opening up to “poorly run ex-communist and ex-authoritarian autarchic economies”.
He referred to a 79-page report, EU Exit: Long-term economic analysis, technical reference paper, which looked at five Brexit agreement models and their impact on the 12 regions of the UK, taking into account trade and non-trade barriers.
But Frost said their predictions “could not be supported by objective analysis” with growth in the UK “at roughly the same pace as other G7 countries since the referendum and exports to the EU” at the highest level ever “.
He also argued that the exact impact of Brexit may never be known as trade figures were clouded by disruptions caused by the pandemic, the supply chain crisis and the road in Ukraine.
What others are saying:
Four years later OBR maintains its predictions. Its latest forecast, March 2022, said that the trade agreement Frost sealed would “reduce long-term productivity by 4% compared to staying in the EU”.
It said it reflected its position, “that the rise in non-tariff barriers” such as bureaucracy, compliance with standards was an “obstacle to the exploitation of comparative advantages”.
OECD number showed that the UK was ahead of France, Italy, Germany and Japan in the percentage change in its GDP between the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2022, but behind the EU as a whole and significantly behind the US, Australia and the G20 as a whole.
This week, a Resolution Foundation report said the UK had seen a sharp drop in trade openness (total trade as a share of GDP) since 2019, falling eight percentage points. This compared to a fall of two percentage points for France, it added.
“The full effect of TCA [trade and cooperation agreement] It will take years to notice, but this is a step towards a more closed economy, ”the authors said.
Menon said: “Early evidence suggests that there is a Brexit effect, and recent Resolution Foundation analysis suggests that this will be significant in the medium term.”
Northern Ireland Protocol: what Frost says:
This remains unfinished Brexit business and the “biggest problem” caused by Britain’s exit from the EU. “The delicately balanced compromise that we introduced in 2019, recognizing that we ran high levels of risk in doing so, has gone apart much faster than most of us thought,” Frost said.
He blamed the EU, which he said refused to look at compromises despite the sensitivities.
What others are saying:
This is entirely in line with the government’s policy, which has been met with a chorus of disapproval from many parties and support in the Brexit background society and conditional support from Northern Ireland trade union society.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Frost had some input into the drafting of the controversial bill to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
But unwritten remarks suggest there was no meeting between minds. He expressed surprise that the Article 16 mechanism had not been triggered, arguing that it would have been a “faster” way to resolve the dispute with the EU.
This could reinforce the view that the government’s plan all along was to put forward legislation as a sluggish negotiating tool.