With Halloween upon us, indications last week suggest that there is less to be frightened about from the Brexit vote than initially appeared.
Generally speaking, it has been a pleasant week for Brexit campaigners; unless of course, your name is Boris Johnson. On Tuesday, the Foreign Secretary witnessed his colleague and fellow Brexiteer Chris Grayling announce plans to expand Heathrow. Now, unless you’ve had less exposure to sunlight than Julian Assange for the past few years, you will of course be aware of Johnson’s opposition to the project outlined by the Secretary of State for Transport.
The following afternoon, BoJo received a thrashing befitting of a public schoolboy from Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, during a Commons debate on Yemen. It was plainly obvious (from my position in the public gallery) that the Government is quivering over the subject of arms sales to Saudi Arabia – which are then allegedly used in the Yemen. Understandably, Labour and the SNP are determined to twist the knife whenever the opportunity presents itself and Boris is at the forefront of their denunciations.
Leaving the Foreign Secretary aside, this week has been a period of unparalleled positivity for his fellow Leave campaigners.
The favourable news began on Monday with Sweden's Finance Minister, Magdalena Andersson, expressing concern for the EU not to press for a punitive divorce with the UK. This is precisely the rhetoric which is music to the ears of those on both sides of the referendum divide and is in stark contrast to that of Francois Hollande. Hopefully, it will also serve as a blueprint for those leaders throughout Europe who pursue the furthering of continental policies at the expense of national consensus. Mrs Andersson recognises the Eurosceptic voices that holler throughout Scandinavia. As a result, she appears ardent not to penalize the UK as this would fan the flames of Euroscepticism back home.
On Tuesday, there was a duo of post-Brexit confidence. Mark Carney sent the pound climbing after admitting, to the House of Lords’ economic committee, that there had been misconceptions from the market. His reasoning behind this fall is that the state of the economy is in reality much stronger than some believed. The pound had fallen sharply after Theresa May’s announced that Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March. Moreover, the governor proclaimed that the Bank of England will not “slavishly rely” on a future policy of quantitative easing. This was yet another influence seen as contributing to the slump in the value of the pound.
The other side of Tuesday’s golden coin saw the announcement of a third runway at Heathrow. There is no doubt about it, the country needs to increase her airport capacity and this is most definitely a step in the right direction. If we really want to be the outward-looking trading nation that the Brexiteers pushed for, this project is vital. Not only will it allow for more domestic flights, it will also open routes to forty foreign destinations including Wuhan and Osaka.
Trading with China and Japan is central to a United Kingdom free from EU intervention. Estimates put the cost of the project at £18 bn, with the benefits being around £61bn over the first sixty years after completion. Earlier approximations by the Airports Commission had put the figure at as high as £147bn. Nonetheless, 77,000 thousand local jobs are expected to be generated. An extremely impressive alternative at Gatwick was proposed and overlooked and there are understandably environmental concerns, but the benefits to this project may well outweigh the downsides. What is not up for debate is expansion; it is needed more than ever in the aftermath of the referendum.
Not only did we learn that estimates regarding the UK’s economic performance for the three months after the vote had been wrong, but we also learned that manufacturing and trade will endure.
Thursday would usher in another wave of favourable headlines. Not only did we learn that estimates regarding the UK’s economic performance for the three months after the vote had been wrong, but we also learned that manufacturing and trade will endure.
First of all, it was reported that the UK economy had grown at a rate of 0.5 percent for the months of July, August and September. Regrettably, this was below the 0.7% for the previous quarter but was nonetheless higher than the 0.3% which had been envisaged.
Next would be the statement from Nissan to manufacture new models at their Sunderland plant – thus safeguarding 7,000 thousand jobs.
This long-term commitment from the Japanese giant is a further boost for the Leave campaign. It follows the decision earlier this month from ING. The Dutch firm – the Netherlands largest financial firm – has opted to relocate approximately sixty trading roles from Amsterdam and Brussels. The company was initially one of those threatening to abandon the city in the wake of June’s vote. Hitherto, we are yet to witness the exodus of capital investment that was hypothesised.
Finally, Thursday culminated with the proclamation that a deal had been brokered between Belgium leaders at odds over the CETA deal; the deal between the European Union and Canada. With the region of Wallonia now satisfied with the environmental and consumer protection procedures, and their farmers’ competitiveness ensured, it received the green light and was ratified over the weekend. This shows that deals with the EU are in fact possible – even for those countries with smaller economies than our own.
This leads to the final piece of gratifying news. It was shown on Friday that claims rendered in the period immediately after the votes had been counted, were misleading. Many had stated that the fall in the value sterling had relegated the UK behind France in the rankings for the world’s largest economies. Per contra, the BBC reported: “The World Bank produces the rankings which are based on average exchange rates over the period. The UK has not fallen behind France so far.” Once more, reports such as this give Brexit revellers reasons to be buoyant and should reassure these who opted for Remain also.
Unmistakably, the evidence highlighted throughout this article is only a snapshot in a debate which will ramble on for years. However, it is, by no means, the post-referendum Armageddon which was adumbrated. Perhaps it would be wise to concede that there is more to be confident about than meets the eye as the UK moves towards the triggering of Article 50. TMM