Can we really speak about Brexit ?
Brexit is the result of a democratic decision reached by referendum, and it means the UK’s forthcoming – and acknowledged – departure from the European Union. But it also means negotiations with Brussels, Britons applying for French citizenship, and, inevitably, economic consequences for a truly financially-oriented nation. These simple and established facts might have been enough, in and of themselves. But this week an internal UK government briefing, leaked by BuzzFeed, threw a spanner in the works and highlighted that the biggest decisions also have a societal impact.
What the leaked briefing said was that Brexit would have a huge impact on the UK economy. Whatever the outcome of the EU negotiations, Britain’s annual growth will fall way short of current forecasts. Every sector of the economy will be affected: not just finance, but also the garment industry, carmaking, retailing and so on, all of them caught up in a chain reaction that is both understandable and quite normal for a major country. The analysis also said that some regions, especially Northern Ireland and the West Midlands, would be harder hit than others.
The UK authorities reacted by playing down the briefing’s contents. A prime ministerial spokesman said it was “an early draft” that had not been approved by ministers and related only to scenarios based on existing solutions. Indeed, Britain is seeking to build a bespoke relationship with Europe. Does this mean a special relationship, one that is distant but very real? By and large, that has been the UK’s position from the outset. The issue raised by this complex state of affairs is the need for Europe to pull together, because it is and will remain a bulwark. Economists everywhere have explained at length that we have reached a turning point, where general forecasts are broadly positive and private interest sharply honed. That’s why this moment in time is so important and so fascinating.
Going forward, what can we build together, as multiple participants that respect each other? Globalisation is a stronger force than each of us individually. It has already chosen its side: efficiency, trade and, hence, the future. So it would be wrong for us to stand in the way of progress.
Christian Moguérou, journalist