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So, when does the Brexit dividend arrive then?

This is a slightly altered version of a comment I left on a Brexit page on Facebook as prompted by this article about IMF forecasts and related issues at Reuters:

The most ardent Brexit supporters have to take this sort of analysis on board because it is relentless in much of the media, and not without reason. Some of those who backed exit from the EU for freedom reasons wanted the liberalising impact of less red tape, a reduction in the burden of the State, and a more intelligent government approach to areas where the State inevitably gets involved, including R&D spending, infrastructure, education, etc. Nearly all of the drivers of long-term wealth creation are home-grown, and cannot be blamed on the EU, or attributed to it. Long before we even thought of a referendum, the UK’s productivity and investment levels were poor, from 2009 to 2019, by past and contemporary standards. (The referendum was held in 2016 and we only actually left four years later.)

The petulance of the EU in trying to harm the UK for the sin of leaving was probably inevitable and forseeable, and there is a need for whoever is in Westminster and Whitehall to slash the burdens on business and the individual to balance this out, as well as hammer out genuinely good FTAs with countries that broadly share our values and market systems. A mutual recognition of standards approach to the EU, when it comes to EU-destined exports to the bloc, should be possible in time although it may take a while for the EU to avoid the “cutting off the nose to spite the face” stance of the past few years. The UK remains an important trade partner, given our net importation of manufactured goods from the continent.

20 comments to So, when does the Brexit dividend arrive then?

  • Marius

    I confess I didn’t really care about Brexit and didn’t vote in the referendum. I did, after the vote, lean towards the Brexiteers due to the malice of the hardcore Remainers, but my view has always been that being in or out of the EU makes little difference to the problems we face. Our political establishment continues with the same ruinous policies on tax, the economy, energy, immigration and culture which persisted before the vote. Had we remained in the EU, we’d be in the same boat.

    There will be no Brexit dividend because no one in Parliament is seeking such a thing.

  • Mary Contrary

    I want all the things in that quote too, but Brexit is justified without achieving any of them.

    Brexit wasn’t a policy fight, it was a constitutional one. It wasn’t a fight for those policies, but for the opportunity to seek them, and the ability to hold politicians to account for failing to deliver them.

    So from my point of view, we have the Brexit dividend already. We can see the government for the rotten lot they are, and they can’t hide behind claiming the EU made them do it.

    Brexit was never going to deliver an abrupt and favourable change in the laws we live under. But it was a necessary pre-condition for any positive change.

  • lucklucky

    Where you saw that British Llibertarian culture in the mainstream media that could move UK to a more freedom loving country?!

    The good thing about Brexit is that the culprit is now inside UK. So no more UE fault. And that is what the Brexit supporters must emphasize the need to pin the problems in its right place. If a remainer says the fault is the Brexit a Brexit supporter should point that a 70 million person country should have things working regardless of UE or not UE and that Brexit makes possible to find issues with decisions made by UK and not in a far away office. Brexit makes possible to fight decadence.

  • TomJ

    Well, we appear to have more influence over European financial regulations now than when we were in…

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    lucklucky: The good thing about Brexit is that the culprit is now inside UK. So no more UE fault. And that is what the Brexit supporters must emphasize the need to pin the problems in its right place.

    100% correct, and I’d add that that was a big reason for me voting Leave, because I wanted those in Westminster to know there were no more excuses (“but please, dear voter, those Brussels folk made me do this, we have no choice, it is all about our influence….”). Remove the excuses, and make our votes more consequential, then I hope that, in time, the calibre of the folk in parliament might go up. No more using Brussels as a retirement home for failed politicians. OK, there are other options for these folk, but it was still a good day to remove that particular avenue. For instance, why should a failed blowhard like Neil Kinnock and his wife be able to continue to intrude themselves into our lives long after the 1992 General Election?

    Marius: There will be no Brexit dividend because no one in Parliament is seeking such a thing.

    It appears that statement is broadly true, apart from a few MPs.

    TomJ: Well, we appear to have more influence over European financial regulations now than when we were in…

    Well, good!

  • The Pedant-General


    “We can see the government for the rotten lot they are, and they can’t hide behind claiming the EU made them do it.”

    Yup. This was why I voted leave.

  • Steven R

    I’ll never understand how the member nations of the EU were content to go from a free trade agreement to allowing Brussels to tell them how to run their internal business without putting up any fight. At least here in the US it took a Civil War and a decade of occupying armies during Reconstruction to get the point across that Washington was well and truly in charge. The EU member nations never even tried resisting.

    But then again, I don’t quite get the point of your nations having royalty who don’t tell their Parliaments and governments “no” once in a while. Even our useless governors and presidents whip out the veto pen once in a while.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a very long term problem with British Governance – that of following the “advice” of officials and “experts”. Utterly insane policies which Ministers and the Prime Minister, when private persons, quite understand are utterly insane – prove to be automatic, that when someone becomes a minister or Prime Minister they have to follow the policy, unable to drop the policy (whether it is Covid lockdowns, HS2, de facto OPEN BORDERS to criminal gangs, and so on). The official policy must be followed – regardless of reason and experience.

    Ironically it was this failure of British Governance that led to some people, such as the late Mr Waugh, to support the European Union – as if it was not also dominated by officials and “experts”.

    Partly I suspect this failure of governance is due to Ministers and the Prime Minister having no legal authority of their own, no real legal “mandate”, and always living in fear that they might be removed in some sort of legal (quite legal) coup – as Margaret Thatcher found out in 1990 (Agenda 21 was signed only a year or so later – a coincidence?) and Liz Truss found out in 2022. A minister or the Prime Minister (or a local councillor – for that matter) is expected to attend lots of meetings (endless meetings), read lots of briefings, undergo lots of training, and follow the official line.

    An American State Governor can say to officials “I am elected by the people – I am your BOSS, you are going to do what I say, I am not interested in your endless bits of paper, do-as-you-are-told” (a few American State Governors even refused to have Covid lockdowns), a British minister, or Prime Minister, who said anything like that (let alone tried to act on it) would be forced to resign, on the grounds of “bullying”, so quick that their feet would not touch the ground.

    By the way when a Parliamentary government does try and gain control over unelected officials – they are promptly, and savagely, attacked by the “international community”, including the European Union.

    On what grounds? On the grounds of “undermining democracy”.

    Yes – elected people trying to gain control of the government, is “undermining democracy” and “undermining the rule of law” (“the rule of law” meaning the rule of unelected officials and unelected judges – following a “liberal” left agenda that no one voted for).

    It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Paul Marks

    Historically the first example I can find of this is the case of Sir Charles Trevelyan – founder of the British Civil Service.

    The British Government used Ireland as an area for experiments in what wonderful things government could achieve (yes the truth is the opposite of some history books – which claim that a “laissez faire” policy was followed). In 1801 a national (and armed) Police Force was created in Ireland (it was not till 1856 that police forces were made compulsory in English and Welsh counties – and even then they were local and unarmed), in 1831 a system of state schools was set up Ireland (because Lord Stanley, later the Earl of Derby, thought it would be a good idea – and that was it, the taxpayers were not consulted, one unelected bloke thought a system of state schools would be a good idea in Ireland, so such a system was created). There was no such system of state schools in England till after 1870 – indeed in some areas of England (such as Kettering – my home town), there was no system of state schools till the Act of 1891.

    In 1838 the Poor Law was established in Ireland – a system based on the fallacy that one can reduce poverty by taxes (of course higher taxes on “the rich landowners” drag down the economy and increase, rather than reduce, poverty). In the late 1840s the potato crop failed and large areas (although far from all) of Ireland depended upon it – but Sir Charles Trevelyan (and men like him) had a solution HIGHER TAXES – especially after the Act of 1847 which made “Poor Law Unions” that had not gone bankrupt, responsible for “Poor Law Unions” that had gone bankrupt – thus dragging down all of Ireland, whether the area depended on potatoes or not.

    Like today, 2023, the answer to everything was HIGER TAXES and more regulations, and government schemes such as Trevelyan’s infamous “roads to nowhere”, the HS2 of their day. All this is described as “laissez faire” – if one is a cretin. Laissez faire is exactly what all this was NOT.

    By the way – France did not have a system of tax-and-spend for poverty till the 20th century, and France was not known as having worse poverty than these islands. France did not have a system of state schools till the 3rd Republic – indeed if France had won (rather than lost) the war of 1870 with Prussia the decline of Classical Liberalism in the world (it got trampled on by Bismarck and others) might not have happened – but that is a “might have been”. We must return to Ireland.

    One third (1 in 3) of the population of Ireland either died or had to flee the country in the late 1840s.

    And Sir Charles? He received every honour known to man, and then shaped the domestic British government.

    Let us hope that the next few years in the United Kingdom and in other Western countries (which are also following policies of endless government spending, taxes and regulations) are not so terrible as the late 1840s were in Ireland.

  • Paul Marks

    Could government spending, taxes and regulations have been dramatically lower since the vote for independence in 2016?

    Yes it could have been – but only with a government prepared to go against the officials and the “experts”.

    I give some historical background to terrible power of such officials and “experts” above.

  • David Norman

    Thank you Mary Contrary for expressing the view I hold much more eloquently than I have ever been able to. Almost every word you have written seems perfectly weighed including the implication in ‘any positive change’ that our politicians may fail. Commentaries like those in the article linked to at the beginning of Johnathan’s post always seem to overlook the fact that just as the decision to join the Common Market (as was) in 1972 was a long term constitutional change with uncertain results, so was the decision to leave the EU.

  • Peter MacFarlane

    What Mary Contrary said..

  • Stuart Noyes

    I’ve been watching Brexit stories in the media. Every single last one of them focus on economic aspects and this post by Jonathan appears to be in the same vein.

    I’m an ardent Brexit supporter. I wanted it from around 2002. It might come as a surprise for most it seems that some people wanted Brexit because they didn’t want to be in political union with most of Europe. I for one don’t feel anyone has the right to make law within the UK’s jurisdiction other than the British people through our own institutions. The UK is our house. Our land and our society.

    One of the claims by the remain side was that the leave side lied. The whole shtick about £350m a week to the NHS and amazing trade deals etc., were cited as BS and being honest, where we now stand, I can’t blame the Remainers for saying what they do. From my point of view, our political classes entire dealing with the European Project has been one of deceit and betrayal. Many claim the British people were adequately told what the European Project was and would become. But then we have Enoch Powell following the 1975 referendum saying the British people didn’t know what they were voting for. He said the British people still thought they’d be in control of their nation.

    EEC/EU membership had huge constitutional and democratic implications for our nation state. None of this is aired anywhere in the media, mostly because they support the establishment and are in effect part of the establishment. If it were up to me, a massive investigation into EEV/EU membership would be concluded. Any public servent or representative former or current who was found to betray our constutional ans democratic rights would be imprisoned.

  • Stuart Noyes

    Well said Mary. There are few around making these points.

  • Stuart Noyes

    There is also the issue of sovereignty. Parliament believes itself to be. Personally I think the people need to he acknowledged as the source of political sovereignty as per demand one of the Harrogate Agenda.

  • Kirk

    When’s the “BREXIT Dividend” going to arrive?

    Simple answer? When the EU finally crashes and burns under the inherent set of economic contradictions it enshrines.

    You’re seeing the first parts of that beginning to take place, as Germany deindustrializes under the triple burden of denuclearization, loss of cheap Russian oil/gas, and their own feckless drive towards “Green Energy”. In a generation, there won’t be a single major German industrial operation that can afford the energy bills of actually operating in Germany; everything will likely be outsourced to the US or other locations outside the EU’s draconian economic and regulatory climate. If the UK had better energy prospects and a sane set of policies regarding that segment of the economy, you’d all be undergoing a boom as German industry re-located there. Because you’re run by idiotic dolts whose grasp on energy and the economy is that of an autistic 9 year-old, well… Yeah. Buh-bye, European Union Dreaming.

    It’ll all be supplanted by a prosperous MittelEuropa, or whatever the Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian equivalent term would be. Presuming those states remain at least somewhat sane, and the EU doesn’t colonize them with the stupid.

    As an outsider, watching the whole EU fiasco is like observing a real-world rendition of one of those deals where someone apes the forms, but totally misses the functions. It’s all “Federation Optics”, without any real attempt at a federalist approach; the instinct of the people founding and running the EU was all authoritarian and “Do as I say”, which is how you got into that mess in the first place.

    Not that the US isn’t going down the same road of centralized failure, but we at least had a period where Federalism actually worked. Unlike, say, what’s coming down the pike as the economic/energy underpinnings for Germany’s economic engine that drives the EU comes out from under…

    What’s amazing to observe is that precisely none of the involved idiots recognized reality for what it was, or realized what they were doing with that whole “Energiewende” line of BS. They will, though… They will. It’ll be too damn late to recover, by then. Germany will be dead and gone, buried under a corpse-shroud of economic decay and illiterate third-world migrants who’ll pick the corpse and move on.

    To a degree, it couldn’t happen to a nicer or more corrupt country. German hypocrisy and self-serving bullshit knows no bounds. I’m still disgusted by the attitude the majority of those assholes took back in the 1980s, which was “Yeah, you’re here to die in our defense, but meanwhile, we’ll happily support protesting what you have to do in order to do that, and oh, by the way, we’re gonna tacitly support the terrorists killing you which are also supported by the Soviets…”

    Frankly, I think a lot of Germans deserve what they have coming. Which is going to be poverty and cultural gang-raping by their sainted “migrants”. The way they treated the Turkish and other gastarbeiter? They’ve got it coming.

  • Kirk



    Y’all are going to be glad you managed to cut the rope on the that line of falling climbers before they dragged you down with them. Only, you should have sent most, if not all, of your politicians down the glacier with them.

  • Stuart Noyes

    I’m disappointed. I thought Samizdata was full of intellectuals. Yet they don’t appear to desire any discussion about human freedom or political rights. No quotes from Locke. Poor. Just the same old economic arguments. Mary Contrary outshines Samizdata.

  • Paul Marks

    Stuart Noyes.

    Yes Mary Contrary is correct – the principle of self government is a good one, but only if a government is actually pro liberty.

    Think of all the colonies that got independence from Britain and France and other powers – who ended up with tyrannies (often Marxist) much worse for individual liberty than the old colonial powers had been.

    Now that is NOT not the case with the United Kingdom, the government of the United Kingdom is not worse than the European Union – but it is not much better either.

    The tragedy is that the British establishment is much the same as the establishment of the European Union and the rest of the accursed “international community”.

    They all spend money like drunken sailors (indeed that is an insult – it is an insult to drunken sailors) – because they can just create the money from NOTHING (Roger Sherman warned against governments having such powers in “emergencies” because the “emergency” then never ends, the American one has been going on since 1933 – after 90 years I think we can all agree that the U.S. government and the pet banks are never going to give people their gold), so they think it does not cost anything to spend-spend-spend, but they dead wrong about that.

    And they all think that the answer to every problem is to both spend money (money they create from NOTHING) and to issue ever more regulations. Regulations on just about everything.

    Contrary to J.S. Mill (“On Liberty”) there is no real distinction between economic regulations and other attacks on liberty – they are not “different principles”, they are the same principle. And, no, there is no real distinction between regulations that hit buyers and regulations that hit sellers.

    Price controls and wage laws)and so on) are a violation of liberty – not “just” economics. And people who pass such “just economic” regulations will violate such things as Freedom of Speech and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as well.

    By the way the “harm principle” is too vague to be a real limitation on government (just about anything can be described as “harm” – the “Woke” say that Freedom of Speech “harms historically disadvantaged groups”) – the non aggression principle (which we do indeed see, to some extent in John Locke – it comes from the Common Law, indeed from the principle of natural justice) is better.

    National independence yes – but under a government that respects the liberty of the governed. Limited government – not unlimited government (whether by Brussels or London).

  • Paul Marks

    By the way I am aware that John Locke did not draw a sharp enough distinction between majority consent and individual consent (the latter, not the former, being liberty) – this is a point that Gough (Oriel Oxford) made back in the 1940s – also pointing out that it may not have been an innocent mistake, as Medieval thinkers (as Locke would have been aware) made a very sharp distinction between individual and majority consent – yet John Locke, in the Second Treatise, seems to slide from one to the other – in an almost shifty way.

    However, I believe that the people are less likely to support tyranny than the establishment elite are. Yes the people may support tyranny (especially if they are deceived by the “experts” and the “nudges” of the “behaviour modification units” – those pallid imitations of Plato’s evil “Guardians”), but the establishment elite (who include the people who are likely to be “advising” an absolute monarch – as with Colbert being the chief adviser to Louis XIV – the “Sun King”) are far more likely to support tyranny.

    The seeming indifference of such thinkers such as David Hume to the “euthanasia of the constitution” into absolutism, is baffling.

    Such people are certainly not Whigs (Bertrand Russell claiming to be a Whig was a despicable lie), but, as Dr Johnson pointed out, they are not really Tories either.

    The natural law (natural justice), belief system that is central to a Tory such as Dr Johnson, and their fundamental belief in the individual human soul, is absent in such thinkers as Thomas Hobbes and David Hume.