‘No, Brexit was not a terrible mistake’ Telegraph column widely mocked

“If your opening gambit is “No, Brexit was not a terrible mistake,” you’ve already lost the argument…”

January 31 was the fourth anniversary of the UK’s official departure from the EU. Ahead of the anniversary, the Brexit-backing Telegraph published a column, entitled: ‘No, Brexit was not a terrible mistake.’

“All the usual suspects are again pouring scorn on that momentous event and attributing many of our current ills to it,” wrote City economist and columnist, Roger Bootle.

“We may not have fully seized the economic opportunities offered by our exit but claiming it a disaster is nonsense,” he added.

The author, who is keen to remind readers that he was ‘an outspoken supporter of Brexit,’ and has even written a book entitled ‘The Trouble with Europe,’ devotes much of the column to the losses caused by Brexit, such as trade between the UK and EU being more difficult, through increased paperwork and border delays. “These difficulties weight disproportionately heavily with small businesses,” he writes.

The economist also admits that Britain has only managed to secure new free trade agreements (FTAs) with a few countries, principally Australia and New Zealand, with a deal with the US, ‘effectively being blocked by Biden.’

Even when informing that since the Brexit vote in 2016, UK GDP is up by 8 percent, with the equivalent figures for France, Germany and Italy being 8.5 percent, 5.8 percent and 6.5 percent respectively, and since the expiry of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020, the UK has outgrown not only France, Germany and Italy but also the US, Bootle admits that this ‘is due to the depth of our Covid-related downturn in 2020 rather than to any Brexit benefits finally coming through.”

The author also attempts to make a case for the country failing to see the benefit of joining the EU in 1973.

“Do Remainers ask themselves if there were clear benefits from this decision in the years immediately afterwards,” he asks?

The column was widely mocked online.

In a Facebook post, Leeds for Europe, which campaigns for Britain to rejoin the EU, wrote: “If your opening gambit is “No, Brexit was not a terrible mistake,” you’ve already lost the argument…”

‘Are we slowly moving into the acceptance phase? “It’s not a terrible mistake,” someone asked.

Another posted: “Indeed it was not a disaster. It was in fact a cataclysmic catastrophe.”

Nick Tyrone, creator of ‘This Week in Brexitland,’ said: “When your headline is ‘No, Brexit was not a terrible mistake,’ your side has already lost the intellectual argument.”

In the same week of the publishing of the Telegraph’s column, the people of Britain delivered a damning verdict on Brexit four years on from leaving the European Union. A poll by Ipsos for the Evening Standard found that 57 percent of adults in Britain believe Brexit has been more of a failure than a success.

Brexiteers had promised that Leaving would mean taking back control of the UK’s borders, a free trade deal with the US, an additional £350 million a week injection into the NHS, and more prosperous times ahead. Four years on, and seven in ten Britons now believe that Brexit has had a negative impact on the current state of the economy.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Photo credit: Twitter screen grab

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