Political Economist Mark Blyth Weighs in on Brexit | APB Speakers
21 Jan 2019
Written by APB Exclusive Speaker, Mark Blyth
No one wants to talk about Brexit, and yet we have to. If you take Brexiteers at their word, the point of leaving the EU, which is the largest free trade zone in the world, is to make it possible for the UK to sign its own better free trade deals, most of which would be with, yes, the EU. Yeah, that makes sense...
And by the way, the referenda that set the UK on this course two or more years ago was never really about the EU. It was about all the growth going to London. It was about ten years of recession and wage stagnation and rising inequality everywhere else. And most of all, it was about grasping an opportunity to tell the entire British ruling elite that if they really wanted something - to remain in the EU - then they damn well can’t have it. The Germans have a word for this - Schadenfraude - taking pleasure in the pain of others - and the British public did just that.
But once you have pulled that trigger, you then have to tell those same reckless elites to leave the EU, which turns out to be insanely complex. To get to a new trade deal - which the EU will only give you after you have left - you need to leave. But if you leave without a deal, it's going to be horrible. The uncertainty generated will be hugely damaging to investment. So you need a deal. But you can't get one till you have left. Catch 22 on steroids.
So to get around this conundrum, Prime Minister May negotiated a deal that is worse than what the UK has now, and worse than what you might get later, so that the UK can in fact get a better deal later. But the House of Commons rejected that deal because it was a bad deal, which is was. But without it, all you have is no deal, which is worse. And you can’t get to deal from no deal easier than from bad deal.
And did we mention the simple impossibility of the British border in Ireland being a hard border with customs while the other side in the Republic of Ireland is an open border without them?
The British have always seen themselves as different from the Continent. More pragmatic, less ideological, more liberal, more pro-market, and all with a better sense of humor. It’s a nice picture but it’s misleading. What Brexit shows is that the British can be just as ideological, anti-liberal, and nationalist as anyone else, all while making themselves a laughing stock of governmental incompetence. There is no good end to Brexit. That famous sense of humor is going to be tested to its limit.
A political economist and author acclaimed for his stunning early predictions of Trump’s victory, Brexit and identifying the phenomenon he named “Global Trumpism,” Mark Blyth energizes audiences with insights into global politics and economics.