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Brexit’s cost will be more than economic

FUTURE historians will no doubt focus on the last five years as some of the most turbulent in UK and Welsh history, writes Jonathan Edwards MP.

I have often felt as if I was in the middle of a vortex as the forces of reality and British exceptionalism fantasy fought for supremacy.

Although I defended my seat in two General Elections on my position of an optimal trading relationship with Europe, the reality is that I was ultimately on the losing side in what will become known as an inconditam severitatem magnam (grand debacle) by future generations.

The Prime Minister isn’t the only one who can utilise google translate when delivering a political pasquinade.

The economic analysis of the so-called Trade and Cooperation Agreement points clearly to a net loss for the British State, despite the British Government dictating the terms of the agreement based on its own choices.

The hit to the UK economy will be four times greater to the UK than the EU according to some analysts. Bloomberg estimates an economic hit of £200bn last year – in other words, more than the entire contributions the UK has made to the EU since joining the Common Market nearly fifty years ago.

The Covid pandemic is currently wreaking havoc on economic output; however, the Brexit path chosen by the British Government will be doubly damaging.

It didn’t have to be this way of course. The British Government deliberately chose the biggest fracture on the table and in doing so effectively split the UK into two economic zones as Northern Ireland effectively stayed within the European Economic Area.

If I was an economic Minister in the 6 Counties, I would be handing my civil servants the Yellow Pages and telling them to phone every company in Great Britain with exporting interests to the European Economic Area and offering relocation support.

In creating an economic border in the Irish Sea, Boris Johnson betrayed the Northern Irish unionists in what is probably one of the most open acts of political treachery since Brutus decided to assassinate his best friend Julius Caesar.

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The Democratic Unionist Party should have remembered the words of their forefather, Edward Carson, following the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921: ‘What a fool I was. I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.’

As the fishing industry has already found out, I fear history may apply the words of Carson in many contexts in the years to come.

Such is the economic illiteracy of economic policy that the big immediate ambition of Global Britain is to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement on the other side of the world, whilst ignoring the similarly structured and infinitely more strategically important European Free Trade Association on our doorstep consisting of 4 non-EU States and the EU 27.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, whilst dealing with the issue of tariff barriers (for as long as the UK complied with EU policy), neglected non-tariff barriers.

Subsequently, some food exporters find themselves paying out far more in bureaucratic costs that the value of the product they are exporting.

The common-sense approach would be to negotiate sector by sector (or even product by product) deals on mutual equivalence on standards and future harmonisation protocols to remove non-tariff barriers. I have tabled a parliamentary motion to this effect which has gained the support of the DUP. This is significant considering our diametrically opposed positions on the European question.

However, as the last few years have so painfully demonstrated, the political interests of the Conservative party will forever trump the economic interests of the people of the British State.

The Tories know they have hit on a winning political formula and it’s somewhat fanciful to think that the Tory ERG obsessives are going to find another project to entertain themselves.

Expect years of Euro bashing as reality bites.

Labour has decided to concede ground in the Euro culture war and therefore a debased political culture will dominate Westminster. This is by far the biggest cost of Brexit.

Peter Oborne’s book ‘The Assault on Truth’ eloquently portrays how in the new politics dominating Westminster, common standards on factual accuracy has disappeared from UK politics.

Our democratic rights have been stolen.

The question for us in Wales, will we be bold enough to take them back as we forge our own path to independence?