Boris Johnson’s promise that Brexit would make Britain an “outward-looking” prosperous nation is now exposed as the lie it always was, reports Adam Bienkov
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“We cannot turn our backs on Europe,” Boris Johnson told the nation after winning the EU referendum back in 2016.
“We are part of Europe, our children and our grandchildren will continue to have a wonderful future as Europeans, travelling to the continent, understanding the languages and the cultures that make up our common European civilisation, continuing to interact with the peoples of other countries in a way that is open and friendly and outward-looking.”
Fast forward seven years and Johnson’s promise of an open, ‘outward looking’ and prosperous new Britain rising out of Brexit, looks further from reality than it ever has before.
This week at Dover, tourists trying to get to Europe were forced to queue for hours on end as cumbersome post-Brexit checks brought almost all movement to a halt.
And when Brits eventually did arrive on the other side of the Channel, past desperate refugees hoping to avoid deportation to Rwanda, or imprisonment inside an offshore barge, they found a continent where the pound in their pocket was worth only a fraction of what it once was.
Despite Johnson’s promise of a newly-liberated Britain breaking free of the economic chains of the EU, the pound is now worth more than 20% less than it was before the referendum campaign began. For many Brits, Johnson’s promise of a “wonderful future as Europeans travelling the continent” is one they can simply no longer afford.
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This fact is borne out by the polls. New Byline Times polling conducted this week by Omnisis, reveals that seven-in-ten (69%) voters now believe that Brexit has made it more expensive to visit Europe, with six-in-ten (61%) saying it has made it harder as well.
Yet when asked last week whether the huge delays at Dover had been caused by Brexit, the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman flatly denied it.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say this is an adverse effect of Brexit”, she told Sky News, insisting the delays had instead been due to it being a “busy time of year”.
Pushed on this by Byline Times on Monday, Rishi Sunak’s spokesman also refused to pin any of the blame on Brexit, saying that the delays had been caused by a “combination of factors” without wishing to identify Brexit as being in any way part of that combination.
Yet while it’s true that recent delays do have more than one cause, it is undoubtedly the case, as authorities at Dover itself made clear this week, that Brexit is the major one.
This is already readily understood by voters.
Asked by Omnisis what was the main cause of the Dover delays this week, voters were most likely to pick Brexit-related checks, followed by French border controls, high traffic and bad weather.
Yet rather than face up to this commonly-understood reality, and propose some meaningful solutions to it, Sunak’s Government appears intent on merely pretending that it doesn’t exist.
This denialism is no better demonstrated than by the announcement this week that the UK will delay, for a fifth time in a row, the need to impose post-Brexit customs checks with the EU.
This delay, which will mean that yet more Brexit-related red tape for businesses will be brought in in the latter part of this year, perfectly exposes the biggest lie about leaving the EU.
If Brexit really was the once in a lifetime opportunity to make Britain a buccaneering free trade nation, as Johnson promised us it would be, then there would be simply no need to repeatedly delay implementing it in full at the UK’s borders. If Brexit really was a means of making Britain a more “open and friendly and outward-looking” as Johnson and his successors have claimed, then surely the Government would actually want the public to see it in full swing as early as possible, rather than repeatedly kicking it off into the long grass.
But of course in reality, this was never what Brexit was really about. Rather than being a project to make the UK a more open and “global” nation, it was always about the opposite.
Whether you want to trade freely with our European neighbours, or simply go there on holiday, Britain has become a more insular, expensive and poorer nation than it was before, as a direct result of leaving the EU.
It is this basic reality that Johnson and his successors are now hiding from.
So when Braverman and Sunak deny that the recent chaos at Dover is due to Brexit, they are not merely denying responsibility for one example of localised chaos at our borders, they are also denying their own overall responsibility for the failure of the entire Brexit project.
We saw another example of this last week when the Government announced that it will be joining the CPTPP group of Pacific trading nations. This deal, which was struck with a group of nations, most of whom the UK already has a trade deal with, was announced with great fanfare by Sunak last week as a supposed big new “benefit of Brexit”.
However, as the Government’s own figures show, the deal is expected to increase UK GDP by just 0.08% over ten years, compared to the four per cent of GDP we have lost by leaving the EU. Far from being a sign of the opportunities of Brexit, the deal merely confirms how much we have all lost.
Yet rather than face up to any of these grim realities, Sunak and his Government are trapped by the need to pretend that when it comes to Brexit, down is up and black is white. Until that changes, Britain will continue to remain trapped by the heavy chains that leaving the EU has now placed upon it.
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